Gino’s & John’s Red Sauce Joints

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Gino’s of Lexington Avenue? This restaurant was one of the most special restaurants that ever was. Ask any of the few hundred regulars who ate there so many times a year. How many you ask? Well, there are regulars who ate there 2 to 3 times a week, some once a week, some one or two times a month, and some maybe four to six times a year, but all regulars. That’s how it goes with regulars in restaurants, and this is a solid foundation that all good restaurants need to succeed in New York. Gino’s had a pretty long history for its regulars to enjoy for any number of years. The restaurant opened in 1945 by Gino Circiello and two partners, was in operations for 65 until it closed in 2010 after losing their lease. Needless to say this was a sad day for all its devoted regulars which included the likes of; Gay Talese, David Suskind, Frank Sinatra, many luminaries along with numerous businessmen and women, and people in the fashion business, publishing, law, and all sorts of businesses. Gino’s customers loved and revered the place, a wonderful Italian Red Sauce Joint where you could get a great meal of solid Italian classic dishes, at reasonable prices, with good service and a perfect ambiance that included one of New York’s last remaining telephone booths and the famed Zebra wallpaper. And it was the clientele that really made the perfect ambiance that was Gino’s, which was par excellence.

Gino’s was filled to capacity each day and night for lunch and dinner, jammed with people doing business, or just simply having a great time eating Baked Clams Oreganta followed by Linguine w/ Clam Sauce, Chicken or Veal Parmigiano or perhaps a daily special like Veal Ossobuco or braised Lamb Shanks, the food was always good at Gino’s, everything was. The people just loved it there. The vibe was always great, lively and full of life, that was Gino’s.

 

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There was Gino and later on Michael Miele (a former employee who became the owner), there was of course the Zebra Wallpaper, the old-school waiters, the tasty food, and the clientele themselves that filled the air of Gino’s dining room with good natured chatter and that special feeling that a room full of happy people makes. And you were always more than happy when you were in Gino’s.

Yes, Gino’s was a restaurant that’s now known as an Old School Red Sauce Joint. This being a restaurant that had pretty much the same standard dishes that so many people love, millions in fact. The menu had items like; Caprese Salad, Baked Clams, both Casino and Oreganata, Seafood Salad, Spaghetti w/ Tomato Sauce, or Bolognese, Manicotti, Ravioli, and Gino’s famous Pasta Segreto with their famed Secret Sauce. You had all the most popular chicken, fish, and veal dishes, dishes like; Chicken Parmigiano, Veal Saltimbocca, Veal Piccata, Veal Milanese (Sinatra’s favorite), Shrimp Scampi, Clams Posillipo another Sinatra favorite, Lobster Fra Diavolo and the sort of solid Italian food that Italian-Americans and the rest of their American brethren all loved and still love, regardless of what snobbish food critics may say or think. For Gino’s clientele knew what was real, and Gino’s was as real as it got. If you asked Frank (Sinatra) he’d set you straight, “Gino’s is the Real Deal Baby.”

Well, so sadly, Gino’s closed in 2010. It was a sad day indeed, and for regulars an actual tragedy, we lost our favorite clubhouse of all. A place that was so special and uniquely wonderful you just can’t replace. Yes a sad day indeed. Gino’s was irreplaceable, it’s a sin that it died, never-the-less it did. This was a crime, a crime against New York, Italian-America and Gino’s many devoted fans. If you knew Gino’s you’d surely agree.

Yes, even Gino’s a historical Old School Italian joint came to an end and died, a fate happening all over the country. We’re losing our wonderful beloved Red Sauce Joints. Places that are a part of American history, the history of Italian-America and even of Italy, as it was the citizens of our motherland who came here and created Italian-American Cuisine and Red Sauce Joints like our beloved Gino’s and other restaurants just like it all over America. Farewell to Gino’s and places like Rocco’s in Greenwich Village and all of our famous red sauce joints of years gone by.

