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Summer 2007

JOURNAL Just Wanted To Hear The Words NIAF Ambassador’s Gala NIASHF 30th Anniversary Festa Italiana in Milwaukee Nick Stellino’s Family Kitchen Romanucci & Blandin, LLC 100 Years of Il Pensiero Vic Giustino and Chicago Exclusive Interview with


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CONTENTS Amici Journal Editorial...............................................................................1 Mayor Donald E. Stephens...................................................................... ...1 Jack Valenti............................................................................................... ..1 Danny Aiello Exclusive Interview.......................................................... 2, 3 The Ambassador’s Gala...........................................................................4, 5 My Journey With Autism.............................................................................7 Internationally Renowned Robotic Surgeon Joins UIC..............................8 Antonio Romanucci: Staunch Advocate for the Injured.............................9 Celia G. Gamrath of Justinian Society of Lawyers...................................10 Rod Pickett Teaching English in Italy.......................................................10 Frank Fontana.............................................................................................11 Marilyn J. May, President of River Grove.................................................12 Victorrio Giustino - Historian, Writer and Poet........................................14 Il Pensiero Celebrates 100 Years of Serving St. Louis..............................17 Tuscany......................................................................................... 18, 19, 20 What Happened to the WWII Movie Stars.........................................24, 25 Thanks for the Memories: Hotel Stevens............................................26, 27 Memories From the Past............................................................................28 Five Centuries of Italian-American History..............................................29 We Love Artichokes!................................................................................ 30 National Italian Restaurant Guide............................................................ 32 Venuti’s Ristorante and Banquets Grand Opening....................................34 Nick Stellino;s Family Kitchen and Recipes..................................... 35, 36, 37 Da Luciano Restaurant Review................................................................ 38 2007-08 Lyric Opera Season..................................................................... 42 Chazz Palminteri: “My Life in Song”.................................................................43 The Angelic Voice of Georgia Fumanti..............................................................43 And They Came to Chicago on NBC5 and WTTW11..................................... 45 Mother, May God Bless You................................................................................46 Amici Journal Poet’s Corner................................................................................46 Learning Italian in Puzzle Form..........................................................................47 The Banquet: A Tale by Anthony Maulucci.................................................48, 49 Don’t Miss Events................................................................................................50 Puzzle Solution.....................................................................................................52

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Benvenuti, Amici Journal is happy to announce that we are proudly entering our 3rd year. We thank all of those that have graced our covers in the past issues and look forward to those in our upcoming issues that have already announced to us their interest to be in our Amici Journal publication. In this wonderful issue we have Danny Aiello, an exclusive interview with a very interesting man. He has recently brought his talents to his first love Broadway and Music. A man that hailed from a working class family with six brothers and sisters, and their Mother single-handedly raised them, a very touching, and poignant story indeed. On top of the list is the National Italian American Foundation’s Ambassador’s Gala. The event was held April 12, 2007 at the Chicago Hilton and the evening’s host was Italy’s Ambassador to the United States Giovanni Castellaneta, Also present were legendary entertainer Vic Damone, actors Dennis Farina and Joe Mantegna. A host of notables braved a mid-April snowstorm to attend the NIAF’s Ambassador’s Gala. Mayor Richard M. Daley opened the evening by welcoming the guests. Their special recognition to famed actress Gina Lollobrigida and Academy Award-winning actor Ernest Borgnine’s impassioned speech about his parent’s immigration from Italy to America brought the gala’s guests to their feet as well as tears to ones eyes, while Lollobrigida received overwhelming applause when the Ambassador referred to her as “a legend for all of us.” And let’s not forget the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. They will be celebrating their 30th Year Anniversary Gala November 3, 2007. This is a place one should definitely go and see the Historical Hall of Fame is a wonderfully educational experience that will definitely overwhelm you. I recently visited there and it was breathtaking for me to see so many eras pass before my eyes. Also please take a look at what Amici d’ Italia has planned for October 19th, 2007. This is their first annual ”To Autism With Love” Dinner Dance. All proceeds will go to the Autism Foundations. One of our readers Provedence Chiappetta Huebener sent us a request to include a new column that would be called “Faces from the Past” where readers from their “old neighborhoods” could send in a photo of themselves with their name, and street they lived on. It would be enjoyable to see our neighborhood friends again and be sure to bring back some good memories. So please feel free to send in those photos and we will begin the Faces from the Past in our next issue. Please continue to send in your poems and any questions or comments you may have. We are grateful to those that advertise with us and look forward in continuing to do so, please keep us in mind for your advertising needs. Please send all correspondence to Amici Journal Publications, Inc P.O. Box 595 River Grove, Il 60171 or email us at Look for AMICI JOURNAL in your Local stores or order through the Internet on or call 773-836-1595 to receive your subscription. We look forward to our continued exchange, as we become “family” within our “Italian American Experience.”


Donald E. Stephens was the first mayor of Rosemont, Illinois, and a leading Illinois Republican politician. Stephens, born in Chicago, is believed to have been the longest-serving mayor in the United States; at the time of his death, he was in the middle of (1928 – 2007) serving his thirteenth consecutive four-year term as mayor of the suburban Cook County village. He had served as mayor since its incorporation in 1956. Prior to that, he had been the president of the homeowner’s association of the neighborhood that later became known as Rosemont. Mayor Stephens, you will be missed!



It’s with great sadness and emotions over the passing of Jack Valenti, former Kennedy and LBJ cabinet member, and 38-year head of that most reviled of entertainment associations, the MPAA, died April 26, 2007 at age 85. Jack was an extremely interesting individual and he leaves a profound legacy of influence in politics and the Entertainment Industry as we know it today. So long, Mr. Valenti.

Patience is the Mother of Victory! Sincerely Andrew Guzaldo Editor Amici Journal

Summer 2007 / AMICI 1

By John Rizzo

The year is 1948. The mother of a teenaged Danny Aiello has taken her son to try out for Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. She believes her son can really sing and can make a big splash on the hit CBS radio show. Now fast forward over a half a century to the year 2005. The now 70-year-old Danny Aiello is singing and swinging with a cookin’ 8-piece band at the venerable Blue Note in Manhattan. The patrons dig him and the critics dig him. Boy, he must have really been something special on that Arthur Godfrey show… Wrong!


he truth is, way back then, while he and his mom were waiting for the radio guys to call his name, Danny got so nervous that he excused himself to go to the washroom and just kept on going. So much for the show biz career of Danny Aiello, at least for then. But God did not give Danny a super dose of talent for nothing. And as we all know by now, the man has had a very distinguished career as a film, stage and TV actor with over 70 roles to his credit. Finding his calling in life, however, was not easy, nor did it come quickly. A third-generation Napoletan’, Danny Aiello was born in Brooklyn in 1933. Mainly his mother, who toiled in factories and did piece work during the war to keep things together, raised him. As it was for many of our families back then, times were tough, and for a short time Danny’s family was on home relief. “We never knew we were poor. Our houses were clean,” he recalls. As fate would have it, it took another kind of talent for him to get into show business. Fortunately, Danny was a very accomplished amateur baseball player. (The baseball influence runs strong in his family. Today Danny’s nephew is Yankees’ radio play-by-play announcer Michael Kay.) He was good enough to spend most of his stretch in the Army playing baseball in Germany in the early 50s, and when he got back to civilian life and went to work for the Greyhound Bus Company, he kept his athletic skills up by playing in various softball leagues. One such league was the Broadway Show League, where he was a standout and came to the attention of Budd Friedman, one of the league’s main organizers. Friedman owned the Improvisation Comedy Club at 44th Street and 9th Avenue and wanted Danny for a “ringer” on his club softball team. The only problem was, that to be in the Broadway Show League, players were supposed to be employees of league members, which Danny was not. Meanwhile, Danny had worked his way up from a P.A. 2 AMICI / Summer 2007

announcer and baggage handler at Greyhound to become president of a local in the Amalgamated Transit Union. In the middle of his two-year term, because of a wildcat strike, Danny was dismissed from the union and out of a job. Mr. Friedman, who coveted Danny for his baseball skills more than anything else, gave our hero a job as a bouncer in his comedy club so that everything would be kosher with the League. In the early 70s Danny witnessed a number of comics at the Improvisation start there as unheard-of nobodies to quickly become celebrity entertainers. These included Freddy Prince, Rodney Dangerfield, Richard Pryor and Bett Midler. “As I watched these guys go from nothing to something,” Danny remembers, “I couldn’t help but think, ‘Where am I goin’?’” He would be going places sooner than he thought. One of Danny’s responsibilities at the club was to cover as Emcee when Budd Friedman was elsewhere. This gave him an opportunity to work the crowd, to put his personality on display. One of the patrons who liked the emcee’s style was Louis LaRusso II, who cast Danny as the star of an off-off Broadway play called Lampost Reunion (which interestingly depicts an Italian-American nightclub singer). Because the play was so well received, and Danny was so good in it, the play was soon running on Broadway and its star was on the road to show business success. After a few more New York stage performances, including appearances in The Wheelbarrow Closes and Knockout, Danny went on to film stardom in such hits as Moonstruck, Godfather II, Once Upon a Time in America and Do the Right Thing. Aiello has also starred in a number of TV shows like Mario Puzo’s The Last Don 2 and the Lady Blue series, which was shot in Chicago. But for Danny, TV is not really his cup of tea. According to him, it is a “quick media” that is prone to mistakes. As far as acting goes, he prefers live stage acting over all else. And here Danny has some notable insights.

While many performers yearn for an audience’s loud belly laughs or the thunderous ovation, for Danny Aiello it is the silences that measure his effectiveness on stage. “When it’s so quiet that you can hear a pin drop, then you know that you’re really clicking,” he muses. He’s not the only one who knew the importance of silence. No less a genius than Beethoven himself, when asked what was the most important thing in music, after a little thought answered, “Ach, die Pausen.” (The silences.) Danny Aiello is intensely proud of his Italian heritage. “Can you imagine a world without Italians?” he exclaims. “Italy has given more to the culture of this world than any other nation.” He does not feel particularly victimized by the frequent portrayal of mafia types by ItalianAmericans. “It’s just acting.” But every now and then he does get a little irritated when some friends assume that “Danny can handle” some kind of situation that might require “violence or forcefulness” just because he’s Italian, an attitude that he is sure has been cultivated by the many gangster flicks. He also proudly asserts that “I’m a traditionalist,” and thus prefers The Godfather over The Sopranos because of the rampant profanity and graphic sexuality in the latter. Danny makes no bones about his political inclinations either. “I would never let a daughter of mine go to Washington and become an intern,” he avows. Like so many Italian-Americans Aiello is a converted Democrat. “JFK was my guy,” he contends, but Bill Clinton and his finger waving shenanigans and 9/11 changed all that. Now he eagerly supports his friend Rudy Giuliani for president and would actively campaign for him “if he asks me.” If Giuliani doesn’t get the Republican nomination he’ll “support Mitt Romney” for President. Given Danny’s rather conservative attitudes, how did he get along with Spike Lee? The notorious liberal was the writer/director of Do the Right Thing, the film that resulted in an Oscar nomination for Aiello as Best Supporting Actor. “He likes the Knicks, I like the Celtics,” says Danny. As for the film, “I improvised and rewrote a lot of my part and Spike Lee let me do it.” Lee also allowed the other actors to put more of themselves in their roles. By the way, the part of Sal was first offered to Robert De Niro, who had no interest in it and Aiello turned it down once before he agreed to do it. There are still a couple of Danny Aiello films that have yet to come out, notably The Showmaker, with Judith Light and Stiffs, with Leslie Ann Warren. There’s another film that Danny made with Joe Mantegna and George Hamilton in 2001 called Off Key that looks like it might be very enjoyable. It’s a spoof of the “Three Tenors” and Danny had a great time making it and heartily recommends it. “I play kind of a Pavarottitype character,” he says. But according to Danny, it has not been released in the United States. Fortunately, DVDs of this film are available and are easy to find on the Internet. Of course one of the reasons why Danny Aiello is doing so well with his singing is because of his fame as an actor. “There’s probably a lot of better singers out there that can’t get the kind of gigs or play the kind of places that I’m doing because of my notoriety,” he admits. “But I do it because it makes me breathe. It keeps me young. With acting you’ve always got a mask on, you’re being someone else. But with singing you’re yourself.” He’s absolutely right here because singing is the most direct expression of art there is, with zero media between the soul of the artist

and the audience. Notoriety or not, Danny’s singing ability should not be taken lightly. He does true justice to the concept expressed by the reviewer of the Hollywood Reporter that “Inside the heart of every robust Italian male is a would-be Sinatra.” Any fan of that special style of singing made so famous by a long line of Italian-American crooners will find his work on his CD I Just Wanted to Hear the Words extremely satisfying. It’s the kind of music you’d be happy to play for any occasion, including just laying back alone and listening. This CD has done so well that another one, made from a live

engagement at the Copa Club in the Sands in Atlantic City, will be coming out soon. His recorded work makes you anxious to hear him live. Hopefully, an appearance in Chicago is in the cards and just a matter of time. Let’s make it soon. Good nightclub entertainment is hard to come by these days. It is obvious that Mrs. Aiello was right about Danny after all.

