Italian officials, local businesspeople and those who love Italian cuisine gathered at Stellina Ristorante on Saturday to celebrate the end of Italian Cuisine Week with an extensive brunch event and to promote the purchase of authentic Italian products by Long Island and New York businesses. Italian Cuisine Week, established in 2015, is dedicated to promoting quality Italian cuisine and food products around the world.
The event was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and their subsidiary the Italian Trade Agency, which supports business developments of Italian companies abroad and promotes foreign investment in Italian goods and products. Giovanni Mafodda, the manager of the agency’s New York commission, explained that this was the first event the organization had held on Long Island, and represented an attempt by them to expand their promotion of authentic Italian cuisine and food products to a wider audience.
“This is the first time we organized something here in Oyster Bay,” Mafodda said. “We would like to come out from the city to discover new territories and promote authentic Italian cuisine.”
Fabrizio Facchini, the head chef and co-owner at Stellina’s, said that he has worked with the trade agency and other Italian government organizations since 2019. For the brunch Facchini prepared dozens of dishes in a multi-course meal, all made with authentic Italian food products, which he served to the gathered crowd along with brief explanations of what the dishes were and where in Italy their ingredients were purchased.
Facchini emphasized that as an Italian and as a chef of Italian cuisine, it was deeply personal to him to promote Italian food products abroad, both as a way to promote business with his mother country and as a way to honor the proud culinary history of Italy.
“I think that Italian cuisine is one of the best of the world, and I think 90 percent of the world can agree with that,” Facchini said. “This is very important to communicate all around the world; the importance of our cuisine, the variety of our cured meats, charcuterie, cheeses and also a huge variety of wine naturally.”
In attendance at the event were local business people as well as elected officials like Rich LaMarca, Town of Oyster Bay clerk, and avid fans of Stellina Ristorante and Italian cuisine in general. Attendees got the chance to dine on delicious dishes like gnocchi with white truffle and pappardelle with Italian wild boar, all while being served delicious Italian wines, meats and cheeses.
The brunch not only filled attendees’ stomachs with delicious food, but also educated them on the differences between authentic Italian cuisine and international varieties. Facchini said every country where Italians had emigrated over the last century had their own unique and delicious takes on traditional Italian cooking — Italian-American food being the most notable example — but that it was important to understand the heritage of the food and the original and authentic ingredients still used in Italy today.
“When the people from Italy came to America in the last century, all the products that we can find now were not available in the United States, so they have to adapt and transform the original recipes and work with what they have,” Facchini said. “So now our job is basically to be ambassadors to represent Italian cuisine, the real one, the Italian product, and as well communicate and educate the people and show them what is exactly the real Italian food.”