Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Stella D'Euro

This holiday season while the movie "American Hustle" is breaking box office records with the story of the ABSCAM* sting of the late '70s (and Christian Bale's comb over), the Camorra is breaking balls and raking over the Christmas merchandise in the Piazza del Mercato shopping district in Naples. This infamous arm of organized crime have poinsettia proprietors seeing red with their 'Italian Hustle,' scamorra that's taking a big chunka change outta their seasonal market profits. The Camorra (Neapolitan Mafia), can be likened to organized crime on steroids. They have their own BALCO** never ending supply of crime. In addition to extortion and drug trafficking, this motley crew super sizes murder, mayhem and madness. Would you like to add a side of bad ass muscle to that order?!! So as "American Hustle" has become a huge hit and is racking up kudos, the Camorra has been stacking up hits hustling these local Neopolitan plant vendors. 


For the last three Christmas seasons the Camorra has been shaking down retailers to buy their Stella di Natale (Christmas Star) plants by making them an offer even the don couldn't refuse - buy the plants at the inflated price of 100 euros (approx. $140 per plant, when the usual price is just 1 euro - holy holly!) or get the tinsel beat outta them and have a mafia wrecking crew come in to "decorate" their shops for the holidays. Most likely this is setting store owners up for having to hold pre-holiday sales of as-is damaged merchandise from having their shops vandalized just weeks before the festivities begin. The mobsters are also helping themselves to sample the goods adding to losses and hitting store owners twice as hard in their pocketbooks. 


The perps involved in this Yuletide scam are the notorious Mazzarella tribe canvassing this local Neapolitan shopping district and Scrooging the merchants. They lean on these shopkeepers to buy their Christmas Star beauties to raise money for their crime family members who are in prison so they can have a little extra this time of year and to be able to have that special something under their own X-mas trees. As Dickens reminded us in "A Christmas Carol," it is at this time of year that 'the poor' are especially in want. Luckily the police were able to string together wire taps and witness testimonies to make arrests of these naughty boys.

So as "American Hustle" cleans up this movie award season,
Dining with the Don would like to present this year's Grinch and Christmas Dubious Achievement awards to the Camorra! 

Care & Feeding of Stella Di Natale
(even if you don't have a green thumb)


             Merchants roasting on an open fire,
             Extortion nipping at their toes
             Yuletide mayhem taking over the stores
             Guys in their work you over clothes.

             Everybody knows Camorra with their bad ass moves
             Help to make the season's blight
             Shopkeepers scared with their nails all bit down
             Will find it hard to sleep each night.

             They know Camorra's on their way
             They're wielding lotsa force to keep you in
             their sway
             And every flower vendor's gonna cry
             To see that fists really know how to fly
             And so I offer up this simple scare
             For folks around the old town square
             When out this season for your holiday plants
             Do remember shoppers please beware 

Baccala Fritto 

This traditional Neapolitan Christmas Eve dish for dried salted cod fish, soaked then deep fried, is so easy leaving you Camorra thugs plenty of time to break balls by day, come home dredge your two-day soaked dried baccala in flour and deep fry in oil. 

Chop off heads and tails of fish ya know like you chop off the fingers of anyone who dips into your share of the profits.

Remove the bones - don't break, just remove.

Change the water frequently while soaking in the fridge, otherwise it'll stink up everything the way you stink up the holiday season!

Dredge in flour like you'd drag your enemy through the dirt, back and forth, up and down.

Cut up in small pieces. Ya know like cutting up anyone who crosses you before putting them through a meat grinder.


Deep fry 'til golden color, drain on paper towels. No excuses for serving greasy fish even being tired from a hard day of muscling merchants to get into the holiday spirit!

Salt and pepper to taste 

Pair your baccala fritto with a Pinot Grigio just to piss off the wine snobs as they consider it beneath other whites, or if ya gonna mangia mangia with your paisans, a nice cold birra Moretti, the Italian brew with the moustachioed signor on the label. 


*ABSCAM - See "American Hustle." Amy Adams glitzed out and sizzling + all that Gucci!

**BALCO - Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative that pumped and plied designer anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs, HGH "The Clear" and revved up testosterone "The Cream" to super size star athletes the likes of Barry Bonds (Uh, uh, uh sorry Barry, Sammy and Mark, but juicing doesn't count - Babe Ruth is still the Home Run King!), Marion Jones (drugs couldn't help ya touch Flo-Jo's 10.49 and ya lied!)and 2z all-star, 5x Super Bowl starter linebacker Bill Romanoswski. Watch out roid rage up ahead!

