Monday, June 24, 2013


Chianti From My Good Friend Luigi Capellini
at Castello Verrazzano is My Perfect Sunday Sauce Wine
Chianti from Verrazzano or Any Number of Wonderful Chianti Producers

Wine for Sunday Sauce? What do you drink? Which wine pairs best with Sunday Sauce, thee Supreme Dish of Italian-America? Is it Chianti, most iconic of all Italian Wines? Perhaps Aglianico or Piedrossa from the region of Campania where the roots of Italian-American Sunday Sauce Gravy begin? Or a Sicilian Wine like Nero d'Avola or Norello Mascallese? If you trace the roots of Italian-American Sunday Sauce and the people who created it, Sicilians are among the top of the list. Now, I know since you came to this page that bottle of Carlo Rossi "Paisano" just had to catch your eye. And I'm sure most of you are asking the question, "Carlo Rossi Paisano, are You Kidding?" The answer. "No, Not Really." Well I'm not saying it's the best choice. OK so we have to match a good wine with that fabulous Sunday Sauce of yours. What to drink?
I'm here to tell you, it can be one or more of many wines, and don't count a wine like Carlo Rossi Paisano out. "You're Joking?" You say. No. Listen, this can be your wine, maybe not. I myself have drank some of the World's Priciest, and so-called greatest wines in the World, "Trophy Wines," like; Sassicaia, Gaja Barbaresco. La Tache, Chateau Petrus, Cahteau Haute Brion, Petrus, Chateasu Cheval Blanc, Chateau Latour, all the great Brunello and barolo wines, great vintage Champagnes, you name it, "I've had it." And with my knowledge of wine, I can tell you, a lot of it is hype, and Marketing BS, and sometimes not. And I'll tell you this, do not be so much of a snob, a Wine Snob. You see that Carlo Rossi, with all the prestigous wines that I've consumed over the years, I'm not above drinking that. Carlo Rossi .. The wine has special meaning and affection for me. It's one of  the two wines my uncles always bought for our Sunday Family Meals. Meals of Meatballs, Sunday Sauce "Gravy," Ravioli, Veal Marsala, Chicken Cactitore. My Uncles Tony and Frank always had either Carlo Rossi paisano or Gallo Hearty Burgungy on hand. They were their wines, and they only had other wines if someone brought something like Bolla Valpolicella, Rufino Chianti or some other wine. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Paisano or Gallo Hearty Burgundy are great wines, "No." But they are not that bad. They are Italian-American Wines made by Italian-Americans and have social significance to Italian-Americans. These wines are part of our history, as are the wines from the great Robert Mondavi, The Mondavi Family, Francis Ford Coppola and other Italian Families in America.
So what am I saying? What wines to drink with the Sunday Sauce or any home-made Italian American Meal? Well, actually most of the time I do drink wines from Italy with my Sunday Sauce or whatever Italian food we're making. The Carlo Rossi is just when we eat over Uncle Tony's house with Uncle Frank and all the wonderful meals with Aunt Fran, Aunt Helen, Mommy, Cousin Tony, and my brothers and sister and the whole family. No, I'm not above drinking Carlo Rossi or Gallo if my Uncles are serving it. When we're eating at home, we usually love to drink Chianti, most times, sometimes Barolo, Barbera, or Brunello. But most often it's Chianti which I love and it goes quite well with just about anything we eat, especially Meatballs, Sausage, and Sunday Sauce. Chinati comes from Tuscany and is a medium bodied wine made mostly from Sangiovese (The Blood of Jobe), and with small percentages of other native Tuscan grapes like; Colorino, Malvasia Nero, Cannaiolo, or Ciegolo. 
One thing I must say is, that I usually don't like wines like Big, concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon from California or Australia. To me, these are the last wines I would ever want to drink with Italian food. Reason. These wines are usually to rich, and because of that, they clash with the food instead of complementing them. the wines you want to drink should have good flavor, but be light to medium in body and weight. Not Bif, Fat, Rich, and concentrated. "No Bueno!"

