“People think I’m a gangster, but I just do what has to be done.”
For Vince Isoldi, life is about family. Creating a better life than he had, helping those who find themselves in trouble, and cultivating businesses that will help his family flourish for years to come. Sounds like the description of a typical Italian American businessman willing to stop at nothing to provide for those he loves. Unless they cross him…
Well, that is the question- How far does Vince go?
The new A&E series Godfather of Pittsburgh follows Vince, his wife, Carla, and their sons Enzo, Adolfo, and Romeo. While showing their family life and relationships, the series also focuses on Vince’s balance with his businesses.
In my recent interview with Carla, she described her family’s portrayal in the series as a busy family trying to raise their boys with the knowledge of right and wrong in this chaotic world.
Like a typical Italian American family, the Isoldi family cherishes Sunday dinners! Carla explained that Sundays bring the whole family together. No matter what happened that week with the businesses, Sundays are special. Her most requested dish?
“My meatballs,” says Carla. “They are the family favorite. The boys love eating them as an after school snack.”
Thank you Carla for sharing your recipe with us!
Isoldi Family Meatballs
Serves 6 prep time 30 mins.
1 lb. ground chuck meat
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. of onion salt
1 slice of white bread broken up into small pieces
1/2 cup of plain breadcrumbs
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup vegetab;e oil
Combine and hand mix the first 10 ingredients.
Form small meatballs.
Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a skillet.
Place meatballs in the skillet and cover with a lid.
Turn over when bottoms are golden brown.
Salt lightly when cooling and sprinkle with Parmesan
Carla’s biggest cooking influence is her father, “Junior” Williams, also feature on the show. Junior was recently released from prison on racketeering charges.
Carla’s father was a big game hunter and she would help him prepare the pheasant, deer, elk with lots of marinating techniques and red wine. “Some of the wild game would even have he BBs still in the meat. Being a girl it was hard for me to deal with that,” Carla explained.
Carla and Vince’s favorite date night spot in Pittsburgh is Il Pizzaiolo. With a second location in Market Square, The Mt. Lebanon Italian eatery owned by Pittsburgh native Ron Molinero, serves traditional Neapolitan pizza, fresh pizza and pasta, fresh fish, and decadent desserts. A perfect date night spot with outdoor seating!
I must say the Isoldi’s seem like a normal, busy, successful American family, so is Vince really a gangster?
Watch the eight episode series Godfather of Pittsburgh premiering Monday November 10th at 10pm and find out!
A&E has just posted two of the recipes Carla shared for this interview on the Godfather of Pittsburgh homepage under Exclusives! In addition to the meatball recipe, Romeo’s favorite Sunday Dinner Lasagna recipe is also featured!
Daylight savings should be call fall back into a dark, cold tundra here in Pittsburgh.
So what do we do? We eat comfort foods, fill our bellies, and hibernate on the couch until bed. Hearty chilis, stews, and pastas filled with pumpkin, squash, and potatoes hit our menus. The food is a welcomed change! The weather is totally not! The holidays will get us through!
Here is one of our favorite comfort food dinners:
Homestyle Chicken and Biscuits
Serves 12 (Lots of Leftovers!)
1 32oz. Fat free sodium free chicken stock
3/4 cup flour
6 boneless skinless whole chicken breasts – cubed or whole for shredding
4 carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tbsp. chopped rosemary
Salt/pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a stock pot on medium -high heat combine garlic, chicken stock, carrot, celery, onion, and spices.
Stir every 10-15 minutes for a few minutes and don’t be afraid to let it boil. It will help the thickening process of the flour.
Meanwhile, rub chicken breasts with olive oil and salt and pepper.
Bake chicken for 35-45 minutes or until juices run clear and a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
Let chicken stand and cool for 10 mins.
Dice chicken to desired size or shred with a fork.
Add to stockpot and stir.
Cook an additional 20 minutes.
(If the gravy is not as thick as you would like, temper some flour or cornstarch and water. Add the mixture to the pot while stirring. Let it cook to thicken.)
Serve over your favorite biscuits or waffles!
Diners, Drive- Ins and Dives has a fabulous biscuit recipe from The Counter Cafe in Austin, TX. If you are feeling adventurous here it is!
A spinoff of cake pops, cake ball cookies can be dipped in chocolate and truffled or rolled in powdered sugar and donuted. My most recent topping is a light chocolate drizzle and fun Halloween sprinkles! Wilton makes a 6-mix assortment which includes Halloween shapes and colorful sugars!
Cake balls are made by baking a cake, crumbling the cake in a mixing bowl, adding an icing, rolling the mixture into balls, and decorating for any occasion!
Gingerbread Cake Balls #Halloween
makes 24 balls
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 stick butter,melted
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar in mixer until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Add the brown sugar, molasses, and spices, mixing on low speed.
Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, mixing well until smooth.
Pour batter into 9X13 pan.
Bake 25-30 minutes and set and a toothpick comes clean.
Ron Casertano, Enologist with Consumer Fresh Produce for 27 years, tells me the grape harvest was early this year with California grapes arriving in early September. The season usually ends on Columbus Day, but with high supply and demand, the fall grape season will run through the end of October.
Loyal CFP Winemaking customers Rudy Ranallo, along with his friends and family, let me spend the day as they pressed their grapes, filled their jugs with juice, and ate a beautiful pasta dinner!
Ranallo says his process is, “The same as my dad’s [process]. Let the grapes ferment for 7 days, stirring them everyday. Press the grapes and bottle the juice. After six weeks, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, we remove the sediment, and let the fermenting continue until Easter.”
