An Italian Dinner Party

italian veal entree

To start the new year, our dear friends, Sara and Tri, graciously invited us to their home for a dinner party featuring local Italian chef, Elio Cavallari.

Elio and his wife, Luba, previously owned Mezzo Mondo Trattoria in Studio City which they closed in 2015 to open a restaurant in La Paz, Mexico.  Fast forward to 2018 and they are back in Los Angeles with hopes to open a new restaurant again soon.  We were in for a real treat as Elio and Luba prepared a chef’s dinner among friends.

table settings for an italian wine dinner

Last minute preparations by the hostess to create a beautiful rustic tablescape with white florals and silver chargers.

setting the table for our italian dinner

Meanwhile, the boys snuck in a quick game of foosball (or as the French would say, babyfoot) before guests arrived.

foosball break in the garage

presenting the wines

The Frenchman was on wine duty and he had lots of fun pairing the wines with each dish.  Wine pairing dinners were one of his favorite events when he worked in the wine industry.

pairing wines

To start, we enjoyed an Italian Prosecco as guests arrived, which was also paired with our first course of antipasti. Nothing better than bubbles to liven up the mood and awaken the tastebuds!

dinner party among friends


1st Course: Antipasti

For the antipasti we had an assortment of Italian cured meats and cheeses (he had me at burrata) beautifully assembled with tomatoes, olives, basil and finished with a drizzle of olive oil.

italian antipasto


antipasto course


2nd Course: Misto Salad

For the second course, we enjoyed a salad of mixed baby greens with pear, shaved parmesan and a lemon vinaigrette.  The Frenchman chose a French Muscadet to pair and it was the only non-Italian wine in the meal (of course he had to throw in something French).  As it turns out, it was actually the best, and yet most surprising, pairing of the evening. Muscadet is a very crisp and refreshing white wine (made from a grape called Melon de Bourgogne) which was a wonderful complement to the simple and flavorful ingredients of the salad.

misto salad with pear and shaved parmigiana

french muscadet wine served with salad course


3rd Course: Handmade Ravioli

Elio prepared the ravioli by hand and throughout the evening, only used three pots for a five-course meal.  Let me repeat that – three pots!  How is that even possible? When I prepare dinner, my kitchen usually looks like a disaster zone with a full sink.

making ravioli

spinach ravioli made by hand

To make the ravioli Elio used wonton wrappers stuffed with spinach and topped with a pink sauce.  For wine, we went with a Barbera, a fruity wine with bright acidity from Piemonte in Northwestern Italy.

spinach ravioli with pink sauce


Main: Veal Rolatini

To round up the meal, the main entree was a veal rolatini with asiago cheese and mushrooms served over risotto.

Veal Rolatini

Five courses and only three pots/pans!

Chef Elio making Veal Rolatini

The main dish was paired with a Valpolicella from the Veneto area in Northeastern Italy, which is a step up in intensity from the Barbera enjoyed with the previous course. Valpolicella is made with three native grapes which give wines from this area their unique flavor.

Veal Rolatini with mushrooms and risotto


Dessert: Strawberry and Banana Flambé

To end this delicious lineup, Elio flambéd strawberries and bananas served on top of vanilla ice cream.  The dessert was paired with a Moscato d’Asti from Piemonte, which pairs great with dessert in general but especially fruit-based desserts.

flambe with ice cream

An amazing meal by Elio and Luba and many thanks to our wonderful friends, Sara and Tri, for hosting.

dinner party with friends

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