We have many summer traditions – most of them revolving around 1) being outside and 2) eating – and so when the annual Feast of the Assumption creeped up on us this year, I thought we wouldn’t make it out to Little Italy on short notice. Yet in a moment of jump-in-the-car-and-go, our little family got ourselves there for an evening of eats, Italian culture and good times.
Most aren’t aware that the Feast is organized by the Parish of Holy Rosary Church, located there in the East-side iconic Cleveland neighborhood. The church has hosted the celebration for the past 118 years — amazing!! — and honors the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is a Catholic Holy Day on August 15 each year, commemorating Mary being taken into Heaven. During the four days of festivities either before or after the 15th, vendors are set up all over featuring Italian foods, desserts, live music and entertainment for all ages.
Our go-to plan each year is to go late afternoon on Saturday before the crush of people settle into Mayfield Road that evening. I normally insist we arrive around 4pm, so when we got there after 5pm this year, I was panicked — but it turned out to not be as much of an issue as expected because everyone was running late this year. The crowd was still manageable, so we got to browsing the many options to eat and drink.
In years past, we would start at Little Italy Wines on the far East end for a wine tasting to start off our feasting, but with Baby B in tow, we opted to sit on their benches outside as we devoured a plate of cheese ravioli with meatball which I am 99.9% sure came from Corbo’s Bakery.
I know our little girl could have demolished that plate of pasta goodness on her own, so by the time all three of us shared it, I had wished we snagged a second! Instead, we started strolling down Mayfield Road — running into fellow Italian / my favorite Chamber of Commerce President, Tony Gallo (@ChamberTony on Twitter) and his wife Theresa — before stopping by our go-to stand for stromboli. Not only did I not take a photo, I couldn’t even tell you who sold it to us, ha! (#badfoodblogger) It’s the stand right at the corner of Mayfield and Murray Hill, across the street from La Dolce Vita.
In our annual tradition, we always end our feasting inside of Presti’s Bakery. Cannoli are ALWAYS on our dessert order. Gelato usually is, and was this year considering we had our ice cream loving 9 month old with us. Then Hans splurged on a mini cheesecake to round out the decadence for the close of our meal.
LONG STORY SHORT: Just because 1) you have a baby, 2) you didn’t plan, or 3) you’re in a weight loss challenge group at work and you have a good chance at winning doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the Feast. In fact, this was the most fun I had in years! We got in — for all you parents out there, the baby carrier makes for a MUCH smarter choice than a stroller. We quickly made our food selections. We found spots to sit/stand away from the crowds to savor each bite. And then we got out and back to our car in just over an hour. But if you think I’m sharing our go-to parking spot, you’re sorely mistaken. I am half Italian, after all, and some secrets are meant to stay within the family!
Keep an eye out for the Feast of the Assumption every August. It’s always around the 15th of the month and is a right of passage for all Clevelanders, new and old. So how about meeting us at the wine shop on Saturday next year? First round is on me!