Mangia Italiano Tomato Sauce


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The following piece : TOMATO SAUCE is excerpted from MANGIA ITALIANO !


Available on



Tomato Sauce? Yes from the very beginning tomato sauce is a big part of our lives. In fact, quite a “Huge” part. We’re Italian and we eat a lot of it. We start at an early age, as soon as we’re able to eat solid foods. As you’ve already learned, we’re weaned on Pastina, those tiny little star shaped pasta, coated with a little butter. After that, besides pureed fruits and vegetables, and then mommy will give you some spaghetti that she’s cut up and coated with a little bit of your first tomato sauce, something you will eat for the rest of your life, “let’s not forget you’re Italian.” With all the wonderful dishes we have available to us, sometimes there’s nothing I want more than a nice simple plate of perfectly cooked Spaghetti Pomodoro, topped with a sprinkling of Olive Oil and grated Parmigiano or Pecorino on top, “there’s nothing better.”

   Ok, now whatever you call it; Sauce, Salsa di Pomodoro, Sugo di Pomodoro, or Tomato Sauce, it’s just that Tomato Sauce. So here we go. Without question Italian Food is the undisputed King of ethnic foods in America. Yes we love Chinese Food, which runs second to Italian, and Mexican, French, Thai, and all the rest, but Italian Food beats them all. What are the most popular foods consumed in America? You’d have to say Burgers, Pizza, Pasta, and Sandwiches are in the lead as concerning dishes eaten by most Americans. Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce is in the top ten for sure. Unfortunately, a lot of it is not very good. We’re talking about jar-sauce here, something “no self-respecting Italian ever eats.” You can actually say, when people eat Spaghetti in this manner, with not-very-authentic jarred tomato sauce, this so-called sauce (the Jar Kind) is not Italian or even Italian-American, it’s American, and bad American food at that. Please “Please” don’t associate it with Italian-America and the fine food we eat, “please don’t.” So if you eat pasta that is over-cooked, and mushy spaghetti with massed produced commercial Tomato Sauce from a jar? Then “you are not eating Italian,” nor Italian-American, but regular American (not Italian-American) home-convenience food, that’s quick, easy, and economical to make, and not very good at that. Just don’t call that kind of pasta Italian, ”It’s Not,” it’s American, OK, so don’t forget it. Do you get the point?

   So when we talk about Tomato Sauce (Salsa Pomodoro) we’re talking about fresh made Tomato Sauce , made with tomatoes, olive oil, fresh Garlic, Pepperoncino, and fresh Basil, cooked at home by you or some family member. And when I say fresh, that doesn’t mean that the tomatoes have to be fresh tomatoes, which are only in season about 8 weeks a year. The rest of the year fresh-tomatoes are inferior to the great product of canned tomatoes, or jarred Passata di Pomodoro (Italian Tomato Puree in glass jars) especially San Marzano Tomatoes that come from the environs in and around Naples, Italy. And there are many great brands of tomatoes canned in the U.S.A as well. One of the best ways of all to make a good homemade tomato sauce at home is if you have your own homemade Passata di Pomodoro from tomatoes grown in your own garden to full ripeness, or Passata that you made from fresh tomatoes that you bought in bulk at an inexpensive price when tomatoes are at the peak of the season. Many Italian-Americans make Passata di Pomodoro (Tomato Puree) from tomatoes they have grown in their backyard and picked at the height of perfect-ripeness perfection. Some people, if they don’t grow them will buy fresh tomatoes in bulk in season and make the passata. Some make the passata with a combination of tomatoes they grew in the garden, and along with a box or bushel of fresh tomatoes from a farm, farmers market, or wholesaler. This practice of growing your own tomatoes and canning them (actually in Glass Jars) is one of Italian-America’s great time-honored traditions, which many families still do to this day, along with another wonderful Italian-American family ritual of making your own homemade wine. But don’t fret if your family doesn’t do this, you can make some great sauce with many of the fine canned and jarred tomato products from America or imported from Italy.



