Francis Ford Coppola on being Italian-American
“We’re really Lucky, cause we’re Italian, and we’re American”
Pasta w BRACIOLE
These are my memories of a lifelong love of Italian Food. From my first bowl of pasta and the food of my youth, as a young adult, and into later-life. The food, ever changing, making new discoveries, learning all the time through experiences, reading, travel, and what-not. As I grew up and ate the food that my mother made, the Italian dishes she made us became part of my life and ethnic background of being Italian-American. My mom Lucia Bellino was a 1st Generation Italian-American whose parents both came from Lercara Friddi, Sicily and immigrated to New York in the year 1904 before moving to the very Sicilian town of Lodi, New Jersey where my grandfather Philipo set up a shoe-maker shop on Main Street. So I grew up eating the food my mother made us on a daily basis, along with the fabulous food of my three aunts; Aunt Fran, Aunt Helen, and Aunt Wanda who were the spouses of my mother’s three brothers James, Tony, and Frank. My aunts were all amazing cooks and I always looked forward to visiting them at there homes, especially on Sundays when the whole family, aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather at Aunt Fran’s or Uncle Jimmy’s for a great big Sunday meal. A meal that started with antipasti, then pasta and a main course, and a marathon dessert and coffee course that lasted for hours. Yes these meals were always quite special as my aunts were some of the greatest cooks of Italian home-cooked food that I have ever known, and they made some of the same dishes as my mother, but the special treat were the dishes that my aunts made that were different from my mom’s, and of course oh so tasty. So I waited in wonderment to see what they had made. You see my mothers parents were from Sicily so my mom made dishes her mother taught to her. My Aunt Helen was from Salerno, not far from Naples so she made dishes from that region, and my Aunt Fran’s family were from Settefrati north of Rome, which some of Aunt Fran’s cooking would reflect the food of that region. You see Aunt Fran was my Uncle Tony’s wife and Aunt Helen was my Uncle Frank’s, thus our family repertoire was of Sicily, Lazio, and Campania the regions interlocked in our family through marriage and what-not. Yes the family meals were a never-ending memory of all of the so many fabulous family meals shared with my dear aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends and loved ones.
So my first memories of Italian food eating with my family, meals at home or at one of my aunts or uncles homes. We’d go out to eat every now and then at one of the families favorite local restaurants where I have my first memories of eating out in Italian Restaurants before setting out on my own as a young adult and then as a full grown man, eating in the best Italian Restaurants, Pastry Shops, Pork Stores, and Pizzerias in New York. And after New York, it was on to Italy; to Rome, Venice, Florence and other parts of Tuscan, Napoli, Capri, Positano, the Amalfi Coast, and at friends vineyards in Tuscany, Piedmont, the Veneto, and Sicily. Now we’re learning a whole other thing, Italian Food at its source, all over Italy, delving into the various regional cuisines of Italy, eating the local food and drinking the local wine, there’s nothing better. And all the beauty of Italy, of cities like Rome, Venice, Napoli, and Verona, and towns like Portofino, Positano, Amalfi, or Minori. Observing and immersing into the local customs and culture, it’s quite a learning experience, and one everyone should undertake if fortunate enough to get the chance, I’m so happy I did.
And I didn’t just eat and travel throughout Italy to learn of it’s great cuisine. I read all I could get my hands on of Italy and its food. I read every magazine and newspaper article I could find, and bought a hundred Italian cookbooks or more.
This was and still is a never ending journey that’s wonderfully rewarding. I’ve made so many discoveries big and small, and surprising as well. I ate, I savored, I enjoyed and I still am, eating and recalling Italian Food, one dish at a time.
Excerpted from MANGIA ITALIANO – Memories of Italian Food
by Daniel Bellino Zwicke
MEMORIES of ITALIAN FOOD
STORIES & RECIPES
Inside JOHN’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT
East 12th Street NEW YORK NY
“And it’s STill OPEN !”
The BAR at DANTE
Dante Bar has 12 different varieties of Negronis that they offers from their well-stocked bar. In particular? Dante seeks to bring the European tradition of the aperitivo, a refreshing cocktail or glass of Prosecco or Italian Wine, enjoyed late afternoon, or early evening, all over Italy, and of late, the hottest thing to do in New York as well.
Monte’s has been around a long time. One-Hundred & One Years as a matter of fact. The restaurant opened in 1918 and has been owned & operated by 3 Italian Families in the restaurants 101 year (so far) history. Originally opened in 1918 by the Monteverdi family. The Monteverde family first opened a Wine & Liquor store on the site, and in 1918 opened the restaurant, it is said as the family had heard of the oncoming event of Prohibition and the 18th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which would prohibit and outlaw the sale and consumption of alcholic berverages. The Monteverde’s took smart action and opened an Italian Restaurant in the highly concentrated Italian neighborhood of the southern part of Greenwich Village, and the rest Greenwich Village Italian New York history. The Rosasco family of Greenwich Village became the 2nd Italian family to own Monte’s.
