April 28, 2017

Requiescat in Pace, Don Massimo Cuofano

Photo courtesy of the Fondazione Francesco II di Borbone
It is with our deepest sorrow that we inform you of the death of Don Massimo Cuofano on April 28, 2017. A champion of faith and community, he now joins Good King Francis II in the house of the Lord. Forever grateful for your work, we will continue your mission and fight the good fight. You will be sorely missed confratello, requiescat in pace.

Pray for Don Massimo Cuofano

Don Massimo Cuofano with HRH Princess Beatrice of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Dear friends, we urge you to please keep in your thoughts and prayers Don Massimo Cuofano, who is gravely ill. Don Massimo is one of the founders of the Fondazione Francesco II di Borbone, a prayer group devoted to the beatification of HM King Francesco II of the Two Sicilies, as well as the undertaking of cultural and charitable works to help benefit the people of southern Italy.
We hope and pray for your recovery, confratello. May San Rocco, San Giuseppe Moscati, Santi Cosma e Domiano, and Good King Francis watch over you.
A Prayer for Don Massimo
Almighty and Eternal God, You are the everlasting health of those who believe in You. Hear us for Your sick servant don Massimo Cuofano for whom we implore the aid of Your tender mercy, that being restored to bodily health, he may give thanks to You in Your Church. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

April 27, 2017

Chef Giuseppe Marrone Takes the Helm at ACQUA Restaurant and Wine Bar at Peck Slip, NYC

ACQUA's new Executive Chef Giuseppe Marrone
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
We wish our dear friend Chef Giuseppe Marrone much success on his new venture as Executive Chef and Managing Partner of ACQUA Restaurant and Wine Bar in Manhattan’s historic South Street Seaport.
Arancini di riso alla Napoletana
Stopping by after work with a few friends, we were treated to the same fine dining and Neapolitan hospitality we’ve grown accustomed to while he was in charge of Brooklyn’s Forno Rosso. Sadly, the “Red Oven” just isn’t the same without him, but now I know where my new go-to spot in Lower Manhattan is going to be.
Located at 21 Peck Slip, ACQUA’s relaxed ambience is perfect for a casual meal or a romantic interlude. Gerardo and the wait staff were attentive, friendly and provided excellent service. The food, of course, was delicious.
For starters, we enjoyed some savory arancini di riso alla Napoletana, a paper cone filled with small Neapolitan rice balls served hot from the fryer. They came with a side of dipping sauce, which was good, but I prefer mine plain.
Next, Giuseppe served his outstanding polpo alla griglia. Charred just right, the tender and chewy grilled octopus nestled in a bed of arugula, cherry tomatoes and lemon was very tasty and quite enjoyable.
Polpo alla griglia
After the polpo, the maestro presented his classic pizza Margherita. A Neapolitan masterpiece, the tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil pie was crispy and aromatic. He brings the love and devotion demanded from Naples’ national dish.
Pizza Margherita
Tempted to try the day’s special—ravioli con ‘nduja (ravioli with spicy Calabrese pork sausage)—I opted instead for the chef’s daily homemade gnocchi del giorno. Perfectly cooked, the delectable dumplings and calamari were glazed in a mouthwatering saffron sauce. I do not regret my choice.
Gnocchi with calamari and saffron
Naturally we capped off our meal with coffee and dessert, but first we toasted chef Marrone’s genius and boundless hospitality with a healthy glass of amaro, my preferred after-dinner digestif. This was followed with some piping hot espresso, panna cotta ai frutti di bosco, tiramisu and a bowl of nutty biscotti.
Panna cotta ai frutti di boscotiramisu and nutty biscotti
Chef Marrone’s ambitious vision for ACQUA has me salivating. Plans of adding a clam bar, offering some live entertainment and starting a Napoli fan club are in the works. OK, maybe I imagined the latter idea, but I’m convinced his energy and professionalism will take this delightful eatery to an even higher level.
ACQUA Restaurant & Wine Bar ★★★★★
21 Peck Slip @ Water Street
New York, New York 10038
Tel 212.349.4433

