Articles by: L. A.

  • Facts & Stories

    New Jersey’s Sicilians Welcome their President

    IN ITALIANO >>

     

    Garfield, New Jersey, speaks Sicilian today, with love and passion from those who for decades have been keeping Sicily in their heart from across the ocean.

     

    And with the passion of the younger generations who grew up hearing their parents and grandparents talking about the smells, flavors and colors of faraway lands. Together, they speak Sicilian with great joy and a sense of hospitality. 

     

    Today there is cause for celebration, the President of Sicily, Nello (what a beautifully Sicilian name!) Musumeci. It doesn’t matter which party he belongs to, Italian politics has nothing to do with this, it’s a matter of the heart. 

     

    Representatives of the United State’s Sicilian community, local authorities and Italian Institutions have gathered in Garfield’s Venetian Catering - the place reserved for New Jersey’s most important professional and personal life events. 

     

    And it’s a woman, Sarah Salomone, the newly elected President of New Jersey’s Sicilian Federation, who welcomes the guests from the stage. She does it with all the assertiveness her role entails, but also with the warmth of Sicilian hospitality. 

     

    A man in a red tie and yellow clutch - a clear homage to the Sicilian flag - stands beside her. He is the Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy. From the stage, he enthusiastically professes his love for Sicily and for Italy. He is of Irish descent but claims he feels Italian, Sicilian on this occasion.

     

    Introduced by Consul General Francesco Genuardi, President Musumeci tackles concrete themes in his speach, and does so touching the Sicilian hearts pulsing inside the guests sitting at the tables. 

     

    “We must rebuild the bridge between regional institutions and representation abroad so that we can all feel part of the same community,” Musumeci says, “Sicily is like a mother who needs you, today more than ever. But,” he reassures them, “Sicily has everything needed to carry out cultural and economic exchanges. Help me to get entrepreneurs to invest in it and we as a government will support them.”

     

    His is an attentive call for support from Sicilians abroad. He’s asking for help to turn Sicily into a strong global actor. 

     

    There is great attention, a mix of emotion and sense of responsibility, around the festively adorned room. Many tearful eyes and faces that have seen many obstacles but also great successes. 

     

    New Jersey's Sicily welcomes its President, immediately receives his message, and starts drafting concrete plans, discussing possibile actions mere minutes after his speach.

     

    Numerous representatives of important companies but also figures from New Jersey’s cultural world say they are ready. 

     

    Perhaps the most famous among them, Cav. Tony Di Piazza, is present. He recently invested in the acquisition of Palermo’s soccer team of which he is now the Vice President. His eyes light up with emotion as he tells us about it.

     

    According to him, Italy still needs to understand that Italian Americans are no longer those who came here with cardboard suitcases. They constructed a special journey, one that is recognized in America, of personal success. Everyone needs to realize that. 

     

    Other prestigious figures address the public, including Congressman Bill Pascrell, Italian Deputee On. Fucsia Nissoli, Vice Secretary of CGIE Doc. Silvana Mangione, U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 5th congressional district Josh Gottheimer, Bergen County Executive James Tedesco, Sheriff Frank Schillari, and Mayors Scott Luna, Richard Rigoglioso, and James Anzaldi.

     

    President Sarah Salamone closes by welcoming the representatives of the Federation’s administrative and executive board, who provide President Musumeci with something to remember the day by, hoping that his government will succeed in reactivating the measures which have in the past kept alive the ties between the Sicilian communities across the world. 

     

    And like any respectable party, the event culminates in a final cheers and the cutting of a special cake that reads “Benvenuto Presidente Musumeci.”

     

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    In attendance were: Sicilian Citizens Club of Bayonne, Societa San Ciro, Ieri Oggi Domani, Società Unita, Ribera Italian Cultural Center, S.Giuseppe/S.Croce Camerina Society, Scoglitti Society, Italian American Forum of Lodi, San Giuseppe Society Lodi, NJ Association of Cavalieri OMRI, Italian Cultural Association NY, Società di Polizzi Generosa Middle Village NY, NJ Italian American Police Association, Comites NY, NJ and CT, CSNA Confederazione Siciliana Nord America, and the Honorary Consul of Connecticut.

  • Fatti e Storie

    Il siciliani del New Jersey accolgono il loro presidente

    IN ENGLISH >>

     

    New Jersey. Garfield. Oggi si parla prima di tutto in siciliano. Lo si fa con l’amore e la passione di chi per decenni e decenni ha tenuto, al di là dell’oceano, la Sicilia nel cuore. 

    Lo si fa anche anche con la passione di chi, più giovane,  ha sentito parlare di terre lontane piene di profumi, sapori, colori,  dai propri nonni, genitori. 

    E lo si fa con allegria,  grande senso dell’ospitalità. 

     

    Oggi è festa, viene a trovarli il Governatore della Regione Sicilia, Nello (come è bello questo nome così siciliano. Ci si senta a casa!) Musumeci. Non importa di che partito sia, la politica italiana oggi proprio non c’entra niente. E’ una questione di cuore.

     

     Al Venetian Catering di Garfield - luogo scelto in NJ per gli eventi più importanti della vita personale e professionale degli americani - si sono raccolte alcune rappresentanze della comunità di siciliani degli Stati Uniti, autorità del New Jersey ed istituzionali italiane.

     

    Ed è una donna dal palco ad accogliere gli ospiti, è Sarah Salomone, neo presidente della Federazione Siciliana del New Jersey.  Lo fa con tutta la grinta del suo ruolo, ma anche con la dolcezza dell’ospitalità siciliana.

