Monday, October 5, 2009

October is Italian-American Heritage Month!

As a child, I grew up in Somerville, MA which, is situated next to Boston and Cambridge. With only slightly over 4 square miles (10 km²) of land, Somerville is the most densely populated city in New England. Italians made up a large minority of the population there. My church was St Anthony's. When I growing up, St Anthony's was a "mission" church focused on the Italian Americans. Masses were in English as well as Italian. Many houses had grape vines, bocce courts and statues of various saints that adorned the small postage stamp size yards. Neighbors would meet at the Dante Club, and Italian-American social club across the street from my Aunt Santa and uncle Joe's house. As an adult I also lived in  other Italian neighborhoods too; East Boston and the fabled North End.
Being of Italian heritage, I always loved the culture and enjoyed the food. When I moved to Maine 13 years ago, I found it a challenge to find good Italian food and groceries. In the mid 1990's at the local Hannaford's Supermarket, the Italian food section was in the "ethnic" aisle next to the "LaChoy" food and "Old El Paso" taco sauce. Italian Restaurants were few and far between. There are not a large number of Italians in Maine, there are small pockets in Portland and Rockland Maine.
However now there are some decent Italian restaurants in Ogunquit: Angelina's   Roberto's and Caffe Prego. Caffe Prego is great! It is at the end of my street and features incredible pastries, coffee and brick oven pizza. This is close as you will get to the North End of Boston or Rome for that matter. Its nice to sit on  Caffe Prego's "piazza" and watch Shore Road and ocean. The coffee is authentic, the music is jazz or opera and the food is "delezioso". The European staff is cute and helpful. I think this has been a nice additon for Ogunquit! Roberto's is Ogunquit's oldest Italian restaurant with handcrafted food. Roberto's always is pleasing!

I am named after my grandfather, Gregory Mario, ( pictured to the left). My father wanted to name me Gennaro Mario, but when I was born, my mother refused!
Here I am, ready to go to church.

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