Sunday, November 23, 2014


                                              The Feast of The 7 Fish
The Feast of The 7 Fish

The Feast of The 7 Fish
Kindle Edition

The Italian Christmas Feast of The 7 Fish? Ever Wonder about it" Its meaning, make-up, rituals, and of course "How To Make It?" Well Ladies and Gentlemen, You're in Luck." Renowned Chef and Cookbook author Daniel Bellino-Zwicke has just come up with his latest "THE FEAST of The 7 FISH" An Italian-American Christmas Eve Feast, and just in Time for Christmas. If you've ever wanted to know about this wonderful Italian Christmas Tradition and How to make it, then this book is for you. It has Everything you need to know to make this Wonderful Italian Feast and on all levels ..  



Feast of The 7 Fish
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke

La Vigilia     

 My Aunt Helen used to make the famous Italian Christmas Eve Dinner, The Feast of 7 Fishes, The 7 Fish of the Seven Sacraments. I know she made it because I used to hear her talking about it when I was a little kid. Although I shared many wonderful meals with my dear Aunt Helen, I never had the pleasure of having the famous Christmas Eve Dinner “La Vigilia” Feast of Seven Fish with her. We always had Christmas Eve dinner with the immediate family and Aunt Helen had the Christmas Eve with her brother and sister and other family members. Aunt Helen was born in Salerno, Italy and was my Uncle Franks (1 of my Mother’s 3 brothers) better half. So for our Christmas Dinner my mother would make an Antipasto of Salami, Provolone, Peppers, and Olives, followed by Baked Ziti and a Baked Ham studded with cloves and Pineapple rings.    The first time I ever had the mystical dinner was about 14 years ago with my cousin Joe, his family and my girlfriend Duyen. We had been talking about this famous Italian Feast a few weeks previous, and were thinking of making it. Joe told me he wanted to have the Christmas Eve Meal of The Feast of The 7 Fishes, known in Italy as La Viglia (The Vigil) or “La Festa Dei Sette Pesci,” which is also known in Italian-America as The Feast of The 7 Fish, the 7 Fish representing the 7 Sacraments.    This Dinner, La Viglia originated in Southern Italy, especially in and around the environs of Napoli. The Feast of The 7 Fish is a Southern Italian tradition that does not exist in the rest of Italy, it is of the South. La Viglia, or “The Feast of the Seven Fishes” as it is known to Italian-Americans commemorates the waiting (Vigil) of the Baby Jesus to be Born at Midnight and the Seven Fish represent the Seven Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. Some also believe that the Seven Fish might signify the 7 Days of Creation, or The Seven Deadly Sins, but most believe the 7 Fish pertain to the Seven Sacraments.      So Joe asked me if I wanted to make this festive and all important dinner, to perform the ceremony. He didn’t need to ask twice. I had never made it before and was dying to do so. For a long time I had yearned to partake in this celebrated old Southern Italian Ritual, and this was my chance. Naturally I was excited, so was Joe. So it we had great anticipation of the grand Feast to come and we were filled with happy expectations of the meal to come. And what for the menu? I know Aunt Helen made Bacala, Shrimp Oreganata, Mussels, Baked Clams, Calamari, Octopus, and eel, all much loved Southern Italian (especially Napoli and Sicily) creatures of the Sea. We decided which fish we wanted and how to cook each one. Much thought and planning went into the menu and its execution. Joe wanted; Langoustines, Lobster, and Bacala. Alexandra asked if I would make Stuffed Calamari. We also decided on Shrimp Cocktail, Baked Clams Oreganata, and Cozze al Posillipo. The menu was set. Duyen helped me with the Calamari which we stuffed with Shrimp, parsley, breadcrumbs, and Peas. We braised the Calamari with tomato, white wine, and herbs, and if I must say so myself, the Calamari came out superbly. The Stuffed Calamari were a lot of work to make, but well worth the effort as they were a huge hit with all. The Macari boys, Joey, Edward, and Tommy, as well as sister Gabriella, Alexandra, Little Joey, Duyen, Jose, and Sergio from Barcelona were all in attendance.      