All material copyrighted by Mafia Cook.



Saturday, November 23, 2013


DON'T CALL ME BUGSY - #benjustben

Such a punim!

LA, Vegas, LA, Vegas

Brooklyn born, Ben "Bugsy" Siegel, nee Benjamin Hiram Siegelbaum, entered the world on the last day of February in 1906 (not a leap year) under the sun sign of Pisces the fish, sharing a birthday with Baby Jesus. There were a few similarly different aspects between these Piscean twins. Two Jewish boys one from Nazareth, via Bethlehem a/k/a The Holy Land, and the other a guttersnipe who slithered outta the womb of the gangster ghetto of Brooklyn to the mean streets of NYC's Hell's Kitchen. Benjamin rapidly spiraled down into a life of crime while Jesus still in his youth, chose to preach and expel the money lenders for their crimes of greed, hypocrisy and perjury in the temples of Jerusalem.
Pisces - Charming, unpredictable, wild, romantic, gullible - Bugsy on a good day with a bad moon rising

Both were kings - duel titled Jesus, King of Heaven and the Jews who auspiciously entered the world with a birth heralded by angels, a bright star in the heavens, adoration by kings bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and surrounded by shepherds and two loving parents, Mary and Joseph. Benny, the Jew, King of the Underworld, most likely got bupkis upon entering the world. Both met untimely and violent deaths. Jesus lived his Passion. And Ben? This celluloid wannabe lived with a passion for women, making money and killing. Unfortunately Jesus got nailed to a cross and Bugsy got nailed for skimming from the building money loaned to him by the mob on the order of boss Meyer Lansky.

The fish, astrological symbol of Pisces, swimming in opposite directions, can indicate an individual at cross purposes which Bugsy seemed to be. Tinkerer in badness, tailored smoothie, hitman, hotelier/casino owner, soldier(mob kind), wannabe actor, visionary, entrepreneur, lothario; with Bugsy it seemed like everyday was career du jour. The man from Galilee, on the other hand was the quintessential Pisces with deep spirituality and stuck with carpenter/miracle worker. No doubt if Ben was alive today, he might even have a crack at redemption and become a card carrying member of Jews for Jesus in solidarity with his Astrobro! Semper fi!

Siegel so dubbed "Bugsy" for his short-fused temper and being crazy as a bug, was a textbook sociopath. He hated the name. "My friends call me Ben, strangers call me Mr. Siegel, and guys I don't like call me Bugsy, but not to my face."


Siegel graduated from extorting protection money from lower east side pushcart vendors to rape, bootlegging to seasoned hitman with an impressive 30 notches on his bedpost for just his solo kills, and capped off his east coast resume establishing the Bugs-Meyer Mob and then becoming one of the founding fathers with fellow Yidfellas Louis "Lepke" Buchalter and Meyer Lansky and Italian cappo Albert Anastasia of "The Syndicate" a/k/a Murder Inc. The time had come for Ben to fulfill his mobster manifest destiny and head west to La La Land.

There couldn't have been a better place for Bugsy to be than Hollywoodland. Originally he was shipped out west by boss Lansky in the early 30s, but permanently relocated to the pacific coast in the latter part of the decade to grow gambling operations with an emphasis on wire service betting for horse racing, one of the tools of the trade for every bookie. Over the first few years, Bugsy muscled the existing wire services outta business. In the 'Big Avocado' Ben saw one opportunity after another. He moved his wife Esta and their two girls out to a 35-room Holmby Hills mansion (Playboy Mansion West turf in years to come) complete with pool, cabana and marble tub for himself. Esta shouldha had her own cabana boy for all she had to put up with dealing with her hubby's dalliances.

