Nonno Bellino Entering Ellis Island 1902



Ellis Island 1902


This is part of the documentation of my maternal grandfather Fillipo Bellino (Bellina) entering Ellis Island in 1902, immigrating from Lercara Friddi , Sicily. Our family surname was actually Bellina spelled with an “a” at the end, and not Bellino which became our family name as a result of just one of many mistakes made by clerks working on Ellis Island. This happened to many families.

My grandmother Giuseppina Salemi immigrated to New York, also from Lercara Friddi , Sicily, five years later in 1907. My mother’s parents were married in New York and later settled in Lodi, New Jersey where Nonno Fillipo opned a shoemaker shop on Main Street in Lodi. They lived above the shoemaker shop and had 5 children; Lilly, James, Frank, Anthony, and my mother Lucia.

The notorious Mafia Boss Salvatore Lucania, aka Charles “Lucky” Luciano was also born in Lercara Friddi, Sicily and immigrated to New York 1906, and settled on East 10th Street in the Lower East Side of the city.







Frank Sinatra’s family was also from Lercara Friddi Sicily. Like my grandfather, Sinatra’s grandfather was a shoemaker in Lercara Friddi. Frank Sinatra’s father Martino Severino Sinatra immigrated from Lercara Friddi, Sicily to New York City in 1903. He later moved to Hoboken, New Jersey where his son Francis Albert Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915. Frank Sinatra would go on to become a singer and actor and was considered by millions to be the greatest entertainer of The 20th Century.



Frank Sinatra

At 3 Years of Age

Hoboken, NJ







Fillipo, Lucia, Antonino, Giuseppina

Not in Picture, Sister Lilly, and Brothers James and Frank






Grandma Bellino’s Italian Cookbook / Recipes From My Sicilian Grandmother (Nonna) is a book based on my mother Lucia Bellino’s recipes that she learned from her mother, my maternal grandmother Giuseppina Salemi Bellino. My nonna came from Lercara Friddi, Sicily in Provincia di Palermo, which was a town about 45 minutes south of Palermo. Most of the recipes in the book are Sicilian dishes, but not all. Both my grandmother and mother Lucia had friends from other parts of Italy, like Naples,   Genoa, Calabria, Abruzzo, and Puglia, and my nonna as well as my mom picked up recipes from their friends whose families came from these other regions of Italy. 

Their are also recipes from my Aunt Fran whose family was from Lazio (South of Rome), and my Aunt Helen Cavallo who was born near Salerno, Italy and was a wonderful cook, making Neapolitan dishes along with those of Salerno, and the nearby coast of Amalfi and the region of Campania.

My uncle Tony became quite a good cook, specializing in meat preparations as he worked at his friend Jimmy Scarlotta’s family butcher shop on Main Street in Lodi, and some of the recipes are mine, that I picked up in Italy, and was taught some by my former boss Pasquale who was from Brindisi, Italy, and was quite a good chef.











Back in Lercara Friddi

At a Caffe in the Piazza del Duomo

Lercara Fridi




Chicken Sandwich Wars I Want Mine Popeyes Fried Chicken KFC Wendys




That Started The WAR


Yes there are Chicken Sandwich Wars going on right Now. Better than a  military one. It all started on August 12th 2019 when Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen released the Popeyes Fired Chicken Sandwich. Those who love fast-food, Chicken Sandwiches, social media, and Instagram in particular started a quick Buzz by Tweeting and posting pictures and comments of their feelings for the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich. They all loved it, and it became an instant hit



