The Feast of The 7 Fishes

Mangia Italia
The Feast of The 7 Fish
My Aunt Helen used to make the famous Italian Christmas Eve Dinner, “The Feast of 7 Fishes,” The 7 Fish of the Seven Sacraments. I know she made it because I
used to hear her talking about it when I was a little kid. Although I shared
many wonderful meals with my dear Aunt Helen, I never had the pleasure of
having the famous Christmas Eve Dinner “La Vigilia” Feast of 7 FishFeast of 7 Fish with her. We always had Christmas Eve dinner with the immediate family and Aunt Helen had the Christmas Eve with her brother and sister and other family
members. Aunt Helen was born in Salerno, Italy and was my Uncle Franks (1 of my Mother’s 3 brothers) better half. So for our Christmas Dinner my mother would
make an Antipasto of Salami, Provolone, Peppers, and Olives, followed by Baked
Ziti and a Baked Ham studded with cloves and Pineapple rings.
The first time I ever had the mystical dinner was about 12 years ago with my cousin
Joe, his family and my girlfriend Duyen. We had been talking about this famous
Italian Feast a few weeks previous, and were thinking of making it.  Joe told me he wanted to have  the Christmas  Eve  Meal of  The Feast of The 7  Fishes, known
in Italy as  La Viglia (The Vigil) or “La Festa Dei Sette Pesci,” which is also known in Italian-America as The Feast of The 7 Fish, that signify the 7 Sacraments. Now, how’s all that for a mouthful?
This Dinner, La Vigilia originated in Southern Italy, especially in and around the
environs of Napoli. The Feast of The 7 Fish is a Southern Italian tradition that does not exist in the rest of Italy, it is of the South. La Viglia, or “The Feast of the  Seven Fishes” as it isknown to Italian-Americans commemorates the waiting (Vigil) of the Baby Jesus to be Born at Midnight and the Seven Fish represent the Seven Sacraments of  the Roman Catholic Church. Some also that the Seven Fish might signify the 7 Days of Creation, or The Seven Deadly Sins, but most believe the 7 Fish pertain to the Seven Sacraments.
So Joe asked me if I wanted to make this festive and all important dinner, to
perform the ceremony. He didn’t need to ask twice. I had never made it before
and was dying to do so. For a long time I had yearned to partake  in  this celebrated old  Southern  Italian Ritual, and this was my  chance. Naturally I was excited, so was Joe.

The anticipation of the Great Feast to come was of happy expectations and excitement.
And what for the menu? I know Aunt Helen made Bacala, Shrimp Oreganata, Mussels, Baked Clams, Calamari, Octopus, and eel, all much Loved Southern Italian (especially Napoli and Sicily) Creatures of the Sea. We decided which fish we wanted and how  to  cook each one.  Much thought and planning went into the menu and its execution.  Joe wanted; Langoustines, Lobster, and Bacala. Alexandra asked if I would make Stuffed Calamari. We also decided on Shrimp Cocktail, Baked Clams Oreganata, and Cozze al Posillipo. The menu was set. Duyen helped me with the Calamari which we stuffed with Shrimp, parsley, breadcrumbs, and Peas. We braised the Calamari with tomato, White Wine, and herbs, and if I must say so myself, the Calamari came out superbly.  The Stuffed Calamari were a lot of work to make, but well worth the effort as they were a huge hit with all. The Macari boys, Joey, Edward, and Tommy, as well as sister Gabriella,  Alex, Duyen,  Jose  and Sergio from Barcelona were all in
attendance.
The Mussels Posillipo were cooked with garlic, white wine, parsley, and tomato. The sauce is great to dip your bread into. This dish was one of my mother’s favorites back in the days when few Americans other than those  of
Italian  origins ever ate these wonderful little bivalves. Now-a-days every-body does. As a young boy I remember my mother sending me to Bella Pizza in East Rutherford to get an order of them for her. She always gave me a few and I have Loved them ever since.
Joe helped me to cook the Langoustines. They are hard to find and I had to order a
ten-pound box from Silvano in order to get them.  The best way to cook langoustines is to split them in half and sauté them on each side in olive oil with a little butter and garlic. We served the Langoustines the same way as Silvano does as we feel his recipe is the best and everybody loves them that way.  The Langoustines are served with a salad of thinly shaved fennel and celery dressed in olive oil and lemon with some split cherry tomatoes. Absolutely delicious!!!
The Lobsters we prepared the best way possible, the New England way, steamed and served simply with drawn butter and lemon wedges. There’s nothing better on
Earth, well except for Sunday Sauce of course.
Well, that Christmas Eve Dinner The Feast of Seven Fishes was quite a wonderful
experience. It was a huge success but quite a bit too much work and actually, too much food, everyone was kind of full already by the fifth fish. The following year we decided on incorporating the Seven Fish into three courses instead of seven separate  ones  as it’s just too much,  too much to eat and too much to cook, a lot of work, and who needs to  work that hard on Christmas.  It was a good decision. We
still had 7 different fish, which is a must. Serving these 7 Fish in three courses was a good idea as it is much more manageable that way, both to cook and to eat.
On this Feast of The 7 Fish in “3 Courses” we decided to make the Stuffed
Calamari, which I would not have  chosen again  because it  was  a lot of work, but it was Alex and Joe’s favorite and they said that it was a must. This was our Antipasto Course. 

