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Tag Archives: Italian American

Original Lake Washington floating bridge: Opened on July 3, 1940, this was the concrete bridge that started them all in Washington state. The state's highway chief, Lacey V. Murrow, endorsed a concrete floating bridge despite intense skepticism. As former WSDOT chief bridge engineer Charles Gloyd wrote about the bridge's debut in a 1988 article, "certain wags wore life jackets to show their lack of faith."

Original Lake Washington Floating Bridge

Most Italian immigrants crowded into cities on the eastern seaboard. Only a small fraction made it to Washington, which in 1910 had less than one per cent of the Italians living in America. Most of them were men who had first lived in the east or who had worked their way west building the railroads. Few came directly from Italy to Seattle.

There was plenty of work, especially in construction. Seattle, in the decade following the Klondike rush, enjoyed the greatest growth in its history, tripling its population from 80,000 to 240,000 between 1900-1910. Italians, along with other immigrants and native-born Americans, shaped much of the Seattle we know today. They constructed water mains, sewer lines, buildings and shaped the Elliott Bay seawall with dirt from Dearborn, Denny and Jackson Hills which made Seattle into a world-class waterfront city.

File:Elliott bay - rotated.jpg

Elliott Bay Waterfront

It was not a way to get rich. Laborers made as little as $1.25 for a ten-hour day and the work was difficult. Orly Alia, now retired from his construction business, recalls an uncle who stacked 95-pound bags of cement from a rapidly moving line, 10 hours a day, seven days a week. “They were machines,” Alia recalls, “They wore themselves out and they were gone by the time they were sixty.”

Truck and trailer just off Lake Washington Floating Bridge in Seattle around 1947

The majority of the Italian immigrants found jobs in the city, even though they had been country farmers in Italy. The reason was simple. Industrial and mining jobs paid more than farm work and most of the good agricultural land on the frontier had been claimed prior to the Italians arrival. Moreover, Italians didn’t like the harsh climate or the isolation of the Western plains. The ones who got to Seattle, however, found, to their delight, that it was quite possible to enjoy the benefits of city and country life at the same time. They could make good wages in construction and in the mills and have kitchen gardens, rabbits and chickens in the yards of affordable single-family homes.

Most of Seattle’s Italians were unskilled laborers and some were illiterate. Yet nearly all of them were able, by working hard, to become successful. Alia’s father, Rocco, for example, was a construction laborer who started his own construction company. Orly went to work for his father as a waterboy and recalls that the laborers’ clothes were always soaked with sweat. Orly, as soon as he could, also started his own company and so did his son, Richard, now head of R. L. Alia Co. This pattern of sons following in their fathers’ footsteps, even to the fourth generation, would become a tradition among Seattle’s Italian families.

By 1915, 20 per cent of Seattle’s Italian community belonged to the business and professional class. They included Doctors Xavier DeDonato and A. J. Ghiglione; Joe Desimone, owner of the Pike Place Market; Frank Buty, a real estate agent whose generosity to new immigrants is still talked about by their descendants; Attilio Sbedico, professor of literature at the University of Washington; Nicola Paolella, publisher of the Gazetta Italiani. Paolella produced an Italian language radio show for 26 years.

Pike Place Market 1912

Henry Suzzallo, whose family came from Ragusa, Italy was appointed to the presidency of the University of Washington in 1915. He held the position until 1926 when he quarreled with the state governor and resigned. He achieved even more prominence by becoming chairman of the board of trustees and president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Learning. He stayed there until he died in 1933.

Angelo Pellegrini

Angelo Pellegrini (1904 – 1991) was an author of books about the pleasures of growing and making your own food and wine and about the Italian immigrant experience. He was also a professor of English Literature at the University of Washington. Pellegrini’s family came from Tuscany in 1913 and his father worked for the railroad. His first book, The Unprejudiced Palate (1948) is an important work in the history of food literature and is still in print. In 1946, Sunset Magazine published Pellegrini’s recipe for pesto, likely the first major publication of a pesto recipe in the United States.

Albert Rosellini

In 1956 Albert Rosellini (January 21, 1910 – October 10, 2011) was elected governor of Washington – the first Italian American governor west of the Mississippi. Rosellini was an activist leader who worked to reform the state’s prisons and mental health facilities, to expand the state highway system, to create the University of Washington Medical School and Dental School and to build the second floating bridge across Lake Washington. Rosellini is the longest-lived U.S. state governor ever, having reached the age of 101 years, 262 days before his death.

Mario Batali

Mario Batali, one of the country’s most celebrated chefs, grew up in Seattle, Washington. He is one of three children born to Marilyn and Armandino Batali. He spent his childhood watching his grandmother make oxtail ravioli and other Italian specialties passed down in the family. Mario’s father, an engineer for Boeing for 30 years, opened a meat-curing shop in Seattle as a retirement project, attempting to recreate the Italian food store Mario’s maternal great-great grandparents opened in 1903. The Batali family’s roots are almost entirely in the West. Mario’s great-great-grandfather left Italy for Butte, Montana in 1899 to work in the coal mines and eventually moved further west to settle in Seattle.

The community also included the first American saint, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini. Mother Cabrini, who died in 1917, was canonized during World War II by Pope Paul in the Sistine Chapel. More than 40,000 people, including American soldiers witnessed the ceremonies in the basilica.

Rainier Avenue at Genesee Street, 1925

Our lady of Mount Virgin Church, on the slope of Mount Baker, overlooked the Italian neighborhood in Rainier Valley. It was the spiritual center for Seattle Italians and often the first place new immigrants went to get information and meet new friends. The first pastor was Father Lodovico Caramello. He was on his way to a foreign mission in 1913, when his superiors asked him to stop by Seattle and help the immigrants there to get the church they were building started. Father Caramello agreed to a brief assignment but stayed on the job until he died in 1949. “He had nothing,” recalled Nellie Ivie, who was 88 when she was interviewed by the Beacon Hill News. “He lived in a little corner of the building above the old church. He had a wooden cot, no bed, no furniture, not enough to eat hardly. He used to go out and shoot birds – pick their feathers off and eat them. He was really a saint; everybody loved him.” 

“You either loved him or feared him,” said Marie (Fiorito) Hagen in the same interview. She recalled attending a luncheon in Father Caramello’s honor, in which he insisted on covered knees and elbows, “in the house of God” even on sweltering hot days. “If your knees showed, he’d glare down from the pulpit and say, frogs’ legs,” Marie Hagen recalled.

The Rainier Valley neighborhood, which centered around the intersection of Rainier and Atlantic Avenues, was transformed into an Italian village, not unlike the ones the residents had left behind in Italy. It was a small village to be sure. Only 215 families lived there in 1915, but everybody knew everybody else. Rainier Valley was the biggest, but not the only Italian neighborhood. There were about 70 families each in Georgetown and smaller communities in South Park, South Lake Union, Youngstown and First Hill.

Italian School

Christmas at the Italian School.

Families were large and close-knit, as was the community. Children attended Mt. Virgin School, where they were taught by nuns who spoke Italian and could assist students – and parents – who didn’t speak English. A 1976 Seattle Times article, quotes Sister Manette, who taught at Mt. Virgin in the 1920s and ’30s: “The immigrant parents were poor and had to take what jobs they could get because of the language barrier, so they saw education as a doorway for their children and would sacrifice anything to get it for them.” But even though many parents were eager to see their children succeed as “Americans,” they also valued the connection to their heritage. Elizabeth Yorio, a student in the 1920s, told the Times reporter that Father Caramello, “taught Italian-language classes because he dreaded to see the children getting Americanized so quickly.”

Vegetable gardens were large and prolific and fathers played bocce on weekends and made wine in their basements. Everyone who lived there remembers the aromatic smells of Italian cooking that wafted through the neighborhood, especially on Sunday. The abundance of good food also helped make up for the hungry times some of the immigrants endured in Italy and helped them convince themselves that they had done the right thing by leaving their homeland and coming to this new world. The immigrants’ love of and respect for food would lead many of them into new careers and make some of them wealthy.

In time many immigrants decided they wanted to go back to the land after all. Seattle was surrounded by some of the best gardening land in the west and the weather was perfect for growing vegetables. Moreover the land was cheap. An immigrant needed only $75 to get into farming and if he had several hundred dollars he could buy land outright.

By 1915, Fred Marino was the leading truck farmer and, in that same year, it was estimated that there were 200 to 300 Italian farming households around Seattle. The most influential farmer was Joe Desimone who arrived in America in 1897 with half a dollar in his pocket. He worked as a swineherd in Rhode Island before he moved to Seattle where he went to work for the Vacca family and married one of their daughters. The Desimone family bought up land bit by bit, drained the Duwamish swamplands and ended up owning large tracts of some of the best farmlands in the area. Desimone also became an owner of the Pike Place Market. The Desimone family proprietorship continued until it came under public acquisition by a 1971 voters’ initiative.

Whether it was truck farming or mining, Italians not only survived life in America but prevailed. When the mining industry began dying off, Italians living in Black Diamond found other ways to make a living. Angelo Merlino, while still working in the mines, began to import cheese, pasta and olive oil in bulk. He quit mining and opened a store in 1900 that was so successful, he was soon importing Italian food by the shipload. Today, Merlino and Sons is one of Seattle’s biggest distributors of Italian foods. Gradually, Seattleites developed a taste for Italian food and Italian food businesses became household words: Oberto’s and Gavosto’s Torino sausages, DeLaurenti’s, Magnano’s and Borracchini’s food stores. Italians pioneered the transformation of Seattle into one of the best restaurant cities in America. One of the earliest restaurants was Buon Gusto established in 1910 on Third Avenue by Orlando Benedetti and Giovanni Panattoni. Later restaurateurs, such as Rosellini and Gasparetti, became citywide personalities whose names and faces were known to everybody.

Italian POWs

World War II spurred industrial growth and created thousands of jobs for Italian Americans and others. Italian parents sent their sons off to fight overseas just as other American families did but the war affected the Italian community in unique ways, as well. As “enemy aliens,” the Italian-born residents were subjected to curfews, travel and employment restrictions. The Italian social hall shut down during the war because anyone born in Italy had to be home by 8:00 p.m. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Nick Paolella, publisher and radio host, was detained by federal agents, along with dozens of other Italian newspaper and radio men in other cities on the West Coast. The newspaper, radio show and the community’s Italian language school all ceased operation during the war years.

Toward the end of the war, Italian POWs captured by U.S. troops in North Africa were shipped to Seattle. The presence of their countrymen in these circumstances was a complicated situation for Italian immigrants. Many of the Italian prisoners had been reluctant soldiers with no love for Mussolini. Ralph Vacca’s uncle, who served overseas, told him that “a lot of them, they’d see the Americans coming and they’d run up to them and say, ‘Hey, take me with you!’” These prisoners were allowed to join the Army’s Italian Service Unit (ISU) and were given special privileges and freedoms. Andy Bevilacqua remembers his father taking him to visit one of the POW camps when he was a child: “There were guys there from Tuscany, like he was.”

Ralph Vacca recalls:

“They weren’t hard line fascists and, so on weekends, the Italian prisoners would get passes to go out to visit Italian families. They couldn’t speak English—but I remember they would go over to my mother’s and my mother had nine brothers and sisters in her family. So every Sunday everyone went over there. They would play bocce ball and my God, at dinnertime, the table was from here to there – twenty or thirty people. And they would talk Italian and have spaghetti and whatever else was on the table.”.

Ralph’s aunt, Mary Vacca, wound up falling in love with one of these gentlemen, Miguel Prontera – and this certainly wasn’t the only friendship or romance that developed between young people on opposite sides of the POW camp fence. At the end of the war, Miguel Prontera and the rest of the POWs were sent back to Italy but Mary Vacca went to Italy, tracked him down, married him and brought him back to Seattle. Prontera opened a barber shop on McClelland Street, where he cut hair for more than 60 years. He retired in 2008 at the age of 90.

“Mike” Prontera, barber

Prontera was part of a new wave of Italian immigrants who arrived in Seattle in the 1950s. Many of these new arrivals merged seamlessly into the established community. The Pizzutos were from a rural village in southern Italy where opportunities were extremely limited and had been so even before the war. “Back in Italy”, Lauro Pizzuto later told his grandson Cory, “I played soccer and shot pool in pubs – that was it!” Lauro and his father came to Seattle to work on building the original Lake Washington Floating Bridge. The Mottola family arrived about the same time but were city people from Naples. Vince Mottola worked for an established Italian business – the Gai family bakery– before opening his own restaurant in 1957.

So many Italians arrived in Seattle in the 1950s that the Italian-born population of SE Seattle (as measured by the U.S. Census) nearly tripled: from 929 in 1950 to 2555 in 1960. Southeast Seattle’s population as a whole rose sharply during this period, but not as fast as the Italian population. The Italian percentage doubled, from 2% in 1950 to 4% in 1960. By the late 1950s, Seattle’s Italian community had reached a fairly comfortable place. The first generation of immigrants who had arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were now growing old and many of them could look back on their lives and accomplishments with some satisfaction. Several of these gentlemen were profiled in a 1956 Seattle Times article by Erle Howell. They were businessmen, musicians, professors, patriarchs and their children had, as Sister Manette put it, “turned out very well, a credit to themselves and the city.”