     

    Vicino a lei un uomo con la cravatta rossa ed una pochette gialla, evidente  omaggio alla bandiera siciliana. E’ il Governatore del New Jersey, Phil Murphy.  Dal palco afferma di amare la Sicilia e l’Italia con grande entusiasmo. E’ di origine irlandese, ma dice di sentirsi italiano, e siciliano in questa occasione di festa.

     

    Il discorso del presidente Musumeci, introdotto dal console generale Francesco Genuardi, affronta tematiche concrete e lo fa toccando quel cuore siciliano che pulsa tra i partecipanti, seduti  in ogni tavolo della sala.

     

    “Occorre ricostruire quel ponte tra le Istituzioni Regionali e le rappresentanze estere affinché ci si senta tutti parte della stessa comunità”, dice Musumeci, “La Sicilia è come una mamma che ha bisogno di voi e oggi è in difficoltà più che mai. Ma - rassicura -  in Sicilia, c’è tutto il necessario per poter effettuare scambi culturali ed economici. Aiutatemi a far investire nuovi imprenditori, e noi, come governo, li accompagneremo”

     

    La sua è un’accorata domanda di sostegno ai Siciliani all’estero,  chiede aiuto per far diventare la Sicilia una protagonista forte a livello mondiale.

     

    Grande l’attenzione nella sala vestita a festa, un’attenzione mista tra emozione e senso di responsabilità. Non pochi erano gli occhi lucidi su volti che raccontano una storia piena di ostacoli, ma anche di grandi successi.

     

    Ed è questa la Sicilia del NJ che si stringe intorno al suo governatore.  Una Sicilia che raccoglie il messaggio, si attiva, già pochi minuti dopo il discorso del presidente, si parlava di progetti concreti, possibilità di azioni.

     

    Tanti i rappresentanti di aziende importanti, ma anche del mondo culturale del NJ, che si sono detti pronti.

     

    Non poteva mancare in sala il Cav. Tony Di Piazza, forse il più noto tra loro. Ha investito per l’acquisizione della squadra di calcio della città di Palermo e ricopre oggi la carica di vicepresidente. 

    Ce ne ha parlato con grande orgoglio ed evidente emozione negli occhi. Secondo lui l’Italia deve ancora capire che gli italiani in America non sono più quelli delle valigie di cartone.  Hanno costruito un percorso, riconosciuto in America, di successo personale. Lo devono sapere tutti.

     

    A parlare al pubblico anche altri nomi di spicco, il  Congressman Bill Pascrell, la Deputata italiana On Fucsia Nissoli e il Vice Segretario CGIE Dott.ssa Silvana Mangione. U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 5th congressional district Josh Gottheimer, il Bergen County Executive, James Tedesco, lo Sceriffo, Frank Schillari, i Sindaci  Scott Luna, Richard Rigoglioso, e James Anzaldi,.

     

    A chiusura la presidente Sarah Salamone chiama sul palco l’amministrazione e i rappresentanti del direttivo della Federazione per consegnare al governatore Musumeci un ricordo della giornata. Un ricordo con l’auspicio che il suo Governo possa riattivare quelle misure che nel passato hanno tenuto vitali i legami tra le comunità siciliane nel mondo.

     

    E come in ogni festa che si rispetti il brindisi finale avviene dopo il taglio di una torta speciale con sopra scritto “Benvenuto Presidente Musumeci”.

     

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    Erano presenti: Sicilian Citizens Club of Bayonne, Societa San Ciro, Ieri Oggi Domani, Società Unita, Ribera Italian Cultural Center, S.Giuseppe/S.Croce Camerina Society, Scoglitti Society, Italian American Forum of Lodi, San Giuseppe Society Lodi, NJ Association of Cavalieri OMRI, Italian Cultural Association NY, Società di Polizzi Generosa Middle Village NY, NJ Italian American Police Association, Comites NY, NJ and CT, CSNA Confederazione Siciliana Nord America, Console Onorario Designato del Connecticut.

     
  • Facts & Stories

    The Italian Export Forum Comes to New York

    IEF - Italian Export Forum, the first and only itinerant format specifically dedicated to the export of Made in Italy will come to New York on January 27. 

    The founder of IEF is Lorenzo Zurino, a 35-year-old Italian entrepreneur with over ten years of experience in the distribution of high-end Italian food products in the US. Last year he received the NIAF award as Best Young Entrepreneur of the Year. 

    "Next January 27,  we will discuss prospects, trends, and problems pertaining to the economic relations between Italy and the United States," Mr. Zurino says. "The event, like the ones that took place last year in Piano di Sorrento and Milan, intends to facilitate the encounter of Italian companies with public and private American institutions."

    The participation of prestigious speakers coming from different sectors testifies that the need of encounters and discussions on this subject is widely shared.

    Participants will include: Nello Musumeci (President of the region of Sicily), Andrea Benetton (CEO of Cirio Agricola and Maccarese Agricola), Giovanni Colavita (CEO of COLAVITA USA), Michael M. Endico (Vice President of Endico Corp.), Monica Mandelli (Managing Director of KKR and Vice President of Endeavor Italy), Antonella Salvatore (Director of the Center for Professional and Continuing Education and Career Services of John Cabot University - in connection from Rome), Gianfranco Sorrentino (President of Gruppo Italiano), Rocco Totino (Partner of Studio Grassi - Moore Stevens New York). The event will be introduced by Lorenzo Zurino and presented by journalist Francesca Di Matteo (co-founder and partner of Your Italian Hub Comunication).

    “The export sector is fundamental for our economy and the United States is the third market for Italian companies. The two countries are bound by truly unique economic, historical, and social relationships,” states Mr. Zurino.  “That’s why I wanted to bring it to the US, a country to which I am closely attached both personally and professionally."

    The first edition of the Italian Export Forum to be held outside of Italy will discuss how to help Italian companies to export more and better, both to the US and other world markets.

