When volunteers lifted the chafing dishes to reveal steaming hot, baked penne pasta with tomato and Mozzarella cheese, a few of the Spooner House's clients gasped. The three-course gourmet dinner about to be served had been especially prepared for them by Il Palio Restaurant's Chef Margherita Aloi. “It looks so fresh!” said Mary Ann, as she handed her paper plate to one of the servers.
Mary Ann quickly found out Chef Aloi'sflavorful fare tastes even better than its spectacular presentation.
Once a month, Ms. Aloi provides dinner and fresh fruit for dessert to the Spooner House in Shelton. In February, she prepared baked salmon, seasonal vegetables and lasagna made with a Bolognese sauce. Twenty adults and children recently dined on penne pasta, chicken scaloppine piccata, roasted potatoes and broccoli rabe, green beans, asparagus and onion, all sauteed with garlic and olive oil.
“I truly feel I've been given a gift from God,” Ms. Aloi said. “I have a talent for cooking with fresh and simple ingredients and it's only natural that I share this gift with others. I realize that not everyone could afford to come into Il Palio, though, so I want to bring something special for them. I'm so happy they've enjoyed the dinners we've sent over.”
Reaching out to those in need and supporting a variety of community organizations in Fairfield County is a long-standing tradition for Il Palio's owner, Robert D. Scinto. Since opening R.D. Scinto, Inc. more than 35 years ago, Mr. Scinto, a resident of Fairfield, has actively participated on several boards and also worked behind the scenes to combat homelessness and hunger in the area. “It's the right thing to do,” Mr. Scinto said. “People living at the Spooner House are facing a great deal of challenges right now. The least we could do is offer some of Margherita's wonderful cooking to make their lives a bit more enjoyable during this difficult time.”
The Spooner House was founded by Area Congregations Together to provide outreach services--such as long-term housing, meals and counseling -- to qualifying individuals and families. All of its dinners are provided by local restaurants, church groups, civic organizations and individuals, said Amanda Filakovsky, volunteer coordinator for the Spooner House.
Aneudi, an eleven-year old boy residing at the Spooner House with his mother, sisters and aunt, thoroughly enjoyed the meal from Il Palio. His favorite dish was the penne pasta. “I taste two different types of cheeses in it and it's so good,” Aneudi enthused.
This was the first time Aneudi sampled chicken piccata. “I really like it,” the young boy noted. “In fact, everything we had for dinner was really, really good.”
His mother said her children ate all of their dinner, even the vegetables. “They never finish their plate but they did this time,” she said, smiling. “Everything was really nice and fresh. This was a good meal.”
Spooner House volunteers encouraged the clients to indulge in second and third helpings. They, too,couldn't resist sampling some of the tasty dishes. Filakovsky said leftover food is typically served to the clients for lunch the following day.
Il Palio Restaurant, located at 5 Corporate Drive in Shelton, is open for lunch Monday to Friday, 11:45 am to 2:15 pm, and dinner on Monday to Saturday, 5:30 pm to 9:15 pm. For more information, go to www.ilpalioct.com or call 203-944-0770.