Annie and Grace

Annie and Grace Briglio on 26th Avenue. Courtesy of Patricelli Family

Leonardo Patricelli, “The Ditch Digger” profiled in Angelo Pellegrini’s, Americans by Choice, had arrived In Seattle in 1911, willing to work hard in order to give his children a chance at a better life. Forty years later he and his wife, Giovannina, had worked hard indeed – but they now had land of their own and a fine house built by Leonardo and his four sons. Leonardo had come to the U.S. hoping his children would have opportunities he had lacked in Italy and they did. His eldest son became a doctor. More recent arrivals like the Pizzutos and Mottolas could see a similar path unfolding for their own children in their newly adopted country. 

Seattle’s Italian Food

seattle1

Italian Meatloaf

Armandino Batali of Salumi in Seattle, writes: “My son, Mario Batali, may be the most recognizable foodie in the family, but the Batalis’ interest in Italian cooking and culture goes back generations. My grandfather opened Seattle’s first Italian-food import store in 1903. It was located just a few steps from where my restaurant, Salumi, is now, and it’s one of the things that inspired me to get into the business.

“The idea behind Salumi was to create a restaurant, deli and meat factory in one place, just like the salumerias in Italy. We’re known for homemade sausages and salami, but we also attract a large lunchtime crowd. Some of the specials, like meatloaf and frittata, have been in our family for years. They’re also easy to make at home.”

 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef 
  • 1 pound coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed, meat crumbled
  • 2 cups chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, divided
  • 3 large eggs, beaten 
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine the first 11 ingredients in large bowl. Gently mix in 1/2 cup tomato sauce, eggs and wine.

Place meat mixture on large rimmed baking sheet and shape into 16 x 4-inch loaf. Brush with remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce.

Bake meat loaf until cooked through and thermometer inserted into center registers between 160°F and 170°F, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Italian Bean & Chard Soup With Cheese Toast

6 servings

Soup

  • 1 cup small dry white beans 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced tomatoes, or 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed 
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth 
  • 4 cups chopped Swiss chard or escarole
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil 
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste 
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese .

Cheese toast: 

  • 12 thin baguette slices 
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or shredded Parmesan cheese 

To prepare the soup:

Put the white beans in a bowl, cover with water and let soak overnight. Drain and put the beans into a soup pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes. Drain.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in the same pot. Add the onion and garlic; saute 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil and oregano. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Put the beans into the pot with the broth. Simmer 30 minutes. Add the kale, basil and pepper to taste. Cook 10 minutes.

To prepare the toast:

Spread the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Toast under a hot broiler. Remove from the oven and turn the bread slices over. Sprinkle with Gorgonzola or Parmesan and put back under the broiler until the cheese bubb.

Garnish each serving of soup with a spoonful of Parmesan and toast on the side.

seattle 2

Farro Salad with Fried Cauliflower and Prosciutto

Recipe from Ethan Stowell chef at Tavolàta, Seattle

8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound farro, rinsed and drained
  • 2 carrots, halved crosswise
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 1 celery rib, halved crosswise
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 large heads of cauliflower (2 1/2 pounds each), cut into 1-inch florets
  • 1/2 pound prosciutto, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped marjoram
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine the farro, carrots, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf. Add enough cold water to cover the farro by 1 inch and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook until the farro is tender but chewy, 15 minutes; drain. Spread the farro on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Discard the carrots, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil over moderately high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350° F. Fry the cauliflower in batches until golden, 5 minutes per batch; drain.

In a bowl, mix the farro, cauliflower, prosciutto, olive oil, lemon juice and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

--Agrodolce

Seared Broccoli with Anchovy Vinaigrette

Recipe adapted from Maria Hines, Agrodolce, Seattle, WA

4 servings

Ingredients:

Anchovy Vinaigrette

  • 4 oil-packed anchovies
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Broccoli

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large bunch of broccoli, trimmed into small florets
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Make the anchovy vinaigrette:

In a blender, purée the anchovies, vinegar and garlic together on high speed until smooth. Reduce the blender speed to medium and slowly pour in the oil, blending until the vinaigrette is emulsified and thick. Season with the pepper.

Make the broccoli:

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and broccoli florets and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the florets are caramelized, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the lemon juice and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the pepper.

Transfer the broccoli to a serving platter and drizzle with the anchovy vinaigrette. Serve warm.

Strawberries marinated in Prosecco, with semolina cookies A100830_FW_Seattle_4thofJuly2011

Strawberries in Prosecco with Vanilla Ice Cream

8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • One 750-milliliter bottle chilled Prosecco
  • 2 pints vanilla ice cream

Directions:

In a bowl, mix the strawberries with the sugar and let stand until the sugar is dissolved, about 30 minutes.

Spoon the berries and any syrup into 8 glasses and top with the Prosecco and a scoop of ice cream. Serve right away.

 

Sources:

  • The Seattle Times
  • Neighborhoods: Southeast Seattle Community History Project: Mikala Woodward
  • Seattle Government City archives
  • History Link.org
  • Rainier Valley Historical Society
  • Italia Seattle Blogspot
  • Festa Seattle
  • Italian Club of Seattle
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A view of the Tualatin Valley in Portland’s Southwest Hills in 1912.
Italian immigrants settled in Portland’s Southwest Hills, known as Hillsdale and Multnomah, where many of them established dairies and vegetable farms.

1863 – Sam Arrigoni built the Pioneer Hotel at the corner of Front & Washington. It was the largest hotel in the state at that time, accommodating up to 300 guests.

At the turn of the century, SW Portland had an Italian business district, culture and neighborhood. The district remained intact until 1961, when it was abolished due an urban renewal. The city lost not just a thriving business district but a vibrant community as well. There is a movement within the community to restore “Little Italy”. The dream is to recreate an Italian district, with a mixed-use area that will include retail shops, restaurants, residential housing and a cultural center that will renew a familiar way of life for resident and visiting Italians, while inviting the local Portland community to share in the vitality of the Italian culture. 

Much of the history of the Italians in Portland has been recorded by the Oregon Historical Society:

1920 – 5 th. & Baker

In the late 1800’s Italians emigrated to Portland to build a better life. Their desire was to create new opportunities for themselves and their families. As the Italian population increased, it was a natural course of events that a “Little Italy” in Portland developed. It was between 1900 and 1910, however, that Portland saw the largest growth in the city’s Italian American population.

In 1900, the Italian immigrant population stood at just over 1,000 residents and by 1910, that number had increased to more than 5,000 residents. Italians first settled on the southwest edge of Portland near Marquam Gulch and later in northeast Portland.

1890- Italian Boarding House SW Front St.

The first Italian Boarding House was located on Front Ave. and new immigrants coming into Portland were directed to Garibaldi’s Market to find work on the railroads and in other trades. Italian immigrants worked in a wide array of professions. Many hundreds of Italian immigrants worked in Portland’s extensive railroad yards or served as street graders or built and maintained roads throughout the city. Italian entrepreneurs, like Francesco Arata, established shops and restaurants in Italian neighborhoods on both the west and east sides of the Willamette River. Almost 1,300 Italians lived and worked on the east side of the Willamette River. They rented land and grew vegetables and berries, while other families operated truck farms that sold produce to individuals and businesses across the city.


1919 – St Michael’s Church School at 4 th & Mill – Students

Portland Italians increased and spread to the East side of the river. With approximately 30,000 Italians in the Portland area, activities were numerous. Social clubs, raising funds for local causes, festivals and many celebrations were all part of the culture. In 1921, money was raised through shares to build the Italian Federation Building. This was a culture center for socials, community events and a place for newcomers to become familiar with Portland. Family was important and church was where families stayed connected. St Michael’s Church, still located on Fourth and SW Mill, was known as the “Italian Church.” The church also included an elementary school. Several Italian newspapers were in print and they were popular, as this was the way many immigrants could stay abreast of current events.

1920 – Italian Gardener’s Association

Colasuanno and Son Grocery – SW 3rd Ave.

In the 1980’s another flow of Italian immigrants arrived in Portland, bringing new life. Along with long time Italian residents and their children, the new wave of immigrants created a resurgence of Italian vitality! Activities have come alive again, such as the annual “Festa Italiana” that draws over 100,000 people in Pioneer Square. Clubs, restaurants, bocce tournaments, Italian radio and conversations, now thrive. Italian business continues to develop, with the most recent success being the Bologna Sister City alliance. This alliance intends to build economic trade between both countries. 

The Portland-Bologna Sister City Association (PBSCA) was founded in 2003 by a group of interested citizens in Portland to establish a formal relationship with Bologna, Italy.

The goal of this group is to bring citizens together out of their love, interest and ties to Italy and to create a formal relationship with Bologna. At first glance there are many things that these two cities have in common, from central urban universities to a genuine concern for sustainability and to a citizenry that holds a vivid love for life, family and food. Bologna is best known for its food – undeniably the richest in the country – and for its politics.

Italian Food of Portland

Portland seems to have an affinity for linking Italian culture, food and history together.

Basta Trattoria (on 21st Street in Portland) holds a quarterly Historical Dinner Series with exploration into “The Advent of Italian-American Cuisine,” specifically focusing on the impact that Italian immigrants have had on American food and vice versa. Portland Monthly food writer and food history enthusiast, Allison Jones, co-hosted a recent historical dinner alongside Basta Chef/Owner Marco Frattaroli.

“I’ve always been fascinated by how food and cooking customs create a window into history and it has been exciting to see that so many others share my curiosity,” says Frattaroli, referring to the popularity of past historical dinners at the restaurant that quickly sold out.

Frattaroli launched the Historical Dinner Series with three dinners in the Fall 2011 as a way to explore Italian cuisine through the lens of history. This year, the restaurant is planning a quarterly series that offers one dinner per season. At each dinner, a guest speaker will share his/her expertise on a relevant subject. Meanwhile, Chef Frattaroli prepares a family-style feast that features dishes from the historic era for guests in Basta’s private dining room.

1809 edition of Il Cuoco Maceratese (The Cook from Macerata— a city in the central Italian region of Le Marche) by Antonio Nebbia. It’s one of the earliest cookbooks written on Italian soil.

A Great Find!

This book, buried deep in a box, was shabby and coverless, tucked inside a worn zip-top plastic bag. A closer look revealed black Italian script on thick, fragile paper. It was an 1809 edition of “The Chef From Macerata” (“Il Cuoco Maceratese”) by Antonio Nebbia, among the first cookbooks ever written in Italy. Pellegrino Artusi’s distinguished book on Italian cooking, “The Art of Eating Well,” wouldn’t come along until 1881.

In Stefania Toscano’s rush to leave Italy for Portland two years ago, she hadn’t seen it among her late aunt’s possessions, which she had hastily packed and shipped to Oregon. In many ways, it made sense, because her aunt kept an enormous library with thousands of culinary books in her home in Florence. She was an accomplished, passionate cook who would take an entire day to make her special pizza.

Reed College confirmed the rarity of the find and after searching a database of more than 42,000 libraries in the world, found only three identical copies with only one in the United States. Toscano said. “You have a piece of history in your hands.” The next step, of course, was to digest the content. As much is it is a collection of recipes from two centuries ago, this cookbook could be a history lesson, reflecting culinary influences in central Italy during the late 18th century, when this revised edition was first printed. The University of Oregon’s Nicola Camerlenghi, an Italian-born assistant professor of art history, was called in for an analysis. She commented that the mere fact that recipes were even written down and published reflected the region’s growing economic prosperity and the emergence of an upper-middle class, who were employing cooks who needed information.

The recipes don’t have ingredient lists, but they call for specific measurements. “There is an order, steps 1, 2, 3 and 4,” Camerlenghi says. “It’s something Nebbia accepts from the French and brings (to Italy) as an innovation.” The author, also,  introduces French-style sauces and he recommends using butter, even in pasta. As important as what is in the book is what’s not. You see no mention of tomatoes or potatoes. It took years after the tomato’s arrival in Europe from the New World for it to be considered edible.

You see recipes for first courses of pasta, gnocchi (made without potatoes) and rice, and in particular, the technique of soaking rice in cold water before sautéing it — a groundbreaking contribution to the refinement of risotto Milanese, Toscano says. There is celery and spinach soup and squash parmigiana.

Some of the flavors are surprisingly familiar, Toscano says. Others dishes have just disappeared, such as a pan sauté of tuna, boiled celery, a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a slurry of flour and water. The combination sounds humble today, but celery was considered an aphrodisiac, says Toscano, who liked the dish so much she made it for a private dinner. Ultimately, this “grandfather of all Italian cookbooks,” as Toscano refers to it, has given her much to savor. (source: Oregon Live)

Pizza Margherita

Recipe From Chef Cathy Whims of Nostrana in Portland

It’s not the awards or the notoriety that fuels the fire for Chef/Restaurateur Cathy Whims. It’s the quest to offer historically-based, authentic dishes that celebrate a sense of place and a local producer’s passion that keep this beloved Portland culinary treasure at the stove. She and her partner, David West, opened Nostrana in 2005 and quickly earned The Oregonian’s coveted designation as Best Restaurant of the Year. Nostrana is an Italian road-house in Southeast Portland serving classical and inventive seasonal dishes reflective of Cathy’s close, personal relationships with Northwest farmers

4 Servings

Ingredients

Pizza Dough:

  • 0.2 ounces malt
  • 13.6 ounces water, 65ºF
  • 2 ounces fresh yeast starter
  • 20 ounces Shepherd’s Grain enriched unbleached high gluten strength flour
  • 0.4 ounces salt

Toppings:

  • 2 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes, drained
  • Salt
  • 2 fresh mozzarella, cow milk or buffalo, sliced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small bunch basil, cleaned and dried

METHOD:

For the Pizza Dough:

Dissolve the malt in water with a whisk. In standing mixer with dough hook attachment, add the starter, flour and salt. Mix on low speed for approximately 4 minutes, or until everything is combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix on high speed for approximately 2 to 4 minutes. Dough should be smooth on the surface, but not shiny. Refrigerate overnight. The following day, divide the dough into 4 pieces and round into 8-ounce balls. Let them rest at room temperature for 2 hours. Then use or refrigerate for later use.

