“I am most passionate about bringing my knowledge [of tasting] to consumers, “said an enthusiastic Orietta Gianjorio, a native Italian from Rome,...
There are several different neighborhoods in San Diego: There's Hillcrest, North Park, Downtown... Each offers a unique personality and character to those who visit it. Few are as culturally enriching, however, as Little Italy.
From its landscaped piazzas to its murals, Little Italy effectively transports its visitors to a different place where the hustle and bustle of city life fade away and the freeway traffic softens to a dull roar that is easily forgotten. Speed walking slows to a leisurely stroll and you look up from your smart phone to appreciate the world around you.
Possibly one of the best and unique parts of this neighborhood, however, is its food. Hole-in-the-wall restaurants are squeezed in next to ultra-chic, ultra-modern restaurants and visitors can sample virtually any type of food from cultural fare to higher-end selections.
It can be taxing on both your wallet – and your waistline – to work your way through the menus of Little Italy, however. Fortunately, the Little Italy Association has solved that problem.
Taste of Little Italy began in 2008 and was spearheaded by Sandi Cottrell, who continues to head the event to this day, six years after its inaugural event.
Taste of Little Italy is open to any restaurant that wishes to open its doors to event-goers.
“The event offers people the opportunity to go into restaurants that they haven't considered dining in before, taste the food from all these places they may not know and it certainly gives one just a little taste so that you want to go back and try the menu,” explains Cottrell.
“Little Italy Association has a very engaged board of directors and several committees and a very passionate group of community members that support the neighborhood and care very much about the neighborhood,” says Cottrell. She went on to say that it was suggested that Little Italy follow the example of other communities who were doing “Taste of...” events in order to showcase the variety of restaurants the neighborhood has to offer.
Since its inception, the event has grown from 22 participating restaurants to 32 this year, including “several buzz-worthy restaurants like Juniper & Ivy [and] the new Ironside.”
Restaurants prepare 750 servings of their selected dish(es) in an effort to reduce the lines and wait times at each restaurant, a decision Cottrell says has been well-received and much appreciated by those in attendance. While that number may seem high, the event has continuously sold out and is expected to do so again this year.
Taste of Little Italy is a charity event and all proceeds go straight back to the community to further the beautification projects that have made Little Italy the destination hot-spot it is now.
“In the mid-90s,” Cottrell says, “this area was not very attractive and by the early 2000s, it became a whole destination and it continues to be improved upon every year. Strolling through the neighborhood from restaurant to restaurant...gives you a chance to see all the amazing things the Little Italy Association has done [for the community].”
The event will be held on Wednesday, June 18 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. More information on the event – including tickets, route maps and a full list of participating restaurants – is available at www.littleitalysd .com/events/taste-of-little-italy/