Eggplant Parmigiano, not an easy dish to get right. Good that is. Tasty, prepared properly. Eggplant is a hard thing to work with, not everyone knows how, Giovanni Tognozzi and his boys (Cooks) know how .. They know their stuff those guys who work the kitchen at what I call New York’s Best Italian Restaurant, “Yes Bar Pitti.” Some may disagree, but they probably don’t know what they’re talking about, maybe they do. In that cas, lets just say “They have their opinion, I have mine,” and Bar Pitti is top notch, thee A # 1 Best Italian Restaurant in New York, not an easy task. They prove it over-and-over-again. They proved it to me again today, with the Meleanzane alla Parmigiano, it’s awesome, and as good as it gets. I should know, I’m Sicilian, and we eat more Eggplant than any other region of Italy. They eat a lot in Napoli, but the Sicilians have them beat. Sicilians are the King of Eggplant when it comes to Eggplant Dishes in Italy. The Sicilians have they famed dish Caponata, a sweet and sour eggplant stew that when done right, by a master, it simply devine, as is mine if I must say so myself. I worked on that recipe for more than a year, tweeking it, getting the right balance of eggplant to tomato to onions, to olive oil, celery, sugar and vinegar, topped off with some nice big fat Green Sicilian Olives. Dam, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it, The Caponata, “My caponata,” not many can make it as good as mine, “No Brag, Just Fact.”
Sicilian Eggpnat Dishes? They grill it and dress it with Olive Oil and Vinegar, season with salt & pepper of course. It’s quite a good antipasto item. The there’s the famed Pasta alla Norma, a pasta dish made with eggplant sauteed with garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes, and topped with grated Ricotta Salata Cheese .. You can use whatever pasta you like, Spaghetti, Bucatini, Cavatelli, Rigatone, whatever .. The best in New York can be found at Degrezia Restaurant on East 5oth Street in Midtown Manhattan. Their Pasta alla Norma which they call Gargenelli alla Siciliana at Degrezia is awesome. DeGrezia is a hidden Gem that not everyone knows about, but those “In-The-Know” have it down as one of the Best In The City, best Italian Restaurants that is. Check it out on Zagat, they got very high marks.
Hey, anyway I got off on the beaten track a minute as I often do. I start out talking about Bar Pitti and their awesome Eggplant Parm, then I’m on to these eggplant dishes of Sicily and wind up talking about Pasat alla Siciliana at DeGrezia. Well, one thing often leads to the other.
Let’s get back to Bar Pitti and their Melanzane Parmigiano and why Bar Pitti is New York’s BEst Italian Restaurant. Well, they prove it over and over again. The food is great, authentic, done right and consistently so. The ambiance is nice, they have nice wines, and pretty good service. And the prices, though not cheap, are fair. Well the Food at Bar Pitti is quite simply, Great. And it’s always great. I’ve eaten at Bar Pitti more than 200 times over the years and every dish I’ve ever had has been excellent or dam close to it. I’ve had the egplant parm there befor, and have always like it. I got it today when I ran into some friends (as I often do) sitting outside. They told me to sit down and have a glass of wine. I did. I was a bit hungry and ordered the Melanzane Parmigiano. Befor it came, my buddy Mike let me have one piece of hsi Coda di Vaccinara (Roman Braised Oxtails), which might very well be my single most favorite dish at the place (love the Trippa) as well. The Oxtails were a special that they serve about 2 – 3 times a week, and they are superb. My friends Michael and Jasmine had already ordered and when he told me he had ordered the Braised Oxtails, my interest was peaked. I thought about getting them but decided against it as I didn’t feel like having so much meat on these day. I’m a Meatatarian (I eat meat, but less, about 3 times a week). Well problem was solved when Michaels Oxtails came, he looked at his dish, and said I could have one piece. Awesome! I ordered the Eggplant Parm, had a piece of Oxtail with a bit of the Soft Polenta and a few pieces of sauteed zucchini which were unsurprisingly perfect. That’s Bar Pitti for you, usually perfect or near to it. Bar Pitti, New York’s Best Eggplant Parm, Coda d’ Vaccinara (Braised Oxtails), and quite simply New York’s number # 1 Italian Restaurant. Basta!
$35.00 A JAR
The WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE
ITALIAN JARED PASTA SAUCE
Mamma mia! That’s a lot of money to mangia.