    The first two editions took place in the Summer 2019 in Piano di Sorrento and in Milan, and sported highly successful thematic roundtables and plenary meetings on the main issues affecting Italian export. Over 300 companies and 60 top managers took part in these events, including the President of Confindustria, Vincenzo Boccia, who congratulated the initiative.

    Being aware of the full picture can help Italian businesses determine where and how to position themselves on the global market, adjust supply based on demand and identify new opportunities. 

    Such a platform may also be a useful tool for Italian institutions engaged in supporting the internationalization of the country; it would help them to become fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses of Italy's export business and make better decisions as to where and how to allocate public support.

    The event will present analyses, exchanges, and discussions specifically dedicated to key actors, established players and would-be newcomers in a business that is worth hundreds of billions of euros.

    As an “itinerant think-tank”, IEF is the ideal context for all the stakeholders in the Italian export business to obtain a cohesive and comprehensive picture of what Italy can offer to the world.

     

     

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    January 27th  2020
    from 4.00 pm to 6.15 pm

    Attendance to the "Italian Export Forum" is free-of-charge 

    Please RSVP  [email protected]

    NEW YORK
    SVA - School of Visual Art - SVA  - Theatre

    333 W 23rd St
    New York, New York

    https://svatheatre.com/

     

     

     

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    The New York edition of IEF is supported by John Cabot University, the most important American University in Italy,  La Lega Filo d'Oro, a non-profit, which for the past 50 years has been dedicated to support and rehabilitate deafblind and multisensory impaired people, Grassi & CO, Gruppo Italiano, and Your Italian Hub Corporation.

     

  • Facts & Stories

    Italian Welfare League's “I Nostri Bambini”

    The Italian Welfare League’s roots stretch all the way back to 1916; however, we will briefly summarize the League’s history from its beginnings to the present. Today the association is comprised of an extraordinary group of women who contribute to changing the future for many children with disabilities. The association has been around for almost a century during which it evolved through three distinct chapters.

    The back story

    It was 1916. Mutual aid societies and religious organizations were preparing to establish funds to help soldiers on the front lines in Italy. They had an unforgettable fundraiser in which Enrico Caruso had participated. When the war was over, women took control of the organization and prepared to help the families of emigrants. During the Great Depression, work was scarce and environmental conditions difficult, but the Italian-American women never gave up. They knew that there was always something more to be done.

    Humble beginnings

    In 1920 it was official: the Italian Welfare League was born. It opened first in Manhattan, then in Brooklyn, and later in Washington, D.C. In 1924 it also opened an office on Ellis Island. It took a lot of work over the years to continue its mission and coordinate aid efforts from both the public and private sectors.

    Change

    It was September 11, 2001. Many Italian- American families had babies who were born after the attacks, some of whom remained either orphaned or sick. The families called the association for help. As a result, “I Nostri Bambini” was born, program created to support the children of Italian-American families. Since then they have collected and donated 1.5 million dollars and they want to do much more according to Chairwoman Linda Carlozzi. Funds are collected during the year by way of various initiatives, but the most prominent annual event is a gala luncheon called “Autunno a New York.” That’s where we met the leadership of the IWL with our TV team. You can watch the video online on our WebTV (i-ItalyTV.com) or scan the QR code to the left. Here are a few excerpts.

    Joan Prezioso, President of the Italian Welfare League, was able to sum up the status of the league’s mission: “We’ve been able to help about 1,200 children this time, so we’ve really made great strides in the last 15 years. We hope we can reach our next milestone of 2 million. Helping children in need is so important; it’s such a satisfying feeling to help, because you’re not only helping these children, you’re helping their families too.”

    Bea Tusiani, Founder of IWL’s program “I Nostri Bambini” shared a sad personal story that continues to drive her work today: “I lost a child in 2001, and that’s just when 9/11 occurred, and I read about all these pregnant women of Italian descent who didn’t have husbands, and I said, ‘Why don’t we adopt these children and make them ‘I Nostri Bambini?’ And that’s what we did. With our success, we were getting more and more money and so we decided to give out grants.”

    There are so many different children who saw their lives change for the better thanks to the IWL. One is Laura. Her mother shared a story with us about her: “Laura was born with a condition called cerebral palsy. In order to allow her to live with us in our home we had to make several modifications to the home, so we needed to put in an elevator and redo our bathroom and the Italian Welfare League has helped us with part of the cost of the elevator, so she’s able to drive her power wheelchair into the elevator and have access to the floors of the house. The Italian Welfare League has also been wonderful; they have given us pictures and little gifts at holidays just to make her life happy.”

    The Italian Welfare League has an extensive history, and its members have a lot to say, including John F. Calvelli, EVP, Public Affairs of WCS: “My mother was involved with the Italian Welfare League back in the 1950s. When the Andrea Doria went down, they asked people to come, and the Italian Welfare League organized it to help people get off of the boats as they were being rescued. So there’s a personal connection here on top of the incredible work that the organization has done.”

    Linda Carlozzi, Chairwoman of the Italian Welfare League tells us even more about the IWL’s endeavors: “Since we started ‘I Nostri Bambini’ we have donated 1.5 million dollars. We have so many bambini who have been assisted and grant organizations. We are helping one child at a time. A few years ago, Jodi, a non-communicative autistic child, was able to begin music lessons and performed here beautifully. The following year she actually performed with Katy Perry. It is so heartwarming for us when we see these children making such tremendous progress!”

    We’ll close with an appeal that we trust to Patricia deStacy Harrison, President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB): “If you donate to this charity, to the welfare of children, the money goes directly to help them. They have the best track record that I can vouch for personally. The money goes to these kids, these young kids. All they need is a little help. Some of them have life threatening illnesses, some of them just need a little boost, but they and their parents will grow up and believe me: we’re Italians, we give back. The minute someone gives us something you know that we give it back.”

