In 1906 my father Giuseppe first set foot on Ellis Island outside New York City. He was fourteen years old when he left his home village Trapani, Sicily, to seek his fortune in America. I don’t know if he ever found it, but I do know he met my mother Donate at a dance in Queens.
My pop worked in a bakery on the Lower East Side. By the age of twenty he was married. On the 23rd of June 1918 when my dad was kneading the dough of a schiacciata I was born. Soon thereafter came Giovanni, then Franco. With the three of us brothers growing up in Little Italy, the only safe place was our little apartment on Broome Street.
The streets were ruled by the strong hand of the Mafia. By the time my brother Franco was in high school he was already running errands for the Mob. Within a few years he became a Big Boss. He really worked his way up the ladder fast. My mom was so unhappy she cried. Father just drank grappa. While Franco was the king of the streets, Giovanni chose the straight narrow. After years in the Seminary he became “father Giovanni” and served Mass in the little red brick church on Mulberry Street. Mom was so happy she cried. Father just drank grappa.
Me, I chose the third alternative. With the great Italian tradition of fine food in my heart and soul, I took for a job with Frankie Carbone, on the other side of Brooklyn bridge. I started out doing dishes, then two years later I was the proud head waiter. I would escort my parents to a table with a view overlooking the East River and downtown Manhattan. My mom, so happy she cried. My pop, I bought him some grappa. For many years I worked with Frankie and then I finally found the place that was going to be my very first restaurant.
After many successful years in New York, I decided it was time for Europe, and believe you me, I’m as surprised as you that it happened to be Gothenburg! So with this story I’d like to welcome you to Joe Farelli’s Italian-American Kitchen. Free your imagination, get inspired with our kitchen from the heart of the old and the new country. You are at home in my place among family and friends, some suspicious and some religious. The only thing I miss are my dear parents. But we do have grappa!