Thursday, March 10, 2011

Everyone's Italian This St. Paddy's Day . . .


While the Irish will be bedazzled in green come March 17, the Italians will also be feting a very important milestone on that day: the 150th anniversary of Italy.

As part of the local festivities, 18 local restos will get the Ospitalit√† Italiana Seal – Italian Retaurants in the World—an honor recognizing their authenticity and culinary contributions to Italian culture—during a special dinner at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (1431 W. Taylor St.).

It's not an easy task to get the honor. To qualify, each restaurant must employ at least one staff member who can speak to guests in Italian; the menus must be written in proper Italian; at least 20 percent of wines offered must be DOP-certified (Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or "Protected Denomination of Origin"); and the head chef must meet requirements of experience and proficiency in Italian cooking.

Piccolo Sogno's Tony Priolo is one of many chefs set to receive the "Ospitalità Italiana Seal РItalian Retaurants in the World." (Photo: Piccolo Sogno)

Each restaurant also had to submit descriptions of at least five Italian-tradition recipes, including the Italian region that inspired the ingredients and dishes.

We're not surprised one bit at the list of honorees, which includes the likes of chefs Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia), Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno), Chris Macchia (Coco Pazzo), Luisa Silvia Marani (Merlo on Maple), Mauro Mafrici (Pelago Ristorante), John Coletta (Quartino), Robert Trevino (The Village) and Luca Corazzina (312 Chicago).

The dinner takes place at 6:30pm March 17, and some of the chefs are set to whip up signature Italian dishes. Tickets are $50 for IACC members; $70 for non-members. Get them right here.

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