The AMALFI COAST
Excerpt : DRINKING POSITANO The AMALFI COAST
Drinking the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Positano, Napoli, what do you drink? Well there’s always wine. Yes wine, Campari, an Aperol Spritz, Prosecco, Mineral Water, Cappuccino, Espresso, and you must drink some Lemonade, for after all, you’re in The Land of Lemons of the Devine Coast of Amalfi. Or if you’re on Capri or Ischia, Sorrento or Salerno, or the Capital City of Napoli, it’s all the same. All the same of what you might drink, what the locals drink, business men, travelers, tourists, whoever.
Yes, you will drink Cappuccino and Espresso, it’s good all over, and every Barista takes pride in his coffee making skills and prowess. And when it comes to Espresso, the Neapolitans are the World Champions of making it and drinking it. Espresso that is.
And if on your trip to Positano, Capri, Sorrento, wherever your destination is down there, if you’re in Napoli, try and go to the Gran Caffe Gambrinus for one of the great cafe experiences of your life. The Gran Caffe Gambrinus is heir to the great Neapolitan coffee tradition, for coffee and the art of making and drinking a proper Espresso, is at its highest level in Gambrinus. Espresso in Napoli is rooted in ritual and the habits of each social class. There is a phenomenon in this habitual ritual that makes the simple moment of refreshment an opportunity for culture and socializing. You will experience a moment of great pleasure as you partake in this esteemed ritual known as espresso. But not just any Espresso, but a Neapolitan one. And while at Gambrinus, drinking your Cappuccino, Espresso or Special Gambrinus Caffe, why not treat yourself to a Sfogliatelle as well?
All over the Amalfi Coast, in Naples, and especially popular on the Isle of Capri are Lemonade Stands. It stands to reason that with all the Lemon Groves you find on Capri, in and around Sorrento, and in Minori, Maiori, Atrani, and Amalfi, that they’d be serving that refreshing lemon based drink, Lemonade, yes they do. Though lemons are grown all over the coast and on the islands, there seems to be two places that you see Granita and Lemonade Stands more than in other parts, and those two places are in Napoli and on the Isle of Capri. And when it comes to me personally, I always remember that first Lemonade I ever had there, and that was the Lemonade Stand on the Piazzetta of the Piazza Umberto that’s right there before you, when you get off of the Funicular of Capri, if you happen to be taking it. And if you do take the Funicular from the bottom at Marina Grande, once up are at the top and your ride is over, the first thing you’ll see when you exit the Funicular is that Lemonade Stand that is so very inviting on a hot Summer day. So, just as I did on that day in the Summer of 1988 when I had my first, I got a glass of Lemonade. I got off of the Funicular, saw the Lemonade Stand and I couldn’t resist. I got myself a nice cold refreshing Lemonade made with the Lemons of Capri. Later on, in the trip (i988), I’d have my first Limoncello, that hugely famous after dinner drink made with the local Lemons. So, you see, it’s usually the littlest things that I love most when I travel. Like that lemonade on Capri in the Summer of 1988, my first Campari, Aperol Spritz, and most recently a lovely liquor made in these parts called Finnonchietto (Fennel Liqueur), that the waiter brought for me and my cousin Tony, after dinner at Z’Antonino one night in Sorrento. Wow, I went nuts when I tasted this wonderful liqueur for the first time. It was a revelation. I never had it before, and I absolutely loved it. So much so, that when we finished the dinner and took a little walk, as we passed by a Salumeria that sold Limoncello, Amari, and other liqueurs, including Finnonchietto, I just had to get a bottle, and so I did (8 Euros).
