Festa Italiana is this weekend! Learn how to make one of the event’s most popular dishes

MILWAUKEE -- This weekend,  Festa Italiana will celebrate 40 years when it kicks off on Milwaukee's lakefront. Of course, one of the biggest draws over its four decades has been the food! Tina Conley with Divino Wine and Dine joins Real Milwaukee to talk about some of the most popular indulgences at the festival.

Recipe: Italian Rice Balls Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • Add all ingredients to list

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cheese, parsley, pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Pour water and 1 teaspoon salt into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in rice and reduce heat to low. Cook rice until water is almost absorbed, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and slowly pour in egg mixture, stirring rapidly to prevent egg from scrambling. Allow rice mixture to cool for 1 hour.
  3. Pour bread crumbs into a pile on one end of a cutting board. Dampen hands and roll rice mixture into 1 inch balls, then coat each one with bread crumbs.
  4. In a small, deep skillet, heat olive oil to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). (Should have enough oil to completely cover rice balls.) Fry rice balls 6 at a time, turning as needed to ensure even browning. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

History of Festa Italiana (website)

From its modest beginnings forty years ago, Festa Italiana has grown into the largest Italian event of its kind in America today.

As the first ethnic festival in Milwaukee, Festa Italiana originated as a way to bring together an Italian community torn apart by urban renewal projects. Taking place in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, the first Festa Italiana served as a way to reunite the many Italians who longed for the wonderful street festivals that took place in the Third Ward during the summertime. With the displacement of many who lived in the Third Ward and the loss of Our Lady of Pompeii Church, Italians moved elsewhere – but they never stopped talking about those Third Ward festivals. The first Festa was a “coming home” party, as well as a chance to share the best of the Italian culture with the community.

Made possible each year by the work of over 2,000 dedicated volunteers, Festa continues to build on rich traditions as it celebrates the past, present and future of the Italian community in Milwaukee. Supported by the Italian Community Center and its generous community partners, Festa carries on time-honored traditions including the celebration of Sunday Mass and Procession, cultural exhibits, bocce, gondolas, photos of the old Third Ward and Italians in Milwaukee, as well as delicious food and entertainment true to the Italian culture including opera, dance, song and fireworks!