After suffering through one of our coldest summers in years, this month San Franciscans are rejoicing at the return of sunshine and warm weather. Our long-awaited Indian Summer has arrived––and for the most part, crowds seem to be following suit. Events and live music have been on a definite upswing, and though we’ve still got some ground to cover, it’s good to see the city slowly coming back to normal.

Case in point: North Beach’s San Francisco Italian Athletic Club (SFIAC) recently announced a sprawling four-day series of events for the final week of October. Focusing on the unique Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy, one of the wellsprings of Italian gastronomical tradition, these events are likely to be one of the bright spots of the Fall season.

wine events at the SFIAC

The San Francisco Italian Athletic Club is perched on the northeastern edge of North Beach’s historic Washington Square Park. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

The festivities start out on October 21st with the premier of Harvest 2020a documentary directed by Maurizio Gigola focusing on Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy’s northeastern-most province. There will be a reception, and the film’s debut will be accompanied by wines and appetizers of the region, including Prosciutto di San Daniele, Montasio cheese and Risotto con Montasio.

Two days of immersive wine workshops will follow on October 27th and 29th, to be headed up by instructor Patrick Corazza of Friuli Italian Wines, with a special address from wine professional Matteo Bellotto. The events start at 6:00 PM, and each evening will begin with a short introduction covering Friuli, its terroir and its history, followed by tasting and discussion of six wines (white wines will be featured on 10/27, reds on 10/29).

wine events at sfiac.org

A few of the wines of Friuli Venezia Giulia to be featured in SFIAC’s October events. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

Bellotto and Corazza are both respected authorities on Friulian wines, and many of the region’s offerings are vinified from grapes you don’t see often, such as Malvasia, Refosco and Tognolo. Billed as “Master Classes,” these workshops promise to be fun and edifying.

Make no mistake, this chef is dead serious about his regional cuisine. Click to Tweet
Sandwiched between these two tasting nights on October 28th is what could be the biggest wine event of the season: a gala five-course dinner presented by Chef Donato Scotti of Redwood City’s acclaimed Donato Enoteca. Exploring the tastes and history of this important culinary and winemaking region, this meal is going to be a knockout. Just take a gander at this menu: Budino Salata, a savory flan made from Montasio cheese. Gnocchi de Susini, potato gnocchi filled with sweet dried prunes, brown butter, cinnamon and breadcrumbs. Make no mistake, this chef is dead serious about his regional cuisine. Even better, proceeds for the event benefit our friends at North Beach Citizens.

It’s going to be an exceptional week, and it’s a real return to form for the SFIAC. After pivoting hard during the pandemic and shifting to serve the general public for the first time, the club is rebounding nicely. After undergoing a huge renovation during Covid, they’re finally able to let the crowds inside to appreciate all the work. When I recently attended a stag dinner there for the NFL season opener, it was well-attended and very lively. After tasting the chicken cacciatore, I began to understand why.

Chef Donato Scotti will host a special dinner revolving around the wines of Friuli Venezia Giulia at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club on October 28th.

Along with his team, SFIAC’s affable Nick Figone is running a top-tier restaurant and event space at his club on Stockton Street. And with this event series, the club appears to be upping the ante.

In case you’re still not convinced, just listen to the chef’s dessert course. The La Gubana is a flaky brioche layered with raisins, walnuts, hazelnuts, amaretti and citrus, and paired with a grappa-scented crème anglaise. Mercy. It’s an ambitious menu, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.

wines of friuli event at the sfiac in north beach

Both Coit Tower and the Saints Peter & Paul Church are located within just steps of the SFIAC’s North Beach headquarters. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

Of course, the timing for all of this couldn’t be more auspicious: October is Italian Heritage Month, and there is no better way to celebrate that history than to immerse yourself in the tastes and textures of a place like Friuli Venezia Giulia. Kudos to the SFIAC for bringing these happenings to North Beach––our little Italianate corner of San Francisco deserves events of this level.

Tickets for the ‘Master Class’ wine workshops are available here and here, and seats at the Harvest 2020 premier and 5-course gala dinner can be found here and here.

For more information on these and other upcoming events, check out the club’s website at SFIAC.ORG. In the meanwhile, enjoy the sunshine––and I’ll see you in North Beach!

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Event Calendar
October 21st: Premier Of Harvest 2020, Reception w/Wine & Appetizers
October 27th: Wine Workshop I – Whites of Friuli
October 28th: Gala 5-Course Dinner by Donato Enoteca w/Wine Pairings
October 29th: Wine Workshop II – Reds of Friuli

San Francisco Italian Athletic Club
1630 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 781-0165
sfiac.org