So, now as we talk of drinking on the Amalfi Coast, we come up to the subject of the Aperitivo and Aperitivo time on the Amalfi Coast or anywhere in Italy for that matter. Well, what is Apertivo anyway you say? Aperitivo is a drink that you have before dinner, and is meant for socializing as well as getting your palate going for the meal to come. Most often when you go for Apertivo (aka Aperitif) and order a drink at the traditional aperitivo time (late-afternoon & early-evening), the waiter will bring you some little snacks along with your drink (Aperitivo). The snacks might be as simple as a bowl of Potato Chips and Olives. In addition, some places might serve canapes (crostini) with various toppings, all for the price of the drink. The most popular forms of Aperitivo drinks are anything made with Campari or Aperol, such as Campari & Soda or OJ, a Negroni, or Aperol Spritz. Prosecco or any wine at the apertivo hours are also considered as aperitivo drinks. You can get any other cocktails made with Vodka, Gin, Rum, Whiskey or other forms of alcohol other than Prosecco, wine, Campari, or Aperol, but these cocktails may be quite a bit more expensive than the traditional Aperitivi.
On a recent trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast, I partook in the delightful ritual of Apertivo on numerous occasions. It was quite wonderful sharing this ritual with my cousins Tony, Mimmo, Marta, and friends in Salerno, Sorrento, in Positano, and Vietro Sul Mare. My trip started off in Rome for a day before I hopped on the high-speed train to Napoli the next day. After landing in Rome, checking into my hotel, I took a shower and then a nap. Well, more thana nap, I fell asleep for 6 hours. I finally awoke and hopped in the shower again.
Once I showered and got dressed for one more evening out to my beloved Roma, I had a plan. My plan was to walk over to the Metro stop and take a train to near the Piazza Spagna where I would go walk around and enjoy a bit of time at this one of Rome’s most popular spots. I walked up The Spanish Steps, taking pictures along the way and enjoying the scene before me; the people and that view from atop the Spanish Steps is absolutely magnificent. I stayed there to enjoy it for a little while. So, now on to the second phase of the plan.
After spending a half-hour enjoying the Piazza di Spagna, my plan was to walk over to the Piazza di Popolo from there, a short 8 minute walk away. Yes, my plans included going to Piazza di Popolo to see the beautiful little twin churches of Santa Maria Maracoli and Santa Maria Montesanto and to have a Aperitivo at Rosati afterwards. After that, I’d go on to dinner. So after leaving the Spanish Steps behind I made my way along to the Via Babuino leading me to my destination of the Piazza di Popolo and all its offerings.
When I arrived about 10 minutes later, I walked towards the Fountain of Neptune to get a good view of the Twin Churches. I took a few pictures of the churches, then asked a couple if they would take a picture of me in front of them. They took a couple nice pictures that are now part of my wonderful memories of that day, and even back to 1985 and 1986 in Rome. After taking pictures of the two churches and the Piazza and myself, I went over to the churches to go inside. The Chiesa Santa Maria Miracoli was closed, but the doors to Santa Maria Montesanto were open, and there was a Mass being conducted. I went in and sat down to relax there. I listened to the priest and parishioners as they responded to the priest. I said a few prayers for my sister Barbara, myself, my Brothers Jimmy and Michael, and their loved ones, and then I left the church.
After my time at the churches I walked across to Rosati for my little aperitivo. I took a seat at a table outside to watch the World go by the Twin Churches and life on the Piazza Popolo. I ordered a Campari Soda and the waitress brought it to me along with Olives, Potato Chips, and Canapes. And yes, I sat back, sipped my Campari and watched the World go by. I had quite a nice little Aperitivo Time at Roasati and then it was on to dinner.
Drinking? You can’t talk about drinking in Italy without talking about wine. On this recent trip I was briefly in Rome where I drank Frascati with dinner that night, followed by an Amaro of Capo di Stato digestive from Calabria.