For the Topping:

Preheat oven with a pizza stone to 550ºF. Crush the tomatoes by hand to release the inside juices. Purée in a food processor and season with salt. Drain the mozzarella balls, pat dry with a towel and slice into 1/2-inch slices. Spread the tomato purée over the pizza up to 2 inches from the edges. Put the mozzarella slices on the pizza. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake on pizza stone until crust is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with basil leaves.

Porchetta Sandwiches

The food cart Lardo in Portland, Oregon serves this roasted pork with hazelnut gremolata and lemon-caper aïoli on ciabatta buns.

Serves 8

FOR THE PORK:

  • 1/2 cup lightly packed rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed sage leaves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 2 ½ tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 14 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 (6–7-lb.) skin-on pork shoulder, butterflied
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 8 ciabatta buns, split

FOR THE GREMOLATA AND AÏOLI:

  • 1 1/3 cups olive oil
  • 1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
  • 5 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 egg yolks

Make the pork:

Heat oven to 325°F. Combine rosemary, sage, 1/4 cup oil, fennel seeds, pepper, chile flakes and garlic in a food processor. Process until a smooth paste forms. Unfold pork shoulder, skin-side down, on a cutting board, season with salt and spread evenly with herb paste; roll up shoulder, tie with kitchen twine at 1″ intervals along length of shoulder and rub with remaining oil. Transfer to a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, season with salt and cover with foil; bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the pork reads 150°F, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Uncover and heat broiler to high; broil pork until skin is browned and crisp and internal temperature reads 165°F, about 15 minutes more. Let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Make the gremolata:

Combine 1/3 cup olive oil, parsley, hazelnuts, 1 tablespoon capers, hazelnut oil, shallot and zest and juice of 1 lemon in a food processor. Process until a combined, transfer to a bowl and set aside. 

For the aïoli:

Whisk remaining capers, 2 tablespoons lemon juice (reserve remaining juice and zest for another use), egg yolks and 1 tablespoon water in a medium bowl until smooth. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 1 cup oil until sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve:

Spread aïoli on tops of ciabatta buns and gremolata on bottoms of buns. Thinly slice pork shoulder and divide among buns.

Spaghetti with Red Onion and Bacon

Traditional pasta gets an upgrade from Jenn Louis, chef-owner of Lincoln Restaurant in Portland with the addition of smoky, salty bacon and zesty red onion.

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 1/4 pounds bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 can (28-ounce) whole peeled tomatoes, puréed and strained
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook bacon until tender, about 5 minutes. Add red onion and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until sauce is slightly reduced, about 8 minutes.

Strain spaghetti, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. Add spaghetti and pasta water to sauce and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano.

Ricotta Gnudi with Lamb Bolognese

Recipe from Chef Rick Gencarelli of Grassa in Portland.

Makes 8 servings

Gnudi are essentially cheese ravioli filling, with just enough flour added to hold the mixture together and allow it to be boiled. They’re easier to make than gnocchi, freeze just as well and manage to be both rich and cloud-like at the same time. Be sure to use high-quality whole-milk ricotta and don’t skimp on the freshly ground pepper, which adds complexity.

Ricotta Gnudi:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 pounds (32 ounces) fresh whole-milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • Semolina flour, for dusting

Lamb Bolognese:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fennel, chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrot, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound pancetta, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 bunch fresh mint, chopped
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

Directions:

To make the gnudi:

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Add the ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper. Mix until the ingredients are mostly combined. Add the all-purpose flour gradually, while folding the mixture, until a soft dough forms. Add more flour as needed, if it feels too sticky to roll into a rope.

Dust a rimmed baking sheet with semolina flour. Portion the dough into four separate pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, gently roll one of the pieces into a rope 1/2-inch thick. With a bench scraper or knife, cut the rope into 1-inch pieces.

Place the gnudi on the prepared baking sheet so that they are not touching. If not serving right away, freeze the gnudi until firm, then pack into airtight bags or containers.

To make the lamb bolognese:

Heat olive oil in a 6- to 8-quart saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the onions, fennel and carrot and saute until the vegetables are translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the lamb, pork and pancetta and increase heat to high. Brown the meat, breaking it up with a spoon. Add the tomatoes, white wine and milk. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 1 hour.

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add chopped mint.

To serve:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add gnudi and cook until they float to the surface, plus 1 to 2 minutes more (taste one; it should be cooked through, not gummy). Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the bolognese sauce. Serve garnished with a generous shower of grated cheese.

Butterscotch Breadcrumb Cake

This cake recipe comes from Matthew Busetto at Portland’s Firehouse Restaurant. Breadcrumb cakes are traditional in European cuisine (as well as a great way to use the restaurant’s leftover Pugliese loaves). The dessert has a rich-yet-not-too-sweet flavor from the butterscotch, as well as a slightly nubby texture — both of which are perfectly matched by some whipped cream, crunchy topping and another puddle of butterscotch sauce.

6 servings

Butterscotch Sauce

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt 
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cake

  • Granulated sugar for dusting the pan
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup butterscotch sauce (reserve the rest for serving)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs, fairly fine (panko will work in a pinch)
  • Unsweetened whipped cream, reserved butterscotch sauce and chopped nuts or toffee bits (for topping)

To make the butterscotch sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and add the smaller amount of vanilla, taste and add more as needed. Set aside.

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter an 8-inch square pan or six 6- to 8-ounce ramekins and dust lightly with sugar. Set aside.

Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside.

Whip the egg yolks with the 1 cup of butterscotch sauce, salt and orange zest, until pale and almost doubled in size. Fold the whites into the yolk mixture in thirds, until just combined, then gently fold in the breadcrumbs.

Bake until the cake seems set and a tester comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes for ramekins and 25 to 30 minutes for a full cake. Cool slightly in the pan, then turn out.

Serve topped with whipped cream, reserved butterscotch sauce and any other crunchy toppings you desire.

Sources:


California’s Mediterranean climate is similar to Italy’s, so the Italian immigrants felt at home and were able to bring their food and culture to this new land. The California soil was ideal for planting crops Italians were used to growing, such as eggplant, artichokes, broccoli and Sicilian lemons. Italians also brought with them a love of wine as well as a history of making it.

Nearly 200 members of the Sacramento Italian Cultural Society and the Folsom Historical Society attended the opening reception for the exhibit “Nostra Storia” on January 28, 2000. This is a unique story about that wave of people from Italy, primarily from the area around Genoa in the region of Liguria, who settled in the foothills of the Mother Lode region (Sierra Nevada Mountains) of Northern California in the Mid-19th century. This is the first time that an exhibit has been created to tell the story of these enterprising people who contributed so much to the economic and cultural fabric of California. The history of the Italian Americans is often relegated to the margins of American history despite the fact that the Italians are the 4th largest ancestry group in America with more than 25 million Americans and two million Californians of Italian descent (based on the 2000 Census).This exhibit is part of the determination of this current generation of Italians, to see that the Italian immigrant story is told and included in the history of the nation.

California’s gold country has been profoundly influenced by Italian culture for the last 160 years. Immigrants from Italy’s northern provinces were drawn here by the lure of gold, but it was the allure of the California foothills where they found the terrain and climate similar to that of Italy, that convinced them to stay. California’s fledgling economy provided unparalleled opportunities for Italian businessmen and unclaimed land was available for agriculturalists. Settlement soon brought women and children and, within a decade, Italians represented a significant portion of the population in the region, numbering among the gold country’s leading farmers, merchants and tradesmen. The Mother Lode also offered women unique advantages and Italian women proved wonderfully resourceful when necessity demanded. The 1870s saw a second wave of immigration, as Italian laborers arrived to work in the large, corporate-owned gold mines. Descendents of many of these Italian pioneers remain in the gold country to this day.

Del Monte

Across the state, the Italians also settled on the farmlands and played a prominent role in developing today’s fruit, vegetable and dairy industries. By the 1880’s, Italians dominated the fruit and vegetable industry in the great Central Valley of California. Italian immigrants also left their mark on the California food processing industry. Marco Fontana arrived in the United States in 1859 and along with another Ligurian, Antonio Cerruti, established a chain of canneries under the “Del Monte” label. Most of their workers were Italian and their cannery soon became the largest in the world.

One of the most inspiring of California’s Italians was Amadeo Pietro Giannini, who was born in 1870 to immigrant Italian parents from Genoa. He started the first statewide system of branch banks in the nation by opening branches of his Bank of Italy in the Italian neighborhoods across the state. He later changed the name of his bank to Bank of America, which became the largest bank in the world.

The California wine industry also owes much to the Italian founders of the industry. Italians have been planting vineyards and making wine in America since the early colonial days when Filippo Mazzei, planted vineyards with Thomas Jefferson. The founding of the Italian Swiss Colony at Asti in 1881 as a cooperative of Italian immigrants from the wine growing regions of Italy, promoted the widespread participation and success of the Italians in the California wine industry and the vineyards in Napa and Sonoma.

Largest wine vat in the world, Asti, about 1900. The vat is still there, but today it contains water for fire protection instead of wine. (Cloverdale Historical Society collection)

Oakland, the other city by the bay, was a magnet for Italian immigrants in the early decades of the 20th century. Some relocated from San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire; many more came to Oakland predominantly from Italy’s northern regions. As they established new roots and adopted new ways, they congregated largely in north Oakland’s bustling Temescal neighborhood and these Italian Americans nurtured their old country customs and traditions for generations–giving us a rare glimpse of bygone days.

Los Angeles’, “Little Italy”, presents a history of the city’s vibrant Italian enclave during the 100-year period following the arrival of the city’s first Italian pioneers in 1827. While Los Angeles possesses the nation’s fifth-largest Italian population today, little is known about its Italian history which has been examined by only a handful of historians over the past 50 years. Much of LA’s historic Little Italy has been masked by subsequent ethnic settlements, however, the community’s memory lives on. From pioneer agriculturalists and winemakers to philanthropists and entertainment personalities, Italian Americans left a lasting impression on the city’s social, economic and cultural fabric and contributed to Los Angeles’ development as one of the world’s major metropolises.

San Pedro Port

While the downtown cluster (St. Peter’s Italian Church, Casa Italiana and the Italian Hall) may loosely be construed a Little Italy, San Pedro today represents one of the few visible local nuclei of Italians. This clustering on the Los Angeles landscape has arisen for a unique reason. Until recently, San Pedro was geographically and occupationally compact due to its function as Los Angeles’ port and due to what was, formerly, a significant fishing industry. San Pedro Italians came from two Italian island fishing communities: Ischia and Sicily. Although they arrived with the migrations of the early 20th. century (the Sicilians later), the independent nature of this group’s trade and the relative geographic compactness of San Pedro, fostered the preservation of ethnic loyalty.

Attracted by the mild climate and abundance of fertile land, Italians came to the Santa Clara Valley from all regions of Italy. Beginning in the 1880s, Italian men, women and children filled the numerous canneries and packing houses, supplying the rest of the nation with fresh produce. Once the largest ethnic group in the valley, the Italians’ impact on the region has been profound. Here are some of their stories:

Rodolfo Mussi was born in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania in 1914 to an Italian immigrant father, who worked in the coalmines. Rodolfo’s mother died at a young age forcing the family to return to Italy. The village of Riccione in Northern Italy did not offer much hope to young Rodolfo, who at age sixteen returned with his father’s permission to the United States. His father let him leave Italy on one condition: that he head to California not Pennsylvania. At sixteen with little money, no family or friends or command of the English language, Rodolfo went to work in the mud baths in Calistoga. He later moved to Stockton and went to work on a farm. He noticed a plot of land that was not being farmed and inquired about the property. He had no money to purchase the land or equipment to farm it, but his determination impressed the landowner, Mr. Lucas, who leased the land to Mussi. After thirty years, Mussi secured a twenty-five year lease and his sons still lease and farm the same land today

Joseph Solari II’s great grandfather arrived in Stockton in 1877 and his family was among the first to grow cherries in the area. Four generations of the Solari family farmed in Stockton and their products are sold around the country through the California Fruit Exchange, founded in 1901. The cherries and plums are packed on the Solari Ranch and then sent to the east coast. The Solari family was also involved with the founding of two additional organizations: the San Joaquin Marketing Association (1922) and the San Joaquin Cherry Growers (1935).

In addition to cherries, Stockton was also known for its tomatoes. Two families cornered the market for quality tomatoes and tomato products. The Cortopassi family business began in 1942 with fresh-packed canned tomato products. Today, their products are available only through food service distributors in the United States and Canada. George Lagorio began farming in 1945 on thirty acres. Today the Lagorio family farms over 10,000 acres. The ACE Tomato Company founded in 1968 ships worldwide today. Their Specialty Products include olive oil, walnuts, cherries and wine grapes. George’s daughter, Kathleen Lagorio Janssen and her husband Dean expanded the family business a few years ago with the purchase of olive orchards. Now the company also produces extra virgin olive oil.

