Popcorn and soft drinks may work with big-screen thrillers, but a far better way to enjoy more intimate Italian film fare is with Italian food.
Tuesday, Prego Ristorante inaugurates a Festival del Cinema Italiano featuring movies and four-course meals. Each event begins with three courses on the patio, followed by a screening of the first half of each movie in the Garden Room.
Dessert and cappuccino will be served during "intermission."
* Tuesday, "Cinema Paradiso" (Academy Award, Best Foreign Film, 1989); courses include seafood salad, terrine of baked eggplant and pasta, breaded swordfish medallions in Sicilian ratatouille, and shaved Italian ice with espresso and whipped \o7 mascarpone\f7 .
* Sept. 19, "Mediterraneo," with Tuscan mussel soup, herb risotto, \o7 osso buco d'agnello \f7 (young lamb shanks with soft polenta and roasted fennel), and \o7 gianduia \f7 (chocolate-hazelnut) ice cream cake with vanilla bean sauce.
* Oct. 3, "Johnny Stecchino," with grilled artichoke hearts, couscous with lobster, prawns and calamari, monkfish medallions with curry sauce and golden leeks, and Sicilian-style ricotta cake with orange blossom honey sauce.
The evenings begin at 6 p.m. The cost of $30 includes meal and movie, but not tax or tip. The movies will be shown with subtitles, in VHS video format on a 62-inch monitor.
18420 Von Karman, Irvine. (714) 553-1333.
Pero's and the Cannery have announced upcoming featured winery nights. A glass at either restaurant runs about $5. At the Cannery, that includes a complimentary hors d'oeuvres buffet, and at Pero's, theoretically unlimited antipasto.
At the Cannery, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.: tonight, Vichon; Aug. 31, William Hill; Sept. 7, Flora Springs; Sept. 14, Belvedere.
At Pero's, from 6 to 8 p.m.: Monday, Meridien; Sept. 11, Chalk Hill; Sept. 18, Sanford.
The Cannery, 3010 Lafayette Ave., Newport Beach. (714) 675-5777.
Pero's, 2221 Main St., Huntington Beach. (714) 960-7764.
A "Crab and Crawfish Festival" is underway at Cafe Fleuri in the Sutton Place Hotel through Wednesday, with live entertainment provided by the Jazz Band of Nimes. Blue crab and crawfish are being sold by the pound ($13.50 per pound, and you can order a half pound) from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; gumbo, bisque and jambalaya are also available.
A Bayou Brunch, Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., will also spotlight Cajun and Creole dishes; it's $29 without tax or tip.
4500 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach. (714) 476-2001.