Alexandra and her mom helped me,  so the amount of work was cut down
and  divided into three, “A good thing.”
The stuffed calamari took care of two of the seven the shrimp that were stuffed
into the squid.
The second course (Primi) of Linguine Frutti de Mare consumed four of the Seven
Fish required for the meal.  It consisted of Mussels, Clams, Lobster, and Scallops cooked with garlic, oil, herbs, and just a touch of tomato.
The seventh and final fish was fresh Cod that I roasted and served with a sweet and
sour onion sauce (Bacala Fresca Agro Dolce). Everybody went bananas for it especially cousin Joe who raved at each and every dish I put down.  It’s a pleasure cooking for Joe as his for eating and for the Italian American way of life, the food, the wine, the rituals. Joe truly Loves and savors the experience, so I always love
to cook for him, Alexandra, their children, or just about anyone for who savors
the experience so well. This goes the same for my cousin  Anthony Bellino his wife Debbie and  their three girls Chrissy, Danna, and Allison,  along  with all my
close friends and family.
It makes cooking a joy rather than a chore. When cooking for family or friends,
you give two of life’s great gifts,  a tasty  Home-Cooked meal combined with a
little bit of Love.  Scratch that. “A whole lotta Love!”
If you don’t want to go so crazy, with 7 Fish as it’s quite an undertaking, you should try to do an odd numbers; 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11. Three (3) is a Nice Number and Represents the Holy Trinity of The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Buon Natale!
LEARN HOW to MAKE
The FEAST of The SEVEN FISHES
ITALIAN CHRISTMAS DINNER
“La VIGILIA”
In THE FEAST of THE 7 FISH
by Daniel Bellino “Z”
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Sicilian Pasta n Peas Recipe

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AUNT FRAN’S PASTA & PEAS

This is a nice simple little pasta dish that can be whipped up in no time flat, which my Aunt Fran often did if we stopped by for a visit at her and Uncle Tony’s house. The dish is sort of half a pasta dish and half soup, or it can be either a soup or pasta dish depending on how much liquid you use. More liquid and it’s a soup, less liquid and it’s a Pasta Dish with the peas and other vegetables and pancetta acting as a sauce. This is classic Cucina Povera, the kind of dish that Aunt Fran, my mom, aunts, and uncles grew up with. It’s a dish that is not well known outside of Italian-American households, so if you want in on a great little secret, here you go. Make it, Pasta or Soup, or both, “Mangia Bene.”

