It’s that time of year, and pandemic notwithstanding, you can satisfy your hankering for pizza frita at the annual St Roch’s feast on Aug 12, 13, and 14, and 15, 2020.
This year, however, the feast is just that: a feast. No carnival rides or games of chance. No live music or kegs of beer, but the organizers are going above and beyond to create a safe, delicious, outdoor dining experience behind the St Roch Christian Life Center.
According to Paul Cappiali, who is a trustee of St. Roch’s Church and committee chair for the event, attendees can expect an extensive menu of Italian favorites, including Chicken Scarpariello, Sausage & Pepper Dinner, and Cavatelli alla Milano. And while there won’t be the traditional beer garden, organizers have secured a full liquor license.
“We will do individual servings from a full wine list,” Cappiali said.
There is even a children’s menu with favorites including chicken nuggets and pasta with butter or red sauce, mac ‘n cheese, and french fries.
The feast is being organized according to the most rigid and specific recommendations for restaurants from the CDC, CT Dept of Health, and Greenwich Dept of Health.
The event is essentially an outdoor restaurant, and diners are encouraged to make a reservation via Open Table.
“Your table can only be for people in your pod or family,” Cappiali said, adding that Open Table is set up to facilitate contact tracing if necessary.
“Open Table captures contact telephone numbers and email. And, if you walk in (without a reservation, if there is room), the host or hostess would enter your information into Open Table and assign you a table,” he said.
Lightspeed has offered use of their point of sale system free of charge for order taking.
“It’s just like a waiter would use in a restaurant,” Cappiali said. “The waiter goes to the terminal to enter the order rather than go to the kitchen to talk to the chef.”
Air conditioned rest room facilities will be donated by United Rentals and custodial staff will be cleaning them every 15 minutes.
There will be two kitchens manned by staff with food safety certificates.
Each kitchen will have a chef and sous chefs to create a high end restaurant experience. There will be professional servers, who also have food safety certificates and have experience working events during the pandemic.
And whereas in the past the multi-day feast was run by a fleet of familiar volunteers, Cappiali said this year their role will be different.
“Our volunteers will do busing and cleaning, wiping down chairs, and changing table linens.”
Asked about feedback from the community, Cappiali said, “We have had push back, but every time we do, it’s been because of a lack of understanding.”
Cappiali said all the safety policies are listed on the St Roch website (and on Open Table), but they’re constantly being updated.
“I’m constantly talking to experts and people who have been running restaurants safely,” he said. “Any time there is an opportunity to take it further, I seize that opportunity.”
On the theme of no-touch, each table will be given a card with a QR code to scan with their phones to see the menu, but there will also be paper single-use menus.
You can also get to the Open Table to make a reservation via the St Roch website, where you can request raffle tickets and read the detailed Covid policies and procedures.
“We are discouraging people in high risk groups from coming,” Cappiali said, adding that he knows some members of the St Roch community in Chickahominy may not feel comfortable leaving their homes. “If you need me to deliver a pizza frita to your house, I will,” he said.
Cappiali said he is enthusiastic about the event, which is St Roch’s primary fundraiser, and 2020 is a significant year in the church’s history as the first cornerstone went down in 1920. The last cornerstone went down in 1928.
“We hope over the next eight years we’ll be able to leave St Roch Church and its properties in a healthy state for the next 100 years,” Cappiali said.
St Roch Church and Christian Life Center are located at 10 St Roch Ave in Chickahominy. Tel. (203) 869-4176.