When Italians settled in the United States about 100 years ago, some also settled in South America, especially Argentina. However, a critical difference is that the majority of Italian immigrants to the United States were from Southern Italy and the majority to South America were from Northern Italy. So the Italian food in both areas reflects that. I write about Italian food in South America and around the globe in my new book, Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People, available at Amazon.com.
One of the things I write about in the book is catupiry cheese, a soft cheese that tastes like a cross between ricotta and velvety burrata. Catupiry cheese was created in 1911 by a Brazilian Italian named Mario Silvestrini. For the most part, it is used in the same way we use cream cheese. However, it is different from cream cheese. It is also used on pizza and you can try it in the Triangle at Piola in North Hills in Raleigh. Piola is an Italian pizza chain from Treviso (near Venice in Northeastern Italy) with locations in Italy, South America and Raleigh.
Pizza from Piola with catupiry cheese
Another interesting South American Italian tradition that I mention in my book is eating ñoqui/ñoquis, or gnocchi, on the 29th of the month. Piola highlights this tradition. While Southern Italians eat gnocchi as well, it is associated more with Northern Italian cuisine, and that is probably why it is more popular in South American countries with Italian populations, like Argentina and Uruguay.
Gnocchi Legnano from Piola
Posted in America, Cheese, History, Italian, Local, North Carolina, Pasta, Pizza, Restaurant
Tagged Argentina, Authentic Italian, Brazil, catupiry, cheese, gnocchi, noqui, noquis, North Hills, Piola, pizza, Raleigh, Triangle, Uruguay
Here is a list of some of my favorite local food products and food trucks in North Carolina and South Carolina owned by Italian Americans.
Nellino’s Sauce Co.–A pasta sauce company started in Raleigh, North Carolina, by Italian-American Neal McTighe based on his mother’s and great-grandmother’s recipes for classic sauces like marinara or tomato and basil made with good ingredients.
Melina’s Fresh Pasta–Italian-American owner Carmella makes classic fresh pastas like spaghetti and linguine as well as many creative ravioli like roasted red pepper & feta or goat cheese & honey. There’s even the pimento cheese ravioli. She also teaches pasta making classes in Durham, North Carolina.
Barone Meatball Company–Serving up classic Italian meatballs as well as fun creations like buffalo chicken meatballs and vegetarian ricotta balls. Owned by Italian-American Stephen Dewey, based in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina.
Oak City Amaretto–An Italian-American amaretto made by Italian-American Anthony Scalabrino from a recipe inspired by his grandmother’s homemade amaretto, made in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Benny T’s Vesta–The first dry hot sauce available in five grades of heat made from a variety of fresh chile peppers grown in North Carolina, created by Italian-American chile enthusiast Ben Tuorto.
Charleston Bloody Mary Mix–A bloody Mary mix made by Italian-American Ryan Eleuteri that has all good ingredients and no horseradish–its distinctive flavor comes from a habanero mash, made in Charleston, South Carolina, found throughout the East Coast and Midwest.
Mr. A’s Beignets–A food truck serving delicious beignets and coffee with chicory New Orleans style in Apex, North Carolina, owned by Italian-American Arlton Cangelosi.
All photos in this article were used with permission of their respective owners.
–Dina Di Maio
Posted in America, Italian, Local, North Carolina
Tagged amaretto, Anthony Scalabrino, Apex, Arlton Cangelosi, Barone Meatball Truck, Ben Tuorto, Benny T's Vesta, Bloody Mary, Charleston Bloody Mary Mix, Charleston Mix, Durham, food truck, hot dry sauce, Italian American, meatball, meatballs, Melina's Fresh Pasta, Mr. A's Beignets, Neal McTighe, Nellino's Sauce Co., North Carolina, Oak City Amaretto, pasta sauce, Raleigh, Raleigh/Durham, ravioli, Ryan Eleuteri, South Carolina, Stephen Dewey
11 Stops on a Tour of Italian and Italian-American Landmarks in Raleigh, North Carolina
by Dina Di Maio
Historically, there was no great migration of Italians to North Carolina like there were to some other states in the South like Louisiana or Alabama. So you don’t find much Italian history in the state. However, there are some stops in Raleigh if you want to find a little bit of Italy and Italian Americana.