Now hold on a minute. Yes we’ve lost many a great red sauce joints in the past years, and even still. But guess what? With places like Frankie’s Spuntino and Carbone in Greenwich Village, Red Sauce are now hip and as beloved as ever. They’re among one of the hot new restaurant and food-trends of most recent years. Unfortunately, Carbone is very expensive. Frankie’s on the other hand is not, it’s quite reasonable and in the true spirit of Old School Italian-American restaurants. Let’s hope this trend continues and instead of so many flashy restaurant that are not in the spirit of old school Italian-America, we need to get more restaurants like Frankie’s and Rubirosa. And if we’re lucky some day, maybe someone will open another Gino’s complete with all the old dishes like Pasta Segreto and the Scalamandre Zebra Wallpaper of course, of which Gino’s would not be Gino’s. Gino’s we miss you so.

So now it’s a sad state of affairs when we talk of these wonderful old Red Sauce Joints of our lives. We’ve had many good time there; family dinners, meals with friends, and courting and such. These places provide the perfect ambiance with great food, wine, and the animated waiter or two. But sadly not many are left. As you know, we lost Gino’s a few years ago and numerous good old restaurants before that. In Manhattan where I live it doesn’t even take the fingers of one had to count how many old Italian Red Sauce Joints are left. There’s Rao’s up in East Harlem, one of the all-time great new York City old-school Italian Restaurants with just the right ambiance and wonderful old-school Italian food, but guess what, you can’t get in. The place is sort of an exclusive club where people have a table reserved once a week and there’s never any opening, unless you know one of these elite in the know people, just Fuggetabout-it!

So there’s Rao’s up in East Harlem, Patsy’s in mid-town, and John’s of East 12th Street down in the East Village. John’s opened in 1908 and is still in business. Not only is it still in business, but the place has been wonderfully preserved and retains its original décor from 1908, the old tile floor, murals of Italian Cities and places like Venice, Rome, The Bay of Naples, and more. They still have the original bar and autographed pictures of movie stars and other celebrities from a large part of the 2oth Century.

The menu at John’s has most of the expected Red Sauce dishes like; Spaghetti with White or Red Clams Sauce, Veal Saltimbocca, Chicken Scarpara, Veal Piccata, Speedino of Mozzarella alla Romano, Baked Clams Oreganata, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Lasagna, and Canneloni. The kitchen churns out real solid food with standouts being there Baked Clams and their Speedino alla Romano which is without question the best in the city.

John’s has quite a history with Lucky Lucciano being a regular once upon a time, along with numerous mobsters back in the day, and John’s has seen the likes of The Ramones, Cindy Lauper, John Lennon and other luminaries walk through its doors.

There’s one other old Red Sauce Joint around the corner from John’s, and that’s Lanza’s on 1st Avenue and 11th Street. Lanza’s is actually a few years older than John’s opening in 1904. Lanza’s is pretty nice and a good part of it has been preserved, although a few years ago they made some changes to the décor which sort of ruined it a bit. Lanza’s has that great classic red sauce joint menu with items like Spaghetti Marinara, Pasta Fagioli, Manicotti, Braciole, Cannoli, and the like.

Now we come to Patsy’s on West 56th Street in mid-town Manhattan. Guess what? This was Frank Sinatra’s all-time favorite restaurant, he ate there hundreds of times over the years and just loved it. It’s a great restaurant and if you go there, why not get some of Frank’s favorite dishes? Frank’s favorites were; Clams Posillipo, Spaghetti Marinara, and Veal Milanese. And yes, Sinatra went to Gino’s now and then, but it’s a well know fact that Patsy’s was his favorite.

Well, that’s about it on red sauce joints, they’re a dying breed I’m sorry to say. If you’ve never been to John’s, you must check it out. This place is like a museum. Truly. The owners have preserved its décor in an admirable manner, and what you see now is pretty much what Lucky Lucciano would have seen a 100 years ago. You’ll get a wonderful experience here of days gone by. An experience you’ll not find at too many places, so grab it while you still can.