With the help of another fellow Hebro from the old NYC hood, George Raft, who had already made it as a bona fide movie star, Bugsy started establishing himself in the celluoid community. Raft had made a name for himself as a hoofer and went on to star in a string of gangster movies ("Scarface," "Each Dawn I Die," Johnny Allegro," and wound up spoofing himself as Spats Colombo in "Some Like It Hot."), no doubt parlaying his experiences from his wayward youth into portraying silver screen bad asses. Raft's celebrity, was bigger than Bogey in the'30s, and he hooked Bugsy up and got him invited to all the biggest bashes plus getting his friend a screen test, but the sad truth was Siegel stunk! What did come naturally to Benny was to downshift into schmooze control while charming his way into the hearts and pockets of Tinseltown's glitterati. He was raking in hundreds of thousands in revenue by extorting $$ from them. Be they an A-list star (Gable, Grant and Harlow were just a sampling of the celebrities Bugsy rubbed elbows with) or studio heads, soon after meeting Bugs, they'd find themselves on the corner of Sunset and Shakedown Blvd. They all became schnooks under Ben's 'friendly persuasion.' He'd hit 'em up with his spiel about how there would be no screen extras available for their next picture leaving the production in limbo unless they schmeared him and paid for the Screen Extras Guild not to strike. His long arm of greed even reached as far as the union where he grabbed his lion's share while controlling their labor practices. Feeling right at home and on top in the City of Angels, Siegel acted with the suaveness and aplomb befitting the Prince of Darkness and convincing enough for anyone to sell their soul. He was dressed head to toe in a natty wardrobe tailored by Pietro's of Beverly Hills with his signature alligator shoes, houndstooth jackets and silk shirts that rivaled any of filmdom's leading men. Mr. Blackwell wouldha given Mr. Siegel two big sartorial thumbs up plus the top spot on his coveted ten best dressed list. Kim, Khloe, Kourtney and Mama Kris Kardashian wouldn't stand a chance trying to keep up with Mr. S. The mob always trumps celebrity!
Virginia Hill
Virginia Hill,

Meyer had asked Ben to check out a sleepy little Nevada town to expand the wire service and off track betting operation, but once there Siegel's vision of a palatial casino/hotel formed and his focus shifted to build his dream. There was a plot of land with some pedigree already attached to it. Billy Wilkerson, the owner of The Hollywood Reporter, Ciro's and the El Tracadero night clubs, was over his head in debt and when Ben got wind of this, he came to the rescue and went into partnership with Billy, turning to Meyer to get financing. Lansky loaned him a cool million to build his dream. Benny got his fingers in every pie there was for the taking even going south of the border to ply the Mexican heroin trade. Aye, aye, aye, aye! Ariba, andale, apurate! He was making money hand over fist from every which way. He had arrived...he wasn't just a macher, he was a gantseh macher! He got the wheels oiled and spinning to turn out the cash. If there was a wheel to deal, Benny was in the driver's seat.

Lansky sent Bugsy out to Vegas to scout gambling operation expansion opportunities. Gambling had been banned in the State of Nevada in 1909 and legalized again in 1931 with most patronage coming from a few locals in Reno and and returning G.I.s who were based next to Vegas, still a cow town. There were a couple of frontier style hotels/casinos, but nothing like Bugsy had envisioned with Highway 91 to become his Boulevard of a Billion Neon Bright Dreams.

Here is where he'd build his grand casino/hotel and call it The Flamingo.  Ben had two reasons for the moniker - having once been part owner of Florida's Hialeah Race Track where there had always been flocks of flamingos on the grounds, Benny took this as a good omen since the track had always been a money maker for him. He also wanted to pay homage to his fiery and tempestuous gun moll girlfriend, Virginia Hill, who had a pair of gams that were like the long, spindly legs of the wading bird. Go figure on why anyone would find a dame with bird legs attractive!

Ben bought Billy out, and the construction commenced in '46 helmed by Siegel with Virginia as head decorator/finance 'officer' and the Del Webb Construction Co. as contractors, a/k/a Revolving Door Builders. Their m.o. was to bring in half orders of concrete and other building materials thru the front door and that night exit via the rear selling back the same stuff the next day. Ditto with the palm trees. This was not to be some schlocky gambling joint. No expense was spared as Mr. Siegel was going for Class importing marble and exotic wood from as far away as the Middle East. Bugsy even brought in flamingos to hang by the pool, but they met a quick demise from the desert heat. Costs ballooned out of control to $6,000,000 with Ben hitting up Lansky constantly. On top of the burgeoning building expenses, Virginia was skimming and took a suitcase filled with $300,000 and opened a Swiss bank account and then bought a little hideaway in the burbs of Zurich. Hard to believe that anyone would have the balls to fleece Bugsy, but he soon became the schlemiel in residence. The east coast contingency was calling for Bugsy's head but Lansky got all schmaltzy about being like a big brother to him and pleaded for his life on the condition that if The Flamingo was successful, there would be no need for drastic measures. This pushed up the opening date to December 26, 1946.
flamingo las vegas
The heat was on and Siegel spared no expense with getting celebrities and the press to Vegas to cover opening nite. He charted planes for the stars, sent cases of liquor to the press trying to bribe them into five star reviews and called in his markers with his celebrity friends. George Jessel was the M.C., Xavier Cugat's Latin Orchestra with bombshell wife/singer Abbe Lane (pre wife cuchi, cuchi Charo)played, and Jimmy Durante headlined. Of course, Ben's favorite celebrity pal, George Raft, with all the zeal of a Walmart greeter, met everyone as they entered. Many of the celebrity invitees couldn't make it outta LA due to rain. Not only did the gods not smile down on their once fortunate son, but it seemed Siegel's luck had run out and he had lost his mojo and his juju with it. The only thing that could help him at this point was a shaman! On the turn of a dime, Bugs went from a shtarker to a schlimazel! 

