Tuscany comes to Andover for dinner

Fundraiser for community garden and learning center

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  • Jo-Ann and John Brigadi of Lake Hopatcong enjoy their first course Saturday night Photos by Rose Sgarlato

  • Farm to table ingredients: heirloom tomato with homemade mozzarella with pesto prepared by Caffe Anello of Westwood NJ.

  • Sunset View Farm owner Linda Grinthal with Matt Borgensen, John Vitale and Tim Celli of Caffe Anello

  • Homemade fusilli with a tomato, vodka, mascarpone sauce was the delicious second course at the Fifth Annual Tuscan dinner fundraiser.

  • The Rippeys', the Farias' and the LaBancas' of Sparta are customers of Caffe Anello in Westwood and were excited to support Saturday night's fundraiser at Sunset View Farm in Andover.

By Rose Sgarlato

— Sunset Vista Community Garden & Learning Center held its 5th Annual Tuscan Dinner fundraiser on Aug. 26. This year’s proceeds of $3,500 will go towards the betterment of activities and programs overall in the accessible gardens.

Patrons of the sold-out event enjoyed a four-course farm-to-table dinner courtesy of Chef John Vitale of Caffe Anello in Westwood NJ. Vitale is a big fan of Sunset Vista Farm owner Linda Grinthal and her continuous efforts to bring the community together through farming and gardening.

“We are so grateful to John Vitale of Caffe Anello for hosting this farm-to-table fundraiser and also to the 80 people who supported us by purchasing dinner tickets,” Grinthal said. "The event netted over $3,500 and will help us host garden and farm social get-togethers for people with disabilities and paralysis.”

Using farm produce of tomatoes, eggplant and herbs to name a few key ingredients, Vitale and his staff created an Italian meal that was a crowd pleaser:

· Fresh made mozzarella, farm vine tomatoes, citrus pesto, Balsamic glaze

· Homemade fusilli and vodka sauce with mascarpone.

· Eggplant rollatini with ricotta, mascarpone and tomato sauce

· Tiramisu

Locals from Sussex County and customers of Caffé Anello from Bergen County came to the farm on Saturday on what was a fairly cold, but clear August evening. Catherine La Banca of Sparta and former resident of Bergen County frequents Caffe Anello and was thrilled that Chef Vitale participates in the local fundraiser.

“We recently went to Caffe Anello and found out about the Tuscan dinner fundraiser and bought tickets knowing that the food would be delicious, and we would be supporting a great local cause," said La Banca who attended the event with her husband and two other Sparta couples.

Grinthal plans to also use the funds to reach more organizations that could facilitate more disabled people visiting both the accessible and community gardens.

Sunset Vista Community Garden & Learning Center is a 501C- 3 organization and supports the following mission statement: “Sunset Vista provides small scale organic agriculture and self-sufficiency instruction to individuals and groups to deepen their understanding of food, its source and its relationship to health, while preserving the environment, to inspire others to recreate those principles in their own home and community environments.”

For volunteering opportunities or donations, go to www.sunsetvista.org.

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