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In the late 1860s, Italian immigrants began migrating to the Truckee Meadows, creating vibrant neighborhood communities in Reno and Sparks. The Eldorado Great Italian Festival Oct. 7-8 – now in its 36th year – is a celebration of the traditions that bound the immigrant families together and honors their role in the community.

Eventgoers can sample the pastas and sauces competing in the Italian Festival Sauce Cook-Off, where Italian families from across the West Coast bring traditional recipes to life as spectators watch. Pasta tasting muffin pans with four compartments for storing pasta and sauce sampling will be sold for $4 at the pasta booth on the corner of Fourth and Virginia streets starting at 12:30 p.m. both days.

The event kicks off with crooner Paul Anka at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino on Friday. Also on Friday, the annual Paesano Open Putt for Pets will be held at Lakeridge Golf Course to benefit the Nevada Humane Society. Lunch and registration begins at 11 a.m., shotgun start at 12:30 p.m.

The full festival beings at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, ending at 6 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday.

Festival fare

Now, about the food. There will be two types of lasagna: classic and wild mushroom and pesto. Also, chicken parmesan, spaghetti and meatballs, meat ravioli with Bolognese, tortellini Eldorado, gnocchetti pesto, Italian sausage and peppers, fried ravioli, fried calamari, the always-popular mushroom ravioli with porcini cream sauce. Got room for dessert? Try homemade gelato, cannoli or a sweet ricotta crepe with strawberries and Nutella drizzle.

Wash it down during the wine walk from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday featuring 20 Italian and California wines. Tickets are $25 per person, per day, or $40 for both days. Sip and stroll the Italian farmers market, which will offer fresh fruits and vegetables all day Saturday and Sunday.

You can also play a hand in "making wine" — grape stomping will be free and open to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday. The celebrity stomp will begin Sunday 11 a.m. on the south side of the Eldorado.

For the kids, there’s a children’s gelato-eating contest at 3 p.m. on Sunday for youngsters ages 3 through 11 at the grape stomp stage. A children's play area also will be available directly across from the Eldorado on Virginia Street.

And if you still haven’t gotten your fill, the Eldorado’s Italian Dinner Buffet will be served in the Eldorado Convention Center at 4 p.m. on Saturday and in The Buffet at the Eldorado on Saturday and Sunday. The buffet will feature Italian specialties including antipasti, housemade pasta dishes, frutti di mare (pasta pescatore), steak Pizzaiola, chicken Marsala, fritto misto and homemade Italian salads and desserts. Adult cost is $28.99 per person, ONE Club Silver members and above cost $25.99 and children cost $14.99. 

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Entertainment lineup

The music lineup includes Ray Massa’s Eurorhythms, Aaron Caruso, Moreno Fruzzetti, Primo Basso and, direct from Italy, Capuano n’T Rock. New this year are Vanessa Racci and Mbrascatu, as well as illusionist Adam Trent.

Rome Stage (Fourth and Virginia street)


  • 10:30 a.m. to noon: Corey Pesaturo
  • 12:30-2 p.m.: Moreno Fruzzetti
  • 2-2:15 p.m.: Adam Trent
  • 2:30-4 p.m.: Ray Massa’s Eurorhythms
  • 4:30-6 p.m.: Vanessa Racci


  • 10-11:30 a.m.: Primo Basso
  • 11:30-11:45 a.m.: Adam Trent
  • Noon-1:30 p.m.: Capuano n' T Rock (Direct from Italy)
  • 2-3:30 p.m.: Aaron Caruso
  • 4-5:30 p.m.: Mbrascatu

Venice Stage (Third and Virginia streets)


  • 10-11:30 a.m.: Ray Massa’s Eurorhythms
  • Noon-1:30 p.m.: Mbrascatu
  • 2-3:30 p.m.: Aaron Caruso
  • 4-5:30 p.m.: Capuano n' T Rock (Direct from Italy)


  • 9:30-11 a.m.: Ray Massa’s Eurorhythms
  • 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.: Vanessa Racci
  • 1:30-3 p.m.: Cory Pesaturo
  • 3:30-5 p.m.: Moreno Fruzzetti

Road closures

From 9 a.m. Oct. 6 to 6 a.m. Oct. 10, the following roads will be closed downtown: Virginia Street from Second Street to Fifth Street; Fourth Street from Sierra to Center streets; Commercial Row from Sierra to Center streets; and Plaza Street from Center to Virginia streets.


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