There was no room at the inn for the hordes of gamblers with hundreds of rooms still unfinished so they walked with their winnings to other casinos off the strip. At the end of the first week, the casino was $300k in the red. The Flamingo was lookin' more like an albatross hanging around Benny's neck. The hotel closed down to finish construction and reopened in March, 1947, but the damage was done and not even Lansky's pleas could save his boyhood friend. The order to ice Bugsy was on.

June 20, 1947...Bugsy's last day. He was staying at Virginia's Beverly Hills mini mansion on Linden Drive and started the day with a haircut and mani/pedi at Drucker's Barber shop, a meeting with his lawyer, lunch with some buds, then dinner with Hill's brother Chick, his fiancee Jeri Mason and pal Al 'Smiley' Davenport. They headed to Jack's at the Beach in Santa Monica for dinner on the pier where Bugsy, ironically dined on grilled trout. 
             Simple Grilled Trout 

Nothing fishy about this easy recipe and quick enough in case of needing to make a fast getaway.
Get your grill fired up keeping the rack several inches up from a medium/hot flame. Coat 4-6 trout fillets by brushing both sides with a cold pressed, X-tra virgin olive oil. Be bold, try a blood orange flavored one or a good EVOO with a mellow white balsamic vinegar with blood orange infusion to sprinkle on cooked trout. For easy, non stick cooking, put fillets in a grilling basket as it keeps them from sticking or cook on greased cast iron slabs on top of the grill, both good ways to keep filets intact and whole. You wouldn't wanna serve a buggy hotheaded sociopathic killer a broken up filet of fish. There'd be no mercy. Immediate grounds to be rubbed out! So go ahead, bubbala, eat so you should have some nourishment - no guilt here.

When the four returned home, Siegel and Smiley were on the couch reading the evening paper when a fusillade of bullets from the front living room window ripped thru Siegel killing him instantly. Bugsy bought it with eight slugs to his just-that-day-freshly-coiffed-by-Drucker-the-Barber haircut, all over his girlfriend Virginia's chintz covered sofa. So violent was the kill that his eyeball was catapulted 15' away and found on the floor from the impact of the bullet! Two of the bullets put double holes in his forehead. The hitman had come up three bells on his one armed bandit slot and Benny crapped out! The Flamingo was immediately under new management before his body was cold. 

Vegas went on to become all that Benjamin Hiram Siegel had dreamed and more.  He may not have succeeded or lived to enjoy and share his dream, but he left an indelible footprint in the sand by making his dream a reality for future generations. Decades later so many have hit the jackpot and had their dreams come true thanks to the seeds Bugsy had sowed some 70 years ago. Jesus had performed his miracles of feeding the crowds with a coupla fish and a few loaves of bread, but Ben turned a hole in the desert into the biggest gambling and entertainment mecca in the world! Ya gotta believe another king is up there singing Bugsy's praises for if wasn't for BHS, Elvis would not have reached his pinnacle as an entertainer. Viva Las Vegas! Viva Bugsy! Viva Elvis! 

Yiddish Lexicon

bubbala - baby doll
bupkis - nada, zilch, plenty of nuttin'
gantseh macher - a BIG bigshot.
punim - kisser, cutie

schmooze - talk somebody up in a chatty, suck up kinda way, with an ulterior motive of getting something.

schlimazel - a born loser.
schlemiel - a Mr. Bungle
schlock - crapola, shoddily put together.
schmaltz - sappy and sentimental to the point of cheesy. Rendered chicken fat and the secret ingredient to great tasting chopped liver.
schmear - grease a palm with $$ or a spread of cream cheese as on a bagel or a nice piece of challah bread.
schnook - a patsy. Can be combined with poor for emphasis as in some poor bastid getting duped before they know what's hit them.
schpiel/spiel - a pitch, long talk to convince someone ya got something good going.
shtarker - The guy who calls the shots.

All original written material except where noted copyrighted by All Mafia Cook.