April 26, 2017

Evviva San Giorgio! Celebrating Saint George's Day in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Evviva San Giorgio!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Early Sunday Morning my friends from the St. Rocco Society and I made our way to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday and the Feast of San Giorgio Martire at Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary and St. Stephen RC Church. One of my favorite churches in Brooklyn, it's always a pleasure to visit.
Home to many old statues from bygone southern Italian societies, this magnificent house of worship is still a vibrant parish, which hosts the solemn Feast of the Madonna Addolorata, patroness of Mola di Bari, and the Feast of San Giovanni Battista, co-patron of Pozzallo, Sicily. However, on this clear and cool Spring day we were there to see the statue of San Giorgio Martire, protector of Testaccio in Barano, d’Ischia. 
An annual tradition among my friends—who for various reasons have a special devotion to the warrior saint—I was blessed and honored to partake in their edifying pilgrimage. As a devotee and Knight of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George it is a holy day of obligation for me, so I was delighted to attend Mass with them, share in their joy and exalt our glorious patron together. Evviva San Giorgio!
Before Mass, devotees took turns venerating San Giorgio.
The St. was given a beautiful bouquet of flowers by the LaRocca Family
(L.) Side-altar with the Madonna del Carmine, San Giorgio & Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. (R.) Side-altar with Sant'Anna, Santa Restituta and Santa Lucia
(L.) Side-altar with Santa Rita da Cascia and Santa Rosalia. (R.) Santa Maria del Lauro, Madonna Assunta di Monte di Procida and the Madonna della Lettera 
(L.) Side-altar with San Michele Arcangelo, Madonna dei Miracoli and Sant'Angelo Martire. (R.) Side-Altar with Santa Maria di Porto Salvo di Gallico Marina, the Madonna dell'Arco, and Santa Cándida Martire
(L.) The new statue of San Giovanni Battista. (R.) Madonna Addolorata
(L.) Santo Stefano primo martire. (R.) Recently restored statue of San Rocco
Beautifully decorated High Altar
(L.) Cross with veil and flowers. (R.) A close-up of the Risen Christ. Alleluia!

April 24, 2017

Olivia Kate Cerrone’s Book Launch at the Italian American Museum in NYC’s Little Italy

Olivia Kate Cerrone
Congratulations to our old friend Olivia Kate Cerrone on the recent publication of her new book, The Hunger Saint (Bordighera Press 2017), a historical novella set in post WWII-era Sicily about young Ntoni and the carusi, child-aged sulfur minors.
Olivia gave a wonderful presentation Thursday evening at the Italian American Museum in NYC’s historic Little Italy, reading excerpts from the book, discussing her years of research and answering everyone’s questions during the Q&A session.
While mingling with guests and enjoying some wine and cheese at the afterparty, we caught up with Olivia and discovered she is working on a new novel about the exploration of identity, set in Boston.
We also learned she will be speaking again on Thursday, April 27th (6PM) at I AM Books, the country’s first Italian American bookstore, in the heart of Boston’s iconic North End. If you are in area, we highly recommend going to the event.
We wish you all the best Olivia, and much success for the future. Bona fortuna e 'a Maronna t'accumpagna!

Photo of the Week: San Giorgio e il Drago at Axel Munthe’s Villa San Michele in Capri

St. George and the Dragon at Dr. Axel Munthe's Villa San Michele in Anacapri, Capri
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

April 22, 2017

Celebrating Pasquetta at the Our Lady of the Snow Sagra della Pizza Chiena (Pizza Rustica Festival)

