Op-eds: Italianfest – A heritage festival for everyone

Op-eds are submitted by the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion(s) of LINK Media.

More by....

Written by Newport City Commissioner Mike Radwanski

When I originally moved to Cincinnati from Metro Detroit in 2005, I found myself in search for Mom-and-Pop style Italian restaurants. In both High School and College, I worked in both the front and back of the house at Italian restaurants. After a long dinner shift, it was common for the owners to offer a meal which was often served with everyone together at a large table. Few of us were of Italian descent, however we all felt welcome and part of the family. With these sentiments in mind, I found myself explaining my experience over a cigar to a friend of mine I met while frequenting Straus Tobacconist in 2008. Mr. Paolucci explained to me that his great uncle had been a Newport City Commissioner in the 1950s and remarked that he drove a Chrysler Newport. When I asked him where I could find good Italian food in the area, he recommended Pompilios in Newport. Upon finishing my cigar, I drove to Newport.

Outside of the occasional trip to Hofbräuhaus or the levee, Newport was largely unexplored for me. I was pleasantly surprised when I drove up Washington avenue to the restaurant. I remember sitting in the bar and ordering Cannelloni. It soon became a tradition when I went to Straus on Sundays for a cigar to go over to Newport for dinner. It wasn’t long before I started to drive around the streets surrounding Pompilios. I added Newport to my list of real estate searches however that dream wouldn’t come true until 2012.

Once a resident in Newport, I started to go to the festivals with my favorites being Italianfest and the inland Seafood Festival. I always found the tents with all the pictures of the many Italian families interesting. Though Mr. Paolucci told me his family left the city years ago, it didn’t take long to find photos of his family. I remember walking by the VIP tent wondering how to get an invite. Regardless of my involvement in East Row Historic Foundation, I would have to wait until 2021 to get an invite. My invitation would come only after volunteering with 40 other residents who served on the City of Newport’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. The following year I was again invited because of my service on Newport’s Code Enforcement Board. I remember sharing this story with then Vice Mayor Frank Peluso. He replied: “and now here you are!”. Fast forward to 2023, as an elected City Commissioner, it will be both humbling and a thrill to be part of the opening ceremony on Thursday at 6:30pm. To think, it all started with a cigar and a trip to Pompilios!

More news:  Housing Authority of Covington approves new maintenance facility purchase

More articles

More by...

Latest articles

In Case You Missed It