Summer 2007 / AMICI 3

VIC DAMONE, DENNIS FARINA, JOE MANTEGNA AMONG AWARD RECIPIENTS AT CHICAGO GALA **Gina Lollobrigida, Ernest Borgnine, Chazz Palminteri Join Honorees**

(WASHINGTON, D.C. - April 20, 2007) Legendary entertainer Vic Damone, actors Dennis Farina and Joe Mantegna, and a host of notables braved a mid-April snowstorm to attend the National Italian American Foundation’s Ambassador’s Gala on April 12 at the Hilton Chicago. Mayor Richard M. Daley opened the evening by welcoming more than 750 guests. The evening’s host, Italy’s Ambassador to the United States Giovanni Castellaneta, gave special recognition to famed actress Gina Lollobrigida and Academy Award-winning actor Ernest Borgnine. Borgnine’s impassioned speech about his parent’s immigration from Italy to America brought the gala’s guests to their feet, while Lollobrigida received overwhelming applause when the ambassador referred to her as “a legend for all of us.” During the awards ceremony, NIAF President Salvatore J. Zizza presented Damone with a NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award in Music. Mantegna received a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Entertainment, which was presented by his colleague, actor/director Chazz Palminteri. Actor and Chicago-native Larry Manetti also presented Farina with the Foundation’s Special Achievement Award in Entertainment. Robert A. Mariano, chairman, president, and CEO of Roundy’s Inc., received a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Business; Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court Robert R. Thomas received a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Public Service, presented to him by his former Chicago Bears teammate Doug Buffone; and Senator of the Italian Republic Renato Turano received a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Public Service. Highlights of the awards presentation included Mantegna’s reminiscence of an Italian childhood and early career in Chicago, and Farina’s memories of a cultural clash between his Sicilian father and Tuscan mother. CBS 2 reporter Vince Gerasole served as master of ceremonies, welcoming guests both in English and Italian. Robert V. Allegrini, NIAF regional vice president of the Midwest and regional director of communications for Hilton Hotels Corporation; Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Phoenix Suns and NIAF vice chairman; and George Randazzo, president and founder of




1 4 AMICI / Summer 2007

the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame were on hand to celebrate the achievements of these distinguished Italian Americans. The evening also honored the region of Sicily and the Sicily-USA Partnership Project. NIAF is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. To learn about their programs and events, please visit




Pictured from left to right: 8 1. Robert Mariano, Joe Mantegna, Dennis Farina, Robert Thomas, Gina Lollobrigida, Renato Turano, Vic Damone, Ernest Borgnine 2. Dennis Farina, Joe Mantegna, Chazz Palminteri 3. Dan Corrado with Senator Rento Turano 4. Chazz Palminteri decorating Joe Mantegna 5. Mayor Richard Daley


6. Rick DiMaio, Dennis Farina, Robert Mariano 7. Robert Allegrini, Richard Daley 8. Janet Bedine, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Allegrini 9. George Randazzo, Salvatore Zizza, Jerry Colangelo 10. Vic Damone

Photographer Robert J. Dowey 10 Summer 2007 / AMICI 5


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MY JOURNEY WITH AUTISM By Deanna Jaconetti-Tyrpak


hile Autism has been the hot topic in the news across the information, while regulating her body and emotions. However, there was country, Autism has been the main topic of my life, both a missing piece. She could not understand why she was not in school with professionally and as a mother. I was working as a speech her friends, where she could bring her lunchbox and book bag. language pathologist in a special education classroom for children with I began to think about what seemed be the impossible. Two of my Autism in the early 90’s and pregnant with my only child. That is where colleagues, speech language pathologists, Linda Cervenka and Michele my journey with Autism began, taking my life on a new path. Ricamato, and I, set out in 2004, to create a school dedicated to the DIR™ My daughter Dominique was born and reached all developmental philosophy, the first one of its kind in the Midwest, that would serve milestones until 7 to 12 months old, when I watched anxiously as she students age 3 to 21, diagnosed with autism and related disorders. The began to lose her skills. She stopped babbling and her happy expression dream of Soaring Eagle Academy began: creating a unique place where changed to a face filled with worry and agitation. It became difficult to students defy current misconceptions of autism and learn to soar to higher play with her toys and her ability to calm herself and deal with life’s levels of learning, by engaging in dynamic, meaningful learning through frustrations became almost impossible. My joyful baby was growing up development of social interactions and relationships. A place where my 15 into an agitated, little girl, trying to live in this new foreign body. year old daughter, Dominique, can bring her lunch box and book bag, play I began to research approaches available for Autism and came upon and learn with friends and show her teachers that “she is so smart”. the work of Drs. Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder, who pioneered We have 30 families waiting for our doors to open this September the DIR™ (Floortime) approach. It was different from other approaches 2007. Please join us in making this dream a reality for our students, by available, that were behavioral in nature and accepted by the mainstream. making a tax deductible donation at our website: DIR™ focused on the humanistic aspects of Autism, with all learning based on the building of interactions and relationships, the core foundation of our life as human beings. The emotional development of the child and the ability to relate and interact with others, being the critical foundation for all future learning. DIR™ gave me hope of finding a way to reach my daughter. I had to woo her into my world, by first learning how to join her in her world. Floortime became our world as I joined her in the activities she loved, which meant I was lining up train engines and reciting her favorite videos. I followed her lead and joined her, while gently creating challenges that would encourage her to engage in interaction with me. I wanted to be her play partner even when she appeared to not want me to be. I wanted her THINK • LEARN • ACHIEVE • SOAR to understand the natural back and forth patterns for communication, so challenging for children with autism, but an essential building block for learning. Although she progressed, being Dominique was a constant challenge, as her body’s inability to do what she wanted it to do, caused her frustration and anxiety. Her inability to show people that she was smart and capable, frustrated her and was demonstrated through daily aggression: kicking, biting, scratching and head banging. DIR™ taught me to investigate the reasons behind her aggressive behaviors and understand that her body processed information from her environment differently than mine. I Deanna’s daughter, Dominique, 15 years learned how to acknowledge her deep feelings about her differences and old, loves spending time outdoors. The founders at an Autism brainstorm with her about strategies to cope with the intense feelings, she event, from left to right: expressed through aggression. Michele Ricamato, Linda Unfortunately, Dominique’s success at home never transferred to Cervenka, Deanna a school classroom. Educators never understood what it was like to be Jaconetti-Tyrpak Dominique. They only saw the unacceptable behaviors that needed to be extinguished. With low expectations, they never assumed that she was a bright girl inside a body that didn’t always support her. Instead, she was expected to work on tedious, repetitive tasks, like matching colored pieces of paper, while they observed her to cry and murmur to herself, “Dominique so smart”. She became more aggressive and her emotional well being disintegrated before my eyes. Mikey, 11 years old, son of Michael and When Dominique turned ten, I created an interactive, Judi Maggiore, looking forward to soon social and academic opportunity for her at home, using the attend the Soaring Eagle Academy. DIR™ model, that would support her emotional development and learning. On the first day of home schooling, Dominique looked up from her first attempt at adding single digits Matthew, 9 years old, son of Mario and numbers and said “Dominique so smart”. This time it was Angel Fillippo, waiting for school to open. with joy and pride in her eyes. She began to learn meaningful Summer 2007 / AMICI 7


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Amici Journal Publications

By Andrew Guzaldo An international pioneer in robotic general surgery has joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Pier Cristoforo Giulianotti has been named the Lloyd M. Nyhus Professor of Surgery and chief of the division of minimally invasive, general and robotic surgery at UIC. The appointment is subject to approval by the University of Illinois Board Dr. Pier Cristoforo Giulianotti of Trustees. “Dr. Giulianotti’s expertise in performing robotic abdominal, thoracic and vascular procedures will ensure that the University of Illinois Medical Center remains a national leader in minimally invasive surgery,” said Dr. Enrico Benedetti, interim head of surgery and chief of transplantation surgery at UIC. According to Benedetti, Giulianotti has perfected robotic-assisted surgical techniques for the removal of cancerous tumors of the lung and pancreas that are rarely performed in the United States. He also performs Dr. Enrico Benedetti robotic surgeries of the esophagus, colon, stomach and liver. Due to limitations with conventional laparoscopy, some procedures have remained best suited to traditional “open” surgery. However, Giulianotti has identified specific procedures, including one to repair aneurysms of the renal artery, that can now be performed robotically, said Benedetti. An experienced surgeon who has performed more than 8,000 traditional surgeries, 1,300 minimally invasive surgeries, and 650 robotic surgical procedures, Giulianotti has trained more than 60 international physicians in robotic surgery. He has served as head of surgery at Misericordia Hospital in Grosseto, Italy, since 2004. Giulianotti is president of the Minimally Invasive and Robotic Association (MIRA), a new international society for minimally invasive robotic surgery. “We are very excited about recruiting Dr. Giulianotti to the United States and to UIC,” said Dr. Joseph Flaherty, dean of the UIC College of Medicine. “His breadth of experience in robotic surgery combined with our expertise in engineering and technology will allow us to develop the next generation of robotic techniques and make them available to the public.” UIC ranks among the nation’s top 50 universities in federal research funding and is Chicago’s largest university with 25,000 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world. For more information about UIC, visit


ntonio Romanucci:

Romanucci & Blandin, LLC Trial Attorneys

Staunch Advocate for the Injured

By Chris Ruys

When speech therapist Deborah Giesler approached personal injury attorney Antonio “Tony” Romanucci about helping establish a place where adults with acquired brain injury can get together, heal, socialize and learn job and life skills, Tony didn’t hesitate. He spearheaded a fundraising campaign that led to the opening of the Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse. Now located on Chicago’s near north side, the Clubhouse offers a bright and cheerful setting for the 25-30 adults who gather on a typical day. They can participate in an exercise program, check their e-mail, help prepare lunch, or do arts and crafts. Mostly, it’s a place where they can have fun while learning skills that can help them get back into the workforce. “Brain-injured adults frequently face loneliness and isolation after they’ve completed physical rehab,” says Tony, a principal in Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, in Chicago. “Doctors may have saved their lives, but their cognitive skills are permanently damaged. The Clubhouse offers them a chance to become more productive, and lead independent, happier lives.” Tony, who served on the board of directors until recently, remains active. Last year, he introduced one of his clients, Tom Milnamow, to the center. Tom, who had suffered a severe brain injury as a result of an accident at work, became a regular visitor, taking Hon. Robert Thomas (above), chief justice of the Supreme public transportation from Fox Lake three times a week to provide volunteer services and Court of Illinois, was among six prominent ItalianAmericans honored by the National Italian American friendship to other brain-injured adults. Foundation at its annual Ambassador’s Gala held at the In April, Tom made the ultimate contribution: a $36,000 donation to the clubhouse, Chicago Hilton & Towers last evening (April 12). Pictured the largest it had ever received. During the check presentation ceremony, Tony announced with the Justice is his wife Maggie and Antonio Romanucci, he would retire a $4,000 personal loan, bringing the total donation to an even $40,000. a partner in Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, who served on “Tony has a natural way of bringing people together and inspiring them to do more than they the gala’s planning committee. Other honorees were singer Vic Damone, actors Dennis Farina and Joe Mantegna, thought they could,” says Stephan Blandin, his partner in the law firm. and businessmen Renato Turano and Robert A. Mariano. Over the years, Romanucci & Blandin has helped virtually thousands of people obtain Special guest at the event was the Italian U.S. Ambassador fair settlements for their injuries. The firm provides skilled, experienced representation in brain Giovanni Castellaneta, for whom the gala is named. injury litigation, burn litigation, nursing home negligence, transportation litigation, police car chases, workers’ compensation, construction liability, premises liability and product liability. Many of the cases they handled have resulted in million dollar-plus awards for their clients. Their largest verdict was a $17 million award for an innocent victim of a police car chase who lost the use of his legs and partial use of his arms. Tony’s philosophy about serving clients is the opposite of what he was taught in law school. “We were advised not to get too close to clients,” he states, “but I found that forming a bond enabled me to be a more passionate advocate on their behalf in court.” Despite the demands of running a successful law practice, Tony seeks out ways Tony is to help others. He has taken a leadership position in many professional and civic chatting organizations, and frequently makes fundraising a priority. As president of the Justinian with Society of Lawyers, for example, he led an effort to raise $50,000 that year, a portion members which went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wish of a child who is of the suffering from a life-threatening illness. Other funds went toward scholarships for ItalianMidwest Brain American law students and the Children’s Endowment Fund, a not for profit organization Injury that Tony founded to benefit children who are handicapped, disabled and in need. ClubA career in law wasn’t on the radar screen when Tony was a youngster growing house up in Chicago. The son of restaurateurs Dino and Anna Romanucci, he expected to during be a doctor. “I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives,” he says. “I’m living a recent visit. out the dream but as a lawyer rather than a physician.” He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a law degree from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Since 1987, he has practiced solely civil litigation, concentrating in catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death and workers’ compensation cases. He and Stephan formed their business partnership ten years ago. Among several awards Tony has received for his endeavors are the Chicago Police Department’s Citizens Bravery Award, the Italo American National Union Foundation’s Award for Excellence in the Profession of Law, and the Constitutions Rights Foundation’s Lawyer of the Year Award. In 2007, he was named for the second time in three years as one of the top 100 Super Lawyers in Illinois. He also was named by the Leading Lawyers Network as one of the top 100 attorneys in Illinois and one of the top eight practicing aviation law. He has an AV® rating from Martindale-Hubble, an award given to those who have been ranked by their peers as providing the highest level of professional excellence to clients. Romanucci & Blandin, LLC is located at 33 N. LaSalle Street, 20th floor, Chicago, IL 60602, and can be reached at (312) 458-1000 or by logging onto their web site at Summer 2007 / AMICI 9


By Nancy Colby By Andrew Guzaldo

From left to right: Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Celia G. Gamrath at the Justinian Society of Lawyers Installation Dinner


Celia Guzaldo Gamrath is the third female President of the Justinian Society since 1921. They will be celebrating their 86th year of a Society of Italian-

amrath began her legal career as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Thomas R. Rakowski of the First District Illinois Appellate Court. She joined Schiller DuCanto and Fleck LLP in 1997, where she concentrates primarily in appeals and post-trial motions in all types of matrimonial matters. She has a strong background in appellate practice and civil procedure, and is a skilled writer, researcher and appellate advocate. Ms. Gamrath is an adjunct faculty member of The John Marshall Law School, an active bar leader and frequent author and lecturer. She has published articles for IICLE, the Illinois Bar Journal, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, the Appellate Law Review and other legal publications. Her comprehensive paper on Motions to Vacate and Reconsider Judgments is annually presented by judges and taught to new judges at the Illinois Judicial Conference. Thanks to the leadership of immediate past-president Lisa Marino and her predecessors, the Justinian Society is vibrant and strong. They have increased membership and renewed participation, as well as increased funding for the Justinian Society Scholarship Fund, as well as the Children’s Endowment Fund, and raised more than $50,000 in grants and scholarships this year. The Justinian Society publishes a membership directory and has improved its interactive website, This year the members have continued to move the Society forward for the betterment of the legal profession, law students, and the Italian-American community. This is a team effort, and Celia Gamrath is not afraid of being overshadowed by the wonderful officers and committeemen that are surrounding her. Celia Gamrath states “it is a challenge being a lawyer, a wife, mother, and a person trying to achieve her goals”, however being blessed with energy and being supported and encouraged by family and friends, it is reassuring to her that there are others that believe as she does and put others and the community before themselves. In 1921, the charter members of the Justinian Society put building blocks in place, and each year the Society improves. The earlier leaders unfortunately had no role models or mentors. They broke new ground for mostly Italian-American men. These


lk Grove Sister City member, Rod Pickett, recently spent six weeks in Termini Imerese, Elk Grove Village’s sister city, to teach English at the middle school, Tisia D’Imera & Paolo Balsimo. Rod also taught English to adults in the evening. This is the second time that Rod has made such a trip. The normal school day in Sicily is from 8:00 -1:00, Monday – Saturday. Rod conducted two-hour sessions with a few of the students from Paolo Balsamo twice a week, in the afternoons. Three nights each week he taught a class for the members of the Sister City group and some of the teachers from the middle school. Generally our classes went late into the night! Rod says that the biggest problem Italians have with learning English is that words are not pronounced the way that they are spelled. They want to pronounce every letter. They say, “froo-EET,” for example, for fruit. They try to pronounce “for” and “four” differently. One night in the adult class, Rod and the students set up a mock restaurant. Rod served as the waiter. In pairs, the students had to order a complete meal and interact with Rod as they would a typical waiter. This was really a lot of fun and challenging for everyone. Rod also had the pleasure of giving a private lesson to Salvatore Gatto, an up-and-coming Formula 3 race car driver who lives in Termini. Once again the response from the teachers and students was overwhelmingly enthusiastic about having Rod back at the school. Everyone hopes that this will become a yearly event. Not all the learning went on in the classroom says Rod. “While I was there I was able to attend one of the many Sicilian festivals, the Almond Blossom Festival. The Almond Blossom Festival is a folk festival. This year, there were groups from Spain, Mexico, Ireland, Scotland, Croatia, Senegal, Malta, Sardinia, Bulgaria, Philippines, Lithuania, Romania and Turkey. Because of the time change, Rod watched the Bears play in the Super Bowl early in the morning. The game was announced in Italian and there was little crowd noise in the audio mix. The announcers must have said, “Incredible,” seven or eight times in the first half. The Elk Grove Village Italian Sister Cities Committee is always looking to welcome new members. You don’t have to be Italian, just have an interest in the sister cities program. For more information, please call 847-364-7000.

