Sponsored by the Love for Luca foundation for the second consecutive year, the Italian Wine Market Festival raises glasses and awareness for the fight against cancer. Mingle outdoors below a white-crested tent, sample domestic and international elixirs that enchant tongues with swirling mixtures of tannins and notes of fruit, and demonstrate an ability to speak eloquently while holding a pint of red wine in your cheeks. While not a formal, bow-tie pasta event, the well-seasoned chefs from the Italian Market and Restaurant cater the festival, piling plates with portions of rustic, gourmet cuisine for festival-goers. Between bites, pit the fruitful whispers of pinot noir against buttery compliments from chardonnays or the spritely tongue of a sauvignon blanc. Music and food tastings wind well into the evening, and a portion of the festival's proceeds benefit the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, donated on behalf of the Love for Luca organization.
After working in family-owned restaurants in Italy for years, the chefs behind DiMeo's Pizzeria decided to open their own eatery in the States. Inventive specialty pizzas like the Philly Supreme (topped with rib-eye chopped steak) pop out of ovens before heading to tables alongside plates of veal parmigiana and lasagna bolognese.
Located inside Mr. Pizza, Yummy Grille prepares a menu of sandwiches and hearty Mediterranean cuisine. Diners can sink teeth into marinated-steak shawarma, chicken-breast kebabs, or a Yummito—the spot's signature tortilla-encased falafel with rice and vegetables.
Luna Blu’s walls showcase hand-painted murals of an idyllic Naples coastline, its cerulean hues echoing the dining room’s candles and blue glass accents. While the decor evokes the Italian landscape, the cuisine barrels straight into authenticity. Owner and executive chef Erin Dryden peppers the pasta dishes and stews with fresh seafood, just as cooks in Naples might fill their entrees with fish from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Additionally, sweet Italian sausage or artichoke hearts mingle with colorful cheese tortellini, and an ample wine list complements entrees.
Squisito Pizza & Pasta dishes out an immense, palate-pleasing menu of Italian favorites and innovative originals. Starters, such as the shrimp gondola paddling with parmesan-cream sauce in a toasted italian-bread canoe ($8.99), pacify peckish gullets. Seasoned chefs dress pasta in a variety of disguises, from the penne Popeye cloaked in grilled chicken, sautéed spinach, roasted red peppers ($12.99) to the fettuccine bolognese shrouded in creamy rosé meat ragu ($10.99). Piping-hot pizza pies come in Chicago, New York, and flatbread styles, crowned with both classic and gourmet ingredients. Bite into a healthy skyline with the New York–style roasted veggie pie, a foldable dough disk topped with zucchini, red peppers, roasted eggplant, goat cheese, and balsamic ($16.99), or dive into a flavorful Great Lake with the Chicago-style Squisito ($17.99), a deep dish dotted with pepperoni, mushrooms, sausage, extra cheese, onions, green peppers, and optional anchovies ($17.99). Wee visitors to Squisito Pizza & Pasta receive a free ball of dough, a welcome alternative to children's typical dining distractions, such as flopping around on the floor and drawing leg mustaches on fellow diners.