    Click here to see the interview made by Letizia Airos during IWL Luncheon 2016!

    Interested in becoming a member of the League? Please visit The Italian Welfare League, 8 East 69th Street, New York, NY 10021 (www.italianwelfareleague.org)

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Two Brothers from Salerno, the Panuozzo and the Saint

    “I am from Salerno, I came here for the first time in 1986, but then I went back to Italy,” Ciro Casella begins telling us while sipping a coffee. “Ever since my brother and I were young boys 

    we chased the American Dream… Also my grandma is American and my mother’s four brothers all live here.”

    But Ciro wasn’t ready for America the first time he came here. He went back to Salerno, did his military service and got married.

    His life seemed like it would unfold there – but that wasn’t to be the case. The American Dream was always in his heart, especially because his brother had stayed in America. He had to go back, to go back to Fabio. After several years, he left again for New York, this time to stay for good.

    With the Saint’s protection

    The two brothers opened their first restaurant on 2nd Avenue, the original San Matteo, and two and a half years later they opened the second, Il Salumaio.

    Then in 2015 they fulfilled a new dream by opening the San Matteo Pizza Espresso Bar, a place that unites the pizza of San Matteo and the cuisine of Salumaio with a bar serving alcohol. But of the three restaurants, it is clear that Ciro has most affection for the original San Matteo. “I worked there while it was being built, I took care of the interior so it has a real identity. Everything that happened afterwards originated from this place.”
     

    The cuisine that they decided to make is from the Salerno area. But everything comes under the “protection” of a saint… we talk about it half-jokingly and half-seriously. San Matteo is in fact the Patron Saint of Salerno and his image is found all over the first restaurant.

    “We started with nine tables and the image of the saint, a simple cuisine made inside a wood-fire oven, offering everything that could be done with that oven.” Then, almost like a ‘miracle’, the other restaurants came… 

    How difficult was it?

    It was difficult, but it was also easy. The biggest challenge was that six years ago no one knew who we were, but we believed in our project and in our product. Right now people like the place; they have a good time here, almost as if they were at home. It is a small restaurant, but actually New York City is like that – made up of small spaces. Critics responded well, from Zagat to Michelin and the New York Times.

    From panuozzo to coffee

    Let’s talk about food. You brought over the panuozzo—a product from Gragnano, on the Sorrento coastline, which wasn’t known here. What is it?

    It is pizza dough in sandwich-form. It is put in the oven, stretched, and comes out like a sandwich. Then you open it, season it and either eat it as it is—with mozzarella, prosciutto, or caprese style—or instead you put it back in the oven with various fillings. Our most successful panuozzo is the Bartolomei that comes with roast pork from Ariccia, arugula and mozzarella. It is dedicated to the great football player, Agostino Di Bartolomei [1955-1994 editor’s note], an international sportsman who began his career with my favorite team, Salernitana.

    Is there another dish that may make our readers want to visit you even more?

    At San Matteo we make an eggplant parmigiana, baked in the oven with caciocavallo cheese. Everything that we cook in the restaurant is made in our wood-fired oven. At Salumaio we make a typical Campania cuisine instead: Scialatielli ai Frutti del Mare, for example, and then various different antipasti. In the new venue, the San Matteo Pizza Espresso Bar you can enjoy the specialties of both the other restaurants, in a better location with greater comfort. We are in the process of opening other commercial realties, but I don’t want to lose the identity of San Matteo, it will never be a franchise.

    And what about coffee? You are known to be a great coffee lover, have you also produced your own blend?

    Coffee is indeed my passion. I think of coffee as the start of a day and the end of a meal, it is essential. You may eat because you are hungry or stressed, but you drink a coffee to enjoy it, like a dessert – you know if it’s good and if it’s not good. I have put a lot of effort into my coffee, and I have had some great recognition.

    This is my next project. A classic Campania-style coffee shop, not based on alcohol but on a good breakfast, coffee and excellent paninis. We are looking for a location.

    Salerno and the family

    It is undoubtedly because of you and your brother Fabio that New York knows more about Salerno today. You are great promoters of your city.

    Salerno has a coastline, the Amalfi Coast, famous all over the world, with thirteen Blue Flag beaches. But we promote internal Campania too, which is also full of beauty, like all of Italy. We are not parochial.

     

    However strong your ancestral bond with your land of origin, it is family that is actually at the center of your life. 

    One of my two daughters, Alessia, stayed in Salerno while the other, Marika, came to New York. She works with me and attends an English school. She wants to carry on our project, she has taken the business to heart, she likes it; her fiancé is also here and so is my nephew, Vincenzo.

    What do your parents think about their American children and grandchildren?

    They are proud. In Italy we know how many problems there are for young people finding work. My parents worked all their lives and now they can enjoy their retirement, without having to help their children financially. This is a great satisfaction for them.

    And what’s the secret of success for anyone who wants to come here?

    You must be patient, you can’t have everything in life all at once. I worked for months as a dishwasher and it was the best job because it taught me how the business works.  

    ALL ON 2ND AVENUE

    San Matteo 

    Pizzeria e Cucina

    1559 2nd Ave

    (at 81th St.)

    San Matteo 

    Pizza Espresso Bar

    1739 2nd Ave

    (at 90th St.)

    Il Salumaio

    1731 2nd Ave

    (btw 89th & 90th St.)

  • Facts & Stories

    The Frontiers of Italian Sports



    The proud moment when two Italians met in the final of the US Open will go down in history. Can you tell us how you felt seeing them play?

