Rocky Ruggiero dishes on art, culture and cuisine at Eataly Los Angeles

By Joey Cahn

Bronzino’s “Martirio di San Lorenzo” (“The Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence”)

For many people, the phrase “eyeballs on a plate” might conjure images of horror movies or tacky Halloween decorations. For Italian art historian Rocky Ruggiero, it welcomes a bevy of information that represents the intersectionality of food, religion and art.

The renowned Italian Renaissance expert returns to Los Angeles for two weekend engagements. Friday night’s “Saints, Symbols and Spaghetti” at Eataly Los Angeles is a four-course meal of traditional dishes inspired by Catholic saints and martyrs. Saturday morning, Ruggiero tours the expansive Italian art collection at the
Getty Center.

Friday’s cultural discussion and feast features a four-course menu inspired by traditional stories of Catholic saints, from St. Sebastian’s arrows to St. Lucy’s eye-
balls to St. Lawrence’s barbecue grill, and wine pairings for each course by an Eataly sommelier.

“This whole kind of saint influence in Catholic Italy is so deep. There are actually dishes and plenty of recipes that are associated with certain saints and holidays as well,” Ruggiero says. “Culture is not just art. Culture is the wine, the local traditions, the food. It’s multi-faceted. The food combines the local traditions with music.”

Saturday’s tour of the Getty aims to demystify the Italian Renaissance art in its collections and “make it appealing to anybody and everybody at the same time,” he says.

“I’ll take you to the crux of the best art, and that’s going to make you hungry to want to come to Italy,” Ruggiero promises. “I’m a preacher preaching to the people, and I’m just trying to convert them over to seeing there’s a lot of good in this world.”

“Saints, Symbols and Spaghetti” is from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday (Feb. 22) at Eataly Los Angeles, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City. The art tour is from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday (Feb. 23) at the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1200 Getty Center Dr., West L.A. Tickets are $100 for the tour and $150 for the dinner at