Monday, September 9, 2013


Big Julie, the original Don

Like every commuter late for work, hungover from a lavish dinner party the night before the fated Martio XV, XLIV hosted by Marcus Lepidus, Caesar's newly dubbed  Magister Equitum, Don Julius dashed outta the house after a lite breakfast of crusty bread with olive oil, lemon juice (GJC was an avid juicer) and honey. Set to carpe diem, he kissed wifey Calpurnia goodbye against her pleas to chill at home

A funny thing happened on the way to The Pompey - I got knifed by a bunch of townies lookin' to roll me
that day. She had been having recent premonitory (not PMS) dreams and wanted him by her side where she could keep an eye on him.  She couldn't convince her man to stay home from the office. Mob housewife Teresa Giudice couldha given Calpurnia a couple of tips ala RHWONJ/Carmela Soprano that wouldha kept Caesar home in bed that fateful day. All she needed to do was drop her tunic and Caesar wouldha been safe and averted his assassins. His 'good' friend Brutus talked him outta this one, "What is this, Caesar? Are you a man to pay attention to a woman's dreams and the idle gossip of stupid men, and to insult the Senate by not going out, although it has honored you and has been specially summoned by you? But listen to me, cast aside the forebodings of all these people, and come." His doctor also wanted him home due to having recent dizzy spells. Poetically it would be nice to keep Shakespeare's account of March 15th with the soothsayer and the warning, "Beware the Ides of March they are upon you," intact, however, that's not history, but indulge me with some 'poetic license.' Caesar hopped into his litter manned by a quartet of slaves and headed out to the Theater of Pompey, no, not the Forum. So this would be the part where he allegedly (Thanx Kathy Griffin for this tip to avoid a libel suit) runs into the sage who had forewarned him previously to beware the Ides of March. Caesar chided him with a, "Ya see it's the Ides of March, and I'm still here!" Ah, but the seer reminded him not to get too cocky as the day was just beginning (11:15). As the great Yankee catcher Yogi Berra always said, "It ain't over til it's over."

The plot to assassinate Caesar had been brewing for a while and the ringleader was Brutus. Not that it had anything to do with Brutus and his band of brothers dispatching the tyrannical dictator, but apparently Big Julie had even bedded down Brutus' mother, Servilia. She was one of many extra marital conquests. JGC just couldn't keep his penis praeputio under his toga.

He was pushing the envelope all over the place. Just a month before Caesar had crowned himself king, actually dictator, the first one in Rome in half a millennium. Seems the last one in DIX b.c., Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud), had been ramrodded out of town by the masses for raping the daughter of a rich patrician (probably got some great tips from Harvineous Weinsteinius and not allegedly this time) and the people would not let him get away with it. Caesar also had the balls to order coins minted with his mug on them, unheard of for a living Emperor of Rome. 

Then there was the affair with Cleopatra. Had it not been for the torrid and illicit romance of these two storied lovers, Liz and Dick never wouldha been onea the hottest, stormiest and steamiest love affairs to ever come outta Hollywood. They met circa MCMLX on the set of "Cleopatra" with Rex Harrison playing Caesar, Liz Taylor as Cleo and the brooding Welshman, Richard Burton as lover Marc Antony (no, not Jennifer Lopez's throwaway). Liz and Dick smoldered together in technicolor. Hurry, hurry. Read all about it:

       “Emperor of Rome Knocks Up Queen     
                 of the Nile!
    Wowch! Queen Cleo Purportedly treated
     by local physician for rug burn!"     
Oh, the juicy details! Cleo even came gift wrapped rolled in a rug! They took this affair to the hilt, eventually having a bastard son. It had all the earmarks of good dirty dish! 

But the question on the tip of everyone's tongue re Caesar: Boxers or briefs? Neither...commando!!! Toga, toga, toga! Uuuu, ya gotta love a man sporting a toga with easy access especially crowned with a laurel wreath. Makes even the baldies look appealing. Gives new meaning to 'hold the zucchini' on that veggie panini sand order, AND fortunately for Caesar, not "the most unkindest cut of all." Seems his uncut penis was also "Home of the Whopper!" King Julius had been testing the waters for a while and these "liberators" as they called themselves would not have it any longer. There were a lot of nefarious goings on leading up to this. Details in place, the plot was a go. After JGC seated himself in his chair next to the Theatre of Pompey, the senators gathered around him, there was a kerfuffle, Caesar stood and Servilius Casca took the first stab, the second was the fatal one, and 21 stab wounds followed leaving "The Boss," pink slipped in a pool of blood on the floor. Hence the term "backstabbers" was coined and 2016 years later the O'Jays shot to #1 on the R&B Charts with their breakthrough hit:

Fast forward a few hours, servants came to carry the body back home and another milestone event in history. Caesar's body was the first on record to be autopsied. Friends, Romans, countrymen, Caesar has left the building.

