They don't make a big deal about it, but Joe Cicala, the executive chef at South Philly's Le Virtu, and Angela Ranalli, the pastry chef, are indeed a couple.
They're throwing a church wedding Sunday, April 14, followed by a private reception under a tent on Le Virtu’s newly paved patio.
Simple? "We have 15 different centerpieces!" says Ranalli. "Each one is dedicated to our ancestors and focuses around their trades and features their photos since they can’t be here with us. It will be a vintage wedding – the guys are in vests and jeff caps. Girls in feathery headpieces and vintage jewels. Favors are candy-coated almonds (traditional Abruz. candies) with recipes tied to them.”
If the weather is nice, they'll parade on East Passyunk Avenue with the folk group DisCanto playing while walking behind the wedding party.
Varallo is providing some desserts, but Ranalli is making some as well, especially an assortment of Italian cookies.
The bride and groom won't cook too much but do plan to wheel out a whole roasted pig at the start of the second course - a "Presentation of the Porchetta."
Ranalli shares the back story: “Joe proposed to me in the town of Scanno in Abruzzo on one of our research trips. Instead of the American tradition of a ring as token of engagement he went the tradition Abruzzese way: He took me to an antique jeweler in Scanno, Armando DiRenzi, and gave me La Presentosa – a necklace that men gave to women for engagement, no ring. Many times, shepherds would give these to their girlfriends before the left for Transumanza, the twice-yearly migration of shepherding sheep and cows from highlands to lowlands. As he was handing it to me the jeweler rushed us out of the store. The town was about to begin a festival: Glorie di San Martino – a pagan festival welcoming the winter spirit. It was magical as they set off fireworks and lit fires to celebrate. Very romantic."