    Flavia and Roberta accomplished something extraordinary and advertised Italian excellence to the world. It was a special feeling, which I had the pleasure of sharing with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and President of the Italian Tennis Federation Angelo Binaghi, proof of the great affinity between the government, the country, those two champions and our operation, which proudly reflects the competitiveness and skill of all our athletes. That day will remain in the hearts of all those who love our country. And it is evidence that sports plays a crucial role in effectively championing our ideals, passions and talents. Success of this kind helps spur young people to be active and constructs a new cultural model for the next generation.

     

    Women’s sports were at their height. Despite the fact that Italy still has many problems in this regard. For example, female athletes earn on average 30% of what their male counterparts make. And basketball, cycling, golf and soccer are still considered professional sports for men only.

    In Italy the matter is governed by the law of professionalism. Under that extremely dated law, very critical decisions have been made. CONI, as far as it is capable, intends to take all the necessary actions to incentivize the growth of female participation in the sports federation. But politics has to do its part too. We have pressing need of a legal framework that regulates the entire sector and is aware of our existing exigencies. The current system is archaic and inadequate. We need to ensure—as much as is possible— that the practice of women’s sports is safeguarded.

     

    The whole world has seen the image of two tennis stars who are rivals and friends. How can we underscore this message for a generation that is, unfortunately, more familiar with fighting in the stands?

    Sports is a universal language that unites people. It builds bridges between different cultures and breaks down borders. It’s a formidable educational tool, founded on virtuous values: loyalty, transparency, respect, fair play and community. Our movement automatically marginalizes anyone who attacks genuine competition, exploiting the stage to undermine the credibility of the system by illegal means and methods. Sports are invaluable for young people; not only do sports ensure their physical health but nurture inclusion, teamwork, and properly developing interpersonal relations. That’s the foundation for establishing a mindset that can serve as a model for growing and revitalizing the country. Young people need clear answers, in the name of transparency, to embrace the law and get free of bad examples. We will always do our part to arrive where other phenomena have damaged society.”

     

    Rome 2024. Rome has bid to host the Olympics in 2024. The Games of 1960 are still remembered as being very successful: Working facilities, extraordinary media coverage for the era, the amazing memory of Bikila’s victory. Now, over 50 years later, what could hosting such an event mean to Italy?

    Hosting the Games would be a great opportunity to endorse not only the city but the country in high style. The new criteria for being appointed by the International Olympic Committee pay greater attention to the event’s sustainability and reflect how the landscape has changed: no more reckless gigantism but low-cost games with a small carbon footprint. Rome means tradition and charm, it embodies a multicultural dynamic that is the essence of the Olympic message. It also vaunts an incomparable artistic patrimony. The bid is a challenge being tackled with the full support of the government and other institutions, in order to help sports and Italy, in order to give our children and future generations the chance to hold their head up high again. The Olympics would generate almost 170,000 jobs. And, more generally, by connecting our big sports initiatives, we stand to raise GNP from 1.7% to 3% in 5 years.

  • Facts & Stories

    What’s in a Pizza? Our History

    For the last three years, Starita’s operation has expanded to include New York, where the pizzeria has showcased the practice and culture of the true “mastro pizzaiolo.” It’s tough to get your fill – of knowledge, at least – in the New York restaurant Antonio Starita runs with Roberto Caporuscio at 309 West50th Street; after tasting the same masterpieces he’s prepared in Naples, you can’t help but want to know more.

    So I set out to ask Don Antonio a few questions. At the beginning of the 19th century, Don Antonio’s great grandfather – also named Antonio – and his wife Giuseppina opened a small restaurant where they served simple working- class dishes like fried anchovies, fried baccalà, and tripe.

    Alongside these dishes were pizzas, also often fried. Many customers paid on credit, since they couldn’t afford to pay upfront. What began with Antonio and Giuseppina has evolved over a century later into one of the most famous authentic Neapolitan pizzerias in the world. It was even featured in the film L’Oro di Napoli (The Gold of Naples) starring Sofia Loren.

    Don Antonio, What’s in a Pizza?
    Renowned experts have told us what Neapolitan pizza is. They’ve written about it in books... All that I know I inherited from my family: what kind of flour to use, what proportions of flour and water, how to wield a wooden pizza paddle, how to use your hands to make a perfect dough. Sure, in the old days, the pizzas were really good, really genuine, but they were extraordinarily simple. Today you have to be careful with the products you use.

    So what makes a pizza today an authentic pizza napoletana?

    There’s a lot more that goes into it than just pizza. There’s the history of the Neapolitan people and the shops where you did the frying, cooking, baking. Naples created these things. Then slowly they began to export pizza.

    Unfortunately, in the beginning, what the world tasted wasn’t authentic pizza, born of the experience and tradition of the Neapolitan pizzaioli. Pizza may have seemed easy to make to
    the first Italian emigrants, but oftentimes they weren’t pizzaioli and didn’t know the true art of pizza making. So they improvised.

    How can you distinguish a real pizzaiolo?

    Real pizza has secrets, if I can call them that, and in the old days these secrets were passed down generation to generation among families. They were simple techniques, but they required a lot of experience and hard work. Those who make real pizza do it with love, in the truest sense of that word.

    Do you mean to say that the real thing can’t be exported – that the art of pizza making can’t be taught? Or innovated? Or reinterpreted? 

    Not really. You can teach pizza making]today... actually, people should be taught! Innovation, however, is the special gift of the pizzaiolo.

    Each one of us pizzaioli has something inside him that he has to learn to develop. It's  like with soccer players: some players run well, others know how to handle the ball. The gifted pizzaiolo has good taste and looks for new ingredients. He invents pizzas.