Italian immigrants to San Jose, located south of San Francisco in the Silicon Valley, came from many Italian regions, but a majority of them arrived from villages in southern Italy and Sicily. There were two primary Italian neighborhoods in San Jose,  as its population grew in the early to mid twentieth century. The Goosetown neighborhood included Auzarias Avenue and North 1st. Street. This neighborhood bordered Willow Glen, where many Italian Americans still reside. The second neighborhood was around North 13th. Street and it included Holy Cross Church and Backesto Park. One Italian immigrant who eventually made his home in San Jose was Mario Marchese, who was born in 1878 in Palermo Sicily. He left home for New York in 1903 with other family members and, when he arrived in NY, he took a job moving furniture. In 1907 he married his boss’s daughter, Domenica Pavia. Shortly after the birth of their first child, they took the train west to California in search of a better opportunity. Mario and Domenica had ten children and lived in the Italian neighborhood known as Goosetown. Mario initially worked as a prune picker and was eventually hired by Navelete’s Nursery to oversee the orchards.

 

Brothers Andrea and Stefano D’Arrigo were born in Messina, Sicily and emigrated to the U.S. in 1904 and 1911 respectfully. They eventually settled in Boston, went to college and fought for the U.S. in World War I. They started D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of Massachusetts in 1923. Stefano travelled to California in 1925 on a wine grape buying trip. He observed the fertile farmland in San Jose and, soon after, D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California was launched and they were growing vegetables in San Jose. The broccoli seeds arrived from Italy and were planted over twenty-eight acres, making them the first to introduce broccoli to the public under their brand, Andy Boy, trademarked in 1927. They remain one of the largest fresh produce growers in the country and the company is still family run.

Women Cannery Workers 

The Bisceglia Brother’s Canning Company employed many Italian immigrant women and was located on South First Street close to the Goosetown neighborhood. They earned less pay than the men but worked less hours. The women worked on the assembly line peeling, cutting, pitting and slicing by hand. By the 1930s and 1940s women were promoted to supervisors, better known to the employees as floor ladies. These women supervised thirty-five to forty-five women on the production line and they typically supervised their own ethnic group.

More than most people realize, the Italian Americans helped to shape the cultural landscape of California and the modern West. The enterprise and success of these Italian pioneers is a unique legacy – one shared by all of us. 

(Sources: We Are California: Stories of Immigration and Change A California Stories Project of the California Council for the Humanities.  www.weareca.org  The California Italian American Project is designed to make available to students and researchers basic information and resources about California’s original Italian communities.)                       

California is where pizza became “boutique” food, starting in the 1980s, as part of a larger attraction to the Mediterranean cuisine. Alice Waters put a wood-burning oven into her café at Chéz Panisse and Wolfgang Puck became famous by feeding Hollywood stars $100 caviar pies. Puck’s pizza man, Ed LaDou, went on to found the California Pizza Kitchen chain. The chain is widely known for its innovative and non traditional pizzas, such as the “Original BBQ Chicken Pizza”, BLT, Thai Chicken and Jamaican Jerk Chicken pizzas. They also serve various kinds of pasta, salads, soups, sandwiches and desserts. The chain has over 230 locations in 32 US states and eleven other countries, including 26 California Pizza Kitchen ASAP kiosks designed to serve passengers at airports and shopping malls. The company licensed its name to Kraft Foods to distribute a line of premium frozen pizzas in 2000 and Nestlé purchased Kraft’s pizza lines in 2010.

Chéz Panisse’s wood-burning oven

Italian Recipes That Make Use of California’s Bounties

Sweet Pepper Martini

Makes 2 Drinks

Giuseppe Luigi Mezzetta, founder of G. L. Mezzetta, immigrated to America from Italy to start a new life. He eventually saved enough money to bring his new wife, Columba, to California where their son, Daniel, was born in 1918. Giuseppe continued to work hard and was soon able to earn a better wage as a janitor for two large import/export firms. In 1935, father and son decided to open a small storefront business and the new company began importing Italian peppers, olives and other staples of the Mediterranean table.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Mezzetta Roasted Bell Pepper Strips, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup or agave syrup
  • 2 strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 2 basil leaves, cut into strips
  • 1 dash hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vodka or gin
  • 4 Mezzetta Sweet Cherry Peppers, to garnish

Directions:

In a mixing glass or cocktail shaker add and mix all of the ingredients except the vodka. Fill the skaker with ice and add the vodka. Shake vigorously.

Strain the drink, using a fine mesh strainer, and pour into two martini glasses. Garnish with sweet cherry peppers.

(Note: to prepare simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water. Boil until the sugar has dissolved. Cool the syrup before using.)

Pesto Arancini Stuffed with Mozzarella

During his 25 years as a chef/restaurateur, Michael Chiarello has been acknowledged by the Culinary Institute of America, IACP, Food & Wine Magazine and many more for his success as both a Chef and restaurant professional. He has developed over 10 restaurants, including his hugely popular Bottega Restaurant in Yountville, California (Napa Valley), his new Spanish restaurant Coqueta on Pier 5 in San Francisco and his first in California, Tra Vigne, of which he was executive chef/partner until 2000. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY.

I visited Michael Chiarello’s restaurant, Bottega, two years ago when I was in California, and the food was outstanding. Restaurants don’t come any better than this one.

Recipe from Bottega by Michael Chiarello (Chronicle Books, 2010)

Makes 16 arancini; serves 4

Arancini, or rice-balls filled with a melting cheese, are for leftover-risotto days. I never make the rice from scratch when I’m making arancini at home. If you don’t have leftover risotto, you can make these balls from cooked Arborio rice but be sure to add a teaspoon or two of salt while the rice cooks. (Honestly, you’re better off making a big pot of risotto and then making arancini the next day.)

Arancini always remind me of my friend Mariano Orlando. He always made arancini the Sicilian way, his rice balls the size of oranges. We talked once about arancini and he kept saying in Italian, “telephone wire,” making a motion with his hands as if to stretch a length of cord. “What are you saying?” I asked him. “Why are you talking about telephone wire?” The cheese, Mariano said, should stretch like a telephone wire when you take a bite from a perfect arancini and pull it away from your lips.

Our arancini don’t have that same telephone wire of cheese; we use a little less cheese in the middle and a lot more cheese in the risotto. You can add more cheese to the middle if you want to go for the telefono filo effect. If you want to make these a few hours ahead, pour panko crumbs into a baking dish and rest the arancini on the panko before covering the dish in plastic wrap and refrigerating.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups leftover risotto or cooked Arborio rice, cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups Blanched Basil Pesto, double recipe below
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, preferably bocconcini
  • Peanut oil, corn oil, or canola oil for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Directions:

Line a platter with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir the risotto and pesto together until blended. Divide the rice into 16 more-or-less-equal portions.

Cut off about 1/2 teaspoon of mozzarella and then with your hands ball up one serving of rice around the cheese so it’s completely encased in rice. Gently place on the prepared platter. Repeat to form 16 arancini. Slide the platter into the freezer for 30 minutes to allow the balls to firm up.

Before you take the rice balls from the freezer, set up your dredging station. Pour the flour into a shallow bowl; the eggs into another shallow bowl; and the panko into a third shallow bowl.

In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat 3 inches oil over medium-high heat until it registers 375°F on a deep-fat thermometer. While the oil heats, dredge each rice ball in flour and lightly shake off the excess. Dip in the egg and then in the panko. Gently drop 4 to 6 balls into the oil and cook until lightly browned, 60 to 90 seconds. Don’t overcook them or the cheese will leak out into your oil. Using a slotted spoon or wire skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat to cook the remaining arancini. Serve at once.

Blanched-Basil Pesto

Makes about 1 cup

Powdered vitamin C- also called ascorbic acid-is my secret for keeping pesto a fresh, appetizing green. The herbs go in boiling water and then straight into an ice bath, so I like to use a large sieve or colander to transfer all the herbs in one smooth move.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, preferably ground sea or gray salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered ascorbic acid
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Set up a large bowl of ice water. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Place the basil and parsley leaves in a sieve or colander that fits inside the pan. Lower the sieve full of herbs into the boiling water, and use a spoon to push the leaves under so the herbs cook evenly. Blanch for 15 seconds, and then transfer the sieve to the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Let the herbs cool in the ice bath for 10 seconds. Remove the sieve, let drain, and then squeeze any water that you can from the herbs. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop.

In a blender, puree the herbs with the oil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, pepper, and ascorbic acid until well blended and somewhat smooth. Add the cheese and whir for a second or two to mix. Transfer the pesto to a bowl; taste and adjust the seasoning.

Press plastic wrap directly top of the pesto to keep it from turning brown and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze it for up to 1 month.

Chef’s Note: Toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet over low heat, shaking the pan frequently. Heat for just a minute or two; as soon as you smell the fragrance of the pine nuts, slide the nuts out of the pan and onto a plate so they don’t burn.

Chicken in Tomato & Olive Braise

Chef David Katz, owner of Panevino, and faculty member at the Culinary Institute of America created this recipe to specifically pair with Mirassou wine. Chef Katz has spent nine years in the Napa Valley as a working chef and instructor at CIA Greystone focusing on the business of cooking and on food and wine education.

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken thighs, 5-6 ounces each
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced about 1/8th inch thick
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pinch hot pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 1/4 cup Mirassou Pinot Noir
  • 1 large can (1 pound 12 ounces) excellent quality diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 teaspoons brine-packed capers, rinsed
  • 1 cup whole pitted green olives, rinsed
  • 1 ounce Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 loose cup whole parsley leaves, plucked from the stem

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F.  Select a 3 to 4 quart oven-safe baking dish, and set it aside. Heat a large, heavy skillet over a medium-high burner. While the pan is heating, season the chicken with the salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the olive oil to the skillet, allow it to heat through, then add the chicken pieces skin-side down. Cook until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes, then turn and brown equally on the other side, about 4 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate.

Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat from the skillet, and return it to the stovetop over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion, and stir often for 3 minutes, or until it smells sweet. Stir in the pepper flakes and fennel. Deglaze with the wine, stirring against the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release the browned juices. Add the tomatoes, capers and olives, and bring the skillet to a simmer. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning to taste, then pour the tomato mixture into the oven-safe baking dish. Arrange the chicken pieces over the tomato mixture, skin-side up, and sprinkle the shaved cheese over the chicken. Place the baking dish on the center rack of the oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 160 degrees in the center of the largest piece of chicken.

Garnish the dish with parsley leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with soft polenta or your favorite short pasta and a crisp green salad.

Italian Padella

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

“Padella” is Italian for skillet, as “paella” is in Spanish.

Ingredients:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage
  • 1/4 pound sliced ham
  • 1/4 pound salt pork
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 1-1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1-1/2 pounds squid, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 2 cups cooked peas
  • 24 mussels, scrubbed
  • 24 clams, scrubbed
  • 8 large prawns, shelled, deveined and cooked
  • 2 tablespoons pimientos

Directions:

Combine 2 tablespoons oil, oregano, peppercorns, garlic, salt and vinegar; mix with mortar and pestle to make a paste. Rub chicken with oregano paste.

Heat 1/2 cup oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; brown. Add sausage, ham, salt pork, onion, green pepper, capers and coriander. Reduce heat to low; cook 10 minutes.

Add rice and tomato sauce; cook 5 minutes. Add medium shrimp, squid, broth and saffron; mix well and cook, covered, until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in peas.

Steam mussels and clams in water until open; add large prawns and pimientos. Transfer rice mixture to large serving platter; top with mussel mixture.


The images above on the Italian Heritage Mural are part of the life work of Italian immigrant Gino Sbrana, who started his American life in San Francisco as a vegetable peddler. By 1911, he had launched a large photographic studio, Pisa Foto, at Columbus and Broadway in San Francisco. Later Gino founded a studio in Oakland and, in 1919, settled in San Jose. Not content to confine his artistry to the formally posed studio portrait, he traveled over the Bay Area countryside with his large wooden field camera, using soft light on the shady side of barns or under large oaks to capture his fellow countrymen. Gino posed them in the coastal mist with machetes poised to harvest cauliflower, perched atop their brand new motorcycles, assembled by trucks loaded with produce from the fields, sleeves rolled up and holding their “vino”.

Children in Columbus Day Parade, 1925

The first Italian wave, to arrive in California (1850 –1924) came from five parts of Italy: Genoa in Liguria, Lucca in Tuscany and a few provinces of Piedmont, Sicily and Calabria. Driven mostly by poverty in their homeland, many had no formal education and spoke little English. What they did bring were the skills gained as peasants and fishermen in Italy and, then, used those skills creatively in America. An advantage they had over their countrymen who had settled on the eastern seaboard was that California was not as developed as the eastern states and needed people with their work ethic and vision to help it grow. The first wave found California a diverse economy. When they proved unsuccessful in their search for gold many became wine growers, vegetable farmers, boarding house operators, merchants, loggers or fishermen. One well-known “failed” goldminer, Domenico Ghirardelli set up a tent in Stockton selling supplies and confections to miners. His sweets were so popular that in 1852 he opened the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company in San Francisco. By 1880 the fishermen from Genoa and later from Sicily could be found throughout the state and by 1910 Italians were said to control 80% of the fishing industry in California. 