Now, down to Campania and the Amalfi Coast and the wines down there. This area has some wonderful wines that are sure to please all. There are a lot of very good white wines, as there should be with all the wonderful seafood available and simply for the fact of the heat and being on the coast in Summer, for many people, white wine is the way to go. The White Wines of the area are some of the finest in Italy, in wines like; Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino, Coda, Falanghina, Biancolella, and a few others, with these being the main ones as well as being most popular. When it comes to reds, Aglianico is King, especially in the form of “Taurasi” the most prestigious red wine in all of Southern Italy. The red grape Palumbo, also known as Piedirosso which makes up the local wine that is called Lacryma Christi, meaning “The Tears of Christ.” This grape makes wonderful fruity wines as is in the case of Lacryma Christi. Yes, Aglianico is the most renowned red grape varietal of the region, but the grape Piedirossa and the wines that it makes up are not far behind in stature. The more famous wines are made with Aglianico, the grape that makes up the famed Itaian wine known as Taurasi.
There is a most lovely legend that goes along with the wine Lacryma Christi, which can be found as either white or red wine. As the legend goes, is that when Saint Lucifer (the Devil) was cast away, he took a piece of Heaven with him. When Christ first saw the Bay of Naples, he recognized it as the stolen piece of Heaven and he wept over its loss. It’s said that as Christ wept, where his tears landed on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius is where the grapes that make up Lacryma Christi first sprang up from, and these are the grapes that sprung from the Tears of Christ. So the legend goes, and it’s quite a lovely one at that.
So you see, drinking in Napoli, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast, is a very pleasant pastime, whether drinking Cappuccino in the morning, Espresso later in the day, Lemonade or Limoncello, local wine, a Negroni, Campari, or Aperol Spritz, you’re going to have a good time. You have to? You’re in Aamlfi. Enjoy it.
EXCERPTED from POSITANO The AMALFI COAST
by Daniel Bellino Zwicke …. Due for Publication, May 2019
BEST SELLING ITALIAN COOKBOOKS by Daniel
For years before the surge of many a imported pasta product in the U.S., Ronzoni, was not the only game in town for Macaroni, there was the Prince and Creamette, as well, but Ronzoni dominated the market and though I don’t have stats, I would wage to say that 85 to 90 % of all commercial pasta sold in the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia areas was Ronzoni, the pasta in the bright blue boxes, Ronzoni Sono Buoni. God I wonder how many plates and bowls of Spaghetti, Ziti and other Ronzoni pastas I ate over the years, starting with Pastina as a toddler and moving to Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce or Meatballs, Baked Ziti, Stuffed Shells and more. Oh “Stuffed Shells,” they bring back memories of my mother who loved them. We had them often, along with Lasagna made with Ronzoni Lasagana. You don’t see Stuffed Shells around that much anymore, they used to be on many a restaurant and even more home menus. There popularity has waned, but every once and a while I’ll pick up a box of Ronzoni large shells, just for the purpose of bringing back those memories of mommaking them and me loving them as a child. I’ll make a batch of tomato sauce, cook the Ronzoni Shells, and stuff them with ricotta and Parmigiano, bake them in tomato sauce, and “Voila” Stuffed Shells of days gone by. I do the same with a Pastina as I still love the dish so, dressed with butter and fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano, “makes me feel like a kid again!” Yum, delicious little pleasure you can whip up in minutes and bring back visions of your youth. All with some butter, Parmigiano and a box of Ronzoni Pastina. That’s Ronzoni, every bit a part of my life and youth as a spring ol Slinky, Etch-A-Sketch, The Three Stooges, Saturday Morning Cartoons, and all the favorites of my youth, Ronzon Sono Buoni, “Ronzoni it’s so good!”
GRANDMA BELLINO ‘S COOKBOOK
RECIPES From MY SICiLIAN NONNA
Did you notice that there was a lot of food in Green Book. Viggo Mortenson (Tony Lip) eating Kentucky Fried Chicken, Hot Dogs, and Steak & Eggs at a Diner, and talking about eating White Castle Cheeseburgers. And for the Grand Finale as far as Food and Green Book goes, the last scene of the movie, may have gone un-noticed by many as the special Italian Christmas Eve Dinner of “The Feast of The Seven Fishes,” known as La Vigilia in the Italian language. Well, most who saw the movie may have not picked it up, but as I did, I’m sure many (but not all) Italian-Americans did.