NEWSFLASH...This just in: The motive of the assassins has been determined. This was pre Julian Calender times which meant Rome was still using the old lunar calendar. Did I hear a so what?!!! So what made it so the ides of March marked the full moon. Quisque insanus as they said in Rome!

The McRoman With Cheese Breakfast Sandwich 

Ciabatta rolls work the best for this quickie, on-the-go breakfast special.
Slice open width wise and drizzle w/EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil). My tasty twist on this: sprinkle with either grated parmigiano reggiano/pecorino Romano/asiago or lucatel cheese. Personally, I'd go w/the lucatel as it's a bit softer and melts better, and if you're planning on taking the podium and orating, I'd stay away from the more rank parmesan/pecorino Romano.
A dash of salt and freshly ground pepper.
Wrap in foil, set your sun dial for 7 minutes and heat at 275 degrees. Heating makes the bread crispy, melts the cheese, enhances the flavor and if you're preparing this for the don, it's the only way with fresh squeezed organic lemon juice laced with some honey to avoid a flogging. 

colei - balls, cojones. As the old, old, ancient saying goes - seni supino colei culum tegunt. IOW - "When an old man lies down, his testicles cover his butthole."
magister equitum - - right hand man; 1st lieutenant; wing man
penis praeputio - - uncircumcised - Foreskin rules!
quisque insanus - Everybody is crazy. En Italiano - Tutti pazzi!- everybody's crazy! Tutti pazzi!

All written material contained is copyrighted by Mafia Cook.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012



In the movie "The Godfather" Don Corleone's trusted caporegime "Fat" Peter Clemenza cemented his place in mob cinema history when he gave hitman Rocco Lampone, the sage advice "Leave the gun, take the cannoli." Not in the original script, late actor Richard Castellano improvised the now oft quoted legendary line. Tipping the scales at a deuce plus, the Sicilian bulldog looked like he had eaten more than his lion's share of those crispy sweet cream filled tubes.


One would hate to think what would have been the fate of hitman Rocco had he taken the gun and left the cannoli on the seat next to that dead strunz, Paulie Gatto. That Bronx bum soldato, who nearly got Don Corleone assassinated, defected to Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo. He deserved the three slugs Lampone put into his head. Had Rocco gotten confused in the heat of the moment and left the cannoli, he might've wound up like his paisan Luca Brasi sleeping with the fishes at the bottom of the East River.

If you grew up Sicilian, you're born with the cannoli gene.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are the two big holidays that are synonymous with cannoli - wouldn't be complete without platters of Italian pastry and cookies. There was only one place to get the best: Veniero's Bakery on East 11th Street in NYC's east village. Thanksgivings my dad and I would leave the house early, get on the Northern Parkway to the Midtown Tunnel then shoot straight down Second Ave. If it was early enough we'd make it in about 40 minutes. By 9 the line was all the way up the block and around the corner no matter how early or how cold. It could be zero with a wind chill factor of -20, but if you tasted these cannoli, you'd gladly freeze your ass off.
Same ritual to get into Radio City for the Christmas pageant where Michael and Kay were when Don Corleone was gunned down. That was always at least a two-hour wait to watch the precision kick line of the Rockettes, a movie and the nativity scene with real camels and donkeys on stage! 

Standing in the bakery line wasn't that bad if you pre-ordered
as my mother was always smart enough to do. There were a couple of other pastries besides the cannoli worth waiting for...pastaciotti, flakey sfogliatelle, but cannoli was and still is king. Baklava, eclairs and linzer tortes, none can compare. With an espresso/cappuccinno, it's a life-changing cultural and culinary experience. Then there's only one cookie that takes the cake; pignoli, Italian macaroons. Sorry Manischewitz, your wimpy, sticky, coconutty approved-for-Passover, blessed-by-a rabbi parve version just doesn't cut it once you've taken a bite into a pignoli made with almond paste and topped with toasted pine nuts. Follow this canolli recipe from an authentic Sicilian bakery brought back from Palermo where they originated as a symbol of fertility. Once your gumad gets a taste, she'll greet you every time with, "Is that a cannoli in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?" You'll have your guests dropping their guns, dancing the tarantella and begging for seconds! A capisce? 

