For me, nostalgia is an incredibly important part of creating an environment at any event. I talk about nostalgia a lot in my book, Party Like A Rock Star, because every event should feel comfortable and inviting. When guests can relate to their surroundings through happy memories and nostalgia, they are automatically relaxed and can open themselves up to having a great time.
Using the given theme of Italian Family Dinner, geared me towards trying to create atmospheres in the dining rooms that would evoke happy emotional responses from Rocco and his guests. The environments needed to be intimate, warm, and comforting, but exciting enough to keep a nice “pulse” to the room and keep the guests entertained visually, so the rooms would be the cause of the easy flow of conversation. The rooms also needed to translate and express what Ninamarie and Fabrizio wanted, which wasn’t easy considering I couldn’t understand a word that Fabrizio said! I sat with Ninamarie and at first she really didn’t have much to bring to the table décor-wise for me, but within moments her face lit up after she had conjured up memories of visiting Little Italy as a special place for her and her family and friends to go to. She loved being visually entertained in the old school restaurants there by all of the old pictures on the walls; the big round tables and the mismatched plush seating. Ninamarie wanted to allow a lot of space on the table in order to serve the guests family style with large platters of food. I used small mason jars filled with simple stems of garden roses accented with sprigs of real kumquat stems and raspberry sprigs.
Ninamarie wanted some whimsy in the room and some oversized items, so I created a Mulberry Street sign to grace the brick walls and some fun oversized forks, spoons and spaghetti and meatballs!! There were a lot of elements in the room, because my experience with Little Italy restaurants in NY, have a lot to look at: pictures, candles, little knickknacks all over the place….
I thought both rooms were great, but I especially liked the little italy room. I loved the old italian family photos on the walls and the lighting. Rocco seemed to bag on that room a little which was kind of annoying - does he get nice at some point this show? ALL the other guests seemed to really like this room and the food better...not sure why Ninamaria didn't win.