It’s a pretty common bucket-list item to learn to speak Italian. I mean, who wouldn’t want to absorb the language of the country that gave us Sophia Loren, pizza, espresso and those adorable little Fiats? Not to mention the fact that Americans love to travel to Italy—whether it’s to bask in the gorgeous art, drink wine with lunch every day or simply find a place where both parents and little ones can equally enjoy a vacation. (Did we mention the gelato?)
In my case, it’s all of the above—plus the fact that my Italian is embarrassingly sparse and I’m taking my family there this summer to visit relatives. That’s why my interest was immediately piqued when I saw that Lupo Verde Osteria in Palisades is kicking off what will hopefully be a series of Italian language classes in partnership with Casa Italiana Language School. At the first class taking place March 10, adults will be in one room learning Italian basics such as their numbers, greetings and how to get by in general situations like a bank or restaurant. Children ages six and older will be in another room learning the basics through games and activities to make the lessons stick.
Attilio Larosa, a native of Milan and the corporate wine and beverage director of the company that owns Lupo Verde, says the idea for the classes came directly from customers who kept asking for it.
“It was many, many guests who requested it,” he says, adding that he feels proud when Americans share their desire learn Italian. So Larosa contacted Casa Italiana Language School and proposed a partnership to bring Italian language lessons to the restaurant.
“I told them we have the restaurant and many guests who are interested in learning Italian, and then they were enthusiastic,” he says.
The inaugural class will feature two instructors, one for children and the other for adults. Both the kid and adult classes will take place over two 45-minute sessions, with the first session starting at 4 p.m. and the second session starting at 5:15 p.m. Included in the price, which is $55 for adults and $25 for children (excluding tax and gratuity), is the instruction, a spread of salami, bread and other snacks during the break, and a three-course family-style dinner that starts at 6 p.m.
For dinner, culinary director Orlando Amaro plans to serve such dishes as fried artichokes, mozzarella with prosciutto, grilled branzino and pasta all’amatriciana for the adults, and items like pasta with tomato sauce or cheese for the kids. Everyone will end with a mango panna cotta for dessert. Grown-ups also have a choice of a glass of select wines or beer.
At the end of the evening, Larosa hopes guests will be both well-fed and have a better grasp of the basics of speaking Italian. And if the excitement of the restaurant’s regulars are any indication, this is something that has a good shot of being offered on a regular basis going forward.
“I called personally most of our guests,” Larosa says of how the class is already almost full. “I was so happy to call them, and they confirmed right away.”
The class takes place this Sunday starting at 4 p.m. at 4814 MacArthur Blvd. NW. For more information, call 202-506-6683 or visit the restaurant's website.