Pictured left to right, Agostino Calderone, owner of La Coppola, hat store in Cefalù, manager and Rod Pickett.

10 AMICI / Summer 2007



hey call me the Italian Stallion of Design. It’s a title I’ve learned to embrace. It incorporates my two passions: my heritage and my career. In 2004 I launched my television career as the underdog winner of a contest called, The Great Domestic Showdown that aired on ABC-TV. More than four million people tuned-in as I planned a wedding in 48 hours to be crowned the new Domestic Divo. With that title came a book deal and future television appearances. Now I’ve landed my big break and moved cross country from Los Angeles, California to Chicago, Illinois to host one of the top HGTV design shows, Design on a Dime. The show’s concept; take a $1,000 budget and makeover a problem area for a lucky, design-conscious homeowner. It’s a daily challenge, one I have been practicing for my entire life. My current success is directly linked to my past, my family and the foundation they built on two continents. My parents were both born in Sicily to families of craftsmen, tailors, and homemakers. Armed with only the skills of their homeland my parents immigrated to America in the 1960’s. Pared with a strong sense of Italian traditions and culture, they desired to fulfill the American dream. They created a home that embraced where they came from and where they were headed. I grew up with my “nonna” cooking traditional Sicilian dishes and attending family reunions where everyone enjoys a friendly game of soccer and stories about the old country are relived. This is where I draw my inspiration from. As an indirect descendant of the Renaissance, it’s only natural that my DNA is encoded by such masters as the sculptor

Donatello, influenced by the music of Monteverdi, my passion fueled by the writings of Dante the poet, not to mention the painters: Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo Da Vinci, etc. It is certainly no coincidence that so many people in the arts are Italians! As a young teen I always studied design books and magazines, looking for ways to express my creativity. I developed a love for painting and sketching, but I also started working with my hands at an early age. Cooking with mom and helping dad with household renovations led me to my first paying job. As a teenager I worked for a very talented painter learning unique decorative paint techniques. I also worked as an apprentice with an interior decorator learning the basics of room layout and color cohesion. While many of my talents are self-taught, I have taken numerous courses in design, painting and drawing and others. But my success comes from my passion. In my mid 20’s I created my own company where I custom designed theme parties and nightclub decor in South Florida. I then moved to sunny Los Angeles and became the party planner to the stars. My clients included such Hollywood celebrities as Halle Berry, Dennis Quaid and Jeff Goldblum, to name a few. While I ran a successful business I knew there was more to tackle. My television career really started as a fluke. I was surfing the internet one day and saw a casting notice for the reality show, The Great Domestic Showdown, and thought, what the heck! A friend helped me write something catchy, and I got a message back within an hour. They saw my picture — this long-haired, tattooed, tough-looking guy —

and asked, “Do you really think you could cook, design, and throw parties better than the rest of the world?” Well, we had one meeting, they loved me, and I got the call that I was cast. I am truly grateful and thrilled, to have won the competition. I hope I have inspired people to dream big and take creative chances in their lives. As for taking on the title of Domestic Divo, well I say it’s about time macho makes a comeback in the lifestyle world, and I am proud to lead that charge. I’ve honed my design skills on several other television appearances, including TLC Networks hit show, Faking It and another HGTV series, Take Over my Makeover. But it’s on Design on a Dime where my creativity is really put to the test. With only $1,000 to spend, I have to tackle boring bedrooms, lackluster living rooms or dingy dining rooms everyday. My design team and I consistently transform the ordinary into the awesome. The greatest part about the show is that it’s all a surprise to the homeowner. We do the work in secret and then it’s revealed to them at the end of the show. I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces. While the budget isn’t big, the results sure are and I can see the appreciation on their faces, and not to mention their screams of joy. Currently, I am busy working on my column in the Chicago Sun-Times and of course, busy taping episodes of Design on a Dime which air on HGTV (Locally on Comcast Channel 68). I was a bit skeptical about Chicago at first, but I soon fell in love with the windy city. It’s diverse culture and amazing architecture is truly inspiring and it has some of the best Italian food outside of my mother’s Italian kitchen! Summer 2007 / AMICI 11


Marilynn J. May Village President


arilynn May has been an active member of the River Grove community for over 37 years. She raised two sons, Anthony and the late Nicholas in River Grove. Anthony, as well as her father, Nick Taccio, continues to reside in town. Not only has Marilynn been involved in the community on a volunteer basis but also since 1986, she has served the village professionally in many capacities. She has held the titles of Assistant to the President, Deputy Village Clerk and Director of Personnel. In May of 2000, she began her service as a trustee on the Village Board and was re-elected as trustee in 2001, serving as chair of the License and Ordinance Committee and the Public Works Committee. In May 2004, she was appointed Acting President of the Village, and was elected Village President in April of 2005. Her commitment to the community branched out to encompass Leyden Township when she was elected to the township board in 1993. Currently, as the senior member of that board, she serves as chairperson of the Social Services Committee. Marilynn has been acknowledged for her accomplishments throughout her career including being presented with the Illinois Woman of Achievement Award from the State of Illinois, in partnership with the League of Women Voters and the Illinois Municipal League. Through both her professional and community work she has contributed her time, knowledge, and experience to the people of River Grove, and remains committed to strengthening the community’s reputation as the Village of Friendly Neighbors. Marilynn May is proud of her Italian heritage. Her grandfather Rocco Toce, emigrated from Corleto Perticara from the Provence of Potenza, Basilicata in 1907. He entered at Ellis Island and in the process his surname was misspelled and became Taccio. Mr. Toce then settled in Connecticut since there was a small community of people from his province living in Hartford. He worked there as a manual laborer for several years until he had saved up enough money to return to Italy and bring Marilynn’s grandmother, Carmina Maria Falcone, and her oldest Aunt, Maria Vincenza back with him to the United States. Her grandparents and aunt happily settled in Chicago in a small Italian American community. The Toce surname derives from an area in the north of Piemonte, near the Swiss border. Generations ago, it was not uncommon for families to migrate from north to south. Now their family has come back to Piemonte, but this time in the Langhe wine region located in the southwest of Piemonte. They are currently renovating a 200-yearold guesthouse, which will operate as a bed and breakfast. This area of Piemonte is renown for its wines and great cuisine. It is located about one hour south of Turin and about 45 minutes north of the Italian Riviera. Amici Journal is honored to have Marilynn May and the town of River Grove in our next edition in the Special Neighborhood Focus. 12 AMICI / Summer 2007

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Summer 2007 / AMICI 13


By Andrew Guzaldo


ictorrio Giustino’s father was from Mola Di Bari Italy and his mother was from Chicago, both now deceased. He has 2 brothers and 2 sisters whom are still living. Giustino was born in Mother Cabrinni Hospital on the West side which is now gone. After leaving Grand and Ogden, his family moved to Wicker Park near Division and Damen, where his father had bought a house. Since then he has lived in Lincoln Park area and presently for the last 14 years in Lakeview area. Giustino says, “As one adult in these neighborhoods, I have always been involved in community organizations.” Giustino attended Wicker Park grade school in Chicago, there after, he attended and graduated from Tulley High School, 1300 N. Claremont, Chicago. City Colleges of Chicago is where he attended for 2 years to receive an Associates Degree, the colleges where Wright and Amundsen. Giustino went further graduating from Roosevelt University Chicago with a B.S. in BMS Administration. To continue his education he went to Governors State University in Park Forest IL, where he landed himself a Masters (MA) Degree in Cultural Studies. Since graduate school he has continued taking other classes.Giustino has had an interesting employment history, even while attending high school. He had worked at Napoli Pizzeria, which was his dad’s place, doing general restaurant work. He has also worked at Wiebolts in the grocery department. He worked his way through college with several jobs such as a Grain Inspector at Credit Dept. of Allied Radio and has driven mail trucks for the Post Office. Upon finishing college he went to work for Allstate Insurance Company as an insurance investigator. There Giustino was promoted to Senior Staff in Management and retired after 30 years. During all of this time Giustino had also taught at colleges part-time including DePaul, Loyola, Governors State and city colleges. Victorrio Giustino is a single man, but he has a close relationship with his brothers and sisters as well as other relatives. From high school he takes with him many life long friends. As said before, Giustino’s father was born in Italy and as a boy he worked on fishing boats, later on the merchant ships and in the Italian Navy in World War I. Giustino’s father came to Chicago in the 1920’s and worked doing street construction, worked in factories and later opened a small candy store. He also owned Joe’s Tavern, and Napoli Pizzeria on Milwaukee Avenue. He was a member of the Mola Club on Avenue. Giustino’s mother however also worked part-time and when the kids were grown up his mother took full-time doing office work. Giustino says, “I remember growing up with a good family life, there were rules, and at a young age we learned respect!” In the old neighborhood, everyone knew everyone and someone was always around to help or look out for you. “I’ll never forget the old ladies who sat on their porch and watched, nothing got by them!” said Giustino. He says today they might be called front porch society. Giustino recalls playing in the schoolyards, parks, alleys and streets as a young boy. Some of the games played were kick the can, hide and seek, buck, baseball, etc. He also remembered walking the 1-mile to Humboldt Park made him feel like he was in the country because of the lagoon, fish, birds and trees. 14 AMICI / Summer 2007

The love for Chicago history started when Giustino was in the 4th grade at Wicker Park. His class had to do a 10 page Chicago notebook, which included photos, news clips and interviews containing Chicago people. A lot of years have passed since he was that 10-year-old boy and Giustino says, “ Today many say I am Chicago’s Historian!” What would entitle him to such an honor? Giustino has read new books on our city, a collection of over 1200 books on Chicago. A Chicago Native who has lived his whole life in the city, a winner of Grains Chicago Magazine, and one of the Pane Lists Chicago trivia contest over 20 years ago. He has also spent 10 years on WGN’S ED Schwartz Friday night time monthly Chicago historian show, leading over 500 tours of Chicago with people from all over the world, teaching classes on Chicago history, wrote articles on Chicago history as well as lectures, publishing guides to Chicago neighborhoods. Today he talks about Chicago on WJJG’S Cop Talk Program. The knowledge Giustino has of Chicago History has led him to meet many famous people. Among them are President Kennedy, President Bush Senior, President Clinton and Congressman Tip O’Neil. A list of others include singer Frankie Lane, the Belushi brothers, had dinner with John Agar (western star who was once married to Shirley Temple), also at dinner was old time star Marc Lawrence amongst many others. Giustino stated that there is a very significant attribution to the Italian community and the discoveries made by the famous Italians that somehow seem to have been forgotten in many people’s eyes, or maybe they have no knowledge of the occurrence. One fascinating Historical monument is a Michigan Avenue Bridge built in 1920 near the Tribune Tower. In the bust of the bridge are inscribed the explorers of Illinois among the names listed are, LaSalle, Tonti and others. Tonti was an Italian in the French service and one of LaSalle’s trusted Lieutenants. He explored the Illinois country and the Mississippi in the 1680’s. He helped construct the fort at starved rock. Many considered him the Governor of the Illinois territory; he is also called the father of Arkansas. Illinois became a State in 1818, which means Tonti was here long before that. It is time that Tonti is given the Recognition that is deserved to him and to the Italian Community as a whole. Victorrio Giustino recently developed a class on Italian American History then taught it at Wright College and the Italian Cultural Center. He is also one of the founders of the Italian American Veterans Museum in Stone Park. Since the radio show Cop Talk started, 5 years ago, Bill Jaconetti and Giustino have co-hosted the show, which is on Saturday mornings from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on the radio station WJJG 1530 AM. Mr. Giustino’s emphasis is usually Chicago history, neighborhoods and American History. And many are left in awe to see what his research has uncovered.

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Antonino Lombardo, publisher of Il Pensiero

n 1967 Antonino Lombardo and his brother-in-law Anthony Gandolfo began to operate II Pensiero, which means “The Thought”. Il Pensiero is an Italian/Englishlanguage semimonthly newspaper; there are 3 other foreign language newspapers in the St. Louis, Mo. area as well. Both Antonino and Anthony came from Sicily to America in the early 1960’s. When they purchased the newspaper that at the time was already 63 years old. Quickly Antonio and Anthony went to the drawing board to see what they can do to move the newspaper forward. And with their love for the cultures and traditions of the magnificent Country they arrived from, it made their task that much easier to accomplish. The passion for such love is obvious when one reads Il Pensiero. While working a day job to survive, they labored many evenings at the offices of Il Pensiero. The St. Ambrose Church and the Il Pensiero newspaper have long since been landmarks for the Italian community in the HILL of St. Louis, Mo. This all started for them as

a satisfying effort to communicate with the Italian community and keep their readers abreast of daily events and Italian culture. All their time was invested into the newspaper because of their dedication to the Community and to the newspaper. They now have a healthy 5000 circulation and it is climbing. They worked with their heart full force and it was not for the money but for the love of the culture that they so deeply desire. IL PENSIERO was founded by Luigi Carnavale in 1904, during the interest the St. Louis World’s Fair stimulated in Italian culture. Its first offices were in the 800 block of North Ninth Street before being moved to the Marconi Street location by Cesare Avigni, the publisher from 1916 to 1953. Avigni was described in the 80th commemorative issue of the paper last year as being scholarly but “always hesitant to ask subscribers for past-due subscriptions.” For information on subscribing please call Il Pensiero at 314-638-3446 or email

Amici Journal wishes Il Pensiero another 100 years of success so our children and children’s children can enjoy!