    But innovation doesn’t mean anything other than using new ingredients on a classic ball of dough that’s been rolled the right way. Until you know how to make the same dough every time, you have to respect tradition. If you change the rules from the start, you run into problems. And if there’s no wood-burning oven, well, there are certain aspects that must be preserved and passed down.

    So you think anyone can learn how to make pizza, even abroad?

    Yes, absolutely. You have to start with the Neapolitan masters. Then you need passion and talent. But is it really possible to overcome the issue of not finding the right ingredients or ingredients of a different quality?

    Of course it’s a lot easier in Naples! The ingredients of our pizzas pay tribute to our land: the small tomatoes, the mozzarella, the oil. Our land is kissed by the sun. In America it’s much harder.

    Indeed. But you and Roberto Caporuscio have taken up the challenge. And you’ve succeeded.

    I have to admit I wouldn’t have succeeded without Roberto, without the strength of a pizzaiolo with roots in America who had the smarts to listen to my advice. He has come up with a pizza that would be enviable even in Naples.

    You’re friendly, easygoing, and good-humored, but you also have a very serious, hardworking side. I can see how you charm the young people entering the world of pizza making, and I know you—and Roberto—consider Neapolitan pizza making to be a mission. But what else do you get out of teaching.

    I hope that by teaching, the quality of pizza never declines. If out of 100 students, only four learn the proper way, those four become my pride and joy. Many students still write me. I feel proud of leaving something behind. It means I’ve made

    it! And passing on your art to family or friends is an even greater feeling, as happened with my son and Roberto’s daughter, Giorgia. Have you seen the beautiful pizzas she makes?

    [A beaming Roberto Caporuscio can’t resist butting in: “Don Antonio took her by the hand. He knew how to teach her. He played to her female pride, reminding her how very few female pizzaioli there are...”]

    One pizza that’s very popular here in New York, that sells as much as the classic Margherita, is called the Montanara. That was the pizza for which Giorgia was awarded the 2013 Classical Pizza Championship. How did that come about?

    It’s just recycled pizza. During the difficult postwar years in Italy, it was common to save every scrap of food, to leave something for the next day. If you made ragu, you set some aside. The next day you’d make a sort of “zeppola” out of the leftovers: you took a bit of dough, spread the ragu’ on top and fried it. I just went back to that recipe and did all I could to make it resemble the Margherita, except I added smoked buffalo mozzarella and grated cheese to it before sliding it into the oven. It took a lot of trial and error before I could present to my customers what became known and loved as Pizza Montanara.

    One last question for the pizza guru that runs between Naples and New York: Before unveiling a new pizza, how many times do you test it out?

    A lot. And I don’t do it alone. My whole family in Naples has gotten involved in taste testing, as do Roberto and Giorgia here in New York. They do experiments to
    create Neapolitan pizzas with ingredients from other regions of Italy. They’re creating real masterpieces. But maybe we should talk about them some other time...

    Can’t wait—to talk and to taste! Till next time, Don Antonio! 

    Don Antonio by Starita
    309 W. 50th Street
    (W 50th St. Between 8th Ave. And 9th Ave.)
    New York, NY 10016

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Come and Cross the Bridge!

    Across the Washington Bridge, in the city of Englewood, there’s one place New York’s wine connoisseurs can’t miss out on. It’s the wine department of the famous Italian goods store known as Jerry’s Homemade, founded by Neapolitan Jerry Turci.

    We’ve mentioned this little slice of authentic Italy before. We’ve described Jerry’s personal story, the piazza-like vibe of his store, the smell of salamis and cheese wafting about.

    We’ve also regaled you with stories of Peppino, who dazzles customers with his handmade mozzarella and offers us fistfuls of his wonderful burrata whenever we stop by. Which happens frequently, since Jerry is, alongside our mutual friend Giovanni Colavita, one of i-Italy’s major distributors. And every time we drop in with copies of the magazine it turns into a party. Well, you should go too and check out their wine selection. You’ll find it hard not to keep coming back. For several reasons.

    The relationship between price and quality-despite the 14 bridge toll-is one sure draw for Manhattanites. As is, more importantly, the surprising selection of wines on sale. Even experts are taken aback by the excellent, little-known labels from all over Italy that Jerry carries. Yet    another reason is the chance to be led around by an amazing guide.

    At Jerry’s Gourmet Wines you’ll be met by Michele, an expert sommelier from Conegliano Veneto, a small city of 40,000 inhabitants near Venice. Michele offers up his services as a serious “wine companion.” We at i-Italy recently paid him a visit and this is what he had to say.

    Veneto to Englewood
    Michele attended the University of Enology in Udine. But he quickly realized he did not want to be the classic enologist. He wanted to travel abroad to talk to people about wine. In 2007, he settled in Englewood. Happily.

    “When I first came to Jerry’s, there was only a small, slightly haphazard space for wine mostly made up of famous and commercial labels,” says Michele.

    So he decided to re- brand the store, adding a touch of personality to the place, especially its wines.
    “I decided to concentrate on Italian wines. A lot of customers complained that the wines weren’t divided by region, and didn’t feature lesser-known labels. In fact, they mostly found bottles from companies already famous in the US, from Tuscany to Veneto to Piedmont.” Michele knew he could improve the selection by branching out, even without ditching the more famous wines.

    “In the last 15 years, in every single region in Italy, there has been a revolution in the world of wine...Local varieties were rediscovered and several provinces learned how to make wines that intensified their products’ unique flavors.”

    A true Wine Revolution
    One example of how the winemaking industry in Italy has changed is the story of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
    “It was considered a good variety to be mixed with other varieties,” says Michele.

    “That’s no longer the case. Now it’s one of the most widely available wines in Italy, like Pinot Grigio. The same goes for Primitivo Pugliese. It used to be unknown. Now it’s totally famous...But there are many quality Italian wines that are still unknown and deserve attention and should be distributed. I myself am shocked by how many I keep discovering.”