In 1983 the Mosconi Family who came from Piacenza, Italy in Emilia Romagna, bought the restaurant in 1983, and have been running it ever since, and had a big 100 Year Anniversary Party in 2018, Celebrating the restaurants 100 Birthday.
Monte’s Trattoria is one of the few restaurants in New York that fits into the genre that New Yorker’s know as an Old School New York Italian Restaurant of which there used to be many all over Manhattan, but now few remain, and Monte’s Trattoria is one of them The restaurant is headed by Chef Pietro Mosconi with the help of his son Peter Mosconi who handles front of house operations, the business end of things and whatever else needs being done. This partnership works quite well, as Monte’s many regulars will attest to, as the restaurant is World Famous, and not only has “Local Regulars,” but regulars from all over America, and even the World.
Now most wouldn’t think of Monte’s as having one of the Best Bars in the city, or even Greenwich Village, but it does. And we mentioned the regulars? Well some of Monte’s most loyal regulars are the folks who hang out at the bar, and not just to drink, but have what many know as one of the best places to get great Italian food in all of New York City, especially Chef Pietro’s wonderful home-made pasta, like: Tortelloni, Agnolotti, Lasagna, Gnocchi, and both Meat and Cheese Ravioli.
Yes, the food is fine, as is the service, and ambience of the place, but, “weren’t we talking about the bar?” Yes, lets’ get back to the bar. It’s one of those little known facts, by a few hundred (or thousands) of those in the know, and it’s more or less those in-the-know, and those who merely serindipitously stumble upon the place by accident who truly know, the secret of the bar at Monte’s. Yeah the regulars like; John B., Julio, Dr. Mike, and all the rest know that Tony The Bartender (and Peter Mosconi now & then) mix up one of the Best Old Fashion Cocktails in town, as well as perfect Negroni’s (Superior to the more famous Dante Negroni), Killer Margarita’s made with Grand Marnier, spot-on Martinis, Manhattans, and anything else your little heart may desire. Yes the barmen (Tony & Peter) really know their stuff, and take pride in what they do. So if you’re looking for an Aperol Spritz or properly made Negroni, Monte’s is the go to Italian-Bar in Greenwich Village New York.
MONTE’S TRATTORIA … 97 Macdougal Street, GREENWICH VILLAGE , NY NY
The Bar at BABBO
Well, Mario is gone, and the place is famous for its Italian Food. It used to be uber hard to get a reservation to procure a table there, but it’s a lot easier, ever since the departure of Celebrity Chef Mario Batali (we’ll not talk of his departure). Anyway, although Babbo may have lost a little of its luster, it’s still a dam good place to eat, and has, along with Monte’s Trattoria, one of the Best Italian Bars in Greenwich Village, New York. Yes, a great Italian Bar, and not just for its restaurant and food. What constitutes a great Italian Bar? Well first and foremost, the bartenders must be versed in the art of making a Negroni, as well as pulling a perfect Espresso Italian Coffee. You should know how to make a good Manhattan, and Martini’s, as well as have a solid knowledge of Italian Wine which are served at the bar as well. Having a great personality is required and of utmost importance. Now we don’t want to knock the bartenders at Babbo, they are professional and courtesy, and make great Negroni’s and other cocktails, but we have to say were lacking in having the personality that makes the Greatest of Bartenders, and a great Bar requires great bartenders, it’s the # 1 element in the equation. Not the liquor, nor the ambiance, though very important, the single most important aspect of a Great Bar is a great bartender, who must have all the elements required; have a outstanding personality, mix great drinks, be friendly and efficient, “that’s it.”
We found, on our rounds of the Italian Bars of Greenwich Village, our two favorite Italian Bartenders were Tony and Peter, both of Monte’s. The bartenders at Dante were quite good as well, Bar Pisellino “Not So Much.”
Someone once told me, that “going to Volare is like going to your favorite Aunt’s house for dinner.” That’s assuming that your aunt (my Aunts Helen & Fran) is a great Italian cook. Everyone treats you like you were part of the family. That’s the kind of place Ristorante Volare is. And it’s an Old School this great city of ours is losing fast. Lucky for us, Volare still survives, and it survives very well “Thank You.” Yes it’s an old school “Red Sauce Joint,” that serves all the New York Italian Red Sauce Classics, like Spaghetti & Meatballs, Baked Clams, Veal and Chicken Parmigiana just the way you like it. Yes, you”ll be fed all your classic Italian dishes, and you’ll be fed well. And if you’re hankering for just a little cocktail or two, in cool old New York Italian joint, going to Volare will fit the bill quite well. Your not going to get any new style so-called Mixologist Cocktails at all. But if you’re into the old classics, like a properly made Martini or Manhattan, then you’ve gone to the right place. And if you want a nice plate of Spaghetti with Clam Sauce or a nice thick Italian Style Veal Chop, again, “you’ve come to the right place.”
