PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Downtown Pittsburgh hosted its first ever Italian StrEAT Festival this weekend.

It’s never happened in downtown Pittsburgh before: a meatball-eating contest.

It’s all part of a new event sponsored by the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corporation.

“I don’t know if a meatball-eating contest has ever been done. We’re really excited,” Alessandra Pazzaglia, of the Downtown Community Development Corp., said. “Sienna Mercato’s Emporio is sponsoring that. They’re going to be making the meatballs. They’re going to be serving them on stage. We’re excited to see how people do.”

It’s serious business. It takes a lot of preparation and training.

“I finished my last meal 16 hours in advance,” contestant Patrick Resignalo said. “This morning, I did go for a run at the gym, just to sort of get my energy flowing.”

And it’s gotta be in your blood.

“I do actually go to Sunday dinner, Sunday pasta dinner, at my aunt and uncle’s every couple Sundays,” Resignalo said, “so I do come up from a small Italian family.”

It wasn’t pretty, but it’s an Italian thing for sure.

It’s all part of the culture of one of the largest ethnic groups in Pittsburgh.

“All I can say is wow,” Joey DiSalvo, of DiSalvo’s Restaurant, said. “For the first time here in downtown Pittsburgh, in the Cultural District, what a great event to have the Italian culture being brought deep in the heart of Pittsburgh. It’s exciting.”

The festival ran through 6 p.m. Sunday.

If you didn’t get enough Italian at the downtown festival, Little Italy Days in Bloomfield begins August 17.

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

More From CBS Pittsburgh

Get The All New CBS Local App
KDKA Weather App
CBS All Access

Watch & Listen LIVE