In The City — 03 June 2016
“Taste of Italy” dinner benefits PACE Center

By Robyn A. Friedman

City & Shore Magazine

The  more than 140 guests for dinner Wednesday (June 7) at Casa D’Angelo Ristorante in Fort Lauderdale came for more than the menu. Chef Angelo Elia and his wife, Denise, closed the restaurant to host the 14th Annual “A Taste of Italy” dinner and wine auction, benefiting PACE Center for Girls Broward.

The sold-out event began with a reception and followed with a four-course Tuscan dinner and auction of premium wines and vacation and entertainment packages. Proceeds help fund year-round academic, counseling and life skills services for the girls enrolled at PACE Center in Wilton Manors. The event, co-chaired by Jane Wexton and Marvin Pickholz, raised $99,000; to date, the event has now raised nearly $1 million.

“It’s a beautiful experience,” says Chef Angelo, who owns Casa D’Angelo restaurants in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton and Angelo Elia Pizza, Bar and Tapas restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, Weston, Coral Springs and Delray Beach. “I love to do this for the community and to be a part of PACE.”

The event was created 14 years ago after Chef Angelo won a $1,000 raffle from PACE. When he went to pick up his prize, he toured the center and learned about the services it provides to the girls. But just as he was leaving, Chef Angelo says he was moved to turn around. “I said, ‘I don’t need the $1,000.’ So I said I would close the restaurant, and let’s do a charity event,” he recalls. “We’ve sold out every year and raised almost a million dollars.”

“The event [was] sold out not just because of the donors who support us but also because of the fabulous restaurant he has,” says Aggie Pappas, executive director of PACE Center for Girls Broward, which serves 500 girls a year through various programs. “It’s almost like a private dinner. We attract many individuals who would be considered wine connoisseurs.”

PACE provides middle school and high school academics for 85 students, ages 11 through 17, who come to the school daily for classes. It also has a counseling program for girls in the community and their families. The program was established in 1992 as a delinquency prevention and intervention program for young and adolescent girls.

“It’s often very difficult for these girls to find help,” Chef Angelo says. “To have a facility like PACE, where they help these girls become somebody in the world and not to be on the street, speaks for itself.”

For more information about PACE Center for Girls Broward,
call 954-561-6939 or visit

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