Summer 2007 / AMICI 17

TOSCANA By Dana Rohacova



uscany has become the icon of a heavenly idyll in Italy captivating all of its visitors with its natural and man-made beauty. Known for its landscapes and its artistic legacy, Tuscany is considered by some to be the most beautiful region in Italy. Six Tuscan localities have been made UNESCO protected sites: the historical center of Florence (1982), the historical center of Siena (1995), the square of the Cathedral of Pisa (1987), the historical center of San Gimignano (1990), the historical center of Pienza (1996) and the Val d’ Orcia (2004). Tuscany is a region of Central Italy, bordering EmiliaRomagna north, Liguria to the north-west, Tyrrhenian Sea to the west, Umbria and Marche to east, Lazio to the south-east. The territory is two thirds hilly and one fourth mountainous. The remainder is constituted by plains, that form the valley of the Arno River. Thanks for its diversity and uniqueness it is a popular destination for holiday travel. Who would not admire the rustic simplicity of the Tuscan countryside, dotted with small villages and peaceful vineyards? There are 10 provinces in Tuscany: Arezzo, Florence, Grosso, Livorno, Lucca, Massa-Carrara, Pisa, Pistoria, Prata, and Siena. The two most cosmopolitan are Florence, which is the capital, and Pisa. Certainly each of the provinces is worth to visit. The name Tuscany is derived from an Etruscan tribe that settled there about 1000 BC. Tuscia came into official use under the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD. Politically united under the barbarian Lombards as a duchy with its seat at Lucca in the 6th century, Tuscany was next set up as a county by the Franks in 774. In the 11th century the area passed to the Attoni family, who became an important power of central Italy. After the advent of the Medici as rulers of Florence in 1434, Tuscany was transformed into a principality. During the foreign invasions of Italy in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the Medici were twice expelled, but by 1530, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. conquered Florence and re-established the Medici family in power. They were now dukes of Florence, and within a few decades, Cosimo de’ Medici was made Grand Duke of Tuscany. After the Medici, Tuscany was ruled by the Austrian Dukes of Lorraine, who modernized the local administration, reorganized religious houses and enacted agricultural improvements. The march toward Italian independence, however, led to the end of the Lorraine rule in 1861 when Tuscany voted in favour of annexation to a united Italy. Florence was capital of the kingdom of Italy from 1865 to 1871. 18 AMICI / Summer 2007

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Florence is one of the most important cities in Tuscany, if not in the whole of Italy. It is a gem surrounded by mementoes of the Renaissance. Visit Florence for an unforgettable experience. Pisa with its Leaning Tower of Pisa and one of the archaeological miracles of our age - the magnificently preserved wooden boats from between 200 BC to 500 AD. Discovered in the marshes, the boats and their contents may not be removed from there in our lifetimes, and a carefully planned visit may mean that you can actually go to the dig itself. The still-medieval fantastic landscapes of Lucca will attract everyone who seeks a true relaxation away from the tourist trade. Simply enjoy the marvels and purity of this province. In the Tuscany’s Wild West - Maremma will get overwhelmed by its open wheat fields. This is the best area where you can learn about the Italian. End your busy day relaxing in the Saturnia. One of the earliest Italian cities, Saturnia boasts warm sulphur springs that makes it as famous a spa town as the English Bath. The important thing to remember about Tuscany is that it is not just culture and history; it also has some of the best nature parks in the Italian states, as well as one of the few bird sanctuaries in this country of fanatical bird-hunters. Once you get tired of all the sumptuous art, fantastic walks, histo-

hectares. The multicolored coastline of the sunny beaches of Maremma is blessed with transparent clear sea which can be enjoyed to its fullest as it claims to be the cleanest in Italy. Regional Park of Alpi Apuane was established in 1985 in the provinces of Lucca and Massa this park has an enormous space of nearly 21000 hectares. Often called as the park of the marble mountain it forms the grand backdrop of the beautiful Versilia beaches. The Apuane is known and appreciated by the rest of the world for its immense reserves of marbles, their deep abysses, their deep valleys, the great cavities of the subsoil and its varied flora and fauna. Regional Park of Migliarino, San Rossore, Massaciuccoli has an area of approximately 24000 hectares and was established in the year 1979. The territory of Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Tuscany park has its stretch along the provinces of Pisa, ry and health spas, then you Lucca including the municipalities of Pisa, Viareggio, San Giuliano Terme, can take a look at some of the Vecchiano and Massarosa. Tha Massaciuccoli Lake having a maximum depth of 2 meters is a creation of deltaic lagoon of the river Serchio and beauty not created by man. Arcipelago National amazingly has a huge bank of rich and varied flora and fauna. An Italian experience would not be ITALIAN without visiting a Park Tuscany is one of its own kind enriched with its few good restaurants, try the local cuisine, modern or traditional. You natural resources of flora and will enjoy Dipping my bread in extra-virgin olive oil and savoring each fauna. The park consisting slice of prosciutto. Don’t forget some good Tuscan wine. of seven islands has its own myth for its creation. The islands are believed to be the 7 gemstones fell from the tiara of Venus when she emerged from the sea. The gems known to us by the name of Arcipelago, Tuscany Elba, Giglio, Capraia, Gorgona, Pianosa, Giannutri and Montecristo has an terrestrial area of eighteen thousand hectares and a marine area of almost sixteen thousand hectares making it the largest European marine park. National Park of Casentinesi Forest was established in 1993 and has an approximate area of 36400 hectares and include provinces of Forli/ Cesena, Arezzo and Firenze. The park holds the credit of being the bestpreserved woods and forests in Italy. It is the greenest park in Italy where you can explore the rich flora nests and the diverse fauna of wolf, deer, roe deer, and golden eagle. Regional Park of Maremma, Tuscany is a huge area of lush vegetation, exhibiting the various species of animal kingdom and glorious beaches. The park of Maremma is located in southern Tuscany and is very much a part of province of Grosseto with a coast of about 9800 20 AMICI / Summer 2007

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n contrast to the ideals, opinions and feelings of today’s “Hollywood Stars” the real actors of yesteryear loved the United States. They had both class and integrity. With the advent of World War II many of our actors went to fight rather than stand and rant against this country we all love. They gave up their wealth, position and fame to become service men & women, many as simple “enlisted men”. Going off to serve the Country and leaving all behind. This page lists but a few, but from this group of only 17 men came over 70 medals in honor of their valor, spanning from Bronze Stars, Silver Stars, Distinguish Service Cross, Purple Hearts and one Congressional Medal of Honor. So remember; while the “Entertainers of today’s era have been in all of the news media lately we would like to remind the people of what the entertainers of 1943 were doing, (61 years ago). Most of these brave men have since passed on.

24 AMICI / Summer 2007

ALEC GUINNESS (Star Wars) operated a British Royal Navy landing craft on D-Day. JAMES DOOHAN (“Scotty” on Star Trek) landed in Normandy with the U.S. Army on DDay. DONALD PLEASANCE (The Great Escape) really was an R. A. F. pilot who was shot down, held prisoner and tortured by the Germans. DAVID NIVEN was a Sandhurst graduate and Lt. Colonel of the British Commandos in Normandy. JAMES STEWART Entered the Army Air Force as a private and worked his way to the rank of Colonel. During World War II, Stewart served as a bomber pilot, his service record crediting him with leading more than 20 missions over Germany, and taking part in hundreds of air strikes during his tour of duty. Stewart earned the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, France’s Croix de Guerre, and 7 Battle Stars during World War II. In peacetime, Stewart continued to be an active member of the Air Force as a reservist, reaching the rank of Brigadier General before retiring in the late 1950s. CLARK GABLE (Mega-Movie Star when war broke out) although he was beyond the draft age at the time the U.S. entered WWII, Clark Gable enlisted as a private in the AAF on Aug. 12, 1942 at Los Angeles. He attended the Officers’ Candidate School at Miami Beach, Fla. and graduated as a second lieutenant on Oct. 28, 1942. He then attended aerial gunnery school and in Feb. 1943 he was assigned to the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook where flew operational missions over Europe in B-17s. Capt. Gable returned to the U.S. in Oct. 1943 and was relieved from active duty as a major on Jun. 12, 1944 at his own request, since he was over-age for combat. CHARLTON HESTON was an Army Air Corps Sergeant in Kodiak. ERNEST BORGNINE was a us navy gunners mate from 1935 to 1945. CHARLES DURNING was a U S Army Ranger at Normandy, earned a Silver Star and awarded the Purple Heart. CHARLES BRONSON was a tail gunner in the Army Air Corps, more specifically on B-29’s in the 20th Air Force out of Guam, Tinian, and Saipan. GEORGE C. SCOTT was a decorated U. S. Marine.

EDDIE ALBERT (Green Acres TV) was awarded a Bronze Star for his heroic action as a U. S. Naval officer aiding Marines at the horrific battle on the island of Tarawa in the Pacific Nov. 1943. BRIAN KEITH served as a US Marine rear gunner in several actions against the Japanese on Rabal in the Pacific. LEE MARVIN was a U.S. Marine on Saipan during the Marianas campaign when he was wounded earning the Purple Heart. JOHN RUSSELL In 1942, he enlisted in the Marine Corps where he received a battlefield commission and was wounded and highly decorated for valor at Guadalcanal ROBERT RYAN was a U. S. Marine who served with the O. S. S. in Yugoslavia. TYRONE POWER (an established movie star when Pearl Harbor was bombed) joined the U.S. Marines, was a pilot flying supplies into, and wounded Marines out of, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. AUDIE MURPHY Little 5’5” tall 110 pound guy from Texas who played cowboy parts: Most Decorated serviceman of WWII and earned: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Silver Star Medals, Legion of Merit, 2 Bronze Star Medals with “V”, 2 Purple Hearts, U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, 2 Distinguished Unit Emblems, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One Silver Star, Four Bronze Service Stars (representing nine campaigns) and one Bronze Arrowhead (representing assault landing at Sicily and Southern France) World War II Victory Medal Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar, Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar, French Fourragere in Colors of the Croix de Guerre, French Legion of Honor, Grade of Chevalier, French Croix de Guerre With Silver Star, French Croix de Guerre with Palm, Medal of Liberated France, Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm.

So how do you think the real heroes of the silver screen acted when compared to the Hollywood stars of today, if stars of yesteryear said they would not fight for our Country, or speak against our great Nation. This is a very historical look of how a Nation survives with such legendary Heroes.



By Mike Ingrisano


n the May 2003 issue of the WORLD WAR II magazine, pages 62-64, there is a story about “Chicago’s Vertical Army Post.” In the midsummer of 1942, the Army Air Forces Technical Training Command commandeered several hotels to house GIs as they trained to be Radio Operator/Mechanics primarily to serve on combat crews. One of these was the Stevens Hotel, which in the 1940s was the biggest hotel in the world. Standing 25 stories high, it was dubbed unofficially “Chicago’s Vertical Army Post.” The two mezzanine ball rooms at the Stevens – the Boulevard Room, and the Grand Ballroom – had been converted to mess halls capable of seating as many as 2000 men at long, military style tables. Portions of the lobbies and mezzanines became recreational day rooms. It was at the Stevens that I lived for four months while I received my ROM training. I enlisted at the US Army recruitment office at 50 White Hall Street, in New York City, on September 3, 1942. After preliminary interviews, I was sent to Miami Beach, Florida, for six-weeks of physical training. Upon completion of that training, I was sent by train to Chicago, Illinois. In true military style, I really don’t know why I was assigned to radio school. Perhaps I had a “musical ear” or more probably, they just needed radio operators. So, on October 20, 1942, I was assigned to Class 8D, Unit 1, 993rd USAAF Technical Training Command, Stevens Hotel. As I recall, my billet was on the fifteenth floor (Room 1539 or 1562) on the north side, facing the Blackstone Hotel which was across the street. My roommates were Lew Tebeau, “Smiley” Wichter, and “Flippo” Phillips. I cannot recall where these fellows called home but I do remember that Lew was from the Carolinas, and he had the drawl to prove it. One of the advantages of our room was its location facing the Blackstone where the cast, including the chorus girls, were housed. They were appearing at the Blackstone Hotel Theater in a new musical comedy, “Kiss the Girls Goodbye,” starring Skeets Gallagher and Buddy Ebsen. After “lights out” it was not unusual for us to have many visitors to our billet who wanted to peek at the lovelies as they prepared for bed. We constantly had to fight off these characters. It became especially exasperating after the girls, realizing that they were visible, began to add a bit of strip teasing to their bed time performances. 26 AMICI / Summer 2007

But all was not play for the GIs in Chicago. We trained six days of the week with Sunday off. There were rooms in the basement of the hotel where we learned radio mechanics. Actual training of the Morse code was at the Coliseum, and we had to march from the hotel south on Michigan Boulevard, eventually to reach our class. This maneuver meant that we marched three abreast in true military fashion, while singing our favorite marching songs, “I’ve Got Six Pence,” and off we go into “The Wild Blue Yonder.” We spent many grueling hours learning how to master the new language of the Morse code and how to become radio mechanics, especially since some of us, myself included, had little interest in what made a radio function. “Mike & Joe”: 1/1/43 Mike Ingrisano, Joe Muraco

Stevens Hotel Lobby

Military discipline was also quite rigid. The entry hotel doors were guarded by Security Police. We had weekly inspections which meant that rooms and people had to be truly GI. And we were broken up into small platoons to continue our military marching, and feet coordination. This training was conducted at Grant Park, which as I recall, was across Michigan Boulevard and close to our hotel. But there also was some play. One Saturday evening (actually early Sunday morning), Lew and I decided to have a snack before retuning to our quarters. We walked into an all-night restaurant, and unwittingly ran into Skeets and Buddy with their wives. (As I recall, Skeets’ wife was “Girl Friday” to Walter Winchell, the columnist.) At any rate, they asked us to join them. Looking back, I guess it was their way of recognizing the soldiers and the war effort. The invitation and free meal seemed as natural as it could be, almost as if we were old buddies. The evening ended with a promise to leave

leave tickets for their show at the box office for the following Monday night performance. As promised, the tickets were waiting for us. We were seated practically on the stage: in row 6 on the left aisle, and within easy view of all the performers, including the chorus girls who provided some of our private nightly viewing performances. Another incident which has stayed with me all these years was the day I was walking on Michigan Boulevard toward the hotel and saw a Naval Officer approaching. I immediately saluted him, but then in almost hero worship I kept a frozen salute and turned my head to watch as he strolled away from me. He also turned, smiled and nodded. It was Benny Friedman, the famous All-American quarterback from Michigan University, who was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Station, and, I believe, played football for their post team. Before we took the physical to ascertain to what type of aircraft we would be assigned, we had heard the scuttle butt that any one over six feet tall would not be assigned as a radio operator gunner to combat aircraft, such as the A-20 Havoc, a light attack bomber built by the Douglas Aircraft Company. I mention that plane because after I had done research on the various possibilities, I was determined to fly in it. However, to qualify, I had to meet the height standard mentioned above. After I got on the weight scale, I casually bent my knees hoping to measure under my six-foot two inches. The attending sergeant obviously knew all the subterfuges and roughly told me to stand tall,

Right: Right:

Chicago room mates 11/29/42, Dragon Fountain, Grant Park. From left to right: Mike Ingrisano, Lew Tebeau, “Smiley” Wichter, “Flippo” Phillips.

and stand down. With that, my dream of being an A-20 crew member faded completely. I received my diploma as a radio operator/ mechanic on February 27, 1943. I left Chicago shortly thereafter for my first assignment with the US Army Air Corps Troop Carrier Command where I flew for the duration of my military service in the C-47 aircraft as a combat crew radio operator. When the USAAF’s Chicago Schools closed in July 1943, both the Stevens and the Congress

In front of the Stevens Hotel 1/1/43 Joe Muraco

returned to their civilian use. It is my understanding that because of the strict policing of the premises, the hotels were returned in better condition than they were prior to the military occupancy. Before our weekly inspections, we had to make sure that our beds were taut enough so that when the inspecting officer tossed a coin on the bed the coin would bounce back up to him. In addition, we had to polish every thing from our shoes to the brass knobs on every door in our rooms, and every door on our floor.

