Freep Film Festival: Dinner in Abruzzo

It’s a return engagement for this documentary short from Free Press restaurant critic Mark Kurlyandchik – but with a couple new twists. Two of the Detroit area’s best chefs – James Rigato (Mabel Gray) and Luciano Del Signore (Bacco Ristorante) – take a culinary trip to Del Signore’s parents’ hometown in Abruzzo, Italy, to attend a cousin’s wedding and seriously cook for much of his Italian family for the first time. Rigato, an Italian-American, has never been to Italy and learns about his mentor and his own heritage in one whirlwind cooking adventure.

The film will pair with “A Wife Called Phoenicia,” a new short from Kurlyandchik that takes an inside look at the family-run Birmingham Lebanese restaurant Phoenicia, which has been in business for nearly five decades.

Special event: A limited number of tickets to this screening will include a full dinner at the nearby Chartreuse restaurant. The meal will be inspired by “Dinner in Abruzzo” and prepared by Rigato and Del Signore.  Part of the Freep Film Festival’s Food on Film series.

“Dinner in Abruzzo”: 2017, 30 minutes. Unrated; some adult language and profanity.

“A Wife Called Phoenicia”: 2018, 10 minutes. Nothing objectionable.


The fifth annual Freep Film Festival arrives April 11-15 at a variety of venues centered in greater downtown Detroit. Full schedule, links to buy tickets and more at