 

INGREDIENTS :

¼ cup Olive Oil

8 ounces Pancetta, diced

2 medium Onions, Peeled and diced fine

1 Carrot, Peeled and minced

4 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced

1 large Potato, peeled and cut to ¼” dice

3 cups water

1 Bay Leaf

½ teaspoon each of Kosher Salt & Black Pepper

2 – 10 ounce boxes of frozen Peas

12 ounce Ditalini

1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Place Pancetta and half the olive oil in a 6-quart pan and cook Pancetta on low heat for 6 minutes. Add onions and cook on low heat for 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook on low heat for 2 minutes.

Add Potato, Carrot, water, half the remaining olive oil, Salt, Black Pepper, and Bay Leaf to the pot and raise heat to high. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes on high heat.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to directions on package.

Put Peas in pot and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Take 1 cup of pasta cooking water and add to the pot peas.

Drain pasta in a colander, then add to pot with peas. Add half the remaining cheese and cook the past and peas on medium heat for 6 minutes.

Serve each person a bowl of Pasta & Peas and pass grated pecorino and Olive Oil to drizzle over pasta.

 

Excerpted from Daniel Bellino-Zwicke ‘s forthcomong book Mangia Italiano

 

See Daniel’s other Best Selling Cookbooks

 

 

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RECIPES FROM MY SICILAIN NONNA

 

 

 

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Italian American Food History

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Frank Sinatra in Mosaic

ITALIAN-AMERICAN FOOD  … A Brief History

Italian food is one of the most popular ethnic foods in America. In fact, it’s so popular that Italian food authorities have become concerned with what they call “Italian sounding” or “fake Italian food products.” According to one study, authentic Italian food — that’s food imported from Italy — accounts for only about one-third of Italian food purchased in the United States. The remainder is foods that have Italian names, but are not authentic Italian products.

Authentic Italian food products are available at specialty food stores in the United States –most notably in Italian food markets in cities with large populations of Italian Americans. Italian food producers say that Italy’s high standards, the importance of freshness and the cost and time of exporting have limited authentic Italian food products in the American market. However, the Internet has narrowed the gap, as more Italian products become available online.

Many say the trend toward Italian food started in the late nineteenth century as Italian immigrants began to make their homes in America. The waves of immigrants from Italy continued passing through Ellis Island, traveling further west, yet holding on to their cultural identity through their cooking.

One of the earliest dishes attributed to an Italian, and still extremely popular today, is Chicken Tetrazzini. It was created in the early 1900s in honor of Luisa Tetrazzini, the operatic soprano known as The Florentine Nightingale. The famous muffuletta sandwich of New Orleans, named after the muffuliette rolls baked in Sicily, was created in 1906 for Sicilian workers. The ever popular Philly cheese steak was invented by an Italian, and the specialty fish stew of San Francisco, cioppino, originated from the Italian fish stew ciuppin, made by the Genoese fishermen who settled there.

Soldiers returning from Italy after World War II brought with them their desire for the foods of a grateful but war-torn nation. Enterprising immigrants opened restaurants providing the soldiers with the foods they had developed a craving for and introduced the soldiers’ families to spaghetti and meatballs, sausage and peppers, ravioli, lasagna, manicotti, baked ziti and pizza.

Throughout the 50s and 60s, Italian food was becoming a part of the American diet and delicatessens offered salami, capocollo, mortadella, pepperoni, mozzarella and provolone, while spumone was a popular dessert, and variations of minestrone abounded. During the 70s and 80s, many Italian-inspired regional dishes became popular in America — Eggplant Parmigiana, Fettuccini Alfredo, Penne alla Vodka, Shrimp Scampi, Chicken Piccata, Chicken Cacciatore, Steak Pizzaiola, Osso Buco, Veal Marsala, Pasta Primavera, Fried Calamari, Saltimbocca, Caponata, Calzone and Stromboli. Grissini, semolina bread, risotto, broccoli rabe, arugula, radicchio, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano Reggiano, ricotta, olive oil, pesto, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, pizzelle, cannoli, zeppole, torrone, gianduja, panettone and espresso were common additions to meals.

