Festa Italiana back at Howard Smith Wharves across two weekends

WORDS: Supplied PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

Say ciao to la dolce vita with Italian culture and cuisine on the menu

Howard Smith Wharves is thrilled to announce one of Brisbane’s much-loved Italian food markets, Festa Italiana, returns for its second year in collaboration with guest chef and cult culinary figure Orazio D’Elia of Da Orazio.

Located on the Main Lawn, Festa Italiana is a sensory celebration of everything we love about Italian food, wine and culture, and will be held across two weekends – from Thursday 23 May to Sunday 26 May, and Thursday 30 May to Sunday 2 June.

After falling in love with Brisbane and Howard Smith Wharves last year, Chef Orazio returns with a menu that will transport you to the seaside promenades of his hometown, Naples.

“The energy, people and sunshine in Brisbane reminded me of my hometown, evoking a sense of nostalgia. Brisbane’s love for food only deepens the connection, adding to the familiar warmth I feel when I’m there,” Chef Orazio said.

Chef Orazio is the owner of the Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta in Bondi Beach, was previously Head Chef at Sydney’s iconic Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, and Head Chef and owner of Matteo Double Bay and Downtown restaurants. His approach to cooking is simple food, done well: an Italian philosophy he has reimagined with his signature Orazio touch.

This year’s Festa Italiana menu promises some of the favourites that were in high demand last year, including Orazio’s famous ‘Vodka Rigatoni’, featuring a creamy tomato and vodka sauce generously sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Another standout was Orazio’s ‘Focaccia con Porchetta’, served fresh from the rotisserie with chilli-marinated grilled eggplant, cos lettuce and mayonnaise, all lovingly packed into slices of Schiacciatina bread.

But that’s just the start of a moreish menu bursting with flavour and a few surprises.

“The other dishes I’ll be cooking are inspired by my latest trip to Napoli,” Chef Orazio said.

“Napoli is a city with a lot of energy and every Neapolitan loves food. The food in Napoli is tasty and has punchy flavours. Once you’ve tried them, you’ll never forget.

“At this year’s Festa Italiana, expect to see dishes like Caserecce Alla Genovese (Neapolitan-style veal ragù) and Fusilli Alla Luciana (tomato-braised baby octopus, black olives and capers). I think the hero dish will be the Caserecce Alla Genovese, famous for its simplicity – it’s a ‘must-try’ at this year’s Festa Italiana.

“For the other few dishes I’d like to keep it as a surprise – Brisbane, stay tuned!”

In addition to Chef Orazio’s famous dishes, Festa Italiana will offer an array of authentic Italian delights, including freshly made pasta from the live pasta station, local Casa Motta Buffalo Mozzarella, woodfired bread, fritto misto and classic Italian beverages served from the pop-up Spritz bar.

Adding to the atmosphere, there will be live music and entertainment across the two weekends.

CEO of Howard Smith Wharves Luke Fraser is delighted Festa Italiana is back for a second season.

“We’re so excited that Festa Italiana is back after the immense success of our launch last year with Chef Orazio D’Elia,” he said.

“This year, we’re expanding it across two weekends from Thursday to Sunday to provide a fun atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.

“Chef Orazio has taken inspiration from both Brisbane and his hometown of Naples to design a menu that showcases local produce and delicious Italian flavours with his signature Orazio touch.

“Creating experiences that celebrate the very best of our local produce is an ode to our love for dining and entertainment for the whole family. Pairing exciting dining experiences with bespoke and beautiful entertainment is such a joy, and the whole team across the precinct is getting behind it.

“We invite the community to get together and indulge in authentic Italian flavours with our classic Howard Smith Wharves twist.”

Gather your amici, famiglia and amore for Festa Italiana at Howard Smith Wharves to experience the best of Italian culture and cuisine.