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   Tomato Sauce is quite a wonderful thing. You can do many things with it; top a Frittata with a bit of your homemade sauce and grated Parmigiano and you’ve got a tasty little meal in no-time. You need a cup or so of tomato sauce to make Caponata and to add to so many Italian recipes as well. When you have a Tomato Sauce already made, you can make many other Pasta Sauces simply by adding different ingredients. You can make Pasta with Zucchini or Cucuzza (Googootz) by simply sautéing Zucchini or Cucuzza (large Italian Squash) in olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper, adding some tomato sauce and you have a couple new sauces right there. Sauté some Mushrooms, add tomato sauce and you can make Spaghetti con Funghi (Spaghetti w/ Mushroom Sauce). To make the famous Sicilian dish Pasta alla Norma you sauté Eggplant in olive oil with garlic, add “yes, you guessed it,” Tomato Sauce, cook your pasta of choice, toss it with the eggplant and tomato sauce, grate some Ricotta Salata Cheese over the top, and you’ve got a classic plate of the famed Sicilian dish, Pasta alla Norma. Sauté some chopped anchovies with capers and olives, add your tomato sauce, and just like that you have Puttanesca Sauce for Spaghetti al Puttanesca, the sauce of the Neapolitan Ladies of The Night. All these tasty dishes because you’ve learned how to make Tomato Sauce, catch my drift, Capece? And that’s not all. When you have some tomato sauce on hand, you have the base for such wonderful Italian dishes as Eggplant Parmigiano, Veal Parm, or Chicken Parmigiano and more. You’ve got your tomato sauce, you can make all these things, and more. “The World is Yours Chico!”


Excerpted from “MANGIA ITALIANO” 

Just PUBLISHED , December 12, 2017


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My Latest !

Just PUBLISHED December 12 , 2017

MANGIA ITALIANO will be Available in PAPERBACK on


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As I say in MANGIA ITALIANO in the chapter TOMATO SAUCE, which you can read above, once you have a Tomato Sauce made, besides making SPAGHETTI POMODORO , you can make many other dishes like Pasta con Cucuzza , simply by adding different ingredients in with the tomato sauce. The recipe for Tomato Sauce and other recipes and stories of Italian Food, are in Mangia Italiano, coming in December 2017. Just in time for Christmas. Buon Natale Tutti!


MANGIA ITALIANO is Available for iPhone & iPad

With KINDLE for iPhone or iPad at App Store and Amazon



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Campari and Fellini’s Favorite Bar


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Marcello Mastroianni and Anouk Aimee in FELLINI’S “La DOLCE VITA”

I had my first Campari in Rome in June of 1985, on my first of many trips to la Bella Italia. I was like a kid on Christmas Day on that first trip to Europe, Italy, Roma, the South of France and Spain. Yes it was that euphoric, and I will never forget it. I made many discoveries on that trip, discoveries like a perfectly ripe Apricots at the Campo di Fiore Market, Tramenzzini Sandwiches at a Piazza in Rome, perfectly pulled Espresso, Bucatini Amatriciana, and yes Campari, the first of many over the years.

   My friend Rene Ricard told me that I should stay at The Hotel Locarno in Rome. Well I didn’t stay at Locarno as it was beyond my budget, but I did take another suggestion of Rene’s, and that was to see the two twin churches Santa Maria Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli in the Piazza di Popolo as well as go to one of the famous caffes over there for an Apertivo and eats.


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Rene Ricard on the Set of ASTHMA


Well, I went into each of the two churches, which were quite lovely as Rene had said. I then walked towards the two famous caffe / restorante on the square; Rosati and Canova and had to choose between the two. As I was walking to them and surveying the situation I settled on Canova as it seemed the crowd was a little more lively over there, and it was a favorite of Federico Fellini. I picked a nice table and sat down and a minute later a waiter approached and greeted me and gave me a menu and asked if I wanted some water to start? Yes, I got a bottle of still water and a few minutes later a bottle of Fiucci was placed on my table. Before the mineral water came I was checking out the menu and spotted that they had a selection of Tramezzini Sandwiches which I had made my first discovery of the day before while eating my first meal ever in not just Rome but in all of Italy, I was enamored with these tasty little sandwiches which had all sorts of fillings and were just as tasty as can be. Yes I made my first discovery of Tramezzini Sandwiches on my first day in Rome at a little caffe at the Piazza di Republica. I got my 1st Italian Espresso and a couple Tramezzini and enjoyed those tasty little sandwiches so much at the caffe that after I had two of them, I got up and ordered two more. Don’t think I’m a gavone, these sandwiches are really small, so much so that it would take about five of these sandwiches to make one average size American one. Anyway, I ended up eating about three Tramezzini everyday for breakfast with an Espresso and Apricot Juice the whole time I was in Rome. That was my ritual colazione on that my first time in Rome.