Positano is Coming – Update






Back to Italy 2019; Rome, Salerno, Naples, Capri, Ischia, and Positano, the Amalfi Coast, vacation and research trip to put the finishing touch on my upcoming book Positano The Amalfi Coast – Travel Guide / Regional Cookbook. Had a great time, and learned a few new things and going staying in two places I’ve never stayed at before, Salerno and Ischia. I’d spent some time in Salerno last year with my cousins Tony, Marta, and Mimmo, but I stayed there for 2 days this year and did a little exploring. I stayed at a wonderful hotel, the Plaza Hotel, which I had a wonderful time at, and I highly recommend staying there. It’s a super nice hotel with nice rooms and excellent service from owner Gaetano and his staff. The hotel is situated in an excellent location to make it an affordable base to stay if you’re looking to do Positano, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast, and you don’t have $350 a night or more to stay in Positano or Capri, but you want to spend time visiting and eating in those spots, then staying at the Hotel Plaza at about $95 a night for two, including a tasty and robust breakfast, his hotel is one of the best choices you could possibly make to explore Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and the outer islands of Campania. Besides being such a great hotel, the location could not be more ideal. The Hotel Plaza is located 200 feet from the Salerno Train Station that can get you a train to Naples in just 30 minutes and just 1 1/2 hours to Rome. The hotel is just 3 blocks to the Marine Terminal where you can get frequent ferry boats to Positano, Amalfi, Cetara, Minori, and other points on the Amalfi Coast. Very convenient.

Besides staying in Salerno, I finally made it to Ischia, a place I’d been wanting to go to for years. The reason I’d never gone before, is that I love Capri so much, that I had a hard time not going, so year after year I’d be back on my beloved Isle of Capri. Well I did like Ischia, it’s a beautiful place, but having spent 4 days on this lovely volcanic island, I still prefer Capri, which is more compact and easier to get around to the beaches and most popular sights and such. My favorite things about Ischia were watching a couple fishermen bring in their fresh catch of the day, swimming, drinking Biancolella with every meal, and finishing the meal with the a wonderful new Amaro I discovered, the locally made Amaro Rucolino which is made with its own secret recipe of roots and herbs and the main flavor ingredient being locally grown Arugala (Rocket). I just loved it, and brought 2 bottles of it to bring back home to New York.

While staying on Ischia, I took the short 20 minute ferry boat to the Island of Procida, another new discovery. I quite a nice time in Prociada where the shot the movies Il Positano about famed Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda, and The Talented Mr. Ripley starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Palthrow.

I had a nice tasty lunch of Alici Fritti at the Trattoria / Pizzeria Piazzetta on Procida were I had a lovely time chit-chatting with a couple English ladies sitting at the table next to mine outside on the piazza, with our gorgeous view of Procida. Quite a nice time.

One day, I walked the 3 short blocks from the Hotel Plaza to the Marine Terminal of Salerno and caught a ferry boat to Positano to go visit my friend Mario and his wife who were staying at the Hotel Poseidon in Positano. It’s a beautiful 50 minute boat ride from Salerno to Positano, that cost just 12 Euro. Glad to be back in Positano, I stopped at the Delacatessen for an Aracini and fresh fruit before making my way up to see my buddy Mario and his wife Esperanza. It’s a nice little walk up the pathway and then onto the Via Pasitea where the Hotel Poseidon is located at # 148 Via Pasitea. This hotel is perfectly situated at one of the nicest spots in Positano, with a spectacular view of the town on its large terrace where you get one of the best views in town. The Hotel Poseidon has a nice pool on their terrazzo, along with a bar, and one of Positano’s best restaurants, the Tridente.

I had one of the best times on my whole vacation hanging out with my friends Mario and Esperanza that day on the Terrazzo of the Poseidon Hotel. We swam in the beautiful pool, drank Campari, and Aperol Spritz’s and had the most wonderful time, hanging out poolside in Positano, with our gorgeous view of the most famous and treasured town of The Amalfi Coast Italy. Yes it was a very day hanging out with Mario and his lovely wife. A day I will always treasure and always remember.

On this trip I visited some of Underground Napoli (Naples) which was quite interesting. There was a Roman Market and other buildings that were built over older Greek Ruins. It was quite interesting to see. 

