For the love of Italy!

Italian Book Club Nov 2015

Cliff Newell from the Lake Oswego Review was our special guest at our last meeting of the Italian Book Club at Nicoletta’s Table in Lake Oswego. Here is his article that does a wonderful job of describing the spirit of our group.

“For ladies who love Italy and can’t enough of it, the Nicoletta’s Table Book Club is just the place to go.

That is if you can get a seat at the table.

The club meets in a side room of the popular Lake Oswego restaurant on State Street, and a typical meeting recreates the Italian family dining experience because there are so many (too many?) people sitting around the large oval table. Everyone is animated, laughing and talking, wine flows, and the food is “magnifico.”

When good food and good company come together, the result is magic. Especially with Italian food.

“This club has taken on a life of its own,” club founder Lori Greer said. “This is a community built around a love of food, travel, love of Italy, meeting new people.”

“Love of Nicoletta’s is why we’re here,” Cheryl Dotten said. “It is so nice to have a place like this instead of going to downtown Portland and fighting the traffic.”

The club is also about the love of Nicoletta’s Table owner Shari Newman. Having a book club was her idea in the first place, and since so many people love Newman’s restaurant, Greer thought it was a great idea. Even though she had to shrug off some early discouragement.

“At the first meeting, I was the only one there,” Greer said. “But the setting was so beautiful and the food was so good, I knew this club would be a success.”

Of course, she was right. Greer is now surrounded by happy Italophiles, all of them ready to enrich their Italian experience.

They even discuss books about Italy. The tome reviewed at the most recent meeting was “An Italian Journey” by James Ernest Shaw. The discussion is loud, witty and the laughter rolls. Observations are pungent: “When you marry an Italian, you marry his mother.” What the women liked most about the book is its description of how close Italian families are, living in one city and one neighborhood for decades, maybe centuries. This remarkable strength of community is something they envy.

Almost all of the club members have traveled to Italy and could probably write a pretty good book about their adventures. But when it comes to knowledge of Italy, the club looks to “our expert” — Susan Nelson. Her great Italian experience started 13 years ago on a quick two-week vacation that covered three countries — France, Italy and Switzerland.

“I loved it all, but Italy captivated me,” Nelson said. “I think it was a combination of the medieval villages, monuments from the Roman Empire, food and wine, the gorgeous art, history, the people, and the beauty of the countryside. I felt like I was cast under an exotic spell.”

Once under the spell, Nelson kept going back. Now she travels to Italy one or twice a year and has written 200 blog articles about her experiences and discoveries. Her best discovery has been new friends.

“The first time you meet, you are friends,” Nelson said. “The second time you meet, you are family.”

Having a person like Susan Nelson around is a valuable asset for the book club, and the club, with its “wonderful group of ladies” helps Nelson ease her craving for all things Italian.

Certainly it will help to have Nelson’s expertise when the club has its dream come true: a trip to Italy by all of the members of the Nicoletta’s Table Book Club.

Learn more about the book club online at or by calling 503-699-2927. The club is limited to 12 people.”

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or


A link to the article


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