Parli Italiano? No? Mi scusi! Let's keep it simple, then: The 25th annual Sorrento Cheese Italian Heritage Festival begins Thursday and runs through July 15 on Hertel Avenue. Whether you'd like to honor your own Italian heritage or just bask in the fine food and entertainment that has come from that heritage, there will be plenty of amore to go around.

Opening day events are from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday and include a full lineup of musical entertainment on two stages. The jazz stage features Buffalo Swing Combo at 2:30 p.m., the Buffalo Rat Pack at 5:30 p.m. and Paul Briandi and His All-Star Band at 8:30 p.m. On the Frankie Scinta stage—named after the local musician who will also emcee the performances—Detroit-based singer Aaron Caruso performs at 6 p.m., the Mick Hayes Band at 7 p.m. and Louis Prima Jr. at 8:30 p.m. There will also be a cooking demonstration with Chef Marco from Marco's Italian Restaurant at 7 p.m. The next three days of the festival, opening at 11 a.m. daily, include an Italian Idol contest, a Miss Italian Festival competition, a children's cannoli-filling contest, and daily music performances and cooking demonstrations. For a full schedule of events, visit

- Jason Silverstein