The Mussels Posillipo, a great favorite of both Neopolitans and their Italian-American brethren, were cooked with garlic, white wine, parsley, and tomato, of which the sauce is always great to dip your bread into. This dish was one of my mother’s favorites back in the days when few Americans other than those of Italian origins ever ate these wonderful little bivalves. Now-a-days every-body does. As a young boy I remember my mother sending me to Bella Pizza in East Rutherford to get an order of them for her. She always gave me a few mussels to eat, and I have loved them ever since.      Joe helped me to cook the Langoustines. They are hard to find and I had to order a ten-pound box from Silvano in order to get them. The best way to cook langoustines is to split them in half and sauté them on each side in olive oil with a little butter and garlic. We served the Langoustines the same way as Silvano does as we feel his recipe is the best and everybody loves them that way. The Langoustines are served with a salad of thinly shaved fennel and celery dressed in olive oil and lemon with some split cherry tomatoes. Absolutely delicious!!!   The Lobsters we prepared the best way possible, the New England way, steamed and served simply with drawn butter and lemon wedges. There’s nothing better on Earth, well except for Sunday Sauce of course.   Well, that Christmas Eve Dinner The Feast of Seven Fishes was quite a wonderful experience. It was a huge success though quite a lot of work and actually, too much food, everyone was kind of full already by the fifth fish. The following year we decided on incorporating the Seven Fish into three courses instead of seven separate. It was a good decision. We still had 7 different fish, which is a must. Serving these 7 Fish in three courses was a good idea as it is much more manageable that way, both to cook and to eat. So, you will see later on that you can have this great Feast of 7 different Fish in a number of ways; either 7 fish in seven courses or do the 7 fish in three, four, 5, or 7 separate courses, whatever you choose, it’s up to you.    On this particular Feast of The 7 Fish in 3 courses, we decided to make the Stuffed Calamari, which I would not have chosen again because it was a lot of work, but it was Alex’s and Joe’s favorite and they said that it was a must whenever we make the meal. We had the Stuffed Calamari as our Antipasto Course. Alexandra and her mom helped me, so the amount of work was cut down and divided into three. The stuffed calamari took care of two of the seven the shrimp that were stuffed into the squid.  The second course (Primi) of Linguine Frutti de Mare consumed four of the Seven Fish required for the meal. It consisted of Mussels, Clams, Lobster, and Scallops cooked with garlic, oil, herbs, and just a touch of tomato.    The seventh and final fish was fresh Cod that I roasted and served with a sweet and sour onion sauce (Bacala Fresca Agro Dolce). Everybody went bananas for it especially cousin Joe who raved at each and every dish I put down. It’s a pleasure cooking for Joe as his passion for eating and for the Italian-American way of life, the food, the wine, the rituals. Joe truly loves and savors the experience, so I always love to cook for him, Alexandra, their children, or just about anyone for who savors the experience so well. This goes the same for my cousin Anthony Bellino his wife Debbie and their three girls Chrissy, Danna, and Allison, along with all my close friends and family who I share my meals with.    It makes cooking a joy rather than a chore, when cooking for family or friends, you give two of life’s great gifts, a tasty Home-Cooked meal combined with a little bit of love. Scratch that, “A Whole Lotta Love!”    If you don’t want to go so crazy, with 7 Fish as it’s quite an undertaking, you should try to do an odd numbers; 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11. Three (3) is a Nice Number and represents the Holy Trinity of The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Basta, e Buon Natale!   EXCERPTED from THE FEAST of THE 7 FISH   by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke


