By Cary Shuman
For the Free Press
If Ana Lanzilli is the queen of the Quinceañera party, then that makes Spinelli’s in East Boston Quinceañera Central.
Lanzilli is the function coordinator at Spinelli’s Banquet Facility that is preparing to host the Second Annual Quinceañera Expo on Friday, April 1 at 7 p.m. inside its exquisite ballroom on Bennington Street.
According to Lanzilli, who was born in Spain and is fluent in Spanish, the Quinceañera is a very special celebration marking an Hispanic girl’s 15th birthday. It is similar to a Sweet 16 party but Quinceañeras are formal and represent a longstanding tradition in Hispanic culture.
“It’s kind of their mini-wedding,” said Lanzilli. “It’s a big time in the girls’ lives. They’re going from a young girl to a young lady. It’s a special time for the families and a special time for those young ladies and their dads.”
Fathers, attired in tuxedos, have the honor of crowning their daughters and changing their daughter’s shoes during the Quinceañera ceremony.
Because of the positive response to last year’s Quinceañera Expo that attracted more then 200 people, Lanzilli was encouraged by attendees to host the popular event again. The event is free.
At this year’s Expo, parents and their daughters will be able to meet Quinceañera professionals including florists, decorators, disk jockeys, photographers, dress designers, and boutique owners.
Spinelli’s will be showcasing its new designs of cakes at the expo. Guests will be able to enjoy free samples of the cakes and Hispanic food and there will be a cash bar and raffles for prizes.
“We’ll have tastings of our entire Hispanic menu, said Lanzilli, who noted that people can now order Hispanic food at Spinelli’s for their own private parties held outside the banquet facility.
Some of the most requested Hispanic delicacies on the Spinelli’s menu are carne asada (grilled steak), pollo asado (grilled chicken), arroz con gandules (rice and beans), perni (pulled pork), and arroz amarillo con vegetales (yellow rice with mixed vegetables).
Spinelli’s also offers its full Italian and American dishes for Quinceañera parties.
“That’s the nice thing – you don’t strictly have one menu when you come to Spinelli’s,” said Lanzilli. “Guests want something different when they come here.”
Having planned many Quinceañera parties, Lanzilli has earned the reputation as an expert on all Quinceañera favorites.
“We’ve had so many Quinceañeras that we can kind of guide them through the process,” said Lanzilli. “We also do the program here so we can plan exactly how the night is going to go for them.”
La Quinceañeras usually arrive by limo and are greeted by Spinelli’s room coordinators upon their arrival. After photos are taken of the guest of honor, she is welcomed into the room by family and friends. The Quinceañera’s first dance at the celebration is a waltz with her father. The remaining members of the Quinceañera’s party (usually 15 girls and 15 boys) then join the guest of honor on the dance floor.
Spinelli’s usually caters buffets for Quinceañera parties although sit-down dinners are also available. Following dinner, the many guests sing “Happy Birthday” to the Quinceanera prior to the cake cutting ceremony.
With tickets going fast for the Second Annual Quinceañera Expo, Lanzilli recommends that people register for complimentary tickets on line at Spinellis.com or call her at 617-567-4499.