Festa Italiana is all about the food

August 8, 2018
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Steve Hathazy of New Kensington serves hot pizza at Mt. St. Peter’s Festa Italiana in New Kensington in 2014.

At least 3,100 meatballs. 2,000 pieces of lasagna. 300 gallons of sauce. 668 pounds of dough.

These are just some of the ingredients that await at the 37th annual Festa Italiana.

This three-day feast of Italian food, music and camaraderie has been a tradition the first weekend in August at Mt. St. Peter Parish in New Kensington for nearly four decades.

Everything is made from scratch -- using time-honored recipes -- that will remind you of dinner at grandma’s on a Sunday afternoon. Hundreds of volunteers begin weeks in advance preparing for the feast.

“This event has continued to thrive because the volunteers are so organized, and they have everything down to a science,” says Jennifer Lombardo of Lower Burrell, Festa Italiana publicity chairwoman, who has been involved with the event for 10 years. “There is no way we could do this without them. They love being a part of it and, even though it is hard work, they enjoy the camaraderie while they are cooking and doing the set up. They want to carry on this Italian tradition. It’s a labor of love.”

The menu

This is one time to not count calories, but rather, indulge in a heaping helping of lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, sausage sandwiches and polenta.

Other favorites include salads, chicken and vegetable wraps and pizza. There are French fries and chicken tenders. Save room for dessert by grabbing a few cannolis, pizzelles, biscotti, fried dough and other homemade pastries. There will be snow cones, gelato, smoothies, fruit cups and parfaits.

The food is the big draw, Lombardo says.

“Our parishioners take pride in making handmade food that reminds people of the meals their grandmothers used to make,” she says. “The sauce is made from scratch, including parsley that is chopped by hand. The lasagna and polenta are so authentic.”

The entertainment

Enjoy live music all three days starting with John Greco (his first appearance at the festival) with Clint Hoover from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Aug. 2. Rick Farinelli Big Band Sound takes the stage from 7 to 10 p.m. Aug. 3 and The Murphy’s Music Center Big Band finishes out the event with a performance from 7 to 10 p.m. Aug. 4.

Other happenings

There will be children’s games, moon walk, kiddie krafts, regular and instant bingo, as well as games of chance.

There is bus transportation available from Valley High School from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Aug. 2-3 and 3:30 to 10:30 p.m. Aug. 4.

Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 2-3 and after the 4:30 p.m. Mass on Aug. 4. Admission is free.

Mt. St. Peter Parish is at 100 Freeport Road, New Kensington.

Details: 724-335-9877 or mountsaintpeter.org

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