Six years ago, Sheri Koroluk realized that her birthday falls close to that of Horace Williams. As assistant to the director of the Preservation Society of Chapel Hill, Koroluk works in the house that bears Williams' name.
So she picked up a dozen or so blue-iced cupcakes and took them to work. What began then as a simple gesture has since grown into a full-fledged event. The second official Horace Williams Memorial Cupcake Festival kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20, at Williams' former Chapel Hill home (610 E. Rosemary St., 942-7818, www.chapelhillpreservation.com).
Though cupcakes held a place in the mid-19th century, Williams, an esteemed UNC philosophy professor born in 1858, would no doubt be surprised to see the array of tricked-out treats his birthday now brings. Last year, the festival saw 23 varieties of cupcakes and attracted upward of 150 people.
The deadline to submit an entry for the cupcake contests is 4 p.m. today. Download registration forms at www.chapelhillpreservation.com/cupcake.htm. The event boasts a special contest for children 12 and younger: mini-cupcakes. Children are admitted free; for other attendees, $5 grants access to all-you-can-eat cupcakes, a glass of wine, music by Twilighter and a raffle that includes more cupcake paraphernalia than you thought possible, plus a free night at Chapel Hill's new Aloft hotel.
Today, at the west end of Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, celebrate another birthday with pie. Italian Pizzeria III (508 W. Franklin St., 968-4671, www.italianpizzeria3.com)—better known as IP3's—is commemorating its 30th year in business with some prices from 1980. Chef Vincenzo Marrone says a mere $4.50 was—and for today, is—enough to buy a whole cheese pizza.
In Raleigh, Italian fare finds a new home at Mangia Bistro (2519 Fairview Road, 782-4908). Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, Mangia features classic Italian dishes including homemade veal and spinach ravioli for $13 and rigatoni with eggplant and ricotta for $10. Mangia, Italian for "eat," has another, American half, which is aptly named Eat. Open for lunch and dinner every day, Eat features a menu of sandwiches and burgers in the $7-to-$10 range. Food from Mangia is also available for order at Eat (though not vice versa). For drinks at Mangia, bartender Ali Pearson notes an affordable wine list with bottles ranging from $15 to $22.
If brews are more your thing, plan a night in Durham for a Wednesday Beer Dinner at Dos Perros (200 N. Mangum St., 956-2750, www.dosperrosrestaurant.com). The dinners feature four or five courses paired with brews from a particular brewery. Tonight at 7, the restaurant pairs dishes, including a cherry tomato, radish, celery and calamari salad, with Unibroue's Blanche de Chambly (a Belgian white ale). Upcoming beer dinners will feature North Coast Brewery on Aug. 25, Aviator Brewery on Sept. 1 and Stone Brewery on Sept. 8. For menu details, visit the Dos Perros website or follow Dos Perros at www.twitter.com/DosPerros200. The restaurant has been known to announce special kitchen tastings and to invite the first few respondents to participate.