Daniel Bellino-Zwicke

Michele Chiarlo

This Barbera from my friends at Michele Chiarlo is a wonderful wine that goes well with 
Sunday Sauce .. It's a wine from Piedmonte that's medium bodied and full of flavor .. The lighter weight of Barbera, like the Sangiovese in Chianti, Vino Nobile, and Brunello goes well with the rich Sunday Gravy, and does not clash with the food as a bifg Cabernet or Syrah would do.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


What is Marinara Sauce? That's a good one. And I can tell you there is no one single definitive answer. Doesn't exists, unlike, Amatriciana or Bolognese Sauce which both can have variations, they are still both pretty defined and the variations come after what defines a Bolognese or Amatriciana Sauce.
Well, one thing that a Marinara Sauce is, it's a Tomato Sauce, a type of Tomato Sauce and it will vary according to who makes it. 
Italians (in Italy) refer to Marinara not as a Sauce but in association with a recipe as in 
Spaghetti alla Marinara. this translates to Mariner's Spaghetti or in the style of the mariner, or "Sailor," and is of Southern Italy and Naples in particular. Southern Italian Spaghetti alla Marinara does not contain any Seafood as some might think. 
Folklore has it that, Italian Sailors developed Marinara Sauce to cook on ships, as the high-acid content in tomatoes helped to preserve it well. Another theory is that the wives of Neapolitan Sailors cooked Spaghetti alla Marinara for their husbands when they returned from sea. 
So what is Marinara Sauce? Renowned Cookbook author and Restaurateur Lidi Bastianich says of marinara sauce, "The difference between marinara sauce and tomato sauce is this: Marinara is a quick sauce, seasoned only with garlic, pepper, and, if you like, basil or oregano. The pieces of tomato are left chunky, and the texture of the finished sauce is fairly loose. Tomato sauce, on the other hand, is a more complex affair, starting with puréed tomatoes and seasoned with onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf, and left to simmer until thickened and rich in flavor."

Marinara Sauce is widely used in Italian-American Cuisine, and the sauce varies from person to person and, cook-to-cook, chef-to-chef, restaurant to restaurant, "there is no one single exacting specific recipe, but all usually have Olive Oil, Garlic, Tomato, Pepperoncino, and Basil and or Oregano. Oregano seems to be the biggest single factor in what a Marinara Sauce actually is, as many versions of Marinara Sauce seem to have Oregano included in it, which is not usually present in true Italian (of and from Italy) Tomato Sauce, or Sugo al Pomodoro. One other factor, is that Marinara Sauce is cooked quickly, in about 10 minutes as opposed to 45 minutes or longer for regular Tomato Sauce. 
OK, now, my Marinara Sauce, what I think it is, and how I make it. Remember, I am of Italian-American descent. I cooked professionally for 20 years, in French, then Italian Restaurants. To me, the way I was taught and what I think is the best tasting Marinara Sauce is as follows. To make Marinara Sauce, I already have my base, regular Tomato Sauce that I have made previously. When I was in a restaurant and someone wanted Marinara Sauce, this is the one we made. We'd use about a cup of our regular tomato sauce that was always on hand. When we got an order for Spaghetti Marinara, we'd put some Olive Oil and a single serving pan. Heat it, add a good amount of chopped fresh Garlic. Cook the garlic, add a bit of Pepperoncino (Red Pepper Flakes) and a little dried Oregano. This was our flavoring base, and would considerably add much flavor to the base Tomato Sauce, making for a quite tasty Marinara. Once the garlic has cooked to where it just starts to brown a bit, you add the Tomato Sauce and heat through. Once your spaghetti has finished cooking, you drain it, drop it in the pan with your Marinara Sauce, adding a bit of the pasta cooking water, toss the pasta (mix) and serve. Voila, Spaghetti Marinara, my version and the one one most excepted as Marinara, though there are others. This is not the defining Marinara Sauce Recipe, but I believe the one most widely used, and no matter, I can tell you it's dam tasty and, I always get raves whenever I make it. Basta!

