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Coppola Holds Italian Street Fair

June 20, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

Francis Ford Coppola and Mayor Giuliani held a proclamation announcing June 11th as "Carmine Coppola Day." (Photo by Monika Graff)

Festa Macaroni launch event for Mammarella pasta and sauce 8th Street and Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn Monday, 06.11.01, 5 PM to 9 PM
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Summer in New York wouldn't be complete without street fairs, and with the help of acclaimed Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, one Brooklyn block got a special treat: Festa Macaroni, a traditional Italian street festival designed to promote Coppolas's new Mammarella line of pastas and sauces. (Mammarella translates to “dear little mamma,” named in honor of his mother Italia Pennino Coppola, whose picture is on every label.)

With the help of the New York Police Department (and additional security provided by Michael Stapleton Associates) the entire block in front of the Morisi-Coppola Pasta Factory was closed off for more than 300 guests. The crowd included a mixture of food and film industry press (there was an earlier on-site Godfather DVD press event), Coppola family and friends, and those fortunate enough to live on the block. We spotted Food Network personality and cookbook author David Rosengarten and restaurateur Drew Nieporent. The carefree event had guests feeling a bit like members of the Coppola family--at least for an evening.

The street scene's overall concept came from film production designer Dean Tavoularis, and then Workhouse Publicity coordinated the resources to execute the Oscar-winning designer's plan. The atmosphere was one of an authentic Italian festa, complete with festooned arches and actual sausages, peppers and zeppoles from Gina Food Concessions. Red, white and green pennants were laced from arch to arch and even the wrought iron fences that line the row houses were decorated with miniature Italian flags, both from ASF Promotions. Larger Italian flags from National Flag & Display Company were draped from window sills and tricolor bunting from New York Decorating Company adorned parts of the street.

Keeping with the street festival theme, stands constructed by Composition Workshop (the pasta factory's neighbor) allowed festivalgoers to line up for servings of Coppola's artisanal Brooklyn-made pasta. The factory has operated under the Morisi family name for decades, and for the Coppola line they produce four antique Neapolitan pasta shapes. To compliment the food, Niebaum-Coppola wines were served (naturally), as well as Illy espresso. Delicious bread from Tom Cat Bakery was available for dipping into Mammarella olive oil, and to help cool off from the city heat, Ciao Bella served gelati and sorbetti.

No Italian feast is complete without music, and this event was no exception. Talbert Communications--the PR firm that represents Francis Coppola Brands--coordinated the entertainment for the evening, which included wandering accordion player Rachelle Garniez and a band booked through Barry Bryson of Swing Street playing Italian-American standards such as “Tarantella” and “Arrividerci Roma.” Coppola also requested a carousel (provided by Bruce Smick Amusements) to entertain the children.

The event's purpose was twofold: to promote the new pasta and sauce line, and also to commemorate the director's father, late composer Carmine Coppola, whose birthday coincided with the event. Culminating the evening's festivities, Mayor Giuliani arrived to officially proclaim June 11 as “Carmine Coppola Day.”

The Mammarella label states “Quality, Authenticity and Pleasure,” and the same could be said for Festa Macaroni. This was no typical product launch. On our way to the train (with a bag of warm zeppole in hand) a Coppola cousin commented that “Francis likes to treat the community,” and for those few hundred guests and that one block of Brooklyn, this was no question.

--Mark Mavrigian

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