- Carousel at Pullen Park—The carousel at Pullen Park is a Dentzel, the premier carousel maker of the early 20th century. Salvatore “Cherni” Cernigliaro, who immigrated to the United States in 1902 from Palermo, Sicily, at 23 years old, was a carpenter who made and finished furniture in Italy. When he came to Philadelphia, his first job was carving carousel animals. He started working for Dentzel when his prior company folded and stayed with Dentzel until the company closed. He then trained others how to hand-carve carousel animals. Cernigliaro, the chief carver of the carousel animals, strayed from tradition and created his own flair, adding unique carving embellishments to the animals and carving other nontraditional animals like rabbits, cats, and ostriches. The carousel animals at Pullen Park were carved by Cernigliaro. With 52 animals, this menagerie carousel is a historical gem right here in the capital city. Purchased by the city in 1915, it was restored in the 1970s and is still in working order today. For more information: https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/raleigh/pul.htm.
- Immigrant Gate II, 1997 sculpture by Greensboro-based sculptor Jim Gallucci—Located in Millbrook Exchange Park in North Raleigh, this sculpture honors the artist’s parents who were Italian immigrants who came to the United States in the 1930s. For more information: https://www.raleighnc.gov/parks/content/Arts/Articles/MunicipalCollection.html. Gallucci also did the Light Towers sculpture in City Plaza, a 55-foot steel sculpture with LED lights.
- Sir Walter Raleigh statue at the Raleigh Convention Center on Salisbury Street—The city of Raleigh commissioned this 12-foot bronze statue in 1975. The sculptor was Bruno Lucchesi, of Pietrasanta, Italy, one of the world’s most famous sculptors. Apparently, there was a bit of controversy as Lucchesi took creative license with Raleigh’s collar and instead of depicting him in the 17th-century ruff collar, he chose a more open style. However, the city conceded and the statue was dedicated in 1976. For more information: http://nancymcfarlane.com/sir-walter-raleigh-statue/.
- George Washington statue at the State Capitol downtown–The original sculpture, made of Carrara marble from Italy and sculpted by Antonio Canova (recommended by Thomas Jefferson) and Giuseppe Cerrachi, was dedicated in 1821. It was damaged in a fire, and the one at the capital today is a duplicate, also made of Carrara marble, sculpted in 1970 by Venetian sculptor, Romano Vio. The model for the sculpture is currently on display, for the first time outside of Italy, at the Frick Collection in New York City. For more information: http://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/monument/407/.
- Fragment of the George Washington statue at the City of Raleigh Museum downtown on Fayetteville Street. For more information: https://cityofraleighmuseum.org.
- Fragments and plaster replica of the George Washington statue at the North Carolina Museum of History in downtown Raleigh. For more information: https://www.ncmuseumofhistory.org/
- Collections of Roman art and Italian Renaissance art in the permanent collection at the North Carolina Museum of Art on Blue Ridge Road. The collection includes Giotto’s Peruzzi Altarpiece. For more information: http://ncartmuseum.org/.
- 235 Fayetteville Street, the site of Antonio Leo Dughi’s grocery store–Dughi was an Italian immigrant who came to the United States in 1875 and settled in Raleigh, opening a grocery store that sold wine, oysters and ice cream. The cornerstone of his shop and his family grave is at historic Oakwood Cemetery. For more information: http://www.waltermagazine.com/art_and_culture/shop-local/.
- Altar and cornerstone at the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral on Western Boulevard–The altar is made of Carrara marble from Italy. The cornerstone, made from Tuscan stone, was blessed by Pope Francis. For more information: http://www.sacredheartcathedral.org/masstimeshnj.
- Jim Valvano statue at Reynolds Coliseum—In 2016, NC State honored four coaches, including Jim Valvano, with bronze likenesses. Valvano’s statue stands outside Reynolds Coliseum. For more information: http://www.newsobserver.com/sports/college/acc/nc-state/article102285262.html.
- Sports memorabilia of Italian Americans in sports at the North Carolina Museum of History in downtown Raleigh, such as Jim Valvano, Sam Esposito, basketball all-American Sam Ranzino, basketball all-American and 1959 ACC Player of the Year Lou Pucillo and Francis Rogallo, father of the sport of hang gliding.
