Celebrate Carnevale! this Tuesday - and send a kid to culinary school

April 21, 2017

Have you bought your tickets for the second annual Carnevale? At 6 p.m. this Tuesday, April 25, the Rehoboth Touch of Italy becomes an Italian Street Fair with unlimited food, wine, masks, valet parking, auctions - you name it. And it’s all to raise money for the Touch of Italy/ Culinary Scholarship Fund. 

So why a scholarship fund? The point was brought home in stark reality a couple of weeks ago when one of our favorite downtown Rehoboth restaurants closed. And it had nothing to do with their income. They were doing just fine. But like so many of our Cape Region eateries, they were finding it more and more difficult to locate and retain skilled help. Their other restaurants - both doing very well - needed more good people in the kitchen and in the dining room, so they integrated their downtown staff into their other busy eateries. Better to have two well-staffed restaurants than three understaffed restaurants. And nowhere is this national trend more obvious than in seasonal resort communities. 

The Delaware Restaurant Association has stepped up to the plate with the well-regarded ProStart program, a two-year industry-written curriculum of culinary and management skills for high school students. A significant number of these students continue into nationally accredited culinary schools, and many return to Sussex County to become part of the business of eating here at the beach. But tuition at the best schools can be upwards of $30,000! To that end, Touch of Italy restaurants and teamed up a couple of years ago to form their nonprofit Culinary Scholarship Fund, providing tuition assistance to Delaware high school graduates who excel in the ProStart program. This year, Cape Gazette, SoDel Concepts, Delmarva Broadcasting Company, Signarama, Dogfish Head, Big Fish Restaurant Group, High 5 Hospitality and other kind benefactors generously stepped up to the plate to help make this gala event a reality. 

This second annual event is modeled after Italy’s Carnevale celebration, and it will overflow with authentic Italian cuisine and wines for a fun - and filling - experience. Live auction items will include an insider’s back-door tour of the REAL Little Italy - Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. This private day-trip features exclusive tours, lunch, dinner and luxury limo to and from New York. Yet another experience is a five-course dinner and wine for 10, prepared and served in your home by Touch of Italy owner Bob Ciprietti, Big Fish Restaurant Group owner Norm Sugrue, Rehoboth cheesemonger Bill Wilson and the Rehoboth Foodie (with his famous fried chicken). As if that were not enough, SoDel Concepts has generously stepped up to the plate to auction off an all-inclusive three-restaurant progressive dinner with limo transportation for the entire evening. 

The all-you-can-eat menu highlights local delicacies from Umbria, Basilicata, Lazio, Sardinia and Liguria. Researched and assembled by Bill Wilson and Touch of Italy chefs Martin Masisiak and Brian Goldfarb, dishes will include an Umbrian favorite, porcini mushrooms sautéed in butter with garlic, rosemary and pignoli nuts. Authentic Roman pizza will honor Lazio, and the chefs will pay homage to Basilicata with Cotechinata (pork rind rolled around a filling of salted pork, garlic and peppers) and the ultra-savory Ciaudedda (braised artichokes stuffed with potatoes, onions and fava beans). I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so I’m leaving the rest for your taste buds to discover this Tuesday. 

Attendance at Carnevale is limited to 100 hungry partiers, and as of this writing there are fewer than 10 tickets remaining! So get yours at any Touch of Italy restaurant or online at I’ll see you there. I’ll be the one with the microphone. (Like that’s any surprise....) 

Eat, drink, bid and enjoy yourself this Tuesday, and help Delaware’s fledgling chefs, restaurant owners and managers become the professionals we need here in the Cape Region. I guarantee you will not leave hungry!

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at

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