The 90s heralded a mass influx of Italian ingredients and foods, with bocconcini, mozzarella di bufala, ricotta salata, fontina, Asiago, Taleggio, Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano, caciocavallo, mascarpone, ciabatta, crostini, bruschetta, focaccia, panzanella, polenta, gnocchi, pancetta, specialty pestos, black and white truffles, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, dipping oils, pasta — of all shapes, sizes, and colors, numerous pasta sauces, various types of pizza, cappuccino, flavored syrups, biscotti, tiramisù, granita and gelato.

So far, the twenty-first century has brought more attention to frittata, timballo, panini, Insalata Caprese, Burrata, Arancini, homemade specialty pastas, flavored balsamic vinegars and oils, artisan breads and cheeses and, although not a food, but food related — the barista. 

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SUNDAY SAUCE

aka GRAVY

GREAT MOMENTS in ITALIAN FOOD HISTORY

1492 … Christopher Columbus discovers the Americas .. Soon thereafter, foods like Potatoes  (Gnocchi), Tomatoes  (Sugo di Pomodoro), and Corn (Polenta) are exported from the New World to Italy.

1880s  … The first 5 Million Italian Immigrants arrive in America and eventuall invent one of the the World’s Best Loved Cusines “Italian-American”

1889  …  Raffael Esposito invents Pizza Margherita in Naples, Italy honor of Queen Margherita ..

1891  …  Florentine baker Artusi Pelligrino writes the first modern Italian Cookbook .

1905   … America’s 1st ever Pizzeria, Lombardi’s is opened by Genaro Lombardi on Spring Street in New York .. Lombardi’s Pizzeria is till there, and is the 1st and oldest Pizzeria in the United States ..

1906  … Barbetta Restorante opens in the Theater District in New York .. It’s still open and run by the founders daughter Laura Maioglio ..

1908  … John’s of 12th Street opens on East 12th Street in the East Village .. Charles Lucky Luciano would whack (Murder) someone outside the restaurant one day.

1917  …  Alfredo di Lelio invents Fettuccine Alfredo at his restorante in Rome  .. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks eat it on their honeymoon in 1926 and love it, and spread the word back in Hollywood, and the word spreads. Within a year, a recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo is in cookbooks in the States . Fettuccine Alfredo becomes one of America’s favorite dishes and is a bug part of Italian-American cuisine and is served in Italian restaurants all over America, where millions of dishes of it have been enjoyed by enthusiastic customers over the years. The recipe created by di Lelio is made with fresh fettucine egg noodles and the sauce is made by tossing butter and grated Parmigiano Reggiano together with the just cooked pasta. Italian restaurant owners in America make it a bit differently and their devoted customers just love it. In Italian restaurants in America the same fresh fettuccine egg pasta is used, but the sauce is different, it’s made of heavy-cream and the grated Parmigiano Reggiano instead of butter and Parmigiano, either way is equally tasty.

AMERICA’S GREATS OLD SCHOOL ITALIAN RESTAURANTS

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RAO’S

East Harlem , NEW YORK

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JOHN’S

EAST 12th STREET , NEW YORK NY

Original DECOR SINCE 1908

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GINO’S

Lexington Avenue , New York , NY

“Sadly, has closed, but it was one of America’s greatest Italian restaurants ever, so we just want to keeps its memory alive. Basta!”

 

FOR MORE GREAT ARTICLES of ITALIAN AMERICAN FOOD and CULTURE 

CLICK HERE !

