Rizzo's hosting Italian Christmas dinner to benefit hospice

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For four generations, homemade Italian cuisine has topped the menu at Rizzo’s Malabar Inn in the Crabtree area of Salem.

Tonight the restaurant will also be dishing up awareness as it hosts an Italian Christmas event at 6 p.m. to benefit Excela Health Hospice.

Tickets are $50 and include dinner, a glass of house wine and a jar of homemade sauce. Raffle baskets and a silent auction for a private dinner for six to eight at the restaurant prepared by Chef Rizzi DeFabo are also part of the fundraising festivities.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling 724-689-0202 or emailing pbuhl@excelahealth.org.

All proceeds go toward Excela Health Hospice and will be used to assist families with the purchase of equipment for hospice care.

This is the second year the restaurant has hosted the event, which brought in 180 guests last year and raised $12,000.

“For a first-year event, I think that was great,” Mr. DeFabo said. “A lot of people who have used hospice and needed their care came out for it. We thought it was a great cause.”

Excela Health Hospice, which provides care to patients with terminal illness and support for their families, is part of the Excela Health network, which operates three acute-care hospitals in Westmoreland, southern Indiana and northern Fayette counties.

Jennifer Miele, the health system’s vice president of marketing, said she chose the restaurant as the venue for this signature event because she wanted a place that was family-oriented.

“I thought it would be a perfect place to have an event for hospice,” she said. “End-of-life care is a very trying time for families. It’s a very emotional time and people want to come and want to share their stories about the good care that they or their loved one has received with hospice.”

Mr. DeFabo and his family have owned and operated the restaurant for four generations. When he was approached about hosting, he said he quickly came on board after seeing firsthand the benefit of hospice through his grandfather and other relatives who required this level of care.

The menu will be a little bit of a surprise this year, but Mr. DeFabo said that guests can expect some typical Italian Christmas dishes such as smelts, a variety of signature pastas and a large antipasto table with cheeses and meats.

Though cooking for such a large crowd is no small task, he said he enjoys it and plans to continue to host the event each year.

“It’s not like work,” he said. “It’s rewarding in its own way knowing that this money is going to help these people through the difficult times.”

Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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