Buon Gusto Sausage Factory, Columbus Avenue, 1926

Many chose to settle in small towns, gravitating to work in agriculture, initially as market gardeners, fruit growers and nurserymen. They raised crops that were sold in nearby cities and mining camps. It was during this time the wine industry started to develop. It was California’s suitability for grape growing that drew many of the Italians to this area. The Italian Swiss Agricultural society was a cooperative formed by Andrea Sbarboro in 1881 to aid Italian and Swiss immigrants with settling into their new land. Hiring peasants who had worked in the vineyards in Italy, the society gave them a fair wage, free wine and stock shares. Although the wine industry has changed over the years, Italian Americans still play a very significant role, owning or managing 15 percent of California wineries, including three of the largest and ten of the oldest. 

After the Civil war in the 1860’s, more Italian immigrants began to settle in North Beach and parts of Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. Many put down roots, established businesses and raised families. The Genoese came to dominate banking, truck gardening and grocery wholesaling.The Lucchesi from Lucca in Tuscany were merchants, produce vendors and peddlers, who opened small retail outlets, restaurants and produce stores at the base of Telegraph Hill. In the 1880’s the Sicilians followed and took over the fishing industry, settling around Fisherman’s Wharf at the northern end of North Beach.

San Francisco, a city born in the excitement of the Gold Rush of 1849 and a city noted for its gourmet restaurants, was also the city of Italian provincial restaurants that served their clientele dishes in a congenial atmosphere reflecting the universal belief among all Italians that food and the pleasure of eating meals shared with relatives or friends remains essential to maintaining kinship ties. For Italians, the quality and quantity of food eaten by a family has always symbolized the economic earning power of the menfolk and the family’s social position guarded by the women. Equating food with family life was the formula recreated in San Francisco’s osterias and trattorias, where patrons felt the reverence Italians demonstrated towards their food. San Francisco’s first Italian restaurateurs introduced the city to the cuisine of northern Italy. Although the city’s Italian community was small from the 1850’s through the 1880’s, it was the largest in the United States and characteristic of the pattern in Italian immigration.

Catering to the specific appetites of this varied patronage, there was a blend of hearty foods which aimed to satisfy all the provincial palates. Ravioli and cioppino for the Genoese; beans for the Florentines along with rigatoni and grilled meats; veal ragu, for the Tuscan palate; saltimbocca for the Romans; risi e bisi (rice and peas) and scampi for the Venetians; bollito misto for the Piedmontese and zabaglione for the Sicilians–these delicacies not only pleased the various provincial tastes, but, in a far corner of the American West, Italian proprietors laid the groundwork for a restaurant industry which would contribute to San Francisco’s recognition as a gourmet city. At the same time, these restaurateurs set the stage for social interaction within a society represented by the cosmopolitan tastes of a transient frontier community. Notable among these pioneers were six provincial Italian restaurateurs: Frank Bazzurro, Giuseppe Campi, Stefano Sanguinetti, Frank Luchetti, Giuseppe Coppa and Angelo Del Monte. Each paved the way for successive generations of Italian restaurateurs who would continue to promote respect for the Italians through the medium of food.

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Local Italians led the founding of the Farmers’ Market at Market and Duboce

Genoese Frank Bazzurro came to San Francisco in 1852, where he purchased for fifty dollars, the schooner “Tam O’Shanter,” one of hundreds of ships abandoned in San Francisco Bay and opened his restaurant. Utilizing crabs, which were plentiful and one of the cheapest foods in the city, Bazzurro introduced San Franciscans to the Genoese delicacy, Cioppino – the Italian version of bouillabaisse. Bazzurro moved his restaurant from this waterfront location twice, once because the area was reclaimed by the city and the land filled in and the second time because of the destruction caused by the 1906 earthquake and fire. Bazzurro relied upon bountiful resources from the bay and the city’s outlying truck farms to prepare his provincial specialties.

San Francisco Bay provided as much fish and shellfish (most of which was caught by Genoese and Sicilian fishermen) as was found in the Mediterranean Sea. Dungeness crabs, oysters, clams, squid–which became calamari in the saute pans of Italian cooks–were in abundance, as was cod for baccala and salmon and striped bass were perfect for fish meatballs. From the fertile soil of the city’s truck farms and the ranches along the Peninsula where the Tuscan and Genoese farmers settled, grew the vegetables essential to the provincial Italian diet, such as artichokes, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, fava beans, Swiss chard, cardone and the aromatic herbs: garlic, anise, sage, fennel, oregano and sweet basil. As the city spread out from the waterfront towards Montgomery Street and along Broadway bordering “Little Italy,” Italian restaurants opened their doors. Offering menus of inexpensive and informal home cooked food, they captured the gastronomical hearts of San Franciscans.

Equally patronized by working people and gourmets was Campi’s Italian and Swiss/French Restaurant located on Merchant and Sansome Streets. The restaurant, opened in 1859, bordered the city’s pungent fish and fowl markets. Managed by Natale Giamboni after Giuseppe Campi’s death, Giamboni was known as the “King of Hosts,” charming the ladies and remembering the likes and dislikes of his clientele. Italian-born financier, Andrea Sbarboro recalled in his 1911 memoirs, the early restaurant days of the 1870’s when all the Italian businessmen of Washington and Sansome Streets lunched at Campi’s. “At the time, I had for ten years been a steady patron and, for thirty years more, I have continued to eat at this restaurant.”

Campi’s rival was Sanguinetti’s Restaurant, which was in full operation by 1888. Once located on Vallejo Street and then on Davis Street, Sanguinetti’s chief clientele were the fishermen from the nearby Union Street wharf. One could get a bowl of thick minestrone, an entrée and a bottle of wine for twenty-five cents. For a nickel’s worth of beer, however, one also got a generous free lunch of spaghetti, Italian bread and fried fish. Two bartenders patrolled a line of ten beer barrels, drawing the brew slowly, first from one, then another and finally a third to fill a single glass from very small spigots. If drawn too quickly, the barrels’ pressure would turn the unique steam beer into froth.

Sanguinetti’s, owned by Stefano Sanguinetti, who later Americanized his name to “Steve,” was an attractive eatery with a low-beamed ceiling and dark walls. To give the restaurant an air of unconventionality, sawdust was spread on the floor. Writing for the Overland Monthly, Roland Whittle found the spontaneity of Sanguinetti’s to his liking and typical of Italian restaurants, he also liked their familial ambience. “One can drop into the little place almost any evening and hear the Italian folk song sung in the sweet, languorous music and tongue of South Italy,” he wrote.

Next door to Sanguinetti’s on Sansome Street was Lucchetti’s which opened in 1874 was a major competitor. Whittle put down the equally popular Lucchetti’s as “a large, straggling barn, uncomfortable in its fittings and devoid of artistic setting. The walls are devoid of ornament, except for gaudy advertisements of cigarettes and liquor,” he wrote. On Sunday nights, Lucchetti’s was in its glory, since that was when the Italian local fishermen who frequented the restaurant left the place to younger Americans eager for a night on the town. Their rowdy behavior indicated to Whittle that they were not interested in the fifty-cent meals of soup, fish, chicken, ravioli and spaghetti, but in a “mad, wild frolic” and “rough flirtations” with the ladies.

Coppa’s restaurant in the old Montgomery Block, 1910

Coppa’s, located in the Montgomery Block Building, was the most famous of all the city’s favorite Italian eateries before the 1906 earthquake and fire. Located close to the stock exchange, Coppa’s attracted brokers and financiers during the day, but once the sun set, it was the mecca for “Bohemians”. The food was rated above average, thanks to the culinary expertise of Giuseppe Coppa, the Turinese chef, who had trained in some of the city’s top restaurants. Although Coppa’s survived the earthquake and fire, the landlord raised the rent, forcing Coppa to relocate and, thereafter, open a series of mediocre restaurants.

The fanciest of Italian meals came from the Fior d’Italia, which opened at 504 Broadway on May 1, 1886, under the proprietorship of Angelo Del Monte. Specialties of the house that first year included risotto with clams (ten cents); tortellini (five cents); veal saute (five cents) and a squab casserole (forty cents). Double porterhouse steak-an American dish-was sixty cents.”

Del Monte took in a partner in 1896, a young immigrant known to his customers as Papa Marianetti, from Maggiano, a town between Lucca and Pisa. Like other Italian restaurants, the Fior d’Italia was a family operation that included Marianetti’s, two sons, George and Frank, who shelled peas, bused tables and washed dishes after school. The “Fior,” as the restaurant was known among San Francisco’s Italians, became the Italian community’s “in” spot, where important family events–weddings, baptisms, anniversaries, birthdays and first communions–were celebrated. The Fior d’Italia, presently located near Washington Square in front of St. Peter and Paul Church, was the city’s oldest surviving pioneer Italian restaurant. In 2012, after 126 years of business, Fior D’Italia served its last meal in San Francisco. Citing financial strain, the restaurant closed.

Certainly Bazzurro’s, Campi’s, Coppa’s, Sanguinetti’s, Lucchetti’s and the Fior d’Italia were not the only prominent Italian restaurants in San Francisco before the turn of the century, but they were the most popular among discriminating Italians and locals.These six restaurants laid the groundwork for a gastronomical industry that has profitably contributed to the economic structure of San Francisco. By 1900, when the influx of Italians increased, North Beach had become an eating paradise–at workers’ prices. Italian restaurants stretched along Columbus Avenue from Montgomery Street to Francisco Street, along upper Grant Avenue and along almost every side street between Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Source: The Argonaut, Volume 1, No. 1, Spring 1990

San Francisco’s Italian neighborhood, North Beach, is where you will find Italian cafes, restaurants, and shops. You’ll still hear lots of Italian spoken in North Beach and find:

  • Museo Italo Americano at Fort Mason: The museum has a small permanent Italian art collection that includes a beautiful Sicilian cart, changing exhibits, special events and lectures, books, DVDs, a gift shop, Italian language classes and children’s classes. The museum is open to the public daily, noon to 4:00, except Mondays, free.
  • Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco: 425 Washington Street – The cultural institute holds special events, weekly films on Tuesday evenings and lectures. They have exhibits and a large library and video library, Italian language classes. The Cultural Institute is open Monday-Friday, 9-5. They have a Saturday radio program at 8:00 am, Italian Culture around the Bay, on KUSF 90.3
  • A. Cavalli Italian Bookstore: 1441 Stockton Street off Columbus in North Beach – The store has been in business since 1880. They sell Italian books, magazines, greeting cards, videos and gifts. They now have a cafe, too. The store is closed on Sundays.
  • Molinari’s Deli: 373 Columbus Avenue in North Beach – Molinari’s has been in San Francisco for more than 100 years. It has lots of Italian imports including wines, meats, cheeses, pasta and dry goods. You’ll still see many Italians shopping there, ordering in Italian. It’s a good place for a sandwich. The deli is closed on Sundays.
  • Liguria Bakery: 1700 Stockton Street, in North Beach,

Italian Specialties From San Francisco

Cioppino

Serves 4–6

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • 1 ½ cups whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed
  • 10 leaves basil
  • 1 lb. cod, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 1 lb. cleaned calamari, bodies cut into ½″-wide rings
  • 12 oz. medium shrimp, deveined
  • 12 oz. bay scallops
  • 16 clams, cleaned
  • 16 mussels, cleaned
  • 2 2-lb. Dungeness crabs or snow crab legs, halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat oil in an 8-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chile flakes and garlic; cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add stock, tomatoes and basil; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add cod, calamari, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and crabs, cover with lid and cook until seafood is cooked through, about 8 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty Italian bread.

Pizza with Wild Nettles

Pizzas with wild nettles are very popular in the Bay area. Nettles grow wild all year in northern California, and chefs use them in as many ways as possible. Because raw nettles can make you itch, it’s best to handle them with gloves or tongs. Once cooked, the nettles lose their sting and have a deep, earthy flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups wild nettle leaves, baby spinach or kale
  • Semolina flour

Pizza Dough

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Peel outer skins from garlic bulb, leaving cloves attached. Cut off top quarter of the bulb. Place bulb, cut-side up, on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and seal foil tightly over garlic.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 45 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven; cool. Scoop out garlic pulp, mash and stir until smooth.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with a pizza stone on the bottom rack.

Blanch nettle leaves in salted boiling water 1 minute, drain and plunge into ice water. Remove nettle leaves from water, wringing out excess, and set aside. If using spinach, place in a microwave-safe bowl and heat at high 3 minutes. Set aside.

Sprinkle surface with semolina flour and roll pizza dough into a 12-inch circle.

Spread dough with mashed garlic (garlic won’t cover entire surface); sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano and thyme.

Roughly chop nettles and spread over thyme. Sprinkle mozzarella, provolone and fontina evenly on pizza. Carefully slide pizza onto the preheated stone; bake 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and crispy. Slice, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil to taste.

Yield: makes 4 servings

Note: Place pizza on parchment paper—helps slide onto pizza stone.

 

Named after a historical term for “garlic”, The Stinking Rose offers contemporary California-Italian cuisine prepared and adorned with garlic – and strives to accommodate every palate. There is hearty fare for the truly adventurous, mild for the novice, and “sans “garlic for those finding the herb’s folklore and aroma more appealing than its taste.