 

 

Excerpted from Daniel Bellino Zwicke’s new forthcoming book, MANGIA ITALIANO, my Memories of Italian Food …. Due October 2016

 

 

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GINO’S SECRET SAUCE – Salsa Segreto

This, and more in MANGIA ITALIANO – Memories of Italian Food

COMING October 2016

New Book Best Selling Author

 

Memories of Italian Food

 

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Best Selling Cookbook author Daniel Bellino Zwicke has a new book of Recipes & Stories of Italian Food.  As with most of Daniel’s books Mangia Italiano is filled with delightful stories of Italian Food and Culture as told through Daniel’s eyes. There are stories of; Braciole, Stuffed Artichokes, Pasta, Italian Wedding Soup, Lasagna, Frittata, Italian Red Sauce Restaurants and much more … This is a book of essays of Italian Food and the Italian-American Lifestyle, told as only Daniel can tell, with stories that are sure to delight any and all lovers of this most popular subject, Italian Food. Read Daniel’s accounts of meals at Gino’s, John’s, and other famed Italian Red Sauce Joints of New York City and of many cherished moments shared at his Italian Table with friends and family as they make their way through course after course of Italian-America and Italy’s most storied dishes. Dishes like; Lasagna, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Pasta Fazool, Braciole, Baked Clams, Spaghetti Vongole and much more. If you Love Italian Food, “and who doesn’t” you are sure to love Mangia Italiano, Memories of Italian Food. 

MANGIA ITALIANO / Memmories of Italian Food is Due for September 2016 publication …

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Stuffed Artichokes

 

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STUFFED ARTICHOKES

 

   Stuffed Artichokes are another of my very first remembrances of Italian food. We are of Sicilian ancestry and Artichokes (Carciofi) along with Eggplant (Melanzane) are a very prominent part of the Sicilian Table. And as far as Italian-Americans go, when it comes to Artichokes and their preparation, stuffing them was the preferred way to go. Yes, every now and them we might have a Artichoke Frittata, or Pasta con Carciofi, but 98% of the time, when Italian-Americans get Artichokes at the market, you’re going to get them stuffed. There’s a reason for that, it’s the tastiest and most whimsical way to go. Yes whimsical, or so I always thought so, especially as a young boy, whenever my mom made them, I’d get quite excited, there’s nothing quite like a Stuffed Artichoke. All my life I’ve always viewed them as a very special treat. Stuffed with breadcrumbs that are flavored with garlic, oregano, parsley, and grated Pecorino or Parmigiano, yes these crazy looking vegetable are always a special treat, for eating a stuffed artichoke is unlike eating anything else. When making a stuffed artichoke you have to cut the spikey tips on the end of the leaves, and remove the center choke that you fill them with the tasty a breadcrumb stuffing, which also goes in-between the leaves. You then cook them with garlic and olive oil and a bit of water until done, and then the fun really begins, eating it.

   Eating your Stuffed Artichoke is a great adventure, and there’s nothing quite like it in the whole wide culinary world. These baby’s look like some sort of Medieval Weapon or something, spirally with layers and layers of thorny tips. And now you’re going to dig into it. You have your Artichoke before, all hot and steamy and stuffed with that tasty breadcrumb filling in the middle, stuffed and overflowing between the leaves. You pull off you first leave, that’s cooked tender and juicy and has a bit of the stuffing upon its surface. You put the artichoke leave in-between you upper and lower teeth and the bite down onto the leave. Then you must pull the leave from back to front, all the time biting down on the leave and this way you will scrape that little bit of artichoke meat on the leaf, along with the breadcrumbs into your mouth for that little savory treat of one leaf of your stuffed artichoke. You will continue the process of eating the leaves one at a time until they are all gone. Well, you don’t actually eat the whole leaf, but you are scraping off that little bit of the edible flesh of each leaf, and breadcrumbs one-by one until they are all gone. That was quite fun and tasty to boot, and now your are left with the special prize of the Heart of the Artichoke, and any breadcrumb stuffing that is left. There’s some braising liquid as well. You’re in for the last special treat of your prized Artichoke and yes it is oh so very good. Better than good, it fabulous. This is the story of Stuffed Artichokes and the memories of eating them. Have you any? If not, then you should do so soon, and you’re in for a special treat.