At Stevens Hotel 1/1/43 From left to right: Mike Ingrisano, Dan Murray, Joe Muraco

I never got back to Chicago until 1948, and I have not been back since. I went back to visit an old comrade who was a crew chief on my planes. He passed away about a year ago. My other mission was to get an interview for enrollment at Northwestern University’s School of Journalism. I never heard from them. But that experience did not dim my fond memories of life in the “vertical Army post” and of the friendliness of the people in the city that never sleeps.

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES. SEE YOU SOON, CHICAGO! Radio Class, Feb. 1943 (ever) smiling Mike Ingrisano is seated in the front row, 6th from the right.

Summer 2007 / AMICI 27


ey Dad,” one of my kids asked the other day, “What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?” “We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up,” I informed him. “All the food was slow.” “C’mon, seriously. Where did you eat?” “It was a place called ‘at home,’” I explained. “Grandma cooked every day and when Grandpa got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.” By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn’t tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table. But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it: Some parents NEVER owned their own house, wore Levis, set foot on a golf course, traveled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears Roebuck. Or maybe it was Sears AND Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died. My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer. I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed, (slow). All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers. I delivered a newspaper, six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which I got to keep 2 cents. I had to get up at 4 AM every morning. On Saturday, I had to collect the 42 cents from my customers. My favorite customers were the ones who gave me 50 cents and told me to keep the change. My least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.

MEMORIES FROM THE PAST We didn’t have a car until I was 15. Before that, the only car in our family was my grandfather’s Ford. He called it a “machine.” I was 13 before I tasted my first pizza, it was called “pizza pie.” When I bit into it, I! burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It’s still the best pizza I ever had. Pizzas were not delivered to our home. But milk was. I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn’t know weren’t already using the line. Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies. Touching someone else’s tongue with yours was called French kissing and they didn’t do that in movies. I don ‘t know what they did in French movies. French movies were adults only and we weren’t allowed to see them.

We didn’t have a television in our house until I was 11, but my grandparents had one before that. It was, of course, black and white, but they bought a piece of colored plastic to cover the screen. The top third was blue, like the sky, and the bottom third was green, like grass. The middle third was red. It was perfect for programs that had scenes of fire trucks riding across someone’s lawn on a sunny day. Some people had a lens taped to the front of the TV to make the picture look larger.

If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren. Just don’t blame us if they bust a gut laughing. Growing up isn’t what it used to be, is it? But one thing is for sure it was sure a lot of FUN! 28 AMICI / Summer 2007

Richard Capozola’s

1893 Jimmy Durante (James Francis Durante), one of America’s best-loved stars of vaudeville, radio, and television, is born in New York City. Known as the great “Schnozzola” (his frequent jokes about it included a frequent self-reference that became his nickname), Durante begins as a piano player on the Lower East Side in a career that spans some 70 years until his death in 1980. His own novelty composition “Inka Dinka Doo,” became his signature song for practically the rest of his life. Durante made himself a bigger name with his nationally-broadcast radio variety show in the 1940s. Durante’s radio show was bracketed with two trademarks: “Inka Dinka Doo” as his opening theme, and the invariable signoff that became another familiar national catchphrase: “Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.” What Durante’s fans didn’t know, until after his own death, was that the sign-off was his personal salute to his late first wife, Jeanne Olsen, whom he married June 19, 1921. They stayed married until her death on Valentine’s Day in 1943. “Calabash” was a typical Durante mangle of Calabasas, the southern California locale where the couple made their home for the last years of her life. Durante made his television debut on November 1, 1950, though he kept a presence in radio as one of the frequent guests on Tallulah Bankhead’s two-year, NBC comedy-variety show, The Big Show. A highlight of the show was Durante and Thomas, whose own nose rivaled Durante’s, in a routine in which Durante accused Thomas of stealing his nose. “Stay outta dis, No-Nose!” Durante barked at Bankhead to a big laugh. If Valentine’s Day proved a day of sorrow for the comedian, he made Christmas Day, 1961, even more joyous than usual when he married his second wife, Marjorie Little, whom he had befriended for 16 years after meeting her at the Copacabana, where she worked as a hatcheck girl. She was 39, he 67, when they married. The couple adopted a baby, Cecelia Alicia (nicknamed CeCe), who became a horseback-riding instructor near San Diego.

Jimmy’s love for children continued through the Fraternal Order of Eagles, who among many causes raise money for handicapped and abused children. Jimmy performed for many years at Eagles conventions free of charge, not even accepting travel money. The Fraternal Order of Eagles in his honor changed the name of their Children’s Fund to the Jimmy Durante Children’s Fund, and in his memory have raised over 20 million dollars to help children. An acquaintance once remarked of Durante, “You could warm your hands on this man”. Durante continued his film appearances through 1963. The television work also included a series of commercial spots for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes cereals . One of his last appearances was in a memorable television commercial for the 1973 Volkswagen Beetle, where he proclaimed that the new, roomier Beetle had “plenty of breathin’ room.... for da old schnozzola!” In 1963, Durante recorded an album of pop standards, September Song. His gravelly interpretation of “As Time Goes By” accompanied the opening credits of the romantic comedy hit, Sleepless in Seattle, while his version of “Make Someone Happy” launched the film’s closing credits. The former number appeared on the film’s bestselling soundtrack. Jimmy Durante passed away of pneumonia in Santa Monica, California, aged 86, and was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City. Aside from “It’s a catastastroke!” (for “catastrophe,”) Durante sent such catch-phrases as “Everybody wantsta get inta the act!”, “Oombriago!” and “Ha-cha-cha-chaaaaaaa!” into the vernacular.

1897 Giuliemo Marconi, the “Father of Radio,” receives a patent for “The Wireless.” Through the years, thousands of lives are saved by “SOS” calls for help. Perhaps, the most famous SOS is sent by the sinking liner TITANIC to the S.S. CARPATHIA, saving 717 lives in 1912. (Marconi, a frequent visitor to America, never became a United States citizen). Summer 2007 / AMICI 29

can be steamed or boiled, but traditionally it is stuffed and baked. Campania - The Campania is a large red artichoke. It is the world’s largest red artichoke as some have been harvested that weigh over 2 pounds. Like the Lyon, it also comes from extensive breeding program in Southern France and its usage is similar to the Lyon. Big Heart - This is a large green variety and has a slightly blocky shape with a fairly flat top. This is the world’s first patented artichoke seed and was developed in California by Rusty Jordan with supervision of Dole Vegetables. It has been grown from southern California to the Salinas valley.

Health Benefits Since ancient times, the artichoke has been used for liver and gallbladder conditions, ‘cleaning’ the blood, as well as the bladder. Today we know that the artichoke is very high in fibre, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and other trace



rtichokes are three types of vegetables. This article is about true artichokes or the Globe artichoke (Cynar scolymus), member of the thistle family. There is also Jerusalem artichoke that is a member of the sunflower family and is not a true artichoke at all - it is the tuber that is eaten. Chinese artichoke is a species of woundwort and the edible part of the plant is the tuber. A member of the thistle family, the Globe artichoke is the authentic, leafy vegetable. It’s also called the green artichoke or the French artichoke, although the word “artichoke” is derived from the northern Italian word “articiocco,” referring to its pine cone shape.

elements important for a balanced system. It is known to positively help poor liver function (thus helping to lower the blood cholesterol), arteriosclerosis, gout, supports the treatment of hepatitis and improves the gall secretions. It can slightly lower the blood sugar, improve the appetite and digestion, is diuretic and may help some migraine conditions (most especially those caused by toxins in the blood). As it helps the body rid itself of excess water and moves toxins it also has the added side effect of an improved skin luminosity. Artichokes are naturally fat-free and low in calories (one globe has about 25 calories).

How to select and cook artichokes

History It appears that the artichoke was first developed in Sicily, Italy. There is mention of the plant in Greek and Roman literature as far back as 77AD. Artichokes were cultivated by the North African Moors near Granada Spain about 800AD. The choke made to England in about 1548 but was not well received. The Spanish settlers brought artichokes to California in the 1600’s. They did not become widely grown or used in California until the 1920’s. 

Globe Artichoke varieties Lyon - The Lyon is a very round, very large green artichoke. It features tight, compact leaves or bracts, and is very heavy. The bracts are very thick, tender and meaty. The flavor is very mild with out the bitterness some artichoke varieties can have. The Lyon comes from Southern France. It is best prepared steamed or boiled, but it can also be stuffed and baked or even marinated raw. Fiesole - The sizing of the Fiesole can run from babies to large and the color is very deep red wine color. It is so red as to appear purple or violet. It is square or blocky shape. It is tender and has a “nutty” flavor. This artichoke is related to the famous Violettos of Southern France and Tuscany. The name comes from a small town north of Florence. It is available as a baby, which is very special. It is best used steamed or boiled (it keeps its color!) or trimmed and sauteed. Anzio - Ranging in size from medium to large, these red artichokes are not as red as the Fiesole, nor as large as the Lyon. This artichoke is related to the famous Romanesco variety from the region of Rome (Lazio). It is the prime ingredient of Carciofi alla Romana or Carciofi alla Guideca. It 30 AMICI / Summer 2007

Choose globes that are dark green, heavy, and have “tight” leaves. Don’t select globes that are dry looking or appear to be turning brown. If the leaves appear too “open” then the choke is past its prime. You can still eat them, but the leaves may be tough. (Don’t throw these away you can always make artichoke soup). Once trimmed, the Spanish or Italian artichoke (you can eat the whole choke) can be cooked whole, sliced lengthways, halved, quartered or chopped, pre-cooked in a little water or broth and used in rice and potato dishes, salads or as a topping for pizzas. They can be fried, steamed, boiled, stuffed, chopped with other ingredients for a filling for tomatoes, served with sauces. Then there’s quiche and pasta you are only limited by your imagination!

T 5201 ST. CHARLES RD., BELLWOOD, IL 60104 • Phone: 708-544-0380, Fax: 708-544-3362 Hours: Closed Mondays; Tues - Thurs 10:30 am - 12 Mid; Fri & Sat 10:30 am - 2 am; Sun 11 am - 11 pm


2007 national italian restaurant guide CHICAGO AND SUBURBS, IL 3 Olives Restaurant / Twist Lounge 8318 W. Lawrence Ave. Norridge, IL 60706 Phone: (708) 452-1545 Caponies Trattoria 3350 N. Harlem Ave. Chicago, IL 60634 Phone: (773) 804-9024 Capri Ristorante Italiano, Inc. 1238 W. Ogden Ave. Naperville, IL 60563 Phone: (630) 778-7373 Gioacchino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria 5201 St. Charles Rd. Bellwood, IL 60104 Phone: (708) 544-0380 Il Vicinato 2435 S. Western Ave. Chicago, IL 60608 Phone: (773) 927-5444

Vince’s Italian Restaurant 4747 N. Harlem Ave. Chicago, IL 60634 Phone: (708) 867-7770 Bacco Ristorante & Bar 107 Salem St. Boston, MA 02113 Phone: (617) 624-0454 Fiorella’s 187 North St. Newton, MA 02460 Phone: (617) 969-9990 Ristorante Villa Francesca 150 Richmond St. Boston, MA 02109 Phone: (617) 367-2948 Sorento’s Italian Gourmet 86 Peterborough St. Boston, Ma, 02215 Phone: (617) 424-7070 MILWAUKEE, WI

Mama Luna’s Restaurant 5109 W. Fullerton Ave. Chicago, IL 60639 Phone: (773) 889-3020 Osteria via Stato 620 N. State St. Chicago, IL 60610 Phone: (312) 642-8450

Alioto’s 3041 N. Mayfair Rd. Milwaukee, WI 53222 Phone: (414) 476-6900 Buca di Beppo 1233 N. Van Buren St. Milwaukee, WI 53202 Phone: (414) 224-8672 Carini’s La Conca D’oro 3468 N. Oakland Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53211 Phone: (414) 963-9623

Spacca Napoli Pizzeria 1769 W. Sunnyside Ave. Chicago, IL 60640 Phone: (773) 878-2420 Tony Spavone’s Ristorante 266 W. Lake St. Bloomingdale, IL 60108 Phone: (630) 529-3154 Venuti’s Ristorante & Banquets 2251 W. Lake St. Addison, IL 60101 Phone: (630) 376-1500

Sala Da Pranzo 2613 E. Hampshire Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53211 Phone: (414) 964-2611

NAPLES, FL Trattoria Milano Italian 336 9TH St. N Naples, FL 34102 Phone: (239) 643-2030



Borgo Antico Italian Restaurant 22 E. 13th St. New York, NY 10003 Phone: (212) 807-1313

Favazza’s 5201 Southwest Ave. St. Louis, MO 63139 Phone: (314) 772-4454

Carmine’s 2450 Broadway New York, NY 10024 Phone: (212) 362-2200

John Mineo’s Italian 13490 Clayton Rd. St. Louis, MO 63131 Phone: (314) 434-5244

Carmine’s Rhode Island - NEW! 100 Twin Rivers Rd. Lincoln, RI 02865 Phone: (401) 475-8600

Modesto Tapas Bar & Restaurant 5257 Shaw Ave. St. Louis, MO 63110 Phone: (314) 772-8272

Massimo al Ponte Vecchio 206 Thompson St. New York, NY 10012 Phone: (212) 228-7701 PHILADELPHIA, PA Dante & Luigi’s 762 S. 10th St. Philadelphia, PA 19147 Phone: (215) 922-9501 Dolce` 241 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19106 Phone: (215) 238-9983 Mama Yolanda’s Italian Restaurant 746 S. 8TH St. Philadelphia, PA 19147 Phone: (215) 592-0195 Mio Sogno Italian Restaurant scolanza 2221 Clement St. San Francisco, CA 94121 Phone: (415) 668-2221

Tony’s Restaurant 410 Market St. St. Louis, MO 63102 Phone: (314) 231-7007 INDIANAPOLIS, IN Amici’s Downtown Italian 601 E. New York St. Indianapolis, IN 46202 Phone: (317) 255-3096 Ambrosia Ristorante 915 E. Westfield Blvd. Indianapolis, IN 46220 Phone: (317) 255-3096 Mama Carolla’s Old Italian Restaurant 1031 E. 54TH St. Indianapolis, IN 45220 Phone: (317) 259-9412

Puccini & Pinetti 129 Ellis St. San Francisco, CA 94102 Phone: (415) 392-5500 Ristorante Umbria 198 2nd St. San Francisco, CA 94105 Phone: (415) 546-6985