SCORZE (shell)

1-1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons lard (live dangerously except
if you live in NYC where trans fats are now banned.
You can substitute new Crisco w/o breaking the law,
or start a new business bootlegging Crisco)but don't
expect the same flavor.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Red wine (Moscato or Marsala are best)
Squirt of lemon
Salt to taste
Sift flour, sugar and salt into a bowl.
Add lard, lemon and gradually enough wine to
make a soft dough. Wrap dough in a cloth and
let rest in fridge, best overnight. When ready
to use roll into a very thin sheet and cut
into 3” squares. Lay a metal tube** (gun barrel
can be substituted or 4-1/2 lengths of iron piping,
the kind used for a turban*)diagonally on each square
and bring 2 corners together, wetting and pressing to
seal. Deep fry (screw the free radicals!) the pastry
with the tube in hot oil until golden. When cool,
remove the tube and let cool completely.
Save in air tight container in a cool place till ready to
be filled.

RIPIENO (filling)

1/2 lb.ricotta cheese
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla*** (the
real extract, not vanilla flavoring
if you don’t wanna a visit from Rocco
Put ricotta and sugar through a strainer
(sieve) 2x and add vanilla.
Fill the scorze when ready
to serve. If you fill before,
the cream will soften the shell

pistachio nuts. Some like to mix in citronella or chocolate chips with the cream mixture or substitute mascarpone for ricotta. Plate and dust each cannoli lightly with powdered sugar.
If you wanna gain favor with the Don, serve with espresso
(don't be a jabone and call it expresso). Add a shot of anisetta with a twist of lemon peel and you'll understand why cannoli were the perfect Sicilian fertility food!

Mafia Speak Glossary

strunz - stroonz - worthless piece of shit; That strunz Paulie got what he deserved.
soldato - soul-dah-toe - a mafia soldier who's a made
man. Vinnie G got whacked for mouthing off even though 
he's a soldato.
paisan - pies-on - a bro, homie - Hey paisan, get me another
cannoli cuz this one's as soft as your head.
jambone - jam-bone - asshole; That Johnny "Picks" is some jambone. 
He never picks up the tab when we go out.
turban - tur-ban - to crack someone's head open - Didja hear bout that Vinny G? He got caught skimming, and someone gave him a turban.

*The Godfather" script, Paramount, 3rd draft by Mario Puzo and Francis

**If you live anyplace where they say Eye-talian, gun barrels abound
as this is good-ole-boy, card-carrying NRA country, but in a pinch,
heavy duty doubled aluminum foil will work.

 ***Watkins Co. This is probably the best vanilla out there and "Door-to-Door"
salesman Bill Porter is the go-to guy on this:

GUMBA GRAPEVINE: It's been rumored that since the NY ban on
 trans fats, local crime families are looking into bootlegging
 the stuff since cannoli sales have dropped off due to use
 of less flavorful substitutes and trans fat wannabees.

All content of "Dining with the Don" except for credited photos and
derivative credited works is an original work copyrighted by Mafia Cook. No portion may be copied or reprinted without permission of
the author.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

You're Gonna Kill Yourself Smokin' Those

The biggest news hype of the year. Geraldo looking for the sensationalism of scooping everyone with this stunt, gets left holding the sledgehammer!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I would like to thank my readers, paisans and followers for a fabulous year. A big thank you to my friends for your support and encouragement to get the engines revved up and going.

Due to all the tremendous feedback, Dining with the Don is not going away, however, it has morphed into a cookbook and will be published in the future serving up revenge with a side of ravioli.
Buon Anno Nuovo i salud!

Mafia Cook

Wednesday, August 24, 2011



I never met a "Godfather" fan who wasn't disappointed when Richard Castellano was a screen no show in "The Godfather II." Wha happened? Castellano, cousin to real life Boss of Bosses, Paul Castellano, (see "The Meathead's Dead I/II" posting) made Paramount and Francis Ford Coppola an offer they hadda refuse. Castellano wanted complete autonomy over his script lines, something neither the studio nor the director would budge on. Also, he had dropped 50 lbs. in the two years since "TG" was shot, and Coppola wanted the actor to start piling the pasta back on his plate and pack on the weight he had shed to resume his role as Fat Clemenza. Chances are they were willing to pony up a hefty salary as Castellano had been the highest paid actor on "The Godfather!" In the end he still said no. So Castellano was out and Michael Gazzo was in as the new Corleone Family caporegime Frankie Pentangeli, at least in the movie, but the book sequel, The Godfather Returns tells a different story.