Daniel Bellino-Zwicke

Friday, June 14, 2013



RONZONI SONO BUONI "RONZONI IS SO GOOD" Was The Slogan of AMERICA'S FAVORITE MACCHERONI .... When I was growing up it was the only pasta we ate. Our Favorites were Spahetti, Pastina, rigatoni and Stuffed Shells which my mother (Lucia Bellino) used to make a couple times a month. The Stuffed Shells were always a Special Treat, filled with creamy Polio Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmigiano which we grated on a box grater from a nice big chunk. Never any of that Green Can Garbage (Kraft Parmesan) for us. Yes Stuffed Shells was a favorite of mine and my sister Barbara. Will be posting my Mothers Recipe soon.

RECIPE For STUFFED SHELLS In Daniel Bellino-Zwicke's "La TAVOLA"


Spaghetti With Tomato Sauce, Spaghetti Marinara, Spaghetti Pomodoro? Whatever you call it, it's one of both Italy's and America's favorite dishes. Hundred of millions of plates of it are consumed every year. In Italy, pretty much all of them are delicious, and correct. In America, that's another story. Most are not, and are abominations of what this simple but great dish should be. Canned or jarred Tomato Sauce, "Fougettaboudit!" In America, no self-respecting Italian-American would ever serve it. We make our own. The rest of the people, again that's another story. Blahhh!!! Spaghetti Pomodoro, as it is known in Italy is a "Supreme Dish." It's simple, but is exacting in getting everything just right. It's not hard to make it, but one must know and be taught the proper way. Here's were we come in. The instructions and recipe for making proper Spaghetti Pomodoro follows (you may use another Pasta such as Rigatoni, Penne, linguine, whatever).
First I must dispel a couple major misconceptions about this great sauce, Salsa Pomodoro, Tomato Sauce, Marinara. First misconception, Tomato Sauce does not cook for hour and hours, it can be made in just 10 minutes or may cook for 30-45 minutes, but that's it. No more. In Italy Salsa Pomodoro does not have Oregano in it, this is a major American misconception, even among many Italian Americans. Tomato Sauce is simple made of; Olive Oil, Garlic, Pepperoncino (Red Pepper Flakes), Fresh Basil, Tomatoes, and Salt . Basta! That's it! No more is needed.
You start with olive oil, saute garlic in it, add Red Pepper Flakes and these two items flavor the oil which will flavor the tomatoes. You add you tomatoes to the hot flavored olive oil, cook for 10 to 40 minutes depending on what size pan you have and whether you want a sauce that has a fresher or more cooked flavor. Any way is good.

OK get to it. Here's The Recipe excerpted from Daniel Bellino-Zwicke book on Italian-American new Yorkers, their Kitchen, Food, Table, Rituals, and joys of being Italian, making food and sharing at the Table "La TAVOLA."


2-28 oz. cans San Marzano crushed tomatoes
or other good quality Italian style tomatoes
4 cloves minced garlic
1 small onion, minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ cup virgin olive oil
¼ chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and pepper to taste

1)   In a 6 quart or larger pot, saute onions over a low flame for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook
      for 3-4 mins. Do not let the garlic get dark or burn.

2)   Add tomatoes, turn heat up to high and stir. When sauce starts to bubble,  turn flame down 
      so  the sauce is at a low  simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes while frequently stirring  the bottom 
      of  the pan to keep sauce from burning.  Add fresh basil in the last ten minutes of cooking.

3)   Cook whatever pasta you choose (spaghetti is best) according to directions on package.
      Drain pasta, toss  with tomato sauce and drizzle of olive oil, plate, and serve w/Cheese

THIS RECIPE Is A CLASSIC and TOMATO SAUCE The Right Way. Excerpted From 
Daniel Bellino-Zwicke's "La TAVOLA" Filled with Wonderful STORIES and RECIPES of The ITALIAN and ITALIAN-AMERICAN LIFESTYLES ... We HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT  ..