Venuti’s Ristorante and Banquets Warm Setting and Fine

2251 W. Lake St. Addison, IL 60101 Phone: 630-376-1500 Fax: 630-376-1503

Lavish Accommodation for

Italian Cuisine

Up to 1000 Guests

Dining Indoors

Three opulent Bridal Suites

Or on the

Quaint Chapel

Patio Restaurant

For up to


100 guests

Monday - Saturday

Dramatic marble

11:00am - 11:00pm

Double Staircase

Sunday 12:00am - 9:00pm

And Giant Dance Floor

Venuti’s Ristorante and Banquets Review by John Rizzo


or the past year it seems like the loudest buzz in Chicagoland’s Italian-American community surrounded the opening of the new Venuti’s Ristorante and Banquets. Let me tell you that the buzz was well justified. Perched like some latter-day Taj Mahal on Lake Street on a hill on the northwest edge of Addison, Ill., the new Venuti’s was obviously designed in the classic Greco-Roman tradition. From the outside, the striking white structure is set like a jewel against the natural background of a sizable piece of land, ensuring that the view will remain impressive, no matter how much real estate development ensues over the years. According to Frank Venuti, the business head of the family, the Venuti’s have “owned this property for fourteen years,” and have lived for the time that they could open a banquet facility second to none. Once you get inside the palatial villa, you can’t help but think that it was definitely worth the wait. “Elegance” is the single word that best describes the feeling you get, taking in the graceful columns and white marble interior. The expertly designed lighting issues a subtle chiaroscuro that highlights the delicate appointments but does not glare. I can testify that an event will truly be special here because the Columbian Club, of which I am a proud member, has had two affairs here already. Both the Annual DinnerDance and the St. Joseph’s Table were

held at Venuti’s and were spectacularly successful, due in no small part to the beauty of the environs and the excellence of the food. Okay. So you have this wonderful Frank Santorelli place and everyone that goes there loves it but you have still invested a small fortune in it and you have to get the word out. The banquet business is extremely competitive and your marketing strategy is vital. So what do you do? How about inviting hundreds of the top business people in Chicago to a gala party with top-notch 34 AMICI / Summer 2007


entertainment to show them just what a Venuti event can be? This is exactly what Frank Venuti did on April 17th. Held in the Venuti Grand Ballroom, the festive occasion that marked the first anniversary of the establishment’s opening was a memorable triumph. None but the most routinely pampered could be other than overwhelmed by the grandeur of the event. The food and drink was magnificent. This was the kind of party fare that one fantasizes about for a Hollywood affair. If you could not find what you liked then there had to be something wrong with you. There were stations with cheeses, salads, vegetables, garnishes, sweets and meats. And these never ran out. Here were mountains of boiled jumbo shrimp, piles of smoked salmon and a chef dishing out razor-thin slices of Prosciutto di Parma. And for the thirsty (which everyone is when the liquor is free), there were about six open bars where you could get anything you wanted. There was one large bar right near the entrance devoted strictly to all types

of Venuti’s famous martinis. And if this were not enough, beautiful girls, dolled up like flamingos, Las Vegas style, made the rounds over and over again with glassfuls of Dom Perignon! This was truly a feast fit for a king. Onesti Entertainment came up with a brilliant entertainment package, but this time they really outdid themselves with a show that featured Frankie Avalon and the Temptations. Warming things up was stand-up comic Frank Santorelli, whom most of us know as George, the bartender of the Bada Bing! on the Sopranos (the poor soul who Tony’s beating up on all the time). Actually, Frank’s a great guy, and when I had a moment to talk to him, he mentioned how much he likes coming to Chicago and working with Ron Onesti. We also exchanged stories about how ecstatic we were when our respective teams, the Red Sox and the White Sox, swept the World Series after an interminable wait for a

2251 Lake St.; Addison, IL 630-376-1500

championship. Of course the cornerstone of Onesti’s multimedia production was Frankie Avalon, who was appropriately introduced by way of some his familiar “Beach” movie clips with Annette Funicello. Accompanied by an outstanding 6-piece band that features his son, Frankie Jr. on drums, Avalon not only sang some of his golden oldies, like “Dede Dinah,” but also Frankie Avalon delivered some real swinging renditions of a few of the great standards like Rogers and Hart’s “Where or When.” What a treat! You don’t get to hear singers like him every day. Needless to say,

the Venutis super bash was a lot of fun and Frank Venuti would be a super host for any kind of event you may plan. If you’re planning an event of the more modest variety, Venuti’s new Ristorante is just the ticket. Classy and airy with high ceilings, the looks of the place remind me of one of those fancy villas in the Tre laghi corner of Italy. Unfortunately some pressing business made time an issue, so we couldn’t indulge in dessert, but everything else was very delightful, and definitely worth recommending. We had some very tasty appetizers, an alluringly presented Caprese salad, a very hearty pasta e fagiol’, linguini con pesto (not on the menu, you have to ask for it), some succulent crab legs and veal parmigian’ – all very good. But the dish better than just about anywhere I’ve ever been was the pasta carbonara, made so delicately that is was a real revelation. Although I only had time for a couple of glasses of house wine, perusing their very extensive and comprehensive wine list was a lot of fun, especially for an old fancier of the grape like myself. Every Italian region was well represented with its characteristic vintages. Also on the list were fine wines from California and Australia. With bottles starting at around $22, there’s a decent wine for any budget. If you have to travel a ways to get to Venuti’s, it’s worth the trip!

“The only difference between you and me is that I’m on TV and you’re not,” claims Nick Stellino on his popular Italian cooking show, Family Kitchen. In the sense that we’re all God’s children, this may be true. But in fact, very, very few of us will ever match the achievements of a Nick Stellino.


nown to millions as the affable chef who makes cooking mouth-watering and inventive Italian dishes look easy, “what you see on TV is really the least thing I do,” Nick reveals. “Cooking is just my hobby.” Perhaps. Nevertheless it was his talent and “all-consuming” passion for Italian cooking that led directly to his current position as the head of a high-powered and very successful marketing company, Nick Stellino Productions, which boasts such heavy-duty clients as: Domino Sugar, C&H Sugar, Pompeian Olive Oil, Bolla Wines and Maurice Lacroix Luxury Watches. As we’ll see, stubborn persistence plays a huge role in the Nick Stellino success story, but as is the case with most celebrities who had to work their way to the top, fate also took a hand at critical points along the way. One such an instance was Nick’s birth in 1958. At that time, Nick’s father, Vincenzo, a Palermo art dealer, had planned on emigrating to America. He even had the ship picked out for the crossing, the Marriuccia. Interestingly, Vincenzo had applied for immigration as a chef, because this profession had the best chance for approval. But with Nick’s arrival, the family decided to stay in Sicily for the sake of stability. It was by chance that Nick came to America. One of the parents of a friend with whom he played basketball told Nick about an exchange student program, and the young man applied (without his parents’ knowledge). Accepted at University of California, Santa Rosa, Nick proudly announced his good fortune to his delighted parents and he traveled to the USA by himself at the age of 17 (by plane, not by ship.)

Photo by Robert Duron Photography

NICK STELLINO’S FAMILY KITCHEN By John Rizzo After a year of college in California, Nick met up with his father, who was traveling on business in Scottsdale, Arizona. When the youth awoke one morning in his hotel, he scented the aroma of orange blossoms, which immediately reminded him of his native Sicily. Prompted by this whiff of home, Nick transferred to Arizona State in Tempe, where he finished his studies as a Business major. During those three years, Nick often longed to be back home and regularly phoned his parents, usually while he ate his meals, alone in the dormitory. Realizing that her son might feel better if he had the kind of food he was raised on, Nick’s mother, Massimiliana, sent him a handwritten book of her recipes. Nick recalls how her concoctions did not read like a regular cookbook. “Don’t put this or that ingredient in like Aunt Such-and-such, it will make you sick. Make it with these like Aunt So-and-so,” his mother admonished. From this Nick learned to cook like an Italian, first for himself, then for his fellow students. It was an art that would serve him well. Upon graduation and meeting and marrying his wife, Nick moved to Los Angeles where he became a stockbroker with Merrill-Lynch. Even at this trade, his skill at Italian cooking helped him to flourish. “I paid this restaurant rent for the use of a couple of burners in the kitchen,” remembers Nick.

While many salesmen close deals over dinner, Nick was special because he would take his prospect back to the kitchen and actually cook the dinner himself. With this personal touch and the discipline to make innumerable phone calls, Nick became extremely successful in his chosen field. Despite his success in the financial world Nick was aware of an ever-increasing emptiness inside. Things came to a head when his beloved Uncle Giovanni, his mother’s brother, died of cancer. Upon his return to Sicily for this sad occasion, Nick realized that he was no longer happy as a stockbroker, even though he was doing so well. “Money makes a wonderful slave, but a horrible master,” reflects Nick. The loss of Uncle Giovanni really got Nick thinking. Giovanni was the man who introduced Nick to music, a most happy-go-lucky chap who was the real sparkplug of his family. It was on the passing of Uncle Giovanni that Nick decided to go into cooking professionally. It was more than just his ability to cook that made him choose this path. Many of us recognize his distinctly Italian attitude towards that great institution of the family meal. “All the family stories, the very ideas that shaped me came from our nightly gathering at the dinner table,” Nick declares. “The family that eats together stays together.” But appreciating the wisdom of these realities is one thing, making a living from them

is something else. When Nick announced to his wife that he no longer wanted to be a stockbroker and had decided to buy a restaurant she wisely counseled him that it would be foolish to do so without knowing anything about running a restaurant except cooking. After all, the overwhelming majority of restaurants quickly fail. Heeding this sound advice, Nick actually paid the owner of French restaurant five dollars a day for the privilege of being the dishwasher! He was really going to learn the restaurant business from the ground up. After toiling at every position on the cooking line, when the head chef quit Nick took over. With his particular ethnic background, Nick quickly turned the French restaurant into an Italian restaurant – the owner could care less because he was making more money than before. For the next several years Nick happily practiced his craft, moving to ever more exclusive establishments in LA. Then one Sunday, Nick’s day off, he was called in to work because his stand-in got mad and walked off the job. Fate intervened once more, because that very day, someone from the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency called up the restaurant looking for an Italian chef who might be interested in doing some TV commercials. It turns out that an actor hired by Thompson to do a series of commercials for Ragu Spaghetti CONTINUES ON NEXT PAGE

Summer 2007 / AMICI 35

Sauce didn’t work out so they decided to try the real thing. The next day Nick went to New York for a video test. Hailed as a “natural,” Nick made the commercial series and acquired the TV bug along the way. “Now I decided to go into the TV business,” remembers Nick. But getting the necessary funds and resources for his own show was no easy matter. Fortunately Nick was up to the challenge. Seeking partners and investors, “I made 2,365 calls and got 2,364 ‘Nos.’ On the 2,365th call I got a ‘Yes.’” The result of this daunting effort was Cucina Amore, which became the number one show on the Public TV airwaves and the forerunner of his current hit, The Family Kitchen. These shows, and his seven beautiful Italian cookbooks (with his own recipes and photographs) have made Nick one of the most popular cooks since Betty Crocker. We may never need to hire his marketing company, but we’ll continue to be entertained by Nick, as he

joyfully shares his magic culinary touch. Maybe we’ll even learn how to cook a meal or two!


CHICKEN SCALOPPINI MARSALA Scaloppine di Pollo al Marsala Serves 4-6 2 pounds chicken scaloppini, pounded thin 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 6-8 tablespoons flour 8-10 tablespoons extra-light olive oil Marsala Sauce 4 ounces grated Romano cheese Make the Marsala Sauce and keep warm. Sprinkle the chicken scaloppini with salt and pepper. Dust the scaloppini lightly with flour, shaking to remove excess flour. Heat half the olive oil in a large saucepan on high, and quickly brown half the chicken on both sides for Nick Stellino photography 2 minutes. Remove from heat; place on a platter, and cover with foil to keep warm. Add the remaining oil and repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken. Bring the Marsala Sauce to a boil, add the chicken and reduce to a simmer, cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Place the scaloppini on a serving tray and spoon the sauce on top and sprinkle with Romano cheese.

MARSALA SAUCE (Salsa Marsala) 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 5 large cloves garlic, thickly sliced ½ cup chopped onions ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 cup Marsala wine 1½ cups chicken broth ½ teaspoon ground black pepper 2 tablespoons of softened butter mixed with 2 tablespoons of flour into a soft paste (optional) Heat the olive oil and the garlic in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat until the garlic starts to brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onions and red pepper flakes, cook until the onions begin soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the Marsala wine and stir up any brown bits that might be clinging at the bottom of the pan. Boil for 2 minutes, until the wine reduces by half. Add the chicken broth and the ground pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. If you like a thicker sauce thicker bring it back to a boil and add the butter-flour paste 1 teaspoon at the time whisking well, waiting before you add more of the paste. Continue this process until the sauce reaches the consistency you like. Stir well and serve. 36 AMICI / Summer 2007

FISH IN RED WINE SAUCE Pesce al Sugo di Vino Rosso Serves 6 6 fish fillets, skinless and boneless, (6-8 ounces each, about 1½ -2 inches thick) salmon, Chilean sea bass or halibut ¾ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper ½ teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon onion powder ½ teaspoon paprika 4 tablespoons extra-light olive oil Red Wine Sauce 1 tablespoon butter 1/4 pound diced and browned bacon slab bacon or pancetta, (which has been leftover from making the Red Wine Sauce) Make the Red Wine Sauce and keep warm. Mix all the dry ingredients together and sprinkle evenly on each side of the 6 fillets. Add the oil to a large nonstick sauté pan and cook over high heat for 2½ to 3 minutes until it starts rippling. Add the fillets, one at a time, reduce the heat to Nick Stellino photography medium and cook for about 2 to 2½ minutes. Turn on the other side and cook for 3 more minutes. Using a slotted spatula transfer the fillet to a dish lined with a paper towel and cover with foil. Add the butter to a small sauté pan and cook over medium heat until melted. Add the browned bacon and to gently reheat the bacon for a minute or two. Place a serving of the Red Wine Sauce on the bottom of each serving dish, place a fish fillet on top and decorate with a few pieces of browned bacon.

RED WINE SAUCE (Sugo di Vino Rosso) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/4 pound slab bacon, without the rind, cut into ½ inch dice 6 garlic cloves, cut in half 1 onion, finely chopped 1 small carrot, finely chopped 1 rib of celery, finely chopped 1 bay leaf ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes 2 cups red wine 2 cups chicken broth 2 tablespoon softened butter mixed with 2 tablespoons of flour Salt to taste In a saucepan add the olive oil and diced bacon. Cook over medium-low heat stirring well until the bacon is well-browned 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer the bacon to dish lined with a paper towel and save for later. In the same saucepan, add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf and red pepper flakes cook over medium-low heat, stirring well for 4 to 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the red wine, bring to a boil and reduce by half about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth; bring to a boil and cook, stirring well for 5 more minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes. Strain the sauce into a bowl and discard all the ingredients. Place the strained sauce back into the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the butter-flour mixture and stir well with a wire whisk, wait 2 minutes and repeat. Stop this process when the sauce is finally thickened to your liking. (Usually a tablespoon of the butter-flour mixture is more than enough, but just in case, you got more on hand.). Salt to taste. Keep the sauce warm, until ready to serve.

BRAISED BABY BOCK CHOY (Cavolo Chinese) 8 small baby Bok Choy, cut in half, end trimmed 2 teaspoons softened butter mixed with 2 teaspoons of flour Add water to a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the Bock Choy reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and steam the vegetables for 8 to 10 minutes. Place the Bock Choy in a bowl filled with ice and cold water. Keep it there until it cools down. Strain Bok Choy and dispose of the water. Pour the olive oil and the red pepper flakes in a sauté pan and cook over high heat for 1 minute. Add the Bok Choy and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to your liking, then serve.

