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Pala Casino's Mama's Cucina Italiana impressive at Taste of Temecula


Last updated 5/8/2014 at Noon

Robert Camerota, right, executive chef for Pala Casino Spa & Resort, and Luciano Cibelli, left, chef of Mama

The courtyard area outside Temecula’s City Hall building was filled with the smell of food as multiple restaurants and wineries set up shop for a good cause on April 26. It was the fourth annual Taste of Temecula Valley fundraiser and thousands of event attendees tried food, beer and wine from the many businesses that participated from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. that day.

The event was organized to benefit the Temecula Valley Foundation for Excellence in Education (TVEE), which is an organization that seeks to help schools in Southwest Riverside County meet some of their educational goals.

In addition to delicious food and drink, guests could also dance to live bands performing a number of hits from the 70s and 80s.

Chef of Mama’s Cucina Italiana at Pala Casino Spa & Resort, Luciano Cibelli, whipped up a variety of handcrafted Italian favorites such as Lobster Ravioli, as well as a trio of desserts that consisted of Pana Cotta, Crème Brulee, and Macaroons.

This was Cibelli’s first year at the Taste of Temecula Valley festival and he said Pala Casino Resort & Spa’s booth was very busy as people flocked to get a taste of the classic Italian fare they offered.

According to event chair Mark Katan, this year’s Taste event was one of the largest. Katan said there were over 30 food vendors, 10 microbreweries, six wineries, and 14 other businesses on site.

Katan has been involved with the Taste of Temecula Valley festival since its beginning. He was one of the people that devised the idea five years ago when TVFEE members were trying to come up with a good fundraiser to benefit students.

In the year he devised the idea, he wasn’t able to get adequate support to make it a reality, but that changed the following year.

A team of professionals work the Pala Casino Spa & Resort

Since then the event has been going strong and growing, according to Katan. He said that one of the positives has been the ever-increasing variety in terms of food and beverage choices.

“The increasing variety is probably the biggest thing,” Katan said. “There’s a diverse group of restaurants that are amazing.”

Katan said he was proud how this year’s event turned out, because it was much more versatile than in previous years.

“This year we have something for everyone,” he said.


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