Posted in America, History, Italian, Local, North Carolina
Tagged Bruno Lucchesi, Canova, carousel, Carrara marble, City of Raleigh Museum, Dentzel, Dughi, Frank Rogallo, George Washington, Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Immigrant Gate, Jim Gallucci, Jim Valvano, Lou Pucillo, North Carolina, North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina Museum of History, Oakwood Cemetery, Pullen Park, Raleigh, Raleigh Convention Center, Reynolds Coliseum, Romano Vio, Salvatore Cernigliaro, Sam Esposito, Sam Ranzino, Sir Walter Raleigh, statue, Walter Raleigh
To represent the 12 Days of Christmas (which start the day after Christmas but I’m doing it earlier so you can give these as Christmas gifts), I’m showcasing 12 days of delicious artisanal food treats from the American South. These are hand-picked by me, Dina, because I’ve tried them and they are delicious.
Day 9, Raleigh, North Carolina: Videri peppermint chocolate
Peppermint bark is one of my favorite holiday treats. But I don’t buy it these days because of what’s in it. Well, Videri has made it possible for me to enjoy peppermint bark without worry. The only ingredients are organic ones–including the crushed candy canes! The bar has a deep chocolatey taste with a nice minty crunch. A great stocking stuffer too.
Posted in America, Chocolate, Gift, Gourmet, North Carolina, Organic
Tagged chocolate, North Carolina, peppermint bark, peppermint chocolate, Raleigh, Videri
If you’ve read my blog enough, you know I can’t pass up a bakery. So when I saw a sign for cupcakes at Artylicious Cakes, I had to stop in. Artylicious Cakes is a bakery in Raleigh, NC. The owner, Iriene Wangsawidjaja, specializes in cake art and has had her cakes featured in magazines as well as at local events and has won awards at the NC State Fair (blue ribbon for a Lorax cake). Her fondant work is gorgeous, and if I were looking for a special occasion cake, I would have her make it. Irene is very sweet, and on my visit, let me and my friend try a number of flavors before deciding. Ultimately, we chose lemonberry, lemon cake with a hint of strawberry and vanilla creme, as our favorite. Also, the chocolate raspberry, hazelnut mocha and black forest are all divine. Her buttercream is so tasty, smooth and silky. I really love the texture of her cakes. She also has cupcakes, cheesecake and macaroons available, and they all look lovely.
Posted in Bakery, Cake, Cupcake, Dessert, Fair, North Carolina
Tagged Artylicious Cakes, bakery, cakes, NC State Fair, North Carolina, Raleigh
I love dark chocolate and one of my favorites is sea salt dark chocolate. In Raleigh, NC, there are two chocolate makers, Escazu Artisan Chocolates in Mordecai on Blount Street and Videri Chocolate Factory on West Davie Street in the Warehouse District. Escazu’s sea salt dark chocolate bar is 65% cocoa; Videri’s, 60%.
I decided to do a taste test involving three other people. We tasted both of these (they blind, me knowing) and it was 50/50 split of which is best. Two tasters thought Videri was too bitter and preferred the flavor of Escazu’s chocolate. (Escazu’s chocolate also has vanilla in it.) Two tasters thought Escazu’s was too salty while the other two thought Videri’s was too salty. Go figure. The taste and texture of both chocolate bars is different. For a taste test yourself, visit both shops. For $5, you can tour Videri’s factory.
Relish is a fun restaurant on Creedmoor Road in Raleigh, NC. The dishes in Relish are Southern-inspired with some playful creativity. It is definitely a refreshing break from the sports bars that are so plentiful in the area. You’ll always find something new at Relish, as they are always trying different things to update Southern cuisine. The restaurant also has a retail market with items from local food purveyors and cooking classes.
We got fried pickles to start, and they were quickly gobbled up.
Relish is known for its pimento cheese, so I got pimento cheese fritters. These were amazing!
If you like cheese, then you’ll love Relish, as they have a number of grilled cheese sandwiches and mac and cheese varieties. I got the Wisconsin–sliced apples, sharp cheddar and applewood bacon on sourdough bread. It was yummy and came with this delicious broccoli salad.
My companions got the fish and chips, which is a favorite.
And the shrimp and grits, which is another favorite.
And a veggie plate for vegetarians with fun veggies like fried green tomatoes.