The Feast of The 7 Fish

The Feast of The 7 Fish

Segreto italiano

by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Broccoli Rabe Escarole & Italian Greens

If you don’t already know, green vegetables are without a doubt the single best thing you can put in your body. Green vegetables and water, that is. Yes, you’ve gotta have water too.
Yes, green veggies are quite healthy. Italians love all sorts, other vegetables and fruits too. And they prepare their vegetables in a multitude of ways.
Italians, and especially Italian-Americans, love our green vegetables, and we really love greens, like; Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) and Escarole, or Scarola. Any green vegetables that are simply sautéed in garlic and olive oil are great favorites. Along with being immensely beneficial to good health, looking good, and tasting great, these sautéed greens are quick and easy to prepare.
Sautéed greens are the perfect accompaniment to any meat, fish, or poultry entrée and are great on their own or with other ingredients in an antipasto or as bruschetta on grilled or toasted Italian bread. You can prepare Broccoli Rabe, Escarole, Swiss Chard, Green Beans, Broccoli, Spinach, or Beet Greens all in this manner.



Escarole, in Italian the word is “scarola.” In the Italian American dialect of my father’s generation the word is usually pronounced,”Schka-role.” Few are the young people these days that have ever even heard the word and I wonder how many have ever tasted this leafy green that many of us love so. “Schka-role” is of singular importance in the Italian-American cuisine. In the pantheon of Italian-American foods, escarole is way up there, along with Broccoli Rabe and Eggplant (melanzane). Escarole finds itself in soups, in recipes with beans and in stuffed versions, and sometimes on pizza.
      In our family, my sister Barbara and I are the ones who love sautéed escarole most. It’s simply sautéed with garlic, good olive oil, salt & pepper and “Basta,” that’s it, it’s done and it’s tasty as heck. This sautéed escarole is our favorite side-dish with roast chicken, pork chops, steak, and grilled fish.
One of the best uses ever for “Scarola” is in the whimsical Southern-Italian soup, Italian Wedding Soup with chicken broth, chicken, little meatballs and escarole, “It’s just divine.”
And did you know? “Scarola,” is slang for “Money” in Italian, as in “That car cost a lot of “Schka-Role!”


2 heads escarole washed and roughly chopped
7 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, ¼ cup olive oil
1. Blanch escarole in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain off water. Drain again and squeeze excess water from Escarole.
2. Sauté garlic in oil until it just begins to brown.
3. Add red pepper and escarole. Sauté escarole over medium heat for about 6 minutes. Season with Salt and black pepper and serve.
Excerpted from  SUNDAY SAUCE   by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
[caption id="attachment_854" align="aligncenter" width="555"]RAPINI RAPINI[/caption]
SAUTEED ESCAROLE and Other Recipes in Daniel Bellino-Zwicke 's SUNDAY SAUCE

Sunday, November 16, 2014




Williamsburg, Brooklyn

New York


East 12th Street

New York, NY

John's is one of the last of a dying breed of Old School Italian Red Sauce Joints .. John's has been a beloved East Village Italian New York Instituion since 1908, making it one of 
New York's oldest Italian Restaurants of which only a few of many remain. John's is one of them.
John's serves classic Old School Italian American food, including classics like; Clams Posillipo, Baked Clams Oreganata, Lasagna, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Manicotti, and more, including now rare items such as Speedino alla Romano and Veal Sweetbreads.

The wonderful Turn of The Century decor of John's has been lovenly and painstakingly preserved with its 1908 decor still intact. John's is lively and the old school waiters help round out the total picture of Italian Food with great old 1908 decor and animated service from the Black Bowtied Waiters.

Over the years John's has seen the like of; John Lennon, Joe Jackson, Ray Davies, Carol Burnett, Montgomery Clift, Ron Silver, Rockets Redglare, Tom Crruise, Mimi Rodgers, and many other celebrites pass through its doors. Why don't you pass through too? It's great old Italian New York experience.



by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke



Outside JOHN'S of 12th STREET

Smarting over the recent attempt on his life, which had left two bullet holes through his hat and another two holes through his coat, Joe Masseria plotted bloody revenge in epic Italian Renaissance fashion.
Chief Assassin
The target of his wrath was Umberto Valenti, a seriously wily character who had blasted those bullet holes through Masseria’s hat and coat. According to the New York Times in 1915, Valenti was:
A former Black Hand extortionist, it was rumored that Valenti had killed over 20 men, a number of whom had been Masseria’s closest advisors. The thirty four year old Valenti was the chief assassin of Salvatore “Toto” D’Aquila, the New York Mafia’s supreme ruler, a Mafioso who was locked in vicious mob war with Masseria and his chief strategist Giuseppe “the Clutch Hand” Morello.
However, Masseria’s seemingly supernatural bullet dodging powers had given the hard noised, but superstitious, Valenti second thoughts. Second thoughts that had him suing for peace and walking into an ambush in one of New York’s most storied Italian restaurants, John’s of 12th Street, on August 11, 1922, a restaurant that has been used as a set on Boardwalk Empire and the Sopranos.
Well Dressed Gunmen 
Whether or not Valenti sampled the chicken parmigiana before being croaked has been lost to the winds of history. However, some time around noon, Valenti and six laughing companions emerged from their luncheon. Walking eastward, smiles turned into frowns. Suddenly, Valenti spooked and bolted towards Second Avenue as two slick, well-dressed gunmen whipped out revolvers and fired. Gangland legend holds that one of the shooters was none other than Charley “Lucky” Luciano, Masseria’s newest protégé (the other shooter was probably Vito Genovese).


