Entertaining outdoors this time of year is such a treat; it’s a beautiful time to be surrounded by nature, enjoying warm, farm-fresh dishes, and cozying up with good friends. Every year I host a dinner to help my friend Lauren Bush Lauren raise money for FEED—her amazing organization that provides meals for children and families in need. Another friend, Candace Nelson, is getting ready to open her new restaurant called Pizzana with her husband Charles, so the three of us put together the celebratory supper in Candace’s beautiful tree-lined backyard. Guests got to try dishes from Pizzana’s menu, and even take home cookies made by Candace herself. Candace is the founder of Sprinkle’s cupcakes, so she has a bit of a reputation when it comes to making delicious sweets.
We set the scene with several long reclaimed wood farm tables and benches from Found Vintage Rentals, topped with white linen tablecloths from Tavola Linens. My go-to florist, Kristen Caissie of Moon Canyon, then added bowls filled with seasonal veggies and blooms down the center, for a lush, Italian countryside feel. West Elm provided the table runner, napkins, and dishware to complete the table. I loved the dark, autumn-appropriate color of the ceramic stoneware plates. Once simple tea-light candles and Pizzana’s charcuterie and olives were set on the table with West Elm’s FEED Cutting Boards, the rustic, romantic mood was really set.
The meal started off with an array of Italian-inspired shareable plates. Wood–fired meatballs, acorn squash with crumbled goat cheese, ricotta broccolini, and charred artichoke hearts were among the dishes served. A chopped salad with kale, salame Toscano, chickpeas, and goat cheese was another favorite. For a main course, Pizzana’s Naples-born chef Daniele Uditi served the fresh, hand-crafted Neopolitan-style pizzas that’ll be a cornerstone at the new Brentwood restaurant. They were light, flavorful, and just beyond delicious. Chef and event planner Annie Campbell made special drinks to accompany this gorgeous meal including a celery buck cocktail and a fall gimlet. Stay tuned tomorrow for more details from Annie on these delicious seasonal drinks. XXJKE