FOR NewYork Italian

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RAGU BOLOGNESE by Danny Bolognese New Cookbook

 

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BEST SELLING ITALIAN COOKBOOK Author 

DANIEL BELLINO-ZWICKE

a.k.a  Danny Bolognese

About to Release His Latest Book

RAGU BOLOGNESE

The SECRET RECIPE & More  …

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Bolognese Sauce. You gotta just love it. It’s one of the greatest things ever, oh-so-tasty and soul satisfying. Do you know it? Have you ever tasted the Real Thing? Well here it is, in all its glory and wonderfulness that is a properly made Ragu Bolognese, rich, lush, Soul Satisfying and oh so fantastic, it’s Bolognese! Sorry I’m going on-and-on, but that’s the affect this wonderful thing called the Bolognese, has on one. It’s just so wonderful and blissfully delicious. So, whether you’ve ever had the real thing or not, here it is. If you are one who has tasted a properly made Bolognese then you must now be in love with it, that’s a given with all its deliciousness, you no doubt crave it all the time. Well now you can make. This Famous Secret Recipe of which I was taught to make form my former boss Chef Pasquale when I was working as a cook some 25 years ago.

Excerpted from RAGU BOLOGNESE – The Secret Recipe and More …

by Danny Bolognese

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GINOS SECRET SAUCE RECIPE




SECRET SAUCE
“SEGRETO”
    Tagliolini
with Salsa Segreto. Secret Sauce? Shhhh!!! We lost our beloved Old-School
Italian Red-Sauce Joint Gino’s of Lexington Avenue a couple years back. Gino’s
opened in 1945 by Neapolitan Immigrant Gino Circicello, was a Gem of a
Restaurant loved by its many loyal customers who kept the place packed and
vibrant night-after-night, year-after-year. The place was perfect; Great Food
and good wine at reasonable prices coupled with excellent service by friendly
attentive waiters inside a homey comfy dining-room that everyone loved, from
its cozy little Bar at the front of the restaurant, its Phone Booth (one of the
last surviving in New York), and the famed Scalamandre Zebra Wallpaper that is
as much a part of Gino’s as the tenured old waiters, the Phone Booth, and the
popular Chicken Parmigiano.
    Among
all the tasty pasta dishes, the Pasta with Salsa Segreta, (Segreto) “The Secret
Sauce,” was a perennial favorite at Gino’s. All of Gino’s legendary clientele
loved it. Some of the clients just happened to be, people like; Frank Sinatra,
Tony Bennett, and Joe DiMaggio, to name a few of a large string of luminaries
to grace Gino’s over the years. Gino’s had many wonderful dishes that were soul
satisfy, unpretentious, and tasty as heck. They were all the usual suspects of
Italian Red-Sauce Joints everywhere; from Baked Clams Areganata, to Shrimp
Cocktail, to Spaghetti With Clam Sauce, Lasagna, the famed Veal Pamigiano, “the
entire menu.”     I used to go to Gino’s
with my cousin Joe quite a bit. My sister Barbara came a couple times, as did my
brother Michael. But it was usually me and Cousin Joe, and if anyone else was
tagging along as well. Now I love my pasta as all good Italian-Americans do,
but my cousin Joe? He had me beat. The guy loves his pasta, and wanted it
practically every day. I believe we tried the Salsa Segreta (Secret Sauce) on
our first trip there. I think with Tagliolini, but you can have it with
Spaghetti, Rigatoni or whichever pasta you like. Well we loved it from the very
first, and would get it every time we went. Often we’d get Baked Clams and
Shrimp Cocktail to start, followed by a Half Portion each of Tagliolini with
Salsa Segreto, and as our main we might split a Veal Milanese with a “Nice
Bottle of Chianti.” We’d finish the meal with Espresso and a couple of
Desserts, maybe a Tiramisu and a Chocolate Tartufo.

 

    So the Secret Sauce, what’s in it, you want to
know? Yes I identified the Secret ingredients one day, I made it, and it tastes
exactly the same, and that’s as tasty as can possibly be, a 10 out of 10, you
can’t get any better. It’s quite simple and you’d be amazed, but that’s the
essence of all Italian Cooking, simply tasty. The Secret of The Secret Sauce
is, “I shouldn’t tell you but I will.” I should be charging you $100 just for
this one recipe but I won’t. “I hope you know what a bargain you people are all
getting; my Sunday Sauce, Clemenza’s Sunday Sauce, my Lentil Soup recipe, Marinara
Sauce, my famed Bolognese and more.
I’m getting robbed here!” But here you go, The Secret-Ingredients in the Secret
Sauce from the former Gino’s Restaurant on Lexington Avenue across from
Bloomingdales are  _ _ _ _ _ _ _  and  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  added to a
simple tomato sauce. That’s it! Basta ! The Cat is out of the Bag. Enjoy! Are you Happy? “You better be!”
 