If you’re interested in creating your own Italian Christmas of The Feast of 7 Fish? You can. Just get yourself a copy of Daniel Bellino-Zwicke ‘s “Feast of The 7 Fish.”
Everything is in there, all the recipes to make your own “Vigilia,”
The FEAST of The 7 FISH, on Amazon.com
The FEAST of THE 7 FISH
Just Like VIGGO MORTENSEN ‘S
NEW YORK NY
“TONY’S NUT HOUSE
Tucked between a partly vacant Roman Catholic church and a Vietnamese herbal store, the Beard Cafe, on Elizabeth Street, near Broome, could be mistaken for another downtown bar, priced out of SoHo or the East Village. At night, young urbanites and European tourists mingle to enjoy techno music and imported beer. Leftist literature competes for attention with a video art installation.
But during the day, the place mellows to resemble a European coffee shop with fresh muffins and stale cigarettes. When four elderly Italian men arrive, they create a bit of old Little Italy: the private social club, in the midst of a now-fashionable neighborhood. The men go to the rear of the club and descend into a hideout in the basement, where they spend several hours.
”It is the last traditional social club,” said Lillian Tozzi, a founder of the Little Italy Neighbors Association, whose family has lived on Mulberry Street for over a century.
The members of the club declined to be interviewed, but visitors say the basement is sparsely furnished with little more than a television set, a refrigerator and fading photographs of neighborhood friends. Not much happens, they add, besides watching television, playing a friendly game of hearts and chatting. Fans of ”The Sopranos” would be disappointed.
”You go to hang out with the boys,” said Tony Tenneriello, 80, the bartender at Mare Chiaro, an oak-paneled bar on Mulberry Street that evokes the area’s bygone charm. ”The bars were different back then. You could play a game of cards for a bottle of wine.”
Tony Tenneriello & Family
At His ITALIAN BAR
aka “TONY’S NUT HOUSE”
I first started going to Tony’s somewhere around 1984. Being myself (Danny) I always love the offbeat kind of place, whether we’re talking about restaurants, stores, Barber Shops, or in this cas bars. Don’t want anything shiney and knew, and most likely quite contrived. Give me a cool old well worn place like McSorley’s Ale House on East 7th Street (Since 1854) John’s of 12th Street, a few blocks from McSorley’s, Pete’s Tavern (Gramercy Park), or the good old Italian Bar, Mare Chiare on Mulberry Street in New York’s so-called Little Italy. Well, Mare Chiare (aka Tony’s Nut House) no longer exist. Not as that cool old Italian Bar, run by the unflappable Tony Tennerielo himself. Tony was just “Too Cool.” And he wasn’t even trying to be, he was just being Tony.
His Bar was absolutely awesome. It was low key, and had a cool old ambiance. It’s original 1908 deccor was kept pretty much intact. Tony’s was usually pretty quiet and you could go in there and get a drink, sit down at the bar or a table, throw a few quarters in the Juke Box, and play some “Dino,” Tony Bennett, and of course songs by Mr. Frank Sinatra. Sit down and relax, listening to great Italian-American music as you sipped your drink and chit-chatted with your friends. I here the place used to be busier back in the day, when the Old Police Head Quarters was still open, prior to 1973 when it was shut down and moved to it new facilities near City Hall. Before that, Mare Chiaro had a bit of a livelier crowd filled with lots of Policemen and Detectives of NYPD before the closing of Police HQs on Broome and Layfayette Streets nearby. The time-span when I went from 1984 until Tony Tenneriello sold his family’s old Italian Bar in 2003. Yes, most of the times I went to Tony’s wan’t crowded, usually, less than 12 people in the place. Regulars like me, simply called it Tony’s.
Besides going there any old time, especially on Sunday afternoons to watch a Giant’s or Yankees game, my favorite thing to do was to get an awesome Italian Sub Sandwich (to Go) at Parsisi’s Sanwich Shop, bring it to Tony’s, get a glass of Wine, put on some Sinatra and eat our tasty Sandwiches .
