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Chef Giacomo Dresseno

Italians are known for their hospitality. As they say, mia casa è sua casa, which means "my house is your house." Primavera restaurant owner and chef Giacomo Dresseno and his wife, Melody, dispense such neighborly friendliness, providing personalized service amid the fresh flowers and terra-cotta tile accents in their elegant, authentic Northern Italian ristorante.

When business slows in summer, the couple takes time to mingle with guests on a more personal level during wine appreciation dinners and afternoon cooking classes. Primavera was recognized as one of the top restaurants in the United States and the best Italian restaurant in Broward County by the 2000 national Zagat Survey. Given that, you couldn't ask for a more qualified teacher than Giacomo -- from Lake Como, Italy -- if you want to learn Italian recipes.

With assistance from Melody, he demonstrates and explains his techniques as students look on during class, doling out samples as he goes along. Of course, no Italian meal would be complete without vino, and when folks learn how to whip up Italian summer entrées in the August 9 class, they'll also get the lowdown on which wines go best with them.

"The pairing of food and wine is so important, and it's disappearing slowly," says Giacomo. And while he knows his wine, he brings in experts for the appreciation dinners. The July 27 event features a cosmopolitan mix of Californian, Italian, and French wines, with commentary by spirits distributor Ken Lapham and Andrew Lampasone of Wine Watch boutique. A different wine will be poured alongside each of the six courses, and Giacomo has chosen dishes with seasonings that are perfectly balanced by the various varietals.

"It's not something that I can find in a book," he explains. "I just mentally combine different options. The more you do it, the better you get at it."

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