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Tri-State tradition returns after 2-year pandemic hiatus

Sacred Heart Church's 'Original Italian Dinner' is back
Sacred Heart Church's Palm Sunday Italian Dinner
Posted at 11:11 PM, Apr 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 00:15:24-04

CINCINNATI — One of Cincinnati's oldest and largest continuous traditions returned Sunday after a two-year pandemic hiatus.

The "Original Italian Dinner" from Sacred Heart Church in Camp Washington is back, but it's not quite what it used to be. This year's dinner was take-out only.

"We would do about 6,000 dinners in one day. It took us about 10-12 weeks to prepare all the food and everything. So this year we decided that we would do just nothing but frozen and carry out," organizer Ron Panioto Junior said.

That didn't stop people from showing up, Panioto said the food started to run out after just a few hours.

This year, volunteers cooked 80,000 raviolis, 12,000 meatballs, 1,200 quarts of tomato sauce and hundreds of containers of cheese. According to the church, all recipes date back to 1911.

At 111 years and counting, organizers said it is the oldest event of its kind in the U.S.

Organizers said all proceeds from the tradition go right back into funding the Sacred Heart Church.