I started my trip in Rome, were I stayed for 2 days before taking a fast train from Roma Termini Station down to Salerno (1 1/2 hours). Once I got off the train in Salerno, and out of the train station, it was a nice easy 300 foot walk to the wonderful Hotel Plaza just across the street from the train station. Again, I reiterate, the Plaza Hotel is a great place to see to base your trip to the otherwise expensive Amalfi Coast of Italy. This hotel is lovely and a wonderful place to stay. Ask for Gaetano and tell him “Daniel from new York,” sent you. And have a Great Time!


























Eating Italian




These are my memories of a lifelong love of Italian Food. From my first bowl of pasta and the food of my youth, as a young adult, and into later-life. The food, ever changing, making new discoveries, learning all the time through experiences, reading, travel, and what-not. As I grew up and ate the food that my mother made, the Italian dishes she made us became part of my life and ethnic background of being Italian-American. My mom Lucia Bellino was a 1st Generation Italian-American whose parents both came from Lercara Friddi, Sicily and immigrated to New York in the year 1904 before moving to the very Sicilian town of Lodi, New Jersey where my grandfather Philipo set up a shoe-maker shop on Main Street. So I grew up eating the food my mother made us on a daily basis, along with the fabulous food of my three aunts; Aunt Fran, Aunt Helen, and Aunt Wanda who were the spouses of my mother’s three brothers James, Tony, and Frank. My aunts were all amazing cooks and I always looked forward to visiting them at there homes, especially on Sundays when the whole family, aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather at Aunt Fran’s or Uncle Jimmy’s for a great big Sunday meal. A meal that started with antipasti, then pasta and a main course, and a marathon dessert and coffee course that lasted for hours. Yes these meals were always quite special as my aunts were some of the greatest cooks of Italian home-cooked food that I have ever known, and they made some of the same dishes as my mother, but the special treat were the dishes that my aunts made that were different from my mom’s, and of course oh so tasty. So I waited in wonderment to see what they had made. You see my mothers parents were from Sicily so my mom made dishes her mother taught to her. My Aunt Helen was from Salerno, not far from Naples so she made dishes from that region, and my Aunt Fran’s family were from Settefrati north of Rome, which some of Aunt Fran’s cooking would reflect the food of that region. You see Aunt Fran was my Uncle Tony’s wife and Aunt Helen was my Uncle Frank’s, thus our family repertoire was of Sicily, Lazio, and Campania the regions interlocked in our family through marriage and what-not. Yes the family meals were a never-ending memory of all of the so many fabulous family meals shared with my dear aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends and loved ones.

   So my first memories of Italian food eating with my family, meals at home or at one of my aunts or uncles homes. We’d go out to eat every now and then at one of the families favorite local restaurants where I have my first memories of eating out in Italian Restaurants before setting out on my own as a young adult and then as a full grown man, eating in the best Italian Restaurants, Pastry Shops, Pork Stores, and Pizzerias in New York. And after New York, it was on to Italy; to Rome, Venice, Florence and other parts of Tuscan, Napoli, Capri, Positano, the Amalfi Coast, and at friends vineyards in Tuscany, Piedmont, the Veneto, and Sicily. Now we’re learning a whole other thing, Italian Food at its source, all over Italy, delving into the various regional cuisines of Italy, eating the local food and drinking the local wine, there’s nothing better. And all the beauty of Italy, of cities like Rome, Venice, Napoli, and Verona, and towns like Portofino, Positano, Amalfi, or Minori. Observing and immersing into the local customs and culture, it’s quite a learning experience, and one everyone should undertake if fortunate enough to get the chance, I’m so happy I did.

   And I didn’t just eat and travel throughout Italy to learn of it’s great cuisine. I read all I could get my hands on of Italy and its food. I read every magazine and newspaper article I could find, and bought a hundred Italian cookbooks or more.

   This was and still is a never ending journey that’s wonderfully rewarding. I’ve made so many discoveries big and small, and surprising as well. I ate, I savored, I enjoyed and I still am, eating and recalling Italian Food, one dish at a time.


Excerpted from MANGIA ITALIANO – Memories of Italian Food

by Daniel Bellino Zwicke








East 12th Street NEW YORK NY

SINCE 1908

“And it’s STill OPEN !”