Evviva Maria!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
I cut my Pasquetta outing a little short Easter Monday in order to attend the highly anticipated Sagra della Pizza Chiena (Pizza Rustica Festival) at the Our Lady of the Snow Hall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I didn’t want to go empty handed, so I went home to whip something up. Since I’m not much of a baker, instead of attempting to make pizza chiena, I prepared my signature frittata di maccheroni, which is what I traditionally have for Pasquetta.
Seeing as it was their inaugural affair, I was unsure of what to expect, but upon arrival I was pleasantly surprised to see such a fantastic turnout. I’m guessing about fifty people showed up, most bearing their own version of pizza rustica (also called pizza chiena or pizza gain). Considering the event was relatively unadvertised (besides us, I only saw NIAF and We the Italians publicize it), I think this was a pretty good size gathering. 
In fact, despite being promoted primarily by word of mouth, the event did draw several notable Italian American personages, including our friend HE Cav. John M. Viola, President and Chief Operating Officer of NIAF and the ebullient Dolores Alfieri from The Italian American Podcast. Letizia Airos and film crew from i-Italy were on hand as well to capture the festivities.
Also joining the fun were members of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George, the Federazione delle Associazioni della Campania USA, the Monte San Giacomo Society, the San Cono Society and the San Rocco Society of Potenza, among others. 
The food was placed on three large folding tables and served buffet style beneath the protective statue of the Madonna della Neve, the flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and a fanciful mural of Sanza, a pastoral town in the province of Salerno. A couple of people, like myself, brought different types of dishes for a little variety.
Once everyone settled in, Our Lady of the Snow Society President Vinnie Raymond warmly greeted us and introduced event organizer Patrick O’Boyle, who talked a little about his “I Love Pizza Gain a.k.a. Pizza Chiena” Facebook group and the history of pizza rustica. Traditionally the pie was eaten on Holy Saturday because the Lenten fast was over and people could once again eat eggs, dairy and meat.
After Pat, Msgr. Joseph Ambrosio, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Newark, New Jersey was asked to say a few words. Monsignor recalled some delightful childhood memories of Pasquetta and the leisurely picnics he enjoyed with his family. He concluded by saying grace.
Following the benediction, partygoers mingled and delved into the bountiful repast. Still a little full from Sunday’s feast (not to mention the leftovers I had for lunch earlier in the day), I had room for only a little taste. With so many options to choose from, I tried to mix it up, sampling the calzone di cipolla (onion pie), pastiera Napoletana—the quintessential Neapolitan Easter dessert—and, of course, some pizza chiena.
Needless to say everything was delicious, but hands down Elena Loguercio’s rafaiul cu sanguinaccio was my favorite. I’m salivating now just thinking about it. The fried pastry stuffed with a rich chocolate and pig’s blood pudding was absolutely phenomenal. Even though I was full, as far as I’m concerned there’s always room for sanguinaccio. 
The celebration continued into the night with revelers circulating and dancing to the fast paced rhythms of the Neapolitan tarantella spun by DJ Marilena Giovanna.
We cannot thank enough President Vinnie Raymond and all the members of the Our Lady of the Snow Society for their warmth and hospitality. You made us feel right at home. Thank you to all the people who cooked and contributed to the party. It was an honor and a privilege to celebrate our culture with you. Special thanks to Elena Loguercio and Patrick O’Boyle for organizing the magnificent event. Your hard work and dedication to our community serves as an inspiration to us all.
(L.) Vinnie Raymond, President of the Our Lady of the Snow Society
(R.) Very Rev. Msgr. Cav. Joseph Ambrosio
Organizer, Elena Loguercio
Celebrating our rich Duesiciliano heritage
Participants prepare the dishes so everyone can get a taste
Guests help themselves to a variety of southern Italian delicacies
Our good pal Carmine Percontino (left) and members from the
Monte San Giacomo Society of Hoboken NJ
Our friends from the Our Lady of the Snow Society
HE Delegate Cav. John Viola (second from left) with Knights, postulants and friends of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George
(Above and below) Just some of the many delicious goodies we enjoyed
My "world-famous" frittata di maccheroni with mushrooms and asparagus
Hands down, my favorite dish was Elena's incredible Rafaiul cu sanguinaccio
It seems I wasn't the only one who got Salvatore Argenio presents this Easter. Our friend Rosanna got a beautiful leather and silk satchel enblazoned with the coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies from the San Carlo theatre
Partygoers danced the tarantella

April 20, 2017

Compra Sud — Bamonte’s Restaurant

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Let's support those who keep our traditions and folkways alive

Bamonte’s Restaurant
32 Withers Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

(Between Union Avenue and Lorimer Street)

Find Bamonte's Restaurant on Facebook

Our recommendations will be unsolicited, and only from our personal experience. No second hand suggestions will be made.

