A Really ‘Big Night’ At Longhi’s
Friday - October 21, 2005
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First, rent the movie. Next, get a great bottle of wine (something by Antinori would be most appropriate). And finally, grab a CD of music by Italian great Louis Prima. Now you’re all set to enjoy one of the finest food movies ever made.
Big Night, the 1996 hit directed by and starring Stanley Tucci, tells the story of a struggling Italian restaurant run by two brothers - Primo, the passionate and temperamental chef, and Secondo, the restaurant manager. Their outstandingly good restaurant is failing miserably, as customers choose “Americanized Italian” dishes from the restaurant across the street and avoid eating Primo’s sumptuous and authentic food. Reminding me of one of Honolulu’s most emotional Italian chefs, there is a scene where a diner orders risotto and then is surprised when it doesn’t come with spaghetti. Waiting for Primo’s reaction as she asks for spaghetti on the side with her risotto is classic. The movie is a visual feast for food lovers, as the brothers get ready for their one “big night” - a night that will make or break the restaurant forever. And, as with all great movies, there is an enchanting and perfectly proportioned amount of love and romance scattered throughout.
Rival restaurant owner Pascal promises to get the great Louis Prima to come and sing at the brothers’ restaurant, and the movie follows the preparations for the feast. It’s a make or break evening that is so beautifully filmed and executed you’re left longing for an invitation to such an event.
Well, guess what? You’ve got one.
Longhi’s at Ala Moana Center is hosting its own Big Night, featuring the wines of Antinori and, according to manager, “huge plates of food.”
Longhi’s is one of the best locations in Hawaii for this kind of event. Sarento’s is another, Donato’s yet another. In the movie, guests sit down at long, linen covered tables and enjoy course after course of delicious food. Owner Bob Longhi has always believed in feeding people large portions of excellent Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
I’ve eaten family style at Longhi’s so many times and am always filled with a delicious sense of gustatory anticipation when I step into the elevator that opens directly onto the restaurant. I love diving into their outstanding artichoke dip, sharing their steak a la Longhi, with its tender, juicy meat and filling my plate with wonderful pasta.
David Gochros, Remy Amerique brand manager for Hawaii, is a veteran of these dinners. He hosted several of them when the movie first came out.
“This one will be just like the dinners we did a few years back,” he says. “Wines will be matched with each course and there will be a string quartet playing with food and wine flowing.”
David will be on hand to talk to guests about the wines, and Antinori will premiere a new sparkling wine from Northern Italy, Antinori Montesina.
Other wines include: Chardonnay Della Sala, from Antinori’s estate in Umbria; Peppoli Chianti Classico, a single vineyard from the Antinori estate in Tuscany; Villa Toscana, a rich, Sangiovese-based blend from Antinori’s estates in Chianti Classico, Montalcino and Bolgheri; and one of the finest Chiantis in the world, Tenute Marchese Chianti Classico Riserva. It’s produced, exclusively from the finest, most highly selected grapes grown on the Antinori Santa Cristina, Pèppoli and Badia a Passignano estates in the Mercatale Val di Pesa zone in Chianti Classico.
With Antinori Wines and the Italian food of Longhi’s, they should be calling it the gigantic night.
I have but one piece of advice for those of you who love to eat, drink and be merry. Go, go go.
The Big Night at Longhi’s happens Oct. 25 at 6.30 p.m. Cost is $75 for four courses and includes all wine, music, entertainment and door prizes.
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