This recipe is from their cookbook, The Stinking Rose Restaurant in San Francisco.  As the name implies, garlic is their featured ingredient.

Roasted Rabbit With Garlic and Olives

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 rabbits, cleaned, cut into pieces
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup pitted assorted olives
  • 3 sprigs thyme leaves, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a shallow bowl, stir flour, salt and pepper together. Dredge rabbit pieces in flour mixture, completely coating meat on all sides.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Put rabbit in the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until nicely browned.

In a small bowl, toss the garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil to coat completely.

Transfer rabbit to a baking dish and sprinkle with garlic, olives and thyme. Bake, uncovered, for about an hour or until the garlic cloves are golden brown and the rabbit is browned on the outside and opaque throughout.

Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in an abstract pattern on a serving platter and arrange rabbit on top. Scoop the garlic cloves and olives from the baking dish and sprinkle over the rabbit. Serve immediately.

 

SPQR is an acronym for Senatus Populusque Romanus and translates to “The People and Senate of Rome” and was the emblem of the Roman Empire. 

Executive Chef Matthew Accarrino at SPQR in San Francisco was born in the Midwest and raised in New Jersey, Accarrino began his culinary journey in high school working his way up from dishwasher to cook in small local restaurants. With the desire to receive formal training, Accarrino enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America, where in 1998, he received his Associate Degree in Culinary Arts.

He has trained abroad in Italy and worked for some of America’s best chefs including Todd English, Rick Moonen, Tom Colicchio and Thomas Keller. In late 2009 he moved to Northern California and joined the intimate restaurant SPQR as Executive Chef. Since his arrival, Accarrino has been named Star Chefs’ 2010 Rising Star for his “innovative vision, finesse and deeply satisfying cuisine,” and in 2011 he took top honors at San Francisco’s Cochon 555 competition. Accarrino was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as a semifinalist for “Best Chef: Pacific” in 2012 and the restaurant received its first Michelin star under his direction in the 2013 guide. He is also co-author of the book SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine, which was released in fall 2012.

Here is one of Chef Accarrino’s recipes:

Tagliatelle with Poppy Seeds and Prosciutto

Serves 4–6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb. tagliatelle or fettuccine
  • 2 oz. prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more to garnish
  • 4 scallions, cut into ½″ slices
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Directions:

Heat butter and oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes.

Add poppy seeds; cook, stirring, until fragrant and shallots just begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add wine; cook until almost all liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Add buttermilk and cream; cook, stirring, until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving some cooking water, and add to the sauce in the skillet.

Add prosciutto, Parmesan, half the scallions and lemon juice; toss to combine, adding pasta cooking water if necessary to make a smooth sauce.

Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving dish; sprinkle with remaining scallions and more Parmesan.


Newly Arrived Italian Immigrant Sitting On A Hill Overlooking Albuquerque

A close-knit Italian-American community has been a strong presence in Albuquerque, New Mexico since the transcontinental railroad first arrived there in 1880. These families established a foundation for the growth and development of a thriving Italian community in New Mexico’s largest city. Alessandro and Pompilio Matteucci, Antonio and Cherubino Domenici, Ettore Franchini and Orseste Bachechi (who is known as the “Father of the Albuquerque Italian Community”) were prominent residents. Colombo Hall, the city’s first Italian-American organization, and the Italmer Club, founded in the late 1930s, are located in the city.

Columbus Day Parade 1910

When Mexico ceded New Mexico to the United States in 1846, the Santa Fe Trail linked the United States with its new territory. When the railroad came to Albuquerque, El Camino and the Santa Fe Trail became obsolete.

American Lumber Company 1910

The railroad brought goods in quantity that freighters had previously hauled by wagons and mule trains. It also brought newcomers. Before the railroad, Albuquerque’s population was largely Hispanic with a sprinkling of Anglos. By 1885, the town counted more than 20 ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Chinese and Italians who were building the line.

Building the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad

With accessible transportation, the town’s economy changed dramatically. Albuquerque became a shipping point for livestock and wool and the lumber industry boomed. In the early 1900s, American Lumber Co. was second only to the railroad as Albuquerque’s largest employer. Its 110-acre complex was built between 1903 and 1905 near Twelfth Street. At its peak it employed 850 men and produced milled lumber, doors and shingles.

Cattle ranching and commerce on the Santa Fe Trail established the Raton area as a trade center. When the railroad roared over the Raton Pass in 1879, the city of Raton was born and its progress became unstoppable. The first coal mines opened that same year, providing additional economic opportunities for Raton.

“Raton” was the choice of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad’s chief engineer, A.A. Robinson. He fought hard for the shorter route over the steep mountains, avoiding the Cimarron Cutoff. A plentiful water supply and the promise of coal cinched the matter.

A typical Western frontier town, Raton had shootouts in the streets and theater in the opera house. Those who came to live and work in Raton were cattlemen from Missouri and Texas and immigrants from Greece, Italy, the Slavic countries and Asia. Nearby towns followed suit and grew with the railroad.

Dawson – Italian American Miners

In 1895 coal was discovered in the area that is now known as Dawson. Then in 1901 the property was sold to the Dawson Fuel Company for $400,000. The Dawson coal mine subsequently opened, a railroad was constructed from Dawson to Tucumcari and the town of Dawson was born. The company worked the mine for several years, before selling the mine and town to the Phelps Dodge Corporation in 1906. Upon purchase, the Phelps Dodge Corporation was determined to transform the town and developed amenities to attract miners. It featured schools, a theater, bowling alley, modern hospital, golf course and even an opera house. Through extensive advertising in areas such as St. Louis, Missouri and similar cities, miners from the U.S. and immigrants from Greece, Italy, China, Ireland and Mexico flooded into the town. (During its height, coal mined in Dawson fueled an area equal to one-sixth of the United States.)

During its operation, Dawson experienced two mine large tragedies, one in 1913 and another in 1923. The first occurred on October 22, 1913, when an incorrectly set dynamite charge resulted in an enormous explosion in Stag Canon Mine No. 2 that sent a tongue of fire one hundred feet out of the tunnel mouth. Rescue efforts were well organized and exhaustive; Phelps Dodge sent a trainload of doctors, nurses and medical supplies from El Paso; and striking miners in Colorado ceased picketing and offered to form rescue teams. But there was little need for anything except caskets. Only a few miners escaped. A total of 263 died in what was declared one of the worst mining disasters in U.S. history.

Almost ten years later, on February 8, 1923, a mine train jumped its track, hit the supporting timbers of the tunnel mouth and ignited coal dust in the mine. Approximately 123 men perished, many of them children of the men who had died in 1913. These miners had been mostly immigrants, who had traveled here from Europe to work. A large percentage had been Italian.

 The original church of San Felipe de Neri was started in 1706 under the direction of Fray Manuel Moreno, a Franciscan priest who came to Alburquerque [the spelling was later changed to Albuquerque] with 30 families from Bernalillo in 1704 or 1705. The church was initially named San Francisco Xavier by Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdez, who founded the city of Alburquerque and named it after the Viceroy of New Spain. Jesuit priests from Naples, Italy, came in 1867 at the invitation of Bishop Lamy. The Jesuits oversaw a major facelift to the church and adjacent buildings. In 1878 they built a school for boys on the northwest side of the church. At the same time, the land to the east was enclosed for a playground, stable and corral. Today, the former school building is leased for use as retail shops. (Source: Coal Town – The Life and Times of Dawson, New Mexico”, ©Toby Smith.)

The first Spanish explorers and settlers, beginning in the early 1500’s, brought their European wines grapes with them as they made the sunny, fertile Rio Grande valley their new home. These original grape stocks remain the source of many of New Mexico’s vinters to this day. In the 1580s, Missionary priests were busily producing sacramental wines. By the 19th century, vineyards and wineries dotted the Rio Grande valley from Bernallilo south to the Mexican border. Census data in 1880 identified 3,150 New Mexico acres dedicated to producing 905,000 barrels of wines per year.

European farmers from Italy and France settled in the Corrales valley in the 1860s. Among the Italian families who settled there were the Palladinis, Targhettas and Salces and by the 1880s they were successfully growing several varieties of grapes (up until that time the only type of grape grown in Corrales was the Mission grape). By 1900 Corrales was known for its vineyards and the making of wine, much of it by French and Italian families.

1908 Champion Grocery and Meat Market

New Mexico’s Italian American Shopkeepers

A Few of New Mexico’s Italian Americans

PIETRO VICHI DOMENICI

Pietro Vichi “Pete” Domenici (born May 7, 1932) is an American Republican politician, who served six terms as a United States Senator from New Mexico, from 1973 to 2009, the longest tenure in the state’s history. Domenici was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Italian-American parents.  Alda (née Vichi), an illegal immigrant, and Cherubino Domenici, who were both born in Modena, Italy. Growing up, Domenici worked in his father’s grocery business after school. He graduated in 1950 from St. Mary’s High School in Albuquerque. After earning a degree in education at the University of New Mexico in 1954, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, he pitched for one season for the Albuquerque Dukes, a farm club for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He taught mathematics at Garfield Junior High in Albuquerque. He earned his law degree at the University of Denver’s law school in 1958 and returned to practice law in Albuquerque. In 1966, Domenici successfully ran for a position on the Albuquerque City Commission and in 1968 was elected Commission Chairman. This position was equivalent to that of mayor under the structure of the city government at the time. In 1972, Domenici successfully ran for a position in the U.S. Senate

LOUIS ANDREA SAVIO

Louis Andrea Savio who was born June 22, 1879 in Valperga, Italy. He emigrated to the US from Le Havre, France on December 20, 1901. He married his first wife, Regina, in 1905. In 1910, he operated a saloon in Rockvale, a mining town in Colorado. His passport application shows, he resided only in Rockvale, Colorado and Dawson, New Mexico during his lifetime. He obtained citizenship April 16, 1909 in Canon City, Colorado. His second marriage was on July 6, 1918 to Ernesta. In September, 1918 he was listed as a musician employed by the Phelps Dodge Corporation but his occupation was listed as baker, when he and his wife planned to travel to Italy to visit his mother in 1925. His father, Antonio, was deceased. Mr. Savio was active in supporting the Dawson community. He was the Dawson High School Band Director. He donated a piano and art work to support the high school activities. He always led the 4th of July Parade with his band. He was Treasurer for the Loyal Order of Moose. He also belonged to the Dawson Club and participated in men’s basketball and baseball games. The 1920 census shows him to be Manager of the Bakery Shop. In 1938 he was elected to the Board of Governors of the New Mexico Bakers Association. He was residing in Raton, NM at that time. He died on March 8, 1960.

MOLLY’S BAR

Shortly after the end of Prohibition in the 1930’s, Romeo Di Lallo, Sr. and his wife, Molly, both Italian immigrants, opened one of the first old-time nightclubs in New Mexico, the “Monterrey Gardens.” Less than two years later all was lost in a fire, so Romeo and Molly had to start all over. In 1938 after Romeo became ill with miner’s lung disease (having worked in New Mexico coal mines for a number of years), Molly opened ROMEO’S BAR on Bridge Street in the South Valley of Albuquerque and that same year their son, Romeo, Jr. was born. Romeo, Sr. passed away in 1946 and in 1947 Molly married a builder named Tony Simballa. One year later Tony built a new and larger facility for ROMEO’S BAR, on Isleta Boulevard in the South Valley. In 1948 their son, Albert Simballa, Jr. was born. In 1952 Molly, Tony, Romeo, Jr. and Al moved to Tijeras in the mountains just east of Albuquerque where they opened MOLLY’S BAR. At TRAILRIDER PIZZA, next door to MOLLY’S, you can enjoy Pizza, Sandwiches and Italian Appetizers. The sign over MOLLY’S front door states, “The Greatest People On Earth Walk Through This Doorway.”  Source: The italian Experience: Library of Congress and Center for Southwest Research (UNM)

New Mexico’s Italian Food

Zero otto pasta

Squid Ink Spaghetti with Calamari

Squid-ink noodles are now readily available from many shops. If you cannot find them, you can make your own pasta.

Serves – 4 

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized calamari
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons or more of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ oz white wine
  • 2 cups peeled tomatoes
  • 1 small chili (fresh or dried)
  • salt and pepper
  • finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 lb squid ink pasta

Directions:

Clean the calamari and cut the tubes into rings. Cut the tentacles into smaller pieces.

Fry the onion and garlic in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent. Add the calamari and wine and allow the wine to evaporate. Add the tomatoes, chilli, salt and pepper and cook until the calamari is tender, 30-40 minutes.

Finish with parsley, more oil if needed and the lemon zest.

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and combine with the sauce.

Mexican Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 10 flour tortillas, quartered
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup jarred salsa
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Layer half of the tortillas on the bottom of a lightly greased 13×9 baking dish.

Heat oil in a skillet and brown the beef. Drain on paper towels.

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, salsa, tomato sauce, oregano and chili. powder

Layer half of this mixture on the tortillas.

In another bowl, combine ricotta cheese, beaten eggs and garlic powder.

Layer over the meat mixture.

Spread remaining meat mixture on top.

Layer remaining tortilla quarters over the meat mixture.

Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake at 375 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

Enchilada Chicken Parmesan

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, (about 1/2-inch thick)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, optional
  • Chipotle hot sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Pat chicken breast halves dry and season to taste – on both sides – with salt and pepper.

On a large plate, combine the flour, cumin, coriander and cayenne; whisk to combine.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs.

On a third large plate, pour out the breadcrumbs in an even layer.

Spread 1/2 cup enchilada sauce into the bottom of a baking dish large enough to comfortably fit all four chicken breasts.

Lightly dredge one chicken breast half in the flour mixture; tap off excess.

Dip the chicken breast half in the eggs, letting any excess drip off.

Finally, coat the chicken breast half on both sides with the panko bread crumbs, pressing to adhere. Set aside on a clean plate.

Repeat  with the remaining chicken breast halves.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Place chicken breast halves into the hot skillet and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 6 minutes total.

Place chicken in the baking dish with the sauce.

Spoon the remaining 1 cup enchilada sauce evenly over the chicken breast halves. Top with both cheeses and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the chicken is cooked through.

Serve topped with cilantro and/or chipotle hot sauce.

Lemon Pudding Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Popular restaurant dessert.

8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 4 cups raspberries
  • Powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Beat the egg yolks and 1 cup of the sugar until light. Add the flour and mix well. Whisk in the lemon juice, salt and milk until completely combined.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture.

Pour the batter into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To make the raspberry sauce:

Reserve 16 raspberries for the garnish. Puree the remaining berries with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar for 2 minutes or until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.

Place a piece of plastic wrap over the pudding cake and flip it onto a flat surface. Cut eight 3-inch circles with a ring cutter. Serve with sauce and garnish with raspberries. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.


Italian immigrants entered the Great Plains first as missionaries (Fra Marco da Nizza, 1495-1558 and Eusebio Francisco Kino, 1645-1711 were two) and later as adventurers ( Count Leonetto Cipriani, 1816-1888 and Italian American Charles Siringo, 1855-1928, for example). Since Italy was not a unified country until the Risorgimento (1860-70), early travelers were either in the service of Spain or France or were individual agents. In the mid-1800s the combination of economic and political conditions encouraged some Italians, like the officers and enlisted men in General George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry Regiment, to find adventure on the Plains. After 1869 the transcontinental rail line brought Italian journalists and tourists to the Great Plains; their letters and published travel memoirs provided information about the people, geography and potential jobs for countrymen back home.

Giovanni Martini U.S. Army

Carlo De Rudio U.S. Army

History tells us that on June 25th and 26th, 1876 the U.S. 7th Cavalry had a date with destiny at the Little Big Horn River. On the 25th of June both Carlo De Rudio and Giovanni Martini were among the roughly 500 U.S. Troopers under Colonel Custer’s direct command. In all, the 7th had between six and twelve troopers of Italian birth in June of 1876.

Interestingly, the majority of Custer’s troopers of Italian descent served in the same unit. Part of the American military experience going all the way back to Thomas Jefferson’s Presidency was that Italians were considered highly skilled in the arts, especially the musical arts. As a result, it was common to find men of Italian descent in the military with duties that included being in the unit’s military band. This was true under Custer’s command with the majority of the members of the regimental band being of Italian descent. In fact the band director’s last name was Lombardi and he was identified as having been born in Naples, Italy.

Italian emigration began increased in the late 1880s, when political and economic upheaval coincided with natural disasters. A rapid rise in Italy’s population increased pressure on the land, which in many areas had been farmed to the point of exhaustion; years of poor rainfall contributed to famines and poverty; and in 1887 a devastating outbreak of malaria left 21,000 dead. Leaving one’s village in search of work in other parts of Europe was not uncommon in Italy. Between 1886 and 1890, however, there was a significant increase in emigration from Italy and by 1890 immigration to America surpassed movement to other parts of Europe.

All across the Great Plains, Italians worked together to help newly arrived immigrants find jobs and places to live. Small boarding houses provided familiar food, language and a comforting family atmosphere. Churches and schools were quickly established, as were mutual aid societies, such as the Dante Alighieri Society and the Christopher Columbus Society. The societies also served as sites for labor union meetings in mining regions.

“Little Italy” neighborhoods developed in urban areas such as Omaha, Edmonton and Sheridan. Italian-English newspapers were published in Omaha and Edmonton. Many Italians who decided to remain in the Plains, gradually worked up from their initial menial jobs to own shops, farms or businesses and, then, became active in local politics. In both Canada and the United States, immigration legislation in the 1920s and early 1930s, combined with Benito Mussolini’s efforts to reduce emigration, dramatically reduced the flow of Italian immigrants, although the movement was never eliminated entirely. By the late twentieth century, Italian immigrants were no longer laborers looking for manual work or skilled workers arriving with families, but were university students and professionals searching for educational and career opportunities that were difficult to find in Italy.

According to the 1910 census data, in the states of the Great Plains, Colorado had the largest total population of Italians (14,375). In Montana 2,568 made the Plains their home. In Nebraska 66 percent of the state’s 3,799 Italian immigrants lived in the city of Omaha and another 14 percent in Lincoln, with the remainder scattered throughout the state. Seventy-five percent of the 3,517 Italian immigrants in Kansas lived in that state’s southeastern coal-mining district. In Oklahoma, 72 percent of the state’s total Italian immigrant population (2,564) lived in the Great Plains and in Wyoming 1,086 of the statewide total (1,962) were in the Plains. In South Dakota the 1,158 Italians lived mainly on land along the rail lines and in North Dakota 1,262 Italian immigrants were recorded in 1910 census.

View of Downtown Denver 1879

Denver’s “Little Italy” had its roots in the Highlands neighborhood of North Denver. Italian miners, railroad workers and farmers helped to develop Colorado in the late 19th century and northern Italians were well represented in the state.

In the late 1800s and the first half of the 1900s, the area in Denver between Broadway and Zuni Streets and 46th and 32nd Avenues was known as “Little Italy”.  It was an area of Italian grocery stores and bakeries, community bread ovens, churches and schools – an area where a new wave of immigrants from all over Italy moved to and where they were comfortable and socially secure in a new country.

The area along the South Platte River, sandwiched between the growing downtown and the hills to the west, was known as “The Bottoms”.  Here many of the first Italian immigrants settled. There was also farmland along the South Platte, where they could grow cash crops of vegetables that were then sold in small, neighborhood shops and from push carts and horse-drawn wagons thoughout the neighborhoods of Denver. Later it became an area of railroad yards, industries and warehouses.

These two areas – “Little Italy” and “The Bottoms” – have undergone drastic change since those days of the first Italian immigrants. Today “Little Italy” is still a residential area interspersed with small businesses. But the demographics are most different, as the neighborhood is re-populated with a new wave of residents – young (20-30 year olds) singles and couples often with young children. “The Bottoms” is no longer an area of truck farms and warehouses, instead parks and high rise apartment buildings have been built there.

The Italian immigrants who settled in Utah faced a different environment. Their numbers were relatively small, yet they settled in four major areas and contributed to the life and labor that characterizes Utah history. These immigrants, almost all of them confined to mining and railroad centers, brought with them language, religion, beliefs, customs and products of cultural distinctiveness. The first noticeable number of foreign-born Italians in Utah appeared in 1870 and totaled seventy-four. These early immigrants, Protestant Vaudois of the Waldensian persuasion from northwest Italy, were the result of Mormon missionary activity in Italy from 1849 to 1861. Almost all settled in the fertile areas of Ogden, where they began to farm.

The first Italian laborers, predominantly from the North, began arriving in Utah in the late 1890s in response to the opening of the Carbon County coalfields. The development and expansion of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad into Utah in the 1880s was a catalyst to the state’s coal mining industry. Four major camps emerged: Clear Creek (1882), Winter Quarters (1882), Castle Gate (1888), and Sunnyside (1900) Many of these early laborers were lured to Utah by agents representing coal companies.

Upon their arrival in the Carbon County coalfields, the Italian immigrants settled in two of the four main camps, Castle Gate or Sunnyside. The coal companies (Pleasant Valley Coal and Utah Fuel) furnished a few of the workers with company-owned houses on company-owned property and compelled the laborers to trade at the company-owned stores. Trading at company stores was inevitable, since miners were issued scrip instead of currency. The company town became a prominent feature of western mining life and the immigrants who lived in them were subjected to difficult living conditions. For example, the rent charged by Utah Fuel Company depended on the number of rooms in a house. In one boxcar on company property a cloth curtain was used to divide it into two quarters. When company inspectors approached, a family member would take down the partition, so as not to be charged for two rooms instead of one.

In describing the camp at Sunnyside, a resident has written: “many put up tents in the southern part of the canyon and this section became known as “Rag Town” by local town residents. Company-owned houses were hastily erected framed structures, not plastered inside, but in 1915 the company began a program of building better homes and modernizing the camp.

Italian family in Utah

The mining and railroad opportunities in Salt Lake County also attracted Italian immigrants at the turn of the century. As early as 1880 there were thirty-five Italian laborers living in the mining camp in Bingham, mostly Piedmontese. Bingham was a bustling community of many diverse nationalities, described as “a town of 22 saloons and 600 sporting girls.” Like Carbon County, Bingham was susceptible to labor strife. The Utah Copper Company in 1903 became the major employer in Bingham Canyon.

By 1900, 102 of the 170 Italians who resided in the county lived in Salt Lake. Immigrants were employed by the Union Pacific and the Denver & Rio Grande Western railroads; but Italians also owned saloons, grocery stores and tailor shops. The lack of a mining town atmosphere with its potentially explosive character, differentiated Salt Lake City from other Italian immigrant localities. In Salt Lake, Italians took part in celebrations and parades that promoted good will between the Italian and non-Italian communities.

Life in Utah was a new experience, but Italian immigrants were able to maintain continuity with the past, while at the same time adjust to the new environment. Alexander DeConde, a resident, aptly described the situation as “it was mezzo amara, mezzo dolce (“half bitter, half sweet”).”

Carl L. Stranges immigrated to the United States, from Italy, in the 1880s at twenty years of age. After his arrival in the United States, he moved to Grand Junction, Colorado and resided there until shortly before his death in 1942. Carl Stranges opened his grocery store in the southwestern portion of the downtown area, often referred to as “Little Italy”, due to the concentration of Italian residents and Italian-owned businesses in the area. Three other grocery stores and an icehouse were located within a two-block area of the Stranges store. Carl Stranges owned and managed the grocery until shortly before his death in 1942. He willed the store to his niece and her husband who continued to operate the store until 1963. Since that time, a variety of businesses under several ownerships have used the building.

 Italian Food On the Great Plains

Antipasti of Grilled Octopus, basil pesto, tomato jam and Sicilian olive oil at Luca D’Italia.

Slices of 12-hour braised beef on a crusty baguette topped with melted taleggio cheese, caramelized onions, arugula and a red-wine sauce.  

Italian Sausage Soup with Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz Italian sausage, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1- 32 oz can chicken broth
  • 1- 15 1/2 oz can kidney beans (rinse and drain them)
  • 1- 14 1/2 oz can undrained diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely crushed rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 6 oz bag baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup bowtie pasta, uncooked
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the Italian sausage and cook for about three minutes, stirring often.

Add in the onion andcook for another three minutes or until the onions become tender and the sausage browns.

Add the chicken broth to the saucepan ,as well as, the tomatoes and the red kidney beans.

Stir the soup while you add the oregano, thyme and rosemary. Bring to a boil.

Once it boils, reduce to low heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Finally, stir in the pasta and the spinach and turn the heat back up to medium-high. Let it boil.

Once it boils, reduce to low heat again, and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender. If you used fresh tortellini, you don’t have to let the soup simmer as long.

Serve this hearty winter soup with some garlic bread and garnish the soup with cheese.

Braised Short Ribs

Serve with Mashed Potatoes.

Ingredients:

6 bone-in short ribs (about 6 pounds)

Seasoning for short ribs:

  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme picked clean
  • 1/2 bunch fresh rosemary picked clean and chopped
  • Flour to lightly coat the short ribs
  • Olive oil (to brown the short ribs)

Coarsely chop all the following vegetables and garlic in the food processor

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped large
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 2 peeled carrots cut in chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

Braising liquid

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped plum tomatoes
  • 2 cups Merlot
  • 2 cups beef stock (homemade or low sodium purchased)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Water to replenish evaporation during the cooking process

Fresh chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Directions:

Dry the short ribs of any excess moisture with a paper towel. Season each short rib generously with salt, fresh cracked black pepper, rosemary and thyme. Coat a roasting pan (that will fit all the meat and processed vegetables) with olive oil and bring to a high heat on the stove.

Lightly coat the seasoned short ribs with flour, add them to the pan and brown very well on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Do not stuff the pan with short ribs or they won’t brown. Better to browm them in separate batches, if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

When the short ribs are browned on all sides, remove them from the pan. Leave the fat in the pan to saute the vegetables, add a drizzle of olive oil, reheat and add the chopped vegetables.

Season vegetables with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Cook the vegetables until they begin to caramelize. There will be a natural glaze of browned vegetable and meat juices on the bottom of the pan.

De-glaze

Add the Merlot and chopped tomatoes, along with the bay leaf and bring to a simmer scraping the bottom to assure all the caramelized juices are returned into the braising liquid.

Add 2 cups of beef stock.

Cover the roasting pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Check periodically while cooking and add water, if needed, to keep the liquid level just under the top of the short ribs.