Yes, I had a lot of great times at Tony’s, but the best of all, was being at Tony’s one time when it was Tony’s Birthday. His family brought a Birthday Cake, we all sang “Happy Birthday Dear Tony,” Tony blew out the candles and we all had a piecce of cake, as one of his friends sang a couple Opera Songs. “Now what’s better than that I ask you?” Getting to sing Happy Birthdday to Mr. Anthony Tenneriello and sharing the good times and Tony’s Birthday Cake with the man himself.
Daniel Bellino Zwicke
I have a few old pictures I took at Tony’s back in the day. One day I’ll dig them up and post them here, for you can never get enough of Tony, or his awesome old bar, Mare Chiaro, aka Tony’s Nut House.
TONY SELLS MARE CHIARO
Arrivederci , Tony
“Already, the regulars are suspicious.”
Mare Chiaro’s was a Little Italy watering hole with oak-paneled walls, sawdust on the floor and the Old World atmosphere of an Italian social club. In the 1990’s, both the Paris Review crowd and the dot-com Wunderkinds embraced the bar as their own, despite the bright overhead lights and lack of fruit-flavored martinis. More recently, Nolita hipsters have held court-all under the watchful eye of Tony Tenneriello, who sold the bar last month. Until then, Mr. Tenneriello, 81, could be seen there every night, cigar in his mouth, working past 1 a.m., shuffling from table to table to clear glasses and staring defiantly at anyone who lingered too long or got too rowdy. Locals just called the place “Tony’s.”
Mr. Tenneriello said he sold the bar because of his age and the long hours the job required. “It looked like I was going to die in that bar,” he said. “But I sold it.”
The new owners haven’t decided yet whether to take down the black-and-white photographs of Tony posing with Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, Madonna and others. “We have to retain the spirit of the bar,” said co-owner Eddy Welsh, 67, “but we also have to attract a new crowd. How much of a change do you make? Where do you draw the line?”
Indeed, Mr. Welsh and co-owner Richard Cestaro, 40, both local businessmen whose families grew up on Mulberry Street, have the unenviable task of “running Tony’s without Tony.” Their influence is already evident. In order to restore the exterior to what it looked like when the bar first opened in 1908, they’ve added copper outlay to the bar’s wooden doors and repainted the window frames, restoring them to their original white. Inside the bar, top-shelf liquor has been added, as has tap beer. The $3 Coronas now cost $5, and on the jukebox a buck buys two songs instead of three. The sawdust is gone. Soon the bar will serve lunch and late-night snacks: chicken wings, peel-your-own shrimp, eggs and peppers. Also under consideration is live Dixieland or country music. “Please God, NO !!!”
The bar had been in Mr. Tenneriello’s family since the turn of the century, when his father, Christopher Tenneriello, opened a small bar called C. Tenneriello’s at 1761¼2 Mulberry. Tony’s father worked the bar and Tony’s mother cooked Chicken Parmigiana and Spaghetti & Meatballs for a crowd of local Italians. After school, Tony would go to the bar and do his homework.
The police were the bar’s biggest crowd, coming in for lunch from their nearby headquarters on Centre Street. Members of the neighborhood’s crime families stayed away, according to Mr. Tenneriello.
“I’m not saying that no one ever came in,” he said. “But let me just say, thank God for the police.”
The police headquarters moved away in 1973, as did many of the neighborhood Italians, replaced by Chinese immigrants. By the late 80’s, the bulk of Mare Chiaro’s business were tourists who came to the city to visit the rash of new restaurants on Mulberry Street. Padding out the crowd was a mix of Artists and Writers . In the mid-1990’s, editors from the Paris Review met there every Friday night. The dot-commers would come by after long hours at their Broadway offices.
Nowadays, the crowd is thinner. A recent Thursday night found the bar sparsely populated with a mix of tourists, hipsters (White Stripes look-alikes) and stockbrokers. Sinatra’s “Summer Wind” played on the jukebox; an eager, short-haired female bartender was offering shots.