Summer 2007 / AMICI 37

Someone once said that the first thing written about something will be most remembered. So the first thing I want to say about Luciano’s is “MAKE RESERVATIONS!” That’s because this place is small and very popular and getting more so with every passing week. And why is this cozy little family-owned restaurant so popular? Simple. Because it offers a wide variety of outstanding Italian dishes at very reasonable prices!

There’s only one small room, so it’s best to make reservations.

No matter how many are in your party, the professional and friendly waitstaff at Luciano’s will serve you quickly.

Luciano Libreri. Whether cooking or answering the phone, Luciano is always taking care of business!


Review by John Rizzo


t’s no surprise to me that Sicilians Luciano and Rosalia Libreri have established such a successful eatery and catering business in River Grove, in an area already rife with popular Italian restaurants. I remember Luciano’s old place, the Gondola, on Ashland near Fullerton, a much bigger restaurant with a strolling Gypsy violin trio. This was a great place too with super Italian food. The new, much smaller Da Luciano doesn’t have quite the romantic atmosphere or the subtle lighting or the capacity of the old place, but the food’s just as good and the prices are much lower, so who cares? These days, when deciding which Italian restaurant to go to, Luciano’s comes to mind first. They have virtually anything you want there, including all the familiar appetizers, pasta variations and meat and seafood entrées. They also have really good pizza (the extra-thin crust is my favorite). As for libations, there is no sit-down bar, but they can make you any kind of mixed drink you want. The wine selections are limited, but they do have three quality levels of Chianti by the bottle – basic, classico and classico riserva – which is what I expect to see in the fanciest restaurants. The standard white Italian wines are also available. The appetizers I’ve had there are all good, but I especially recommend the calamari, baked clams or fried zucchini. Whether you have a hankering for red sauce, white sauce or Alfredo sauce, each of the plentiful pasta choices is excellent. A special favorite of mine is pesto sauce, and Luciano’s is the very best I know of. If you like eggplant parmigian’, this is the place to get it. With any of these dishes you can count not only on the quality to be the best, but the portions are so generous that you can be assured of having plenty to take home to enjoy a second time. There are two things at Luciano’s that are absolutely superb – the soups and the chicken dishes, particularly the “specials.” They have minestrone every day and what a wonderful concoction it is! A very light version, but chock full of veggies and delicate pasta pieces. Besides the minestrone, there is a different soup offered daily. Each one of these is tastily distinctive and worth the trip in themselves. There’s the delicate spinach soup, the hearty pasta fagiole and, every now and then, the best pea soup I’ve ever had anywhere. All are served with warm, fresh-baked Italian bread.

38 AMICI / Summer 2007

I don’t usually favor the chicken dishes at Italian restaurants (I usually go for the veal), but Luciano’s prepares some truly delightful chicken courses. The Chicken Parmigian’ (on the regular menu) is a real feast, as good as this dish can get! One memorable special is the Chicken Sorrentino, boneless breast filets cooked in a delectable sauce and layered with breaded eggplant, mozzarella and prosciutto. Another is the Spaghetti Matriciana. Customarily mixing two meat types is not a good idea but, as in the Chicken Sorrentino, chicken and prosciutto blend very well indeed. In this pasta-chicken dish the chicken and prosciutto are cut into tiny pieces and mixed into the spaghetti and served with a mouthwatering garlic and tomato sauce. Mmmmmm! The only drawback to Luciano’s is its small size. If you do not make reservations, you can find yourself standing in line, and this can happen any day of the week. People are flocking here from all over the metropolitan area, the reputation is spreading so fast! Another attraction of the place is that it serves gluten-free food on request (food without a common ingredient found in pasta and pizza), a fact that is broadcast on a number of radio stations. As Rosalia says, “We get customers who really miss eating their favorite foods. When they see we have gluten-free food, they light up. I’ve seen people eat our cannoli and cry they’re so happy.” Most folks are never going to even think about gluten, so for just about everybody Da Luciano is simply a great Italian restaurant that serves fantastic food. Luciano, however, realizes the marketing potential in gluten-free Italian food so he’s converting the upper level of the premises to a manufacturing area so he can offer his specialized fare nationally. Gosh knows how popular the place might get. Like I said, “Make Reservations!” Da Luciano Pizza, Pasta & Catering 8343 Grand Avenue, River Grove For Reservations call 708-453-1000 open daily at 4:00 PM


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Summer 2007 / AMICI 41


2007-08 Lyric Opera Season By John Rizzo


lsewhere in this magazine Danny Aiello asks, thing with opera composers in the previous centuries. Beethoven was “Can you imagine a world without Italians.” incredibly jealous of Rossini because the latter made far more money and Anyone who knows anything at all about his works were far more in demand. Verdi was totally dominant at a time Western civilization and culture definitely could not that boasted many of the greatest composers of all time. But opera was imagine such a world. It would be a culturally desolate where the money was. Just as the very highest paid celebrities of the 20th world indeed without the contributions of Italians – the century and today are movie stars, in the previous centuries it was opera art, architecture, music, literature – even the food (can singers that made the almost unbelievable sums. Today, opera is nowhere as popular as movies, but it is still a very you imagine a world without pizza and pasta!). Look at our country. One Italian found it and it is named satisfying and enjoyable form of entertainment. It behooves ItalianAmericans who want to really experience the finest culture in the world, after another! Now let’s consider this proposition: Can you and not just pay lip service to it, to get down to the Civic Opera House and imagine a world without music recordings (nowadays, see an opera. The 2007-08 Lyric Opera Season would be the perfect time to CDs) or movies? These exist also thanks to the contributions of Italians via the most uniquely Italian experience opera for the first time or to see one again. That’s because Lyric is offering a truly spectacular season. Included in the schedule are three of art form there is – opera. It was an OPERA singer, and no one else, Enrico the most popular operas of all. If I were to guess what the top five operas Caruso, that made the music recording industry. are in terms of worldwide ticket sales, I would say they are La bohème, La Sure, Thomas Edison and others came up with the traviata, Carmen, Il barbiere di Siviglia for sure. The fifth could be Aida, technology, but nobody wanted to hear them. But Madama Butterfly or Don Giovanni. Without question the two most popular operas today are Puccini’s La Caruso…Everybody that had the wherewithal to get a gramophone or whatever went out and got one so bohème and Verdi’s La traviata. Although the Met in New York schedules they could hear Caruso. Even though only a very tiny these traditional favorites every single season, this is the first time I can recall that Lyric has scheduled both of these works for the fraction of the people same season. These operas will kick off the company’s season, who bought Caruso’s with the Verdi presented for opening night on Saturday, records had ever seen an September 29th. By the way, La traviata is going to be staged opera or ever would see twice, once in Sept./Oct. and again in January, 2008, and will one, there was something feature two different casts of principals. For real opera fans, about the man’s voice that it might be tough choosing between the two. In the earlier was downright hypnotic, production Mark Delavan, whom I think is the world’s best and his records sold by baritone, will be singing Germont. In January, possibly the the millions. The point is, A scene from La boheme, which will be best opera singer there is, Renee Fleming will be singing without opera (a purely directed by legendary soprano Renata Violetta. I, and others, may go to both, so as not to miss what Italian art form) there Scotto for Lyric Opera of would be no recording Chicagoland’s 2007-08 season. Photo by promises to be some memorable performances. Also this Robert Kusel/Lyric Opera of Chicago. season Chicagoans can enjoy Rossini’s immortal Il barbiere industry the way we know di Siviglia, yet another of it. opera’s first circle of favorites. It may be a little tougher to make the connection For Verdi lovers, another of at first, but the same is true about the movie industry. the composer’s works, his last The movie is directly descended from opera. Opera opera, Falstaff will be staged was always mainly about combining music with beginning January 28. For drama. In the earliest operas and for several hundred those who love Baroque music, years music was the most important element in opera. one of Handel’s most popular But throughout the nineteenth century, especially in Italian operas, Julio Cesare, the works of Verdi and Puccini, the dramatic element will definitely be an attraction. became more and more important. It is no coincidence A scene from Falstaff for Lyric Opera Tenor Frank Lopardo, who that the incredible popularity of movies began of Chicagoland’s 2007-08 season. Photo by Robert Kusel/Lyric Opera of was profiled last year in this historically with Puccini’s last work. Turandot was Chicago. magazine, will sing Lensky in premiered in 1926. The Jazz Singer, the first “talkie” was made that same year and came out in 1927. Movies really continue the trend that was going Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, on in 19th-century opera, of elevating the importance with the outstanding baritone of drama. In movies, it is clearly the drama that Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the title is most important. But the music is still a vital part role. In the coming issues of of the equation. Next time you watch a movie, turn down or mute the sound and see how interesting the Amici Journal we will discuss movie is now. You simply cannot make an interesting a number of these operas in movie without an equally interesting score! In the 20th detail. For more information on A scene from the Magritte-inspired century, which saw the peak of film artistry, the very the entire Lyric season and for production of The Barber of Seville for best composers did not compose for the concert hall, or ticket availability and purchase, Lyric Opera of Chicagoland’s 2007-08 opera house, they composed movie sound tracks. Why? call 312-332-2244 or visit season. Photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago. Because that is where the money was. It was the same

42 AMICI / Summer 2007



But they’re dead wrong, I know they are cause I can play this here guitar And I wont quit till I’m a star, On Broadway


nd so go the lyrics to “On Broadway,” the first of nine tunes sung by Chazz Palminteri in his one-man show, My Life in Song, performed at Studio A in the NBC Tower on April 21. Well, today Chazz is a star - on Broadway and everywhere else. And this show is his way of documenting just how he got to be a star. If this show were performed 30 or 40 years ago, it would take more than one man to make this kind of music. You’d have to hire at least a piano player if not a whole orchestra. But with the miracle of 21st-century technology, multi-media magic, and the talent of Chazz, it’s definitely possible to bring something like this off. Technically possible, that is. But would it be any good? Would it be art? It depends on who’s doing it. If it’s someone with minimal talent, like so many in Hollywood, it might be a disaster. But, with an artist like Chazz Palminteri, it was a brilliant tour de force, and entertaining from beginning to end. It’s interesting how Chazz structured this show. The alternation of music with speech, the interplay between real man and movie man, the instant shifting from one personality to another, all of these elements are ingeniously juxtaposed to empower a specific talent to blow an audience away. And with precise and impeccable timing, Chazz Palminteri executes his material so flawlessly that that’s exactly what happens. Dressed in black like some latter-day Hamlet he pumped and wailed, strutted and danced…whew! The sheer energy he expended must have been about as draining on the audience as it had to be for him. As Chazz says up front, this show is his story of how he got to be a star and the songs he sings are reflective of the turning points in his career and his emotional state at the time. In this sense his technique is very traditional, almost operatic, with the speaking dialog telling the actual story and the musical numbers expressing his most honest feelings




ith her recent stellar performances while on tour in South East Asia with the great José Carreras, Italian crossover soprano Giorgia Fumanti has truly arrived on the world stage. Giorgia Fumanti sings with purity and grace. The two are a perfect match, and it is hardly surprising that when José Carreras heard Giorgia’s angelic voice first hand, he promptly invited her to join his Asian tour. Playing in front of almost 15,000 people, Giorgia performed five solo songs during the concerts, in addition to joining the famous tenor for several duets and in the grand finale. Mr. Carreras was enthusiastic, to say the least, about Ms. Fumanti’s talent and said, “It was a great pleasure working with you, with such a voice I am sure you have a great career in front of you”. The duets were stunning and both Giorgia Fumanti and José Carreras literally ignited the audience with their voices. Giorgia’s new CD From My Heart is already a big success. This year promises to be another very busy one for Giorgia Fumanti. In addition to singing the National Anthem at the prestigious NHL All-Star game in Dallas on January 24th, Giorgia’s extensive tour of the United States will kick off in July and run through the end of August of 2007. Visit the website at

Amici Journal and Amici d’ Italia invite you to visit their website of Italian-American interests

experience into a one-man play, A Bronx Tale, which he ultimately parlayed into stardom. Well, I’m New York City born and raised but nowadays; I’m lost between two shores This, from Neil Diamond’s “I am, I said” is sung to vivify Chazz’ personal crisis, when he was on the verge of giving up his Hollywood dreams and going back to Traveling - Entertainment - News - Sports - History New York. This, of course, is when he got the idea to create A Bronx Tale, based on incidents from his life story. Given his performance of just one scene from this play, it must have been a riveting experience for an audience. No wonder DeNiro liked it and took Chazz and the play under his wing. Before that happened, however, there was the drama of the almost irresistible temptation of selling the movie rights for a million dollars – without Chazz writing the screenplay or portraying Sonny. Now how many of us could walk away from a million bucks? The meeting with the prospective producers and how Chazz came to his fateful decision is depicted stirringly in his new play. That’s life I tell ya, I can’t deny it, I thought of quitting baby Then came stardom, an unbelievable situation. But it was true. Chazz tells a story about how the reality of stardom hit home – “When I really knew I had made It.” – as he puts it. One afternoon at a barbecue at Frank Sinatra’s house in Malibu, Chazz found himself alone in a room with Old Blue Eyes. Sipping one of his big martinis with two olives, Frank offered Chazz one of the olives. Thinking this a little strange, when they joined the others Chazz mentioned this olive business to Gregory Peck. Peck put his arm around our hero and said in his inimitable fashion (interpreted perfectly by Chazz), “Now Chazz, sharing one of his olives is real Rat Pack stuff. It shows that Frank really likes you.” Yes, if Frank Sinatra really liked you, it would mean that you had “made it.” From My Life in Song, we learn what it takes to be a star. From its performance we know that Chazz Palminteri is one of a kind, a star with impeccable talent.

Summer 2007 / AMICI 43

AND THEY CAME TO CHICAGO: THE ITALIAN AMERICAN LEGACY Modio Media LLC, in association with the Italic Institute of America, is producing this fascinating documentary that traces 150 years of the Italian American experience in Chicago.

Narrated by Tony-Award winner Joe Mantegna More than 35 Interviews

Premiers on: NBC5 Sunday, May 27th at 11 pm Monday, May 28th at 12 noon WTTW11 Tuesday, June 5th at 7:30 pm Chicago’s Bill Jaconetti, one of the most highly decorated law enforcement officers in the nation, can be seen on And They Came To Chicago; Dennis Farina shares his memories of growing up in hardworking family; Italian-born, Senator Renato Turano discusses how his family turned a small business into a multi-million dollar company; Dominic Candeloro, Ph.D. talks about the formation of Little Italys and their demise; Gloria Nardini, Ph.D., an author, teacher and cultural commentator, discusses the role of women in the Italian American community; Kathy Catrambone, who just co wrote a book on Taylor Street, talks about history of Italian Americans in Chicago.

There is much more to see! And you don’t want to miss it!