RISTORANTE VOLARE …. 147 West 3rd Street, GREENWICH VILLAGE, New York
Bar Pisellino has all the elements to make a great bar one day, and one of the best Italian Bars in Greenwich Village. As of now, they’re not. Yes they have, if not all, then many elements to make it a great Greenwich Village Italian Bar. They make good Negroni’s, and Aperol Spritz’s, have a good selection of Amari (Amaro), and the place is well appointed, however it’s missing quite a lot, the place just doesn’t have a great vibe. When I first walked in and looked at the menu, I thought, “Wow,” this place is great, but as I sat there looking a the menu, and then getting my drink, the place just didn’t feel right. The vibe was not good, a combination of being quite contrived (not Organic), and because of this fact, drawing a crowd that just wasn’t right, not cool, but a crowd filled with followers, the types of people who only go to a place that’s one of the hottest spots in town, and unable to find a truly cool unpretentious great restaurant or bar on their own. They have to read about it on Eater, Instgram, or wherever.
Anyway, Bar Pisellino has a lot of potential, and maybe after all the noise dies, the followers stop going there indroves, and the place starts filling with neighborhood people, along with well-healed tourists, and business people, the bar just might get a better vibe than it does now, which is, “not so good.”
JOHN’S of 12th STREET
John’s of 12th Street is not in Greenwich Village technically, but we’ve just got to include it in our Best Greenwich Village Italian Bars. John’s is in the East Village, east of Greenwich Village, so, close enough. The fact that this place has been there on East 12th Street in New York, that it has all its original decor, including the 110 year old bar, and that the place was once a Speakeasy that saw that likes of one Charles “Lucky” Luciano who a couple blocks away, and the fact that it has many famous celebrities and famed Mobsters (Joe Maseria), we’ve just gotta include it here as well.
Belly up to the bar that Lucky Luciano drank at, and where the great John Lennon once ate at, and the likes of legendary Italian Prize Fighter “Rocky Graziano,” also of the neighborhood. Have the bartender make you a Campari & Soda and just soak up over 100 years of New York Italian History, you’ll not find another place like it, as sadly two great 100 year old Italian Food Establishments, DeRobertis Italian Pastries, and Lanza’s Restaurant (Sicilian American) closed down in the past few years (A Sin!).
John’s of 12th East Street (302 East) East Village … New York NY
John’s of 12th Street
NEW YORK , NY
“JOHN’S of 12th STREET
by Vanessa McDonell
LEARN HOW to MAKE
and More …
Cafe Fanelli is one of New York’s oldest we, preserved Old Bars. What is w Cafe Fanelli’s first opened as a bar on the corner of Prince Street & Mercer as Prince Cafe in the year 1872 by Italian immigrant Nicholas Volpe. The Fanelli family bought the bar in 1922 and re-named it Fanelli’s Cafe. The building was first erected in 1847 and its commercial space was operated as a grocery store from 1863, before a var opened there in 1872. During Prohibition Fanelli’s was a Speakeasy from he years of 1920 to 1933.
Though no longer owned by Italians, nor in Greenwich Village, because of its Italian-American history and the fact that Fanelli’s has retained so much of its former old-bar decor, we’ve include it in this piece. So if you’re looking to experience a wonderful piece of old New York, go have a couple drinks at Cafe Fanelli.
West 11th Street
Gene’s first opened it’s doors in 1919, and operated as a “Speakeasy” during Prohibition. Gene’s has a long storied history of Italian and Artistic Greenwich Village, providing, staving artists, poets, and writers of the Beat Generation, and other eras, with inexpensive affordable Italian meals.
Old Vintage Postcard
The Bar at GENE’S
Hardest Reservation in NEW YORK
New York’s most Famous Bartender
“NICKY The VEST”
Tending Bar at RAO’S
Frank Pelligrino Sr holds court at RAO’S
East Harlem NEW YORK ,
as PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON looks on.
New York NY
Italian Family Apartment Life
An Italian Family in East Harlem (Little Italy), New York, painting by East Harlem native Italian-American artist Daniel Celentano.
Italian-American family making homemade wine in their apartment in East Harlem Italian neighborhood in New York, 1930s.
“FRANK at RAO’S”
by Leroy Neiman
Frank Sinatra getting a Jack Daniels
at Rao’s Bar
Served by “Nicky The Vest”
Patsy’s Pizzeria Napoletana
New York , NY
At Patsy’s with Patsy
Frank Sinatra’s Favorite Pizza
Probably Knew Frank Sinatra’s Father
Martino Severino Sinatra
In Lercara Friddi Sicily