   A Stuffed Artichokes is a special treat Italian have been eating for years. Italian immigrants to American have been eating them for more than one hundred years now. They are one of our most prized items and are especially beloved in Italian-American enclaves all over the country. We love them in New York, New Jersey, Boston, and Baltimore, but no more so than in the great southern city of New Orleans, Louisiana where the popularity of the Stuffed Artichoke is at its zenith. Why? Well, there are no Italians who love and eat Stuffed Artichokes more than the Sicilians. The Stuffed Artichoke is mostly of the south of Italy, around Naples and Puglia, but at its strongest in the great region of Sicily, where artichokes were most likely imported into Sicily by the Arabs and later spread through other parts of Italy.

   Yes, if you go down to New Orleans you’ll see Stuffed Artichokes all over the place. They are a popular deli item, especially if the owners are Italian-Americans you might see a tray of Stuffed Artichoke at the counter, cooked and ready to go. They are so popular in New Orleans that they have spread to the whole populous, becoming favorites of not just the Italians, but all other ethnic peoples of the great city of New Orleans. Artichoke, stuffed, they’re a special indulgence. If you’ve had them you know why. It’s time to indulge in one of your own.

 

 

Excerpted from Daniel Bellino’s newest forthcoming cookbook ; Mangia Italiano

 

RECIPE :

Ingredients:

4 large, full-size artichokes

1 lemon, halved

1 3⁄4 cups dried breadcrumbs

1 cup grated pecorino

1⁄3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

8 cloves garlic, finely chopped

10 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Using a serrated knife, cut off artichoke stems to create a flat bottom. Cut top quarter off artichokes, pull off tough outermost leaves, and trim tips of leaves with kitchen shears.

Fill a large pot with water and 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to the boil. Put artichokes in the pot. Once the water comes to the boil, cook the artichokes in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove artichokes from water and set aside.

Open artichoke leaves with your thumbs to make room for stuffing; set aside.

Heat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine garlic, breadcrumbs, 3⁄4 cup pecorino, parsley, salt, pepper, half the olive oil, and 6 tablespoons of water.

Take each artichoke and spread leaves apart in order to fill with breadcrumb stuffing. Working with one artichoke at a time over bowl, sprinkle one-quarter of breadcrumb mixture over each artichoke and work it in between leaves.

Once all the artichokes are filled with the bread stuffing, transfer the stuffed artichoke to a shallow baking dish. Drizzle each artichoke with 1-tablespoon oil. Pour in boiling water to a depth of 1″ .. Cover pan and artichokes with foil.

Bake Artichokes until a knife easily slides into the base of an artichoke, about 35- 40 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle tops with remaining cheese. Turn heat up to 400 degrees and bake for 8 minutes more.

 

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Jersey Shore Pasta Crab Sauce

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JERSEY SHORE CRAB SAUCE

There are plenty of Maryland Blue Crabs down on the Jersey Shore, as well as plenty of Italian-Americans. The two go together, and this Crab Sauce for pasta is a specialty of Jersey Italians who love seafood, along with their Brooklyn and New York neighbors. They all love it! So will you.

 

12 Hard Shell Blue Crabs

12 tablespoons Olive Oil

12 Cloves Garlic, 1 for each Crab, peeled and chopped

1 Small Onion, peeled and chopped fine

1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

1 – 28 oz. can whole San Marzano Tomatoes

1 – 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes

1- 16 oz. can Tomato Puree

½ teaspoon dry Basil

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley

1 pound Lump Crab-Meat, fresh frozen or canned

1 pound imported Italian Spaghetti or Linguine

 

Put olive oil in a large pot and heat to high. Place the Crabs in the pot and sauté at high heat for 10 minutes.

After browning the crabs, remove from pan and set aside.

Put onions in pan and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and red pepper to pan and cook on low heat for 3 minutes. Add whole tomatoes to pan and cook on high heat for 4 minutes whole stirring with a wooden spoon. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato puree. Add the Crabs back to the pot. Cook for 90 minutes on low heat.