One of the stockbrokers, Mike, in his mid-30’s, had been coming to Mare Chiaro for the last six years.
“It was better when Tony ran the place,” he said, lowering his voice and looking around the bar. “The new owners want to get the yuppies in here. You can tell by the little things they’re doing-raising the prices of the drinks, the jukebox.”
Asked about this, Mr. Cestaro looked pained and said, “You can’t run a business selling $3 drinks.” He added that the bar’s prices are now on par with the other neighborhood bars.
If Mr. Cestaro and Mr. Welsh don’t have the full support of some of the regulars, they seem to have earned the respect of locally owned Italian businesses.
“To be honest, the bar needed an update,” shrugged one Mulberry Street restaurant owner. “The new owners are good guys. They realize they’re dealing with an institution; they’re not going to change it too much. Tony knew what he was doing when he sold it to them.”
Mr. Tenneriello said he has no interest in what the new owners may or may not change.
“What people want, and what people don’t want, it doesn’t matter,” he said, laughing hoarsely. “Things are going to change. It’s called progress, honey.”
AVAILABLE on AMAZON.com
READ About TONY
An His MULBERRY STREET
aka “TONY’S NUT HOUSE”
In La TAVOLA
The RAGU BOLOGNESE COOKBOOK
And The WORLDS BEST BOLOGNESE RECIPE Ever !!
OBITUARY : March 4, 2008 … Antonino Tony Tenneriello
Anthony James Tenneriello, of Old Forge died Sunday evening, surrounded by his family in Moses Taylor Hospital, Scranton.
Born on Mulberry Street, New York City, he was the son of the late Anthony and Nancy Semenza Tenneriello. He lived in Old Forge his entire life.
He was a graduate of Old Forge High School. Tony had been employed by the Delaware Lackawanna Railroad. He was also employed by Valley Auto Parts, Old Forge. He was a World War II Army veteran, having served from 1942 to 1946. He was a member of the 10th Mountain Division and trained as an ammunition bearer on skis. He served in the Pacific Theater as a member of the 51st Military Police Battalion on Okinawa and in Korea. Upon discharge, he received many medals and citations and a letter from President Truman. He was an avid Red Sox fan. He was a life member of St. Mary of the Assumption Church, Old Forge.
Tony was devoted to his family. He was a selfless, kind, generous and thoughtful person. He was always ready to help anyone in need. He had a serious — but always joking — personality. He was wonderful with all of the young children in the family. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
He is survived by a sister-in-law, Irene Tenneriello, Wilkes-Barre; two nieces, Joanne and Nancy Tenneriello, Wilkes-Barre; and many cousins who loved him dearly.
He was preceded in death by a brother, Lawrence; and a sister, Divina Comessa.
The funeral will be held Wednesday at 9 a.m. from the Louis V. Ciuccio Funeral Home, 145 Moosic Road, Old Forge, followed by a 9:30 a.m. Mass in St. Mary of the Assumption Church, West Grace and Lawrence streets, Old Forge. Interment will be in Cathedral Cemetery, Scranton. Friends may call 5:00 – 8:00 PM
GREENWICH VILLAGE , NEW YORK
It’s a well known fact that thousands of Italian-American New Yorkers have been displaced over the years. Philadelphians, Bostonian Italians, and others too. Former Italian-American New Yorkers who have been in serious distress and mental anguish over the lack of good Italian restaurants and availability of quality Italian food products in the rest of the country, excluding of course cities like Boston, Philly, and San Francisco. Other than these, you’re going to have a very hard time trying to find a good Italian Restaurant, Pizza, and Italian food products.
It’s a “Sad Hard Fact-of-Life” that many cities and towns in the U.S. are completely “devoid” of good Italian Restaurants, Pork Stores, good Pizzerias, a properly pulled Espresso, or specialty shops where people of Italian origins, who are in need of good fresh Italian Sausages, Bread, Prosciutto,