Philly's Most Hardcore Dining Experience Features 40 Courses of Abruzzese Cooking

Jan 22, 2019 438


Italians know a thing or two about feasting. (See: Feast of the Seven Fishes, Feast of San Gennaro, any Sunday night my family gathers for Nonna’s gnocchi). But there’s one legendary feast that makes all the others look like light snacks. La Panarda, an epic 40-course, 8-to-10-hour meal, hails from the Abruzzo region of Italy, and, at least since 2011, from the East Passyunk neighborhood of Philadelphia. On Sunday, January 27, Le Virtù will host its 8th annual La Panarda, and diners come prepared to Feast with a capital F.

Francis Cratil Cretarola and his wife, Cathy Lee, owners of the beloved South Philly restaurant, began hosting their own version of the meal as a way to double down on their commitment to the region’s culture and cuisine. “There’s nothing more quintessentially Abruzzese than La Panarda,” he says. Its exact origins are a little hazy, but it centered around the yearly animal slaughter, and according to Cretarola, the oldest continuously-running annual dinner started in 1657 in Villavallelonga, a mountain town in Abruzzo. 

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