The FEAST of The 7 FISH

Italian Christmas

Pandemonium on East 12thStreet - In Front of JOHN'S Restaurant

As the shots flew, pandemonium broke loose on 12th Street. Whirling around, the feared assassin drew a revolver just as a bullet flew through his chest.
A teenage witness told the New York Times:
Luciano’s Escape
Despite Valenti’s death, the friendly Luciano and his pals weren’t done yet. A crowd formed to block the gunmen’s escape so the mobsters opened fire, hitting a street sweeper and a little girl visiting from New Haven Connecticut. The shots dispersed the crowd, and the hitmen disappeared into a nearby tenement.
Should I Bring Pajamas? 
Masseria was arrested for the murder.  During his arrest, he supposedly grinned and asked the police:
… whether he would need a nightshirt remarking, that the last time he slept in the station house they forgot to give him a pillow or pajamas.
For a job well done, Joe Masseria elevated Luciano to a leadership position at his headquarters in the Hotel Pennsylvania. All murder charges were eventually dropped, and Masseria, on his way to becoming Joe the Boss, set his sights on Valenti’s overlord, Toto De Aquila, New York’s boss of bosses.
However, John’s of 12th had another infamous last meal lined up twenty years later. The victim would be Carlo Tresca.

Monday, November 3, 2014


The FEAST of The 7 FISH
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
New Cover
Daniel Bellino-Zwicke's book THE FEAST of The 7 FISH is getting a New Cover ... The Feast of The 7 Fish, Italian Christmas by Daniel Bellino Zwicke is the # 1 Best Selling Book on Amazon of this genre of The Feast of Seven Fish Italian ritual Christmas Meal, known in Italy as La Vigilia or Feste di Sette Pesci .. 
The Feast of The 7 Fish is a wonderful Italian Christmas Tradition wereby you sit down to a meal (Feast) of 7 different fishes that represent The 7 Sacraments of The Holy Roamn Catholic Church .. This is a wonderful old tradition of The South of Italy which has been carried on by many Italian-Americans with Southern Italian roots, in particular families whose ancestry is from Naples (Napoli) and its invirons of Benevento and Avelino, as well as those Americans with Sicilain roots in their ancestry.
Yes, some have caried on this great tradition. Some make seven fish for the feast while some may make Baccala for the main course, and maybe some Baked Clams or Stuffed Calamari for an apetizer (antipasto). Some may just make the Baccala or some other fish for the main course and no other fish. Some make the whole seven fish fish, and some even make up to 11 different fish, though this is a rare meal. And it's perfectly fine to make just once fish, as long as you are having fish, you need not make a big elaborate meal but whatever you like, as long as you have a good time. And Daniel gives hints on how to make an easy seven fish feast without going through so much work, unless you really want to. It's all up to you.
Baked Clams are an All-Time Italian-American favorite, and for good reason, they are tasty as can be. There are two different styles of Baked Clams that we Italians love to eat, mostly at restaurants but at home as well. The two most famous baked clam dishes are; Clams Casino that have bacon, butter, garlic parsley, and minced Bell Peppers baked on top and Baked Clams Oreganata. The Clams Casino are quite good, but we will include the other Baked Clam dish, Baked Clams Oreganata for the Christmas Eve Fish Dinner as they do not contain any meat.
2 dozen Littleneck Clams
1 cup Bread Crumbs
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons dry Oregano
1/8 Olive Oil
¾ cup water
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, washed, dried, and minced fine
1. Wash Clams in cold running water. Place in a large pot with water and 2 of the garlic cloves. Turn heat on to high. When water comes to the boil, add clams and cover pot. Let cook about 3 minutes, just until the clams start opening. We do not want the clams to cook here, but just to open.
2. Remove clams from pot and let cool, reserving the cooking juices.
3. In a mixing bowl, add all remaining ingredients and stir to mix. When the clam cooking liquid has cooled down, add little by little to breadcrumb mixture which should already by slightly moist from the olive oil. Add clam broth a little at a time. You want the breadcrumbs to be moist, but “Not Watery.”
4. Pry the top half-shell of the clam off, leaving the calm in the bottom shell and discarding the top shell. Place about 1 tablespoon of breadcrumb mixture over each Clam covering them all completely with the bread-crumbs.
5. Place the Clams on a sheet-pan and bake in a preheated 400 Degree oven for 6 or 7 minutes. Then place calms under a broiler for 20 to 30 seconds being careful not to let the breadcrumbs burn. They can have a slight char but not burned. The Clams are now ready for serving.
Note: Two to three clams will be sufficient per person if serving the full Seven Fish Dinner. If you are making this for another meal and serving as an appetizer, 5 to 7 clams is the preferred serving size. At a cocktail party, two clams per person is good.  
PS.. You can also make Mussels Oreganata in the same exact preparation, substituting Mussels for the Clams.
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke