Mangia! How to get fall festival’s famoso Italian food to go

Italian Fall Festa includes a spaghetti eating contest.

Credit: Italian Fall Festa

Credit: Italian Fall Festa

Italian Fall Festa will be hosting a drive-thru operation with a few surprises

This year’s Italian Fall Festa will look a little different this year. But one thing will remain constant: the delizioso food.

The Italian Fall Festa, an annual celebration of all things Italian, will offer its famous festival food through a drive-thru operation taking place on Friday, Sept. 11 and Saturday, Sept. 12 from noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 13 from noon to 6 p.m.

The 43rd year of the Italian Fall Festa will again be hosted by the John Pirelli Lodge #1633 OSIA (Order Sons of Italy in America), the Dayton branch of the national fraternal organization for Americans of Italian descent.

“We thought it was really important to try to maintain our event — and we wanted the continuity,” said Brian Andzik, the Italian Fall Festa Committee chairman. “We’ve been doing this for 43 years and we thought that, not only was it bad to break tradition, but that we’ve done this drive-thru version previously. We think it’s important to bring something back to our patrons that have been with us for decades. We didn’t want to let go of that.”

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Typically, this popular fall event ushers in a new season of festival entertainment with plenty of food, live entertainment, games and contests.

This drive-thru operation is not a new feat for the Italian Fall Festa, which has been offering carryout versions of their Italian food staples for the past few years. The only difference this year will be the mandate from organizers that all customers remain in their cars during the drive-thru operation in order to maintain proper social distancing.

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The food

So, what’s on the menu this year?

According to festival organizers, guests can expect spaghetti and meatball dinners, homemade calzones, sausage, meatball, Italian beef and Muffaletta sandwiches, pizza, pastries, cakes and deli items to choose from over the course of the drive-thru festival. Soft drinks will also be available for purchase.

The drive-thru menu for the 2020 Italian Fall Festa.

Credit: Italian Fall Festa

Credit: Italian Fall Festa

HOW IT WORKS: Guests will order their carryout meals on site and are required to wait in their cars while the orders are filled. Payment is cash only. As guests wait for their orders to be filled, they will be able to enjoy live Italian music from the comfort and safety of their cars. Additionally, organizers ask that patrons do not leave their cars while they wait in order to meet social distancing guidelines.

A look back at the 42nd annual Italian Fall Festa in 2019 at the Sons of Italy lodge in Kettering. TOM GILLIAM/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

“We will have a limited menu, but I think that’s to be expected because some things don’t travel well,” said Andzik. “Some things are harder to prepare. Some things are unpredictable in terms of how many we should make so we’ve tried to eliminate some variables there as well. We also plan to have some entertainment. We’re going to have some live music in the parking lot while people are driving by. We want to still bring the flavor of our festa — our tradition and our heritage — to the public, but in a completely different way.”

The John Pirelli Lodge spans nearly 10 acres, meaning there will be plenty of room to accommodate a large number of cars in a drive-thru setting. It is also this large outdoor setting that will make meal preparations for the event all that much easier, Andzik said.

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“We still plan to prepare a lot of our food items outside,” Andizk said. “That solves a couple of problems that allow people to be in an environment where they’re not congregating indoors, we can maintain the social distancing recommendations and we can still prepare those items safely. We’re also modifying a few things that we’re doing inside the kitchen. Since we don’t have guests coming into our dining area, that’s now going to be a prep and staging area for food product that’s going to be picked up.”


What: Italian Fall Festa 2020

Where: The John Pirelli Lodge, 2625 County Line Road, Kettering

When: Friday, Sept. 11, and Saturday, Sept. 12, from noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

More info: |

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