    We ask Michele to choose a region, and the young sommelier from the northeast of Italy humbly picks a region from the southwest. (Italy’s north- south divide may just be a hoax promulgated by politicians and demagogues.)

    “The region I’ve been most taken with recently is probably Campania. It’s producing really interesting wines, redandwhite.Whites like Falanghina, Greco di Tufo, Fiano, and reds like Aglianico and Piedirosso-ever heard of them? They’re finally gaining traction.” “There’s always something new to find in the Italian wine industry,” adds Michele, with no small amount of pride. For Michele, wine not only represents the job he loves. It’s also a constant adventure.

    “There are 2,000 local varieties in Italy and about 500 are currently commercially viable,” he says. “I’m always trying to keep up. I follow the best wine bloggers, especially, for example, the journalist Luciano Pignataro’s blog about Southern Italy.” His research never ends as he tries to keep pace with the many new products coming out of Italy.

    United Wines of Italy
    Jerry’s Homemade may be the only place in the US to carry certain wines. “A client recently asked me if we had Malvasia Puntinata,” says Michele. “I said, of course we do!” Finding interesting new products for his clients has become a mission and a challenge for Michele. “Different kinds of grapes are what make Italy stand out as far as its wines go, and it makes me proud to sell them.” You can hear a little of the historic “NJ vs. NYC” throw-down in the words of this young sommelier who immigrated only 10 years ago.

    “Wine sellers in New York usually have to buy large shipments, which creates logistical and budgetary constraints and gives him less wiggle room. So they take fewer risks. Our selection, on the other hand, tends to make room for smaller enterprises. Just like in Italy. It can happen that some of our clients tasted a particular wine in Italy or at a restaurant in Manhattan that they can’t find at retailers. So they come here. And they find it!

    We have over 750 Italian wines right now. Obviously, that’s not including our selection from around the world.”

    The romantic side of wine
    I watch Michele interacting with new customers. First and foremost, he tries to understand his customers’ needs, screening them to figure out which direction to point them in. Of course, he also likes to promote his home turf, and he’s not ashamed to admit it. The clients ask him about organoleptic attributes and food pairings, and he answers them expertly. The phone rings; someone’s on the line looking for some hard to find wines. Sure, he’s got them! In a moment, he’s back to his customers. “They’re usually drawn to the history, the cultural context, even the romantic side of Italian wine. There’s a lot of interest in those aspects.

    When attaching a description to a wine, it’s best to pique their curiosity. I’ve noticed the romantic side fascinates our customers-and Italians have a lot to say on that topic. So then: good folks of Manhattan, cross the bridge!” We could talk for days with Michele. But for now, we’ll leave you with a few recommendations for the holidays: “off the beaten path” wines you’ll find in the insert opposite.

    ----

    Michele Recommends
    A few holiday suggestions to avoid the usual juice

    Northern Italy
    Raboso Veneto is an excellent, little known wine made with the oldest red grape in Veneto and
    produced just outside Conegliano, Michele’s hometown, an area better known for Prosecco.
    Central Italy Rosso Piceno and Rosso Conero come from Le Marche and are made with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes. It’s interesting to note how the same grape produces different flavors depending on where it’s grown. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is medium-bodied and fruity, whereas in Le Marche it has a richer flavor, an earthy aroma and greater acidity.

    Southern Italy
    Puglia’s Primitivo has finally garnered the world’s attention. It got its name thanks to the premature grapes used to produce it. It has an elegant, very fruity bouquet. Another very interesting wine is Susumaniello from Salento: drier, more austere and less jammy.

    Sicily
    Important developments have recently taken place in this region as well. Just three years ago no one had heard of Etna Rosso! The wine is made with Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Caputo. It’s similar to French Pinot Noir—medium-bodied, elegant and with wonderful minerality.

    Sardinia

    Reds dominate the region. Cannonau Sardo is still the most popular label in the US and has been championed for its health benefits as well, given its abundance of the antioxidant resveratrol. A brief mention on a TV show was all it took for demand to suddenly spike. Two other, lesser known Sardinian wines are also worth noting: Cagnulari and Carignano del Sulcis.

    GERRYS HOME MADE
    Plenty of samples and tons of options for just about everything Italian, including wine!

    410 S Dean St, Englewood, NJ 07631
    Open
    8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
    (201) 871-7108

     

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Neapolitan Pizza: A Life Passion

    Three generations join forces to champion authentic Neapolitan pizza. We’re referring to an increasingly well-known trio in the gourmet world: mother-and-father team Roberto and Giorgia Caporuscio and their mentor Don Antonio Astarita, whose Pizzeria Starita on via Materdei, one of the oldest pizzerias in Naples, has been in his family for three generations. Not only is the pizza special, but watching how they work together, never straying from the path of classic cooking, is pure Naples.

    Roberto & Giorgia

    After a period working in the cheese industry (about which he knows every little detail),
    Roberto shifted his attention to the pizzaiolo metier.

    He trained with some of the most talented pizza-makers before relocating to the United States, where he has opened several popular pizzerias, most recently in New York. In 2009, he opened Kesté Pizza & Vino and in 2012, with his old friend Antonio Starita, he opened Don Antonio by Starita.
     

    With his daughter Georgia he has created a significant generational link. Like many young Italians, Georgia came to New York in 2010 to study English. One day, her father asked her to give pizza-making a shot. “Why don’t you try to play with the dough,” he asked her, “see how we make it?” What began as a lark quickly turned serious. Under the guidance of Don Antonio, she became a rising star in the field, earning the Classical Pizza Champion title in 2013 for her Montanara Starita.