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   So back to Canova and the Piazza del Popolo and my first Campari ever. Yes, I never had one before so when the waiter came back I ordered a couple Tramezzini and asked him what he suggested that I should drink? He suggested a Campari & Soda, and I went along with the suggestion. A few minutes later he came back with my two sandwiches and a good looking Campari & Soda garnished with a fresh slice of orange. I drank it, and though a little bitter, it was quite refreshing and went well with my Tramezzini. Yes that was my first of a couple thousand Campari or more over the years. After that first, I was more often to have my Campari with Orange Juice rather than soda. And when I made it up to Florence to visit my high school friend JoAnna I had my first Negroni as well. A Negroni Cocktail is a mixture of equal parts of Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and Gin and was invented at the Caffe Casconi, which is now the Caffe Giacosa on the Piazza del Republica in Florence. Well guess where I had my first of many a lifelong Negroni? You guessed it, at Caffe Giacosa.

In the year 1995 when I was on an exploratory trip to Venice to research the Bacari (Venetian Wine Bars) of Venenzia in preparation of opening a Bacaro of my own in New York, I had my first ever Aperol Spritz. To do my research I want to practically every Bacaro in Vencie in the course of my eight days of exploration. One night before I was getting ready to go back to the hotel I darted into a wine bar for a little night cap. I spotted the words Aperol Spitz atop the bar and asked the bartender what it was. He told me it was a cocktail made with Prosecco, a splash of Aperol and a dash of club soda, garnished with a slice of Orange. What’s Aperol I asked? “Do you know what Campari is, he asked me. “Yes,” I told him. He told me that Aperol was very similar to Campari but a little less bitter. So I told the Barman I’d take one. He made it and I sat back and enjoyed my first of so many Aperol Spritz to come over the years. Though I’d already been to Italy several times by 1995 I’d never had Aperol before. It wasn’t even available in America to ten years later in 2005, but I’d already had my first by 95. Now in the year the Aperol Spritz has really caught on and has been quite popular for the past year or so, since about 2014. Yes as usual, I was way ahead of the curve of most Americans discovering such things, ahead of the curve by about 20 years, and when it came to the Negroni it was thirty. Anyway, these drinks have been a most enjoyable part of my social adventures for some time.

Yes I’ve had many good times with evenings started with these wonderful Italian aperitif liquors known as Aperol and Campari. For a while my cousin Joe and I would do the town every couple of weeks or so. Joe would have his driver drive us around town (New York). First off we’d go out to a wine bar, or cocktail lounge or someplace and I usually would have a Negroni to start my evening off. And I must say that having a Negroni or Campari & Soda is quite a good way to do so. After we had our Campari or Aperol cocktails we’d go out for our main meal at San Domenico, Gino’s, Elio’s, or some new restaurant we wanted to check out. So that’s me and Aperol, Campari, the Negroni Cocktail and my memories of them. What are yours? Will you make some? Why not go down to the Amalfi Coast to Capri, Positano, or Minori. Check into a hotle and spend your days in paradise; swimming, eating, soaking in the Sun and a few Aperol Spritz’s at Bar Tiberius at the Piazza Umberto in Capri or caffe somewhere in Positano or Ravello. You can’t do better in life than this, so I suggest you do so, for it’s quite civilized, and most enjoyable to boot, I think you’ll agree.

EXCERPTED From “MANGIA ITALIANO”  by Daniel Bellino Zwicke



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Mastrionni with Anita Ekberg being Kissed by Fellini

Filming of La DOLCE VITA

Rome , Italy

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La Dolce Vita

Federico Fellini

Marcello Mastroianni



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CANOVA on The Piazza Popolo

“My 1st CAMPARI”



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Vintage Campari Poster



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Mastroianni Fellino Aimee and Pasolini


The Filming of La DOLCE VITA



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Caffe Greco








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We had this Poster hanging 

in my Restaurant BAR CICHETTI



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Read Stories of Negroni’s, Aperol, Pizza, and Pasta

In Daniel Bellino’s MANGIA ITALIANO !


in New York, Rome, Venice, Sicily, Capri, Napoli, The Amalfi Coast




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Hotel Locarno



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Room in The Hotel Locarno