Market Watch 

Ceriello Fine Foods, a small chain of Italian gourmet food stores, is scheduled to open its first Southern location at the Lincoln American Tower in downtown Memphis before the end of the year.

Ceriello is known for its butcher shop, which sells prime aged beef, handmade Italian sausages, lamb, pork, and poultry. The store also carries fresh mozzarella and fine cheeses, home-style Italian sauces, artisan and organic pastas, balsamic vinegar, olive oils, dried mushrooms, honey, biscotti, and coffees, as well as prepared foods such as paninis, lasagna, and pasta dishes.

Founded in 1973 by Andrea Ceriello, the business currently has nine locations, most of them in New York, Maryland, and New Jersey. Ceriello, who often answers the telephone himself at the headquarter store in New York City, immigrated to the U.S. in 1970 from Pomigliano D'Arco, an Italian town in the Campania region northeast of Naples.

Ceriello admits opening a store in Memphis hadn't crossed his mind until after he was contacted by York Lawson. Lawson, part of the Court Square development team, convinced Ceriello to take a look at the city and the location.

"Lawson had been to my Baltimore store, and after that, he didn't let loose. He literally pestered me," Ceriello remembers. Ceriello and his wife visited Memphis and liked what they saw.

"The space is perfect for us, and we really liked Memphis," Ceriello says. "I've been back many times since then, discovered lots of great food and restaurants, and think that the community will accept us well."

It's time once again for the Memphis Italian Festival at Marquette Park, Thursday, May 29th, through Saturday, May 31st.

Besides live entertainment, a bocce tournament, arts-and-crafts booths, and Luigi Land for the little ones, this year's festival brings back the People's Choice Award, which gives you the chance to taste and judge championship spaghetti gravy. To participate, guests pay $5 to taste four gravy entries and score just like the professionals. The People's Choice event begins at noon on Saturday.

Tickets for the festival are $7 on Thursday and $10 on Friday and Saturday. Admission is free for children under the age of 12 and for everybody on Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m. on Thursday and 11 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Free parking is available at Audubon Woods Business Campus (845 Crossover), with shuttle services provided.

memphisitalianfestival.com

After a $45 million renovation, Grand Casino Resort Tunica will become Harrah's Casino Tunica with an official grand-opening ribbon cutting by Food Network star Paula Deen at 1 p.m. on Friday, May 23rd. This also marks the opening of the casino's 560-seat Paula Deen Buffet, designed after Deen's house in Savannah, Georgia.

Deen will be hosting two "Personally Paula" shows on Sunday, May 25th, at 2 and 5 p.m. Tickets for the show are available through Ticketmaster. The new Harrah's Tunica will also include a restaurant called '37 (a fine-dining steakhouse) and Sphere, a bar offering a wide selection of beer, wine, and premium liquors.

harrahs.com

Interim will host a Farmers' Dinner on June 9th, at 7 p.m. Jackson Kramer will prepare a meal featuring all-local produce and products from Flora at Bluebird Farms, Neola Farms, Windermere Farms, and Whitton Flower & Produce. Cost for the dinner is $80 per person plus tax and gratuity. Half of the evening's proceeds will benefit the farmers. Call the restaurant to make reservations.

Interim, 5040 Sanderlin (818-0821)

Sekisui has issued a challenge to patrons to create a new sushi roll. If you win, your roll will be included on the menu of your favorite Sekisui restaurant, and you will receive a $50 gift card. Winners will be selected on August 1st.

For those who want to hone their skills before plunging into the contest, try Viking Cooking School's sushi classes with Jimmy Ishii. On June 11th, Viking will offer an advanced sushi workshop with the "master," and on July 2nd — still in plenty of time to create your own roll — Ishii will lead another basic workshop.

Go to sekisuiusa.com to submit your sushi roll. For more information on the sushi workshop, visit vikingcookingschool.com or call 763-3747.

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