National Italian American Foundation hosts annual gala

Anyone driving along Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica on Thursday night most likely heard a gathering of people screaming, “That’s Amore!” from the Miramar Fairmont Hotel. Kicking off the National Italian American Foundation’s annual West Coast gala, host Joe Mantegna remarked, “You guys all have bottles of olive oil and vinegar at your table, which means we can all give each other confirmation later.”

When Franc D’Ambrosio of “Phantom of the Opera” fame launched into the Italian national anthem, guests stood and waved napkins above their heads — a reaction that also greeted his rendition of “That’s Amore!”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi paid tribute to recently deceased NIAF vice chairman Joseph Cerrell, and honorees included Gary Sinise, Jon Favreau and Kara DioGuardi, who remarked, “My only regret is that no one in my family ever taught me how to make a good sauce.”

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