Clemenza was like the Yoda of the mob dishing out his wisdom on everything from how to make tomata sauce for 20 men fighting a mafia turf war
to how to woo your best girl:
"Hey, Mikey, why don't you tell that nice girl you love her? "I love you with all my heart. If I don't see you again soon, I'm a-gonna die." 
to mafia bathroom etiquette:"Mike, you go to the restaurant, you eat, talk for a while, you relax. You make them relax. Then go take a leak. Better still, ask for permission to go. Then when you come back, you come out blasting."
Who knew about going to the mattresses before Fat Clemenza uttered those famous words? MICHAELANGELO (Buonarotti) -  Mikey B., a true renaissance guy who was put in charge of protecting the Florentine bell tower of
 The Sistine Chapel, The Creation
San Miniato al Monte during the 16th century Italian city states wars. He came up with the idea to hang mattresses on the outside of the tower to buffer the canon fire. The rich left the city (new?!)and rented out their digs to the military who slept on straw mattresses on the floor.
That Sonny's runnin' wild. He's thinking of going to the mattresses already*


In The Return of the Godfather we learn how Clemenza suffers his fatal heart attack. My take - Clemenza had an eating disorder and shouldha been in a 12-step program for his food addiction. "Hi my name's Peter C. and I'm a compulsive overeater. Hi Peter. Welcome," or a foodie in which case had he lived he would've had his own program on the Food Channel, "Cooking with Clemenza." Today we'll be making marinara for 40 guys holed up in a dump with mattresses. The fat capo had an insatiable appetite and was always ready to sit down and break bread the way he could go out and break bones, all in a days work. A snack might be a plate of antipasto, caponata (Italian ratatouille, a delicious appetizer served best on crostini or crusty Italian bread), a generous helping of linguine  with clam sauce (always white) and a couple of loaves of Italian bread. With a cigar after his meal, he was set at least for a couple of hours. 

A born story teller, one morning Clemenza was in the kitchen of a westside diner owned by one of his paisans preparing peppers and eggs while relaying a tale of how one night he fingered a government stoolie at Sally Tesio's while watching the fights with a bunch of gumbas. Clemenza's got a rapt audience in the guys in his crew and his friend's men. He has them all in stitches, but seems he got so carried away, he spoke his last words, "Swear to God his nuts are on fire. His nuts,"** has a heart attack and collapses onto the heated grill. Faster than you could say take the cannoli, his skin was crackling against the hot grill and his nice silk suit jacket goes up in flames. So on that crisp November morn in 1958, the last of the old Corleone capos, crispy fried Peter Clemenza, dispensed his last pearls of wisdom: "Every law has a loophole."***


8 large eggs
1/2 lb. Italian sweet peppers (cubanelles)
Cubanelles have a thin skin, not how you want your mafia hitmen 
2 loaves Italian bread 
Sea salt
Grated fontina cheese
Mascarpone (optional)
Olive oil

Cut bread lengthwise, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle some fontina cheese on both sides of the bread. Wrap in foil and stick in a 200 degree oven just to warm the bread and melt the cheese.

Cut tops off the cubanelles and slice lengthwise leaving one side connected. Wash thoroughly to get all the seeds out. You don't want the Don getting any seeds stuck in his teeth or worse choking on one. You might wind up being the first to die by having a crushed torso due to an over zealous hitman administering the 'Heimlich Maneuver!' Do the same with the bell peppers, but cut in strips.

Beat the eggs in a bowl
Salt and pepper to taste. 
Add a dollop of mascarpone for extra flavor and creaminess
Heat the oil in a skillet. I always recommend a cast iron one as I mentioned in earlier postings: it's multipurpose doubling as a great weapon
Brown the peppers lightly, remove from pan and wipe off excess oil in the pan  
Add the beaten eggs to the skillet 
Throw in the fried peppers and scramble the eggs while cooking folding in a figure 8 motion with a spatula
Serve on heated bread and cut into sandwich size portions.
I guarantee your taste buds will be singing like a stoolie to the feds!
494 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10018
(212) 947-7325

This just in: A stoolie has just informed me that the best peppers and eggs hero sandwich in NYC can be found right in the heart of historic Hell's Kitchen at Manganaro's Hero Boy.


Tips on Buying A Used Mattress


Today in Gangster History

1939 - Leader of "Murder, Incorporated", Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, surrenders to columnist Walter Winchell who then turned him over to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. 

*The Godfather script, Paramount, by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, 1971
  **The Godfather Returns by Max Weingarden

All content of "Dining with the Don" except for credited photos and derivative credited works is an original work copyrighted by Mafia Cook. No portion may be copied or reprinted without permission of the author.