There was nothing little about Little Italy as the pasta-loving masses gathered downtown Saturday night to celebrate the 2nd annual Taste of Italy, an event benefiting the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles. The town square near the intersection of Main and Arcadia transformed into a piazza on which fest-goers could celebrate Italian culture via its food, sampling a wide variety of Italian dishes and pastries.

Says Paul Pagnone, the museum's president, “We aim to raise awareness of the history and continuing contributions of Italians in Los Angeles, which many people are unaware began before California's statehood, and by doing so, reveal the unparalleled diversity of the City of Los Angeles.”

A $35 entrance fee bought participants eight tastes of food and eight of wine, and figuring out how to spend them proved difficult. Among the many restaurants that participated, including Pane e Vino, Eastside Market, Il Fornaio and Ca'Del Sole, highlights for us included spinach lasagna from the Ciao Bella truck, the prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich from Rosa's Bella Cucina with a tomato side salad that almost stole the show, and pistachio gelato from Gelato Bar (all pictured below).

In addition to the abundance of rich Italian dishes, wine flowed like… well, wine, and a jovial vibe permeated the whole place aided by the live opera music and a silent auction. No Italian blood required to have a good time – all you needed was a fork. For more information about future Italian American Museum events, visit (More pictures after the jump.)

LA Weekly