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ITHACA, NY — Gola Osteria makes Ithaca’s only muffaletta sandwich. The New Orleans-born Italian specialty — mortadella, salami, and capicola on house-made Sicilian sesame bread with spicy olive and pepper salad — can only be found on Gola Osteria’s catering menu.
While there are many caterers in the Ithaca area offering lovely selections, “the big difference, from top to bottom, is what’s on this menu is made here,” said Chef Sam Epps.
“The bread for that muffaletta sandwich, we’ll make it here. The olives and hot vegetable spread that’s on that sandwich, we pickle and spice the vegetables here, we cure the olives here.”
Gola added catering to their repertoire six months after opening the restaurant, and since then Epps’ goal is to give his catering clients the feeling of a big Italian feast for their special events.
“For me, I grew up kind of going to parties like that and eating at parties like that. I want people to be able to experience those sorts of parties but let us do the cooking for them so they don’t have to worry about it,” he said.
That means on offer are house-made sausage and pepper platters, pans of baked pasta like ziti, rigatoni and shells made by hand in Gola’s kitchen, antipasto classics like Prosciutto di Parma, hot soppresatta and Parrmigiano Reggiano imported from Italy.
While there is a set menu of Italian specialties from which to choose, “we’ll do pretty much any special requests,” said Epps.
“If people want something that they don’t see on here, Italian or not Italian, we will do them.”
As always at Gola, that something special includes seasonal touches like strawberries, peaches, and melons in the fruit and cheese platter during the summer, and grilled ramps in sausages during the spring.
And it also means that the on-menu pork braciola can become beef or veal braciola upon request, or with enough advance notice, interested parties can craft an entirely new custom menu.
In one recent dinner, Chef Epps went entirely off-script with Tuscan quail cacciatore, chicken liver crostini and papa al pomodoro.
While not explicitly on the catering menu, Gola prides itself on their house-made cannoli, (“they’ll probably never come off the menu at this point,”) and can prepare tiramisu cake, or traditional Italian cookie platters, which includes pignoli cookies, pizzelles and marzipan rainbow cookies to name a few.
As with the menu, there are no limitations, either, on size of party.
“The biggest we did was a 300-person wedding this past spring. That’s as big as we’ve gone. If someone wanted us to cook for 1,000 people I would do it,” Epps said.
“It can be anything too from very simple in foil to-go containers to extravagant on premises five course weddings. We’re more than happy to make whoever is ordering it as happy as they can be.”
To talk catering or custom menus, call (607) 273-0333 soon for your holiday party, or any other special event.