At $35 a jar, Sunday Gravy is the most expensive pasta sauce in town — and the price tag is giving some people agita. “You’re kidding me, right?!” belched one Facebook poster. “Who in their right mind would pay $35 for sauce?”
The ruby-red delicacy costs far more than celebrity blends made by Mario Batali ($7.80), Lidia Bastianich ($6.80) or Rao’s ($8).
And it’s more than double the $16 for a plate of pasta with meat sauce at Eataly’s La Pasta or even a $22 penne with veal and pork ragu at Il Buco.
IF YOU THINK THIS IS An ABSURD PRICE and WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN TASTY ITALIAN SUNDAY SAUCE GRAVY alla CLEMENZA alla FRANK SINATRA
GET YOURSELF A COPY of DANIEL BELLINO-ZWICKE’S AWESOME BOOK
“La TAVOLA” ITALIAN-AMERICAN NEW YORKERS ADVENTURES of THE TABLE
With MANY GREAT RECIPES INCLUDING SUNDAY SAUCE alla CLEMENZA, THE WAY FRANK SINATRA LIKED IT … MANGIA!!!
IF YOU MAKE THE SUNDAY SAUCE GRAVY RECIPE in “La TAVOLA” IT WILL COST YOU ABOUT $35 to $40 to MAKE a LARGE BATCH THAT WILL FEED ABOUT 20 PEOPLE or MAKE 20 SERVINGS of SAUCE WITH PASTA and SOME MEATBALL PARM SANDWICHES … YOU’D HAVE to BUY 5 JARS of SUNDAY GRAVY The WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE JARRED PASTA SAUCE, COSTING YOU ABOUT $175 .. If you MAKE YOUR OWN SAUCE YOU WILL SAVE ABOUT $130.00, YOUR SAUCE WILL BE BETTER, IT’S MORE FUN and YOU CAN GET A GREAT NEW ITALIAN FOOD BOOK (La Tavola) To BOOT .. BASTA!
One of The Great Scenes of Italian-American Moviedom, Mafia Capo Peter Clemenza teaches Michael Corleone How to Make SUNDAY SAUCE “Clemenza Style.”
“Fry up some Garlic & Onions with Olive Oil, then put in the Tomatoes, add a little wine, then you Shove-In your Meatballs and Saseege. And that’s my trick.”
RECIPE for SUNDAY SAUCE “CLEMENZA STYLE” Can Be Found in “La TAVOLA” at AMAZON, JUST CLICK Picture of MICHAEL & CLEMENZA
One of the great traditions of the Italian American enclave in the U.S. is the ritual of Sunday afternoon when the entire family gets together for Mama’s or Nona’s famed “Sunday Sauce.” What is it? Well there are a number of variations on the theme. Most Sunday Sauce’s are made with Italian Sausage, Braciola, and Meatballs. Some people make theirs with pork ribs, beef neck, and possibly chicken thighs and backs. These meats are slowly simmered for several hours with tomato, minced onions, garlic, celery, and carrots. I generally like to make my Sunday Sauce with sausage, meatballs, and pork ribs. Other times I’ll make it with Sausage, Ribs, and Braciola. An old tradition in some families is that mother or grandma would start the sauce early on a Sunday morning, get it simmering away for a couple hours on top of the stove, then put it in the oven for a couple hours while everyone goes to church, the sauce slowly simmers and when you get back home, the sauce is ready.
The Sunday Sauce that my mother would make was with sausage, meatballs and beef braciola. My memories are vivid watching my mother stuffing the braciola with garlic, parsley, Pecorino, and pignoli nuts, then sewing up the bundles with a needle and thread so they would hold together while simmering in the gravy (many families all over the New York and around the country simply call Sunday Sauce “Gravy”). Another fond memory was helping my mother roll and shape the meatballs.
As for me, my Sunday Sauce will vary depending on my mood. One thing I love to do when making the sauce is the addition of pork spare ribs, which not to many people use, I love it.
Whenever people eat my sauce, they go nuts for the ribs and some are surprised cause they might never have had them in a sauce before. They didn’t know that you could use pork spareribs. The ribs are traditional with some but not everybody. It is quite a shame for those who don’t add the ribs because they give the sauce some wonderful flavor and they are incredibly delicious to eat after braising in the sauce for a couple of hours. Whenever I make the sauce and I’m dishing it out to friends and family, I always make sure that I have my fare share of the ribs. Pork ribs cooked in this manner, simmering in the sauce are oh so succulent and tasty. They are far beyond compare. “They are Out-of-this-World!!!” The friends, one-by-one, go nuts for them. “Yes they are most than tasty!”