    “I love pizza because it’s so simple but so particular. It’s so difficult to make yet so easy at the same time,” Georgia tells us. “Everyone eats pizza - rich people, poor people, young and old. Everyone.”

    Enters Don Antonio

    Starita is third-generation pizza royalty. His family’s pizzeria in Naples was featured in Vittorio De Sica’s film L’Oro di Napoli, in which Sofia Loren and Giacomo Furia play a couple of pizzaioli who crank out fried pizza on credit—“eat today, pay tomorrow.”

    Starita has even served pizza to Pope John Paul II. His “Pizza del Papa” is one of the best-known pizzas in the world. Don’t tell this writer such recognitions count for nothing.
     

    Starita knows everything there is to know about dough. In Naples they say he has tomato sauce coursing through his veins. “Over all these years, we have never strayed from tradition, although we have made some innovations as far as flavor is concerned,” says Starnita, adding, “The pizza has retained its classic identity as a full and tasty meal. It has to remain rooted in popular Neapolitan cuisine.” His student is no slouch either.
     

    Two styles, same guarantee

    Currently, Caporuscio is US President of the Association of Neapolitan Pizza Makers. Just try asking him to substitute something on his bewilderingly large pizza menu. “I’d rather lose a client,” he says. “Our pizzas are the product of a long tradition. They don’t change.” Two pizzerias, two styles, same guarantee: real Neapolitan pizza.

    Kesté (meaning “this is it” in Neapolitan) is located in the heart of Greenwich Village. It was the first authentic Neapolitan pizzeria in New York and sparked the Big Apple’s love for “real” pizza.
     

    Farther uptown is Don Antonio by Starita. The joint has genuine Neapolitan décor and a cocktail list with an Italian twist. We recommend the Bellini. It’s a treat. You can expect the best of Naples’ best from both pizzerias: doughy delights including red pizzas, white pizzas, fried pizzas, gluten-free pizzas, stuffed pizzas, calzones, and much more. If that weren’t enough, the wood-fired oven is custom-built from volcanic soil and stone.

    i-Italy recommends returning frequently and trying everything. But for starters, don’t miss “La Montanara Starita.” In our opinion, it’s the dish that drives home the point: innovation is best achieved through tradition. What’s for dessert, you ask? Indulge in “La Pizza o gli Angioletti alla Nutella” (small ‘angels’ with Nutella). You have to taste it to believe it.

    Don Antonio by Starita
    w 10019, 309 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019

    Kestè Pizza e Vino
    271 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Italian Way of Life @Union Square

    There’saspecialnewcorner in Union Square serving up the best in Italian food, and its name captures small town life in the old country. Al Vicoletto, roughly translated, means “in the back alley,” but it’s difficult to describe the significance of the word vicoletto in Italian.

    Vicoletti, or small vicoli, suggests an Italian way of life, a place where you can kick back, stop by for a few minutes, grab a snack, catch up with a friend, or savor a coffee while perusing the newspaper before resuming the frenetic New York rhythm we all live by.

    In its Manhattan incarnation, says partner Alberto Tartari, “Al Vicoletto is located between two major avenues and really is a little alcove couched between the city’s buildings.”


    Casual, modern, Italian
    Tartari has two other successful establishments in Manhattan, Baretto and Melograno. But Al Vicoletto, given its location and a few special projects in the works, has a personality all its own.

    “It’s a casual café and wine bar,” says Tartari, “with a modern Italian kitchen serving simple and healthy dishes made with quality ingredients and a wine list that includes excellent, hard-to- find wines.

    Our aim is to have a selection of quality wines that aren’t as well known outside of Italy and a full bar with top-shelf liquor.” And in Al Vicoletto’s case, reasonable prices don’t mean lower quality.

    “Having gluten- free products and dishes is also a priority,” adds Tartari. But that’s not all. The spare, elegantly furnished establishment also has an outdoor space that resembles one of those small courtyards that catch you by surprise while traversing the vicoletti in Italy.

     It’s a small but endearing space, at once romantic and relaxing in the typically Italian way the establishment promises.
     

    So what exactly is Al Vicoletto? A restaurant? A café? A place to meet friends for breakfast? Or lunch? Or dinner? Actually it’s all of this, and more. “It’s also a market,” says Tartari.” “Our shelves are stocked with hard-to-find, quality products that represent the best in Italian gourmet cooking, which starts with small and mid-sized companies.” Right. Typical of Italy’s borghi and vicoletti.
     

    The ‘Jerry Factor’
    Another partner is Jerry Turci, owner of Jerry’s Homemade (pay a visit to his delicious all- Italian gourmet store just off the Washington Bridge in New Jersey, where you’ll find great food, a stunning selection of wines and a sweet, homey atmosphere).

    Jerry’s experience as an importer and retailer guarantees that all of the shelves here at Vicoletto are brimming with recherché Italian brands. For example? According to Tartari, “Thanks to Jerry, even a simple breakfast transports you to Italy. It’s as if you were in an Italian home or at the bar before going to work. Customers can taste traditional packaged sweets impossible to find elsewhere in New York, as well as biscotti and fresh croissants made by a bakery we trust.”
     

    Anything else? “We’re working on a weekend brunch special featuring live music. We’ve also got several other events in mind,” says Tartari, who can’t seem to contain himself. But there’s a reason for every item he lists off; his goal is to introduce Manhattan to select, quality Italian goods. (And, of course, make Al Vicoletto a New York staple.) “We’re trying to meet our clients’ demands while also embodying the best Italian traditions.”
     

    Well then, let us be the first to say, “Benvenuto, Al Vicoletto!”

    AL VICOLETTO
    Address: 9 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003
    Phone:(212) 620-6166

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