Remove the crabs from pan and let cool on the side. Remove all the meat from the crabs and discard the shells. Add crab-meat to sauce with your extra pound of lump crab-meat and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain pasta and put back in the pot it cooked in with 8 tablespoons of reserved pasta cooking water. Sprinkle pasta with a little olive oil and mix. Add 2 cups of crab sauce and half the parsley to pasta and mix.

Plate the pasta with sauce on 4 plates in equal portions and top with some more sauce and some parsley.

 

Notes: Do not serve with cheese! Italians never have cheese with Seafood Pasta. This is enough sauce for 2 to 3 pound of pasta, or about 12 portions, so after you make this Pasta with Crab Sauce with 1 pound of pasta, you still have plenty left over for another day.

 

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Finished Sauce

“Yummm” !!!

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Pasta with Jersey Shore Crab Sauce

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JERSEY CRAB SHORE SAUCE

and Other Great Recipes

in

SEGRETO ITALIANO

by Daniel Bellino Z

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Celebrate Saint Josephs Day Feast

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St Joseph

aka

San Giuseppe

The March 19 is the Feast of St. Joseph , the day when, in Italy , we also celebrate all thedads and is the festival that opens the door to the Spring .
The festivities in honor of the Patriarch St. Joseph are widespread in many cities and towns of the Sicilia . the figure of St. Joseph , foster father of Jesus and husband of Maria , is deeply felt and venerated, also demonstrated by the many Sicilians who bear his name. in the memories of most Sicilians is the memory of the picture, the statue or printing of St. Joseph in her arms the Child Jesus , in plain sight in the homes of our grandparents . the Holy Patriarch is loved even today, as a symbol of ‘ honesty , of’ humility , of ‘ love and family , and sacred values absolutely be protected. in Trapani , in many municipalities belonging to the Diocese ofMazara del Vallo , as Campobello di Mazara , Castelvetrano , Santa Ninfa , Salemi , are set up altars to honor the patriarch St. Joseph . in almost all the countries of the Diocese is celebrated rite of the ” Dinner of the Saints “: the Saints knock on the door asking for hospitality; twice they are not accepted. The third opens wide the door and the Saints enter the house, where you will eat dinner. A Salemi you start with dinner on March 19th when we celebrate the religious rite of the ” Dinners San Giuseppe “, last a week, with exhibitions and exhibitions food and wine ; are set up altars decorated with lemons , twigs d ‘ laurel , orangesand the typical ” bread ” manufactured by local women into veritable works of art. The ” bread” in the shape of the symbols of Pentecost , like the fish , the three nails, scale, or make reference to nature; devotees who organize dinner must prepare a meal with 101 dishes , made from vegetables , grains , fish , fruit and sweets of every variety. After dinner there is the rite of the blessing of the ” bread ” which are then distributed to the children, who represent the Holy Family and the many visitors who came to attend the ” Eaten there for Saints .” In Sicily , each holiday has a flat or a traditional sweet and the list would be so vast to enumerate them all to risk of forgetting is always someone. At the Feast of St. Joseph , on the

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Sfinci San Giuseppe

St Josephs Day Pastry

tables there was a menu special kind: according tradition imbandire you had a board with various kinds of foods, especially with the bread (symbol of fertility and prosperity) to give refreshment to pilgrims and fugitives; this custom recalls the escape of Mary, Joseph and Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod’s order to kill all the firstborn males. We start from the first course, as the famous pasta with sardines and wild fennel , or the virdi soup of San Giuseppi (legumes and vegetables with leftover pasta of various types) from Palermo, or even the ” ministredda of”Augusta (whose ingredients must be nineteen). the ” maccu “, known throughout the region but especially in the Syracuse area, composed of dried beans , lentils , spinach , onions ,dried chestnuts , oil and … more; He was present in every home and you had to send a sign of hope, family, friends, neighbors and even the poor of the neighborhood. And then thebeccaficu sardines , broccoli and ” sparaceddi ” and many other dishes, not meat, because we are in the period of Lent . Finally the cake, with the preparation of Sfinci of St. Joseph . It is afried sweet typical of Sicily , widespread especially in western areas of the island, originally produced in Palermo , is part of the cultural and traditional heritage of the region.