Summer 2007 / AMICI 45


By Andrew Guzaldo


Mothers Day, is every day in our hearts and mind. As the celebration of Mothers Day; May 13, 2007; recently passed, we as adults look back when we were children. Oh that woman in the household with ever lasting strength, morning comes rise and shine she would get the children off to school husband seen to the door and on his way to work. Then her day begins, make those beds, clean the house and before you know it, she was down in the basement washing and drying the families cloths. Looking up at the clock as the time would fly by, she realizes the children would be back from school, it is then she would have a big smile on her face for it is then she would see the loves of her life. Quickly she would prepare a quick warm meal before they would get to the door. Mom waiting at the door would greet the kids as they entered and would give them the menu of what awaited them in the kitchen. About this time she would be thinking What do I make the family now for dinner? While the recipes would flow through her mind her first thought as always would be to make the family happy at the dinner table for their humble daily feast. After our usual Italian meal mom would get up slow from the table, collect the dishes, slowly we would see her rise from all the hard work. As we grew older it began to hurt us as well to see such a pillar of a woman riddled in pain for all those years of care she gave to us in our past and the pains in her body as the lines appear on her face indicating telltale signs that showed the years of hard work in keeping a family together. Now today Mothers Day 2007 is no different then the others. It just makes us realize how thankful to God we are to have HER. We thank you, Mother, for all that you have done and the holiday dinners, where your pleasure was only to see your family together, healthy and happy. MAY GOD BLESS YOU, OUR DEAR MOTHER! 46 AMICI / Summer 2007

Time has caught up with me Today I gaze at the bed Where you lay the baby, the child and Now the man Dreams and wished galore Always Of a far off shore How did these things grow So quiet? You just began to try it! The thing that happened Took place each day Time does not go away.

THANK YOU, MILLE GRAZIE By Provedence Chiappetta Huebener

Nonna and Nonno, you have shown us your love in so many ways. We enjoyed the rewards of your cooking and baking throughout the years.  The aroma of fresh baked bread and biscotti filled our home.  Nonna, the countless prayers and novenas you said helped shape our lives.  You wiped the tears from our eyes and lifted our spirits with your love and encouraging words.  Nonno, you sat us on your knee and told us the amazing story of your voyage to America.  You sang along with the radio and loved to make us laugh and smile.  How wonderful it was when we lived together as one family.  We have learned, loved and respected the traditional ways of our grandparents.  We will never forget you. We love you.

Learning Italian in Puzzle Form Write the answers in Italian

By Andrew Guzaldo

Across 8 Big 9 Green salad 10 To invite 11 Yet 12 Hair curler 13 Pineapple 14 German 17 Delay 20 Accurate 22 Entrance 25 Tomorrow 26 Raisins 27 Surroundings 28 Whole

Down 1 Hail 2 Invitation 3 Peeled tomatoes 4 Baby bottle 5 Asparagus 6 Plated 7 History 15 Excerpt 16 Cruise 18 Wreck 19 Shelter 21 Scotland 23 Free 24 Exact






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Summer 2007 / AMICI 47



OME TIME AGO, in a region of Italy known as the Abruzzi, a very handsome man named Enrico lived in a very handsome house with a very handsome black and white dog called Caesar. The three of them -- the house, the dog, and the man -- all fit together so perfectly that it was hard to imagine one without the others. The house looked like it belonged to the man and the man looked like he lived in the house, and of course the man and the dog looked like each other. Enrico was a tall and watchful man, curious about everything. He had wavy black hair on the sides of his regal head, a straight nose, and sharp dark eyes that took in everything and sparkled when he was listening to someone speak. Like the man, the black and white dog called Caesar was lean and alert. The house was made of stone; it was very large and had many windows of different shapes and sizes; it stood on a hill overlooking the small town of Terrina and it was surrounded by a high stone wall that had taken many men many years to build. There was something castle-like about the house and something lordly about the man who lived in it. The man had traveled and studied all over the world and had collected many strange and wonderful things. The stone house was filled with treasures such as a tiger skin from India, a samurai warrior’s sword from Japan, and a shrunken head from the depths of Africa. There were large wooden chests brimming with glittering jewels and precious stones and old coins made from gold and silver. There were glass cabinets filled with crystal goblets and the thinnest bone china dishes, some so thin you could almost see through them. There were vases small enough to hold a single tear and scene-painted urns large enough for a man to hide in. There were drinking vessels made from huge shells and trimmed with gold that even the strongest man could not lift with one hand. From the land of the Egyptians, came delicate eating utensils carved from ivory. From the Netherlands, there were richly embroidered tapestries so huge they covered an entire wall and carpets as thick as summer grass from the land of the Persians. Every object the man had fallen in love with in his travels all over the world were with 48 AMICI / Summer 2007

him now in his magnificent house. And that wasn’t all. The man also loved animals, and he had created a special park for the animals he had brought home with him. The park was not a zoo with cages but a lovely place where the animals could move freely, for the man did not believe in keeping a living thing in a cage. However, he trained the animals to obey him and behave with dignity for his guests -- this was the price they had to pay for their safe and comfortable lives. At least once a day, the man would exercise and play with his animals. With his lions, he would get down on all fours and roar and sometimes he would wrestle with them like a brother. Then he would climb a tree or play tag with his monkeys. The man had many things, but he was very unhappy. He had no friends. He had no children. He lived alone in his house on the hill with his animals and his many treasures, and he was very lonely. There was one thing the man didn’t have and wanted very much -- someone to love him. So one day the man decided to hold a banquet and he asked his business associates to invite all the eligible maidens and widows from the nearby cities who might be appropriate for the man to marry. The accounts of Enrico’s wealth were well known and exaggerated in the surrounding cities, as were the tales of his unusual behavior, but people were curious to see the stone house and its splendid treasures up close. The news of the banquet spread quickly and soon there was a long list of widows and maidens who wished to attend. Many of these women were considered to be the most eligible women in the entire region of Abruzzi. When at last the day arrived and Enrico beheld such a dazzling array of feminine beauty assembled in his house, he was very pleased. He was proud of his magnificent home and all the wonderful things it held and he rejoiced in the great wealth that could provide the kinds of delicacies that were spread out on the tables for the enjoyment of his guests. When the banquet had gone on for quite some time, and Enrico had had a chance to speak with all of the women who had caught his eye, he selected the three he found most interesting and invited each of them to take a walk with

him, one at a time, to the park where his animals were kept. The first woman was tall, like him, and very graceful, with coral blue eyes and hair the color of fire. Strong-limbed and spirited, she too had the courage and agility to wrestle with lions. Enrico was very pleased to see that she knew how to enjoy his menagerie. As they were walking back to the house, he asked her, “What is it you love the most?” “I love the animals more than anything else,” she replied. The next woman was blonde-haired, slender, and as exquisitely made as one of his most precious objects. When she saw the lions she flinched with fear and her delicate limbs froze stiff with fright. Finally, after much coaxing, she was able to move and speak again and she begged Enrico to return her to the house. On the way he asked her the same question he had put to the first woman. “Why, I don’t know,” she faltered. “I guess I love the treasure chests filled with jewels.” Enrico only frowned. This was not the answer he had hoped for. The third woman was as unlike the others as she could be. She was small and pretty, with short glistening dark hair and eyes like drops of ink; her skin was smooth and her voice was like music. She was quick and alert, just like the man. Her whole body was brimming with vitality, and when she laughed her face came alive with joy. On the way to the park to see the animals, the butterflies circled her head as she stopped to admire the flowers that grew along the path. The man watched her and his heart filled with happiness. “What is it you love?” he asked her. “I love God,” she replied without pausing to think. “I love God for creating this wonderful world and all the creatures in it.” Enrico smiled. He knew that she was the woman he wanted to marry. She belonged in his house of many treasures because she could enjoy them as much as he did. And so he proposed to her immediately, before they had reached the park, beside a flowering narcissus bush. The young woman, whose name was Clarissa, looked sadly at the man. Then, smiling kindly, she said, “Oh no. I am sorry. I cannot be your wife. I came today to tell you what a bad man you are. Don’t you realize how selfishly you’ve lived your life so far? Think of all the

poor people of Terrina, and of all the poor children of the town below who go hungry at night while you entertain with sumptuous feasts and live in splendor. Why, your animals eat better food and live more comfortably than do the children of Terrina! I am sorry to have to speak this way. I can see you’re upset. But I came to your banquet not because I want to marry you but because I love you and want to help you. I want you to change your selfish ways before it is too late. I cannot be your wife. I cannot be any man’s wife . . .” And as she finished speaking, a pair of iridescent wings sprouted out from behind her and spread open, and she rose up in the air towards heaven. The man stood for a long time in amazement as he watched her ascending. Then he was suddenly overcome with a terrible sadness. He walked back alone to his house, passed by his staring guests without uttering a single word, and went into one of his private rooms accompanied only by his dog Caesar. The guests shrugged off his eccentric behavior and

continued their banqueting without him until well past midnight, when the entire feast had been consumed. The next morning, the man looked even more handsome than ever. He rose early and called for his steward. The steward, a direct, practical man, sat in stony silence at the long table where Enrico had just finished his breakfast, listening in bewilderment as the man instructed him to sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor people of the town below. Enrico was radiant with joy. His only regret was that he would have to dismiss his staff and thus take away their jobs. “Make sure you give them all a generous amount of money to hold them over until they can find other work.” “And what about me. Sir?’ asked the steward in trepidation. “And give yourself something too,” Enrico replied. “Don’t look so glum, my friend. God will provide.” “And your animals?” “Set them free, of course. Or find good

homes for them.” “If I may say so, Sir, I am rather shocked by all this.” “You may well be,” said the man. “But when you have talked with an angel of God you must do as she tells you. Ah, I can see by the look on your face that you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about. It doesn’t matter. Just please do as I’ve instructed you and all will be well.” “With all due respect, Sir, you are of an age when most men settle down to raise a family.” “That may be true, my friend, but I have never been like most men. Please inform my attorney and have him draw up the necessary documents.” The following morning, the very handsome man set off on another journey with nothing but a stick, a satchel, and his very handsome black and white dog named Caesar. He hopped and twirled and danced down the road. His face was alive with joy, and frolicking along beside him was a small woman with eyes like drops of ink. -- Copyright 2001 by Anthony S. Maulucci

Anthony S. Maulucci is an award-winning novelist, playwright, poet, painter, and publisher. His books include Dear Dante, Adriana’s Eyes and Other Stories, The Rosselli Cantata, 100 Love Sonnets, and The Discovery of Luminous Being, all of which are available online from For more information on Anthony Maulucci, visit For details about his books, go to


ASK FOR MICKEY! Tell him you saw his Ad in Amici Journal.

Phone (815) 838-1333 Fax (815) 838-7415

Summer 2007 / AMICI 49




June 10, 2007 Concert at 6:30 pm Featuring Italian Opera Arias and Songs, performing will also be Angela Papale and Liliana Bartolotta. Location: Casa Italia, 1621 N. 39th Ave., Stone Park, IL More info: Tickets $10.00 per person, call Darrell (708) 338-0723

July 8, 2007 An exhibition ”Donatello to Giambologna: Italian Renaisance Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston,” showcases nearly 100 Italian sculptures. Location: Museum of Fine Arts, 100 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA More info:, (617) 369-6500



June 16, 2007 / Mass at 7:00 pm, Party at 8:00 pm - Midnight Location: Mass: The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompei 1224 W. Lexington St., Chicago, IL / Party: 1359 W. Taylor St. More info: Tickets $50.00 per person, $55.00 at door (708) 338-0723

July 19-22, 2007 Location: Summerfest Grounds, Milwaukee, WI More info:, (414) 223-2180, tickets available online, Milwaukee Italian Eateries, Chicago- Spavone’s Rest., Butera and Caputo’s.



June 21-24, 2007 Location: 24th St. + Springfield Rd., Bloomingdale, IL More info: The Onesti Entertainment Corporation, (847) 233-9966

July 28, 2007 Location: Chicago’s lakefront and Navy Pier More info:


A taste of the old world Since 1960 Mama Luna’s has brought a taste of the old world to Chicago. Family owned and operated for nearly half a century, we invite you to taste fine Sicilian cuisine in a friendly open atmosphere. Our dining room seats up to 140 people and is available for private parties. Catering Available Mama Luna’s can cater any event from 10 to 200 people.

TEL: 773-889-3020 FAX: 773-889-3095 Summer 2007 AMICI 50

Delivery Special Order a Megaball Pizza and Receive a 2 Liter RC Free Cold liter must be requested (50c extra)




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DaVinci Wines A well balanced and medium weight wine, DaVinci Chianti 2005 can be sipped all year long. While aromas of ripe plums, cherries and fresh red fruit complement a summer or spring evening perfectly, the long peppery finish that lingers on your palette reminds one of winter and fall. DaVinci Chianti 2005 comes straight from the Chianti region in Tuscany and is available nationally at $16.00 per bottle.

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3 olives RESTAURANT...................................................... 4 AMICI D’ ITALIA...................................................................34 Amici d’ italia dinner dance FOR AUTISM.............12 AMICI JOURNAL 9-DAY CAMPANIA TOUR....................... 17 amici journal radio hour



31 14

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back cover

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CIGARS PLUS........................................................................ 23 Send us information or contact us at:

Amici Journal, P.O. Box 595, River Grove, IL 60171 773-836-1595 Fax 773-622-2766 E-mail: Call or email for Amici Journal rates, demographics and production information

DANIEL L. JACONETTI D.D.S............................................... 26 ERA CAPORALE REALTY....................................................52 FLOWER FANTASY................................................................16 GINO MARINO OUTLET STORE


gioaCchino’s RISTORANTE...........................................37 GUZALDO’S GOURMET COFFEE & GELATO.................. 9 IACC 100TH ANNIVERSARY GALA


JOEL GOULD ATTORNEY AT LAW............ inside back cover

PHOTOGRAPHERS’ CREDITS • Cover Gary Sinise - photograph © Blake Little, Icon International • Pages 8, 9 Robert Allegrini -photograph by John Rizzo • Page 25 American Troops Northern Coast of France - photograph courtesy of The Normandy Invasion: The story in Pictures, • Page 26 Cyrus Cosentino - photograph by Terry Geraci • Page 35 La Piazza Restaurant - photograph by John Rizzo • Page 36 Asparagus - photograph by David Lat, Stockxchng • Page 44 Georgia Fumanti - photograph by Daniela Federici • Inside back cover - Chicago Skyline - photograph by Dana Rohacova

LAMBORGHINI CHICAGO.................................................. 7 LEGION AUTO, INC. .............................................................26 LO-LO’S SUB SHOP


MIDWAYS’ INTERNATIONAL CORP..........inside back cover mori milk..............................................................................7 NIASHF - 30TH ANNIVERSARY...........................................47 ONESTI ENTERTAINMENT




SPACCA NAPOLI PIZZERIA.................................................. 7 SPEED’S ii CITGO, INC. ......................................................51


SUPER LOW FOODS.............................................................50 TAYLOR STREET: CHICAGO’S LITTLE ITALY................ 23 TONY SPAVONE’S RISTORANTE.......................................50 TOTUCCIO PIZZERIA...........................................................34 troy realty........................................................................43 TRUSZ TRAVEL.......................................................................9


52 AMICI / Fall 2007

VENUTI’S RISTORANTE & BANQUETS...........................32 VINCE’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT.....................................15 WIRELESS TOYZ.......................................... inside back cover

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