Halfway during cooking turn the short ribs over to allow foe even cooking and tenderness.

During the last 20 minutes remove the cover, so the short ribs can caramelize. Garnish with fresh chopped Italian Parsley

Buffalo Cacciatore with Polenta

Serves 6 to 10

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb. buffalo roast cut into 1 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, plus juice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix all dry spices together and rub on the meat.

Over medium high heat, heat oil in a Dutch Oven and brown the meat. You may need to do this in two batches.

Place browned meat in a dish and set aside.

Add onion and garlic to the pan and saute for 4 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with wine; then add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil.

Return meat to the pan, cover and place in the preheated oven. Braise for 1 1/2 hours. Check for tenderness and continue braising until tender.

Prepare polenta as directed on package.

Spoon polenta on serving platter and top with Buffalo Cacciatore.

Chocolate-Almond Cookies (Strazzate)

34 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Water
  • 1 ¾ cups finely ground, plus 2 tablespoons roughly chopped almonds
  • 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Strega or Galliano liqueur
  • 1/3 cup coffee, at room temperature

Directions:

Heat oven to 325°F. Coat 2 parchment-lined baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together baking powder and 1 tablespoon lukewarm water until dissolved, about 20 seconds.

Combine ground and chopped almonds, flour, sugar, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, oil and salt in a large bowl.

With a wooden spoon, vigorously stir in the baking powder mixture, liqueur and coffee to form a wet dough.

Divide the dough into 1-oz. portions. Using your hands, roll dough portions into balls and transfer to prepared baking sheets, spaced about 1-inch apart.

Bake until set, about 30 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and let cool to firm before serving.


Open Pit Mine – Mesabi Range

Italian immigrants began settling in Minnesota 200 years ago and at the beginning of the 20th century the largest concentrations were living on the Iron Range, in the Twin Cities, Duluth and Stillwater. Early arrivals tended to be from northern Italy. Railroad workers hired in Chicago and sent northward, took up residence in St. Paul and Minneapolis and later in other towns. Railroad jobs led others to Cumberland and Hudson in northern Wisconsin and many immigrants moved back and forth between these towns and the Italian communites in Minnesota.

First mined in the 1880s, the three ranges – the Vermilion, Mesabi and Cuyuna that make up Minnesota’s Iron Range – provided an economic core for northeastern Minnesota. They also drew waves of immigrant workers, creating the state’s most diverse melting pot and a distinctive cultural legacy that still defines the region. Although mining has declined since the 1960s, the mines and the tight-knit communities they fostered have developed a new industry focused on cultural-heritage tourism.

Hand drilling holes into boulders for setting explosives.

On the Mesabi, iron ore was originally mined both underground and in open pits above ground. Few skills were required. Many Mesabi Range miners were immigrants, recruited by mining companies, including the Oliver Iron Mining Company, a subsidiary of the United States Steel Corporation. From 1900 to 1980, the Mesabi Range contributed about sixty percent of the country’s total iron ore output. Production peaked in the 1940s, when more than 600,000 tons were shipped to serve the nation’s needs during World War II. Production remained high in the 1950s and then began to decline. It had taken less than 100 years for industrial demand to deplete the supply of high-grade ore.

Living and working conditions on the Iron Range were poor and mining companies openly discriminated against immigrant miners by giving them the most dangerous and lowest paying jobs. New immigrants were easily exploited because they did not speak English, had little money and were far away from their families and social support networks.

1918 Miners’ Homes

The history of the American labor movement is peopled by immigrants to this country. Finnish, Southern Slav and Italian immigrant laborers were prominent in labor movements in the logging and mining industries of Minnesota and its neighboring northern states of Michigan and Wisconsin. The Range, as the three ranges were jointly nicknamed, was a major site of strife between owners and laborers and a fertile field for labor organizing.

Picture

Miners were paid not for their time but for the amount of ore produced.

The Mesabi Range is where much of the strife occurred and where historic battles between labor and management were fought. Two strikes on the Mesabi — one in 1907 and another in 1916 — are legendary in the struggle for workers’ rights and fair wages. The 1907 strike was the first organized, widespread strike on the Iron Range. The immigrant miners had little experience with unions or large-scale strikes. Previous work stoppages had been unplanned reactions to localized problems. The Western Federation of Miners (WFM), an organization connected to several bloody, mining-related labor struggles, sent its first organizers to Minnesota in 1905 at the request of local activists. By June 1907 the WFM had organized fourteen locals. Although the union had been planning a strike, the immediate cause was the layoff in July of 200 union members by the Oliver Iron Mining Company. A strike was called on July 20 and, in early August, strikebreakers were brought in and “deputies” were hired to protect them. By mid-August, sufficient numbers of strikebreakers, combined with improved economic conditions, broke the strike. Despite minor hostilities between the strikers and the deputies, the strike was relatively peaceful.

Mining Camp

Forty miners walked off the job on June 3, beginning the 1916 strike. The unorganized miners soon realized they needed help. Unlike the 1907 strike, this time the Western Federation of Miners was not interested in organizing the miners. Instead, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) responded, sending in some of their top organizers. Many of the strikebreakers from 1907, ironically, became instrumental in the 1916 strike.The 1916 strike was marked by violence. The civil liberties of strikers were violated, mine guards and police used force to intimidate strikers, union leaders were jailed, economic pressure was exerted on merchants who extended credit to strikers and, finally, the Oliver Iron Mining Company refused to negotiate with the strikers. The strike was called off on September 17. The miners did win some important short-range reforms from the mining company, but the company’s anti-union attitude persisted for another quarter century. A more serious altercation occurred at the Stevenson Mine west of Hibbing, when laborers protested the discharge of an Italian foreman. The strikers, most of whom were Italians, Finns and Southern Slavs, reportedly harassed the “loyal employees” who wished to continue working. To reduce tensions, officials closed the local saloon and brought the county sheriff and 42 deputies to the scene. The presence of so many armed men quelled the “enthusiasm” of the strikers and within a week they were back at work.

Filomena D’Aloia (right) and Luciano Cocchiarella with homemade bread from an earthen oven

Today, there’s no better place to learn about the Range’s legacy than at the Ironworld Discovery Center in Chisholm. Interactive exhibits in this mining museum, set on the edge of an abandoned mine pit, include everything from the early geology of the region to the story of taconite (iron ore). Wall-sized pictures show the men and women from 43 nations who transformed a dense wilderness into an industrial society in less than 100 years. Mary Ellen Mancina-Batinich directed an oral history project called, Italian Voices, that collected interviews in the late 1970s with the men and women who emigrated from Italy to Minnesota. The interviews provide a window into the world of the ordinary Italian immigrants, ranging from iron miners, labor activists, women at home and at work, small businessmen and women and people from all walks of life. Just some ot the stories include: a boardinghouse keeper found her kitchen in a mess after Saturday-night revelry and refused to cook on Sunday; an iron miner pried frozen ore from his car in 40-below temperatures and a grocer who made sausage, brewed wine and foraged for mushrooms and dandelion greens to sell in his store.

A few more stories:

Jeno Paulucci was born on July 5, 1918 in Hibbing, Minnesota. He was born just a couple years after his parents immigrated to the Iron Range from a small mining town in northeastern Italy, called Bellisio Solfare. Jeno began his career selling olive oil door to door. During Prohibition, his family ran a speakeasy out of his family’s basement on the Iron Range. Jeno did all he could to help, even making most of the wine himself.

After this chapter in his interesting life, he moved to Duluth at the age of 16 and began a job bartering fruit and vegetables on First Street. Jeno enrolled in the Hibbing State Junior College’s pre-law program. However, he had an offer for a job selling wholesale products, and left his education without a second thought. On a sales trip with this company, he learned to grow Chinese bean sprouts, with which he decided to start his now worldwide company, Chun King Foods. Today, Jeno’s business is worth $450 million. Just 15 years ago he started yet another brand, Michelina’s frozen meals, named after his mother.

The Amato family’s pathway from southwestern Italy to Minnesota’s Iron Range is a long one. Their story is told through the recollections and documents of Melanina Amato Degubellis. In 1901, Giuseppe Amato and his two brothers came to northeastern Minnesota where they worked as miners. After years of saving in Italy, his daughter, Melanina and her mother, Concetta set out to join Giuseppe in Minnesota. However their inability to speak English got them lost on their journey. With the help of many Italians along the way, the family was reunited in Chisholm, Minnesota. While such a detour was exceptional, the importance of others during their journey was not.

Robert Mondavi

Founder the Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi’s parents emigrated from the Marche region of Italy and settled in the Minnesota city of Hibbing. Mondavi was born on June 18, 1913, in Virginia, Minnesota. His mother ran a boarding house for local Italian laborers and his father was the proprietor of a grocery store and later, a saloon. However, a Prohibition law was enacted in 1919, which outlawed the sale of beer and liquor, threatening Cesare Mondavi’s business. The law allowed for individuals to produce up to 200 gallons of wine though, so Mondavi’s father decided to become a grape wholesaler for the many Italian families who wanted to continue enjoying their traditional wine with meals. Cesare Mondavi’s business often took him to the West Coast. So, in the early 1920s, the family relocated to Lodi, California, south of Sacramento. 

These kinds of stories are what makes oral history interviews such compelling reading and, more importantly, provide information that would not necessarily be obtained elsewhere. The traditional historical accounts from working-class people are sparse, making the oral interviews even more crucial in trying to interpret the past of all Americans—not just those who left behind written records.

Pork is King on the Iron Range

Iron Range Porketta

Not to be confused with Italian porchetta, Iron Range porketta is a fennel-and-garlic-seasoned pulled pork originating in Minnesota. The pork butt is butterflied to speed up cooking and cutting a crosshatch in the surface of the meat ensures that the seasoning—a mixture of granulated garlic, crushed fennel seeds, salt, and pepper—will penetrate the meat. Before roasting, the meat is topped with sliced fresh fennel for a second layer of flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds, cracked
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 (5-pound) boneless pork butt roast, trimmed
  • 1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored and chopped
  • 8 crusty sandwich rolls

Directions

1. Combine fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons pepper and garlic in a bowl. Butterfly pork and cut 1-inch crosshatch patterns, 1/4 inch deep, on both sides of the roast. Rub pork all over with spice mixture, taking care to work spices into the crosshatch patterns. Wrap meat tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 or up to 24 hours.

2. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Unwrap meat and place in roasting pan, fat side down. Spread chopped fennel evenly over the top of the roast. Cover ­roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil. Roast pork until temperature registers 200 degrees F. and a fork slips easily in and out of the meat, about 4 hours.

3. Transfer pork to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes. Strain liquid in the roasting pan through a fat separator. Shred pork into bite-size pieces, return to the pan and toss with a 1/2 cup defatted cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reheat gently. Divide meat among rolls and serve.

Prepping the Porketta

BUTTERFLY: Slice through the pork parallel to the counter, stopping 1/2 inch from the edge. Then open the meat flat like a book.

CROSSHATCH: Use a chef’s knife to cut a 1-inch crosshatch pattern 1/4-inch deep on both sides of the meat.

Italian Sausage with Pasta and Herbs

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups zucchini, cubed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 oz rotini pasta
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons dried herbs (basil, sage, parsley)
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Directions:

Cut sausage diagonally into one-inch pieces and cook in a large skillet over medium heat, brown evenly, about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Heat olive oil in the same skillet and add zucchini and red pepper. Cook over medium heat until tender but still crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.

Cook the rotini according to package directions. Drain and reserve one cup of cooking water. Add pasta to the skillet with the vegetables and stir in ricotta.

Add 1/2 cup pasta water and stir until creamy. Stir in sausage. Add more water if mixture is too dry. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and Parmesan. This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.

Iron Range Pot Roast

This type of seasoned pork roast was popular with Italian immigrants who came to northern Minnesota to work in the iron mines, hence this recipe’s name.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb boneless pork shoulder roast
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup beef broth

Directions:

Mix together seasonings (Italian through pepper) and rub over the entire pork roast.

Brown roast in a little oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, turning often to brown evenly. Place potatoes and garlic in 3½ to 4-quart slow cooker; pour broth over and top with browned pork roast. Cover and cook on “low” for 8 to 9 hours, until pork is very tender.

You can also brown the roast in a Dutch Oven, add potatoes, garlic and broth. Simmer on top of the stove for about 4 hours or until very tender. Recipe serves 6 to 8. 

Pork and Olive Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1 1/4-lb) pork tenderloin, “silverskin” removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 (1/2-inch-thick) baguette slices
  • About 1/3 cup green or black (or both) olive spread, also called olivada or tapenade
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Combine Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub all over pork. Add pork to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.

Leave pork in skillet, place pan in the oven and roast, turning occasionally, until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in center of the pork reads 145 degrees F. about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove pork to a platter and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes.

Reheat skillet over medium-high heat. Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits in the pan with wooden spoon. Cook until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Slice pork crosswise into 24 slices. For each bruschetta, place one pork slice on each baguette slice. Top with about 1/2 teaspoon olive spread and drizzle with pan juices. Serve warm.

This recipe serves eight (3 bruschetta each).

Read About Life On the Iron Range

New York Times best selling novelist, Adriana Trigiani’s novel, The Shoemaker’s Wife, captures the immigrant experience of the early 1900′s. Much of the novel takes place on Minnesota’s Iron Range.



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