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SFINCI

The origins of sfincia are very old, seem to date back to the Persians, and there are traces both in the Bible and in the Qur’an , although under different names.
As for the ‘ origin of the name , there are several schools of thought: according to some, the name derives from the Latin ” spongia ” (sponge), while others derive from the Arabic ” isfanǧ ” (sponge), a name that was given to the special soft pancakes, irregularly shaped, and, precisely spongy, that Arabs ate covered honey or sugar .
the transformation of the Arab sweet fried sfincia we know is due to the Poor Clares of theMonastery of the Stigmata of St. Francis (the monastery was demolished in 1875, stood on the site where today we admire the Teatro Massimo ), who dedicated the sweet to the Holy of the Meek , St. Joseph .
later, the skill of confectioners Palermo turned the humble sweet delicacy in enriched withricotta cheese and candied fruit that, in recent times, you can enjoy all year round.

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Saint Joseph’s Day Pasta

RECIPE in GRANDMA BELLINO’S ITALIAN COOKBOOK

RECIPES FROM MY SICILIAN GRANDMOTHER

by Daniel Bellino Z

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GREAT SICILIAN HOME-COOKED RECIPES

FROM SCILIAN GRANDMOTHER GIUSEPPINA SALEMI BELLINO

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Neapolitan Ragu Sunday Sauce Gravy

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“Vinnie don’t put to many Onions in The SAUCE” 

Big Paulie (Paul Sorvino) warns Vinnie (Charlie Scorsese) in son Martin Scorsese & Nicholas Pileggi’s GOODFELLAS ...

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GRAVY

aka SUNDAY SAUCE

Gravy? Some call it Sunday Sauce, or Sunday Gravy. Whether you cal it Gravy or Sunday Sauce, this dish eaten every Sunday by a million Italian families across America is the Supreme Dish of Italian-America .. The dish stems from the famed Neapolitan sauce known as Ragu Neapolitan in it’s native city Napoli (Naples) in Italy  … This famous Neapolitan Ragu varies in it’s preparation from neighborhood to neighborhood in Napoli as well as family to family in this capital city of Campania as well as Sicily and all over the United States with Italian-American families in Brooklyn, New York, New Jersey, Boston, Providence RI, Baltimore, New Orleans, and all over the country.

Yes, in America, some families call it Gravy and others Sunday Sauce, Ragu Neapolitan or simply Ragu in Napoli. And in America some families eat the entire sauce with the meats on  a plate with maccherroni (short Pasta) while others do as they do in Naples and eat some of the Sauce without the meat with maccheroni as one course and after the eat the pasta with sauce they’ll have the main course eating a little bit of each type of meat in the ragu along with some greens or boiled potatoes .. No matter how you like to eat the dish with the meats and pasta toghether or in two courses, this dish is always a tasty succulent treat that everyone loves .. Get some nice Italian Wine, put on some Sinatra, and all will be good in your world. Enjoy, be well and God Bless...

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Sophia Loren

“Mangia la Pasta”

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BRACIOLE

The meats inside any given Neapolitan Ragu or Sunday Gravy will vary depending upon who is making the sauce and their family’s recipe .. Many Italian-Americans make it with; Suasage, Meatballs, & Braciole, others may make it with just Meatballs & Sausages, and some will make it with Meatballs, Sausages, & Pork Spareribs .. You can also put in chicken thighs, Pig Skin Braciole (Coteca), beef or pork neck and other various meats.

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Rigatoni e Ragu

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Meatballs

“Always a Prized Item of the Italian-American Table”

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mrnewyorkny_grandma

GRANDMA BELLINO’S ITALIAN COOKBOOK

by Daniel Bellino Z

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Sophia Loren making Neapolitan Ragu

aka Sunday Sauce

aka Gravy

Recipe in Daniel Bellino-Zwicke ‘s SUNDAY SAUCE

available in Paperback and Kindle on AMAZON.com

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