 
 
 
Excerpted from SUNDAY SAUCE by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
 
The RECIPE and “SECRET INGREDIENTS” 
For SALSA SEGRETA “GINO’S SECRET SAUCE are in SUNDAY SAUCE 
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
 
 
 
The FORMER GINO’S
On Lexington Avenue, New York, NY
NOW SADLY CLOSED
 
 
 
The Recipe for The SALSA SEGRETA LIVES ON
In
SUNDAY SAUCE
Kindle Edition
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GINO’S Was A FAVORITE 
of
FRANK SINATRA 
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Learn How to Make SUNDAY SAUCE “Italian Gravy”

CLEMENZA TEACHES MICHAEL
How To Make SUNDAY SAUCE
“GRAVY”
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Richard Castellano & Al Pacino
In
Francis Ford Coppola ‘s THE GODFATHER
 
 
 
 Watch Author Daniel Bellino Making SUNDAY SAUCE
 
SUNDAY SAUCE

WHEN ITALIAN AMERICANS COOK by Daniel Bellino

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DANIEL Buys His SAUSAGES, BRACIOLE,
GROUND MEATS, TOMATOES,
and OLIVE OIL at FAICCO’S PORK STORE
On BLEECKER STREET
In GREENWICH VILLAGE, NEW YORK
THE Ingredients For THE “GRAVY
aka
SUNDAY SAUCE
 
 
BROWNING The BRACIOLE
 
 
SIMMERING 
The “SAUCE”
 
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“WHEN COOKING”
 
“DON’T FORGET To PLAY SINATRA”
 

And During DINNER

You will always “MANGIA BENE” !!!

 
 
 

Italian American Greatest Hits Cookbook

ITALIAN-AMERICA’S GREATEST HITS  COOKBOOK
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
Ladies and Gentlmen, here it is! My latest, Italian-Americans Greattest Hits … It’s almost ready and should be out for publication in about 3 months … As the title implies, the book is a Greatest Hits Book …  The Greatest Hits of Italian-American Food that is !!! The book includes recipes and always stories of Italian-America, the people, the kitchen, the Food, places and all things Italian (Music,Wine and such). Some recipes are previously published from some of my other books (it’s a Greatest Hits Album so to speak). With some of these previously published recipes, there are many new ones as well). Maybe you’ve purchased one or two of my books (Thank You!) and maybe you like the work, the stories, the recipes, and you like to get some of my work as a gift to a loved one, a friend, whoever, you might want to get a copy of this as a compilation of my work. Anyway, look for it, Italian-America’s Greatest Hits  –  Spaghetti Meatballs Sausage & Peppers  …. Oh, there’s much more .. Favoirte dishes of The Italian-American Table, “You know what they are.”
CURRENTLY Available from Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
SUNDAY SAUCE  …. Learn How to Make SUNDAY SAUCE alla CLEMENZA  and …
La TAVOLA is NEW YORK ITALIAN

LEARN HOW To Make a NEGRONI and more vital skills of Italian-America …

THE FEAST of THE 7 FISH

LEARN How to Make It !!!!

with Daniel Bellino-Zwicke ‘s

The FEAST of THE 7 FISH
Ingredients ?
The NEGRONI

Recipe in La TAVOLA

by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke




INGREDIENTS ?





SUNDAY SAUCE

“GRAVY”


RONZONI

SONO BUONI !!!
PASTA of My CHILDHOOD 



FRNAK !!!

SINATRA 



MAKE a da SAUCE


alla CLEMENZA

Richard Castellano
&
Al Pacino

The GODFATHER

CHIANTI !!!