April 18, 2017

Faith and Family, My Easter Traditions

He is Risen! Alleluia! Beautifully decorated High Altar with Risen Christ
By Giovanni di Napoli
Easter Sunday I made my way to Our Lady of Peace Church (522 Carroll St.) in Gowanus, Brooklyn to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord. Though it’s not my parish, I prefer the Extraordinary Form, and (for now) the magnificent house of worship is the sole church in Brooklyn that offers weekly Traditional Latin Mass (every Sunday at 9:30).
Madonna Addolorata and Crucifix
High Mass was sung by celebrant and homilist Fr. Christofer M. Cullen, who was dutifully assisted by several altar servers. The Mass was masterly accompanied by Schola Director and organist David Adam Smith and choir.
Our Lady of Divine Providence and Sant'Antonio da Padova
Before leaving for the cemetary, I briefly mingled with parishioners and visited the various shrines of the saints to make my usual intercessory prayers for the happy repose of the souls of my ancestors and loved ones.
St. Louis IX, King of France and St. Elizabeth of Portugal
Changing out of my Sunday best, I broke fast with my family at Easter dinner. The ladies outdid themselves again this year and treated us to an amazing meal, replete with all our favorite southern Italian holiday favorites, like calzone di cipolla (Puglian onion pie) and agnello alla scottadito (grilled lamb chops).
Spinach pie and ricotta fritters
Ironically, because I abstained from eating macaroni during Lent, with all the terrific dishes to choose from it was a simple plate of orecchiette marinara I wanted and enjoyed the most.
Pizza rustica
Between courses, I partook in a couple of very competitive and physical games of football and basketball. No longer able to school my nephews on the field, I deservedly met with the same merciless treatment I meted out to them all these years. 
Orecchiette marinara
Even more comical was my reckless attempt to show them how to skateboard. Thankfully no one got hurt and nothing but my ego was bruised. 
Agnello alla scottadito
We finished our celebration with coffee and dessert and a raucous game of egg tapping. A contest a little more my speed, my Napoli blue egg survived the competition unscathed and I was this year’s champion.
Pastiera Napoletana

April 17, 2017

Pasquetta – Little Easter 2017

In commemoration of the risen Christ's meeting (and subsequent dinner) with his disciples on the road to Emmaus, a small town outside Jerusalem, southern Italians celebrate Pasquetta, or Little Easter. Traditionally, family and friends would pack a lunch and take a short trip to the shore or countryside in remembrance of Christ’s journey. Because Easter Monday is not a national holiday here in the States and people have to work, its not always easy to organize a group outing. Nonetheless, I still try to keep the tradition whenever possible, even if it is by myself. So I packed my picnic basket with a few Easter leftovers and a new book, and I'm off to a peaceful location to reflect on my many, many blessings. Buona Pasquetta!

April 16, 2017

Grazie Easter Bunny!

Gold plated, stainless steel watch with white dial, moon phases,
brown leather band and coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Box cover depicts the five Bourbon Kings and members of Royal Family
It seems the Easter Bunny took advantage of Salvatore Argenio’s recent visit to New York City and nabbed a few choice items from the Neapolitan tailor’s outstanding Linea Borbonica. Thank you so much to my family and friends for your warm wishes and thoughtful gifts. Buona Pasqua!
Silk pocket squares with the coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Silk ascot and tie with coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

Photo of the Week: Detail of the Portal of the Basilica di Santa Trofimena in Minori

Detail of the portal of the Basilica di Santa Trofimena, Minori, Salerno
Photo by New York Scugnizzo