y the time October 12 rolled
around, everyone in town wished
they were either Italian-American
or a friend of the National Italian
American Foundation, as supporters swooped
into town for NIAF’s annual star-studded
weekend. On Friday night, 200 guests partied
with Yogi Berra at a glamorous dinner party
at Cafe Milano hosted by Franco Nuschese.
Berra, the perpetually favored dinner guest
who is known as much for his witticisms
as his baseball acumen, offered clues to his
success: “I usually take a two hour nap from
one to four."
No one was napping when they realized
that Dion, the ‘60s rock’n’roll icon and lead
singer of The Belmonts, was there. The ultimate
doo-wop eartthrob was casually dressed and
upbeat, having just finished his latest album,
“Son of Skip James.”.
While the album is a major deviation
from his classic hits like “Runaround Sue,”
“A Teenager in Love,” and “Kansas City,” Dion
explained that, “Blues was my first love.” Asked
what he had been doing in Kansas City, as if
anticipating the question he remarked: “I was a
kid from the Bronx; it was no big deal.”
On this night though, it was a big deal. Dion
was wedged between Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Italian actress and photojournalist Gina Lollobrigida. At dinner’s end other guests piled on,
including soap star Susan
Lucci, Justice Samuel Alito, former Rep. Marty Russo, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Rep. Mike Ferguson, Fred Cannon, Italian
Amb. Giovanni Castellaneta and his glamorous
wife, Lila, and Dean’s little girl, songstress and
author Deana Martin.
The wine was Sicilian, the ambiance,
Positano, and the guests -- priceless, reaffirming
that immigration is a good thing.
In between Milano and the gala on
Saturday, rock and roll hit-maker Neil Sedaka performed at the Hilton’s “Salute to the
Martini,” whatever that means.
Corridor chat at the Saturday night event
included former Ambassador to the Vatican JimNicholson, who spent three and a half years in
Rome. Referring to the evening, he said: “It
makes me very sentimental for the days I had
in Italy. The Italians are very warm, generous
and people who really do love Americans.”
At the VIP reception, it was very warm and
generous, and clearly we really do love Italians.
Justice Antonin Scalia suggested the Supreme