And what to serve with the Sunday Sauce you ask? It should be a short macaroni; rigatoni, ziti, or gnocchi are best.
The rituals of cooking, serving, and eating Sunday Sauce is a time honored one. It is a beautiful thing. If you mention the term Sunday Sauce to any number of millions of Italian-Americans, the wheels start turning in their heads. Thoughts of how tasty it is, all the different components; the meatballs, sausages, braciola, (maybe ribs, beef or pork neck), the pasta, and the gravy itself.
They think about sitting at the table with friends and or family, people they love. They think about the antipasti that will start the meal and about some good Italian Wine, maybe a nice Chianti. They think about the warmth in the air, loved ones, Dino, Sinatra, and of course, the
Sunday Sauce itself. “It’s a beautiful thing!!!” If you’ve never done it, “Try it!” If you haven’t cooked one for some time, plan a get-together soon. “Sunday Sauce, it brings people together,” in a most delightful way.
This is an Excerpt from Daniel Bellino-Zwicke’s “La TAVOLA” Italian-American New Yorker’s Adventures of The Table, which is available in paperback and Kindle on AMAZON.com …
La Tavola is filled with wonderful Stories of Italian-American New Yorkers, many from Greenwich Village and their adventures of the Table and Kitchen, Food, Wine, Family, and Friends. This Book is “A Must Have” for anyone interested in Italian Food, New York Food, and the Italian American Lifestyle …
The Perfect Newport Steak? What? I make it. Not everyone can. Number 1, you have to start with a Great Steak, a Newport Steak. A Steak not known to many. Well if you’re fortunate to live in New York’s Greenwich Village, you might know about them. Then again, you might not, cause just because you live in The Village, doesn’t mean you know of this little thing of wonder, The Newport Steak. The Newport Steak is a thing of wonder, especially if you love Steak but don’t want to shell out about $19.00 a piece or more to get one. That’s uncooked from the butcher, a nice Prime Sirloin Steak that is. Now a Newport Steak on the other hand will cost you about $7.50 on the average, or roughly 2 1/2 times less than a Sirloin, and you do not give up on taste or quality. It’s just as good. Maybe better.
Well, I picked up a couple the other night and cooked them for me and a friend. As usual, they came out perfectly. We had a Couple good bottles of wine as well, in a nice bottle of Villa Sesta Chianti and a fine Bordeaux. And if that wasn’t good enough, and don’t you think it should have been? We listened to The Rolling Stones while I cooked those “Tasty Steaks” some Roast Potatoes and Carrots. Those steaks, yes they were Perfect. Not many people can cook a Steak as Good as Me, “No Brag Just Fact.” Yes it’s Fact, I can cook a Steak Better than anyone of ever met or eaten a steak cooked by another, and that includes Steaks I’ve had at Sparks Steak House, Peter Luger and other places renowned for their steaks. If you knew me, you’d know I’m telling the truth. Ask anyone who has ever eaten a Steak that I’ve cook, “They tell you.”
Any way, yes the Steaks were perfect. My mouth is watering now just thinking about them. Dam, I tell you, Those Newport Steaks were “So Dam Good” they were practically “Orgasmic” I kid you not. Ask my Pal Chris, cousins Debbi or Tony, or my Buddies Raoul or Jimmy S, they’ll tell you. So we had The Perfect Steak, drank Chianti, and we listened to The World’s Greatest Rock Band of All-Time “The Rolling Stones.” What’s better that that I ask you, Chianti, Bordeaux, The Rolling Stones and perfect Newport Steaks? Not much I tell you!
Yes Boys and Girls, Ladies and Gentlemen, “Sometimes Life Can Be Blissful.” Yes It Can.
The ROLLING STONES “STICKY FINGERS”
CHIANTI A PERFECT NEWPORT STEAK and The ROLLING STONES Play as We Sip CHIANTI and EAT Perfectly Cooked Newport Steaks, “Greenwich Village’s Own STEAK” Yumm!!! “THAT’S GREENWICH VILLAGE ITALIAN”