No preservatives, no fancy measuring gadgets, just tradition and instinct.
The guys juiced 200 gallons into carboys on one Sunday afternoon.
This year the family streamlined their process buy purchasing a de-stemmer machine.
As was my experience with the Ranallo family, Casertano described the why behind homemade winemaking, “People like to get together and have fun making wine. They eat, laugh, and enjoy! It is an event.”
It sure was and we had a blast!
Because of Pittsburgh’s big interest and little winemaking knowledge, Casertano says there is definitely a market for a how- to class. Wine classes will be offered at Consumers Fresh Produce in the Spring for round 2- South American grapes season in the Spring!
You still have a week or two to buy some juice.
A big thank you to the Ranallo family for your time and hospitality! I can’t wait to come back for the tasting!
“The Mac & Gold Truck” sounds like plain old mac and cheese served through a window in a city that bleeds black and gold, right?
Tim Tassone’s Mac & Gold truck is anything but traditional and Pittsburghers can’t get enough. What makes Tassone’s mac different? Well, everything!
Simple Truck, Simple Idea, with an unexpected twist. When I visited Tim and Athena at a Greentree office park, I never expected a made-to-order fresh mac and cheese for every order. Sounds like a ton of work!
Tassone says it’s all in the name of delivering a phenomenal product to his customers with minimal waste, of course.
A mortgage industry casualty turned chef, Tim Tassone entered the food truck boom with an appetite for success and a unique enough menu to acheive it. The Mac and Gold truck’s most popular menu item is the lobster mac. Often requested by event staff and customers, Tassone uses real lobster claw meat and tops it with his signature brown butter breadcrumbs. The creamy, light cheese is a farmer’s cheese blend and the succulent bites of lobster keep you searching for more.
The rosemary garlic fries…incredibly addicting and absolutely necessary. I forgot to take a photo and ate the entire serving in minutes!
Create your own mac with add- ins and toppings! Check out this menu!
Can we discuss food truck functionality? If you are worried about messy mac and doing a balancing act, you are wrong! Everything is in one perfect box with a lid!
Look for The Mac & Gold Truck! Tell Tim and Athena I sent you!
These gondolas are adorable and the perfect colors- red, white, and green!
Having a pizza themed party? Wouldn’t these be a great veggie side?
Use this snack opportunity to explain the significance of a gondola to the kids! Here is a very brief description…
A gondola is a flat boat with a lifted stern that carries people along the canals in Venice, Italy. The person who rows is called a gondolier.
For centuries gondolas were the primary means of transportation in Venice. Today, gondolas are used to give tourists rides along the canals. Lovers kiss under every bridge for good luck in love during the romantic rides.
Gondola Veggie Snack:
1 red pepper
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
6 spinach leaves
Wash and take the seeds out of the pepper.
Slice horizontally in half and then 4 more times to create 6 gondolas.
Cut and scoop out the green avocado. Mix the fresh avocado with a spoon until smooth and spread a layer on each gondola.
Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper.
Lean a spinach leaf against the gondola as the oar.
Liebster is a German word meaning “sweetest, kindest, sweatheart,” and a Liebster award is passed along to a new blogger! The nominator chooses a blog that is new, sweet, charming, and intriguing, in an attempt to get to know the blogger behind the blog better! The idea is that the award will move through the blogging community like a chain letter. I have been nominated by the beautiful and talented Bethany at http://www.saltyblonde.com
Thank you my salty blonde friend!
11 Randoms About Me:
1. I am a mom of 2! Brady is 5 and Bella is 3!
2. Most days, I would rather cook than go out.
3. That being said, I could eat Mexican food everyday of my life, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
4. I met my husband while eating breakfast bagel sandwiches in the cafeteria of our office building. Food=Love!
5. I have never been able to replicate that exact breakfast sandwich. A warm bagel, not toasted, with super fluffy scrambled eggs, crisp almost burnt bacon,and a gooey cheese sauce that most definitely came from a generic large can. Fantastic!
6. I love to put outfits together, especially for others. I’m a good stylist if you ever happen to need one ; )
7. I am a bit OCD. I can’t relax or go to bed with a mess, a dirty dish in the sink, or the worst!! a clean dishwasher to unload.
8. I love Pittsburgh; shopping in the Strip District, the restaurants, the vibe.
9. I am the oldest of 5, which makes me the caretaker, the advice-giver, and the one who ensures everyone has enough to eat! (Plus leftovers)
10. I gained 75lbs. and 65lbs. with my pregnancies. Usually I weigh right around 100 lbs. I would eat the tops off of a dozen cupcakes driving 3 blocks.
(Not sharing a photo…ever!!)
11. I am humbled by this award and thrilled to be sharing my love of food with you!
Here are Bethany’s question to me and my answers:
1. Fave restaurant?
Right this minute it is Matteo’s in Lawrenceville! When I was there for Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, I had a dish I can’t stop thinking about…. The Porcini Cappelletti. It is amazing!
2. How did you meet your husband?
Funny how I chose this for one of my randoms. Over breakfast sandwiches!
3. Biggest Fear?
4. Celeb crush?
We all have our lists, don’t we?! David Beckham
5. Heels or Flats?
Heels. Being 5’2″, I dont feel like people take me seriously unless I am wearing high heels, but a perfect high wedge will do.
6. Any beauty trend you wish you could try?
Can you try botox/ fillers and never go back? I know I’m only 29 ; ) but I’m sure eventually I will need something.
7. Beach or CIty?
I love the sun! I actually begin to relax when I’m laying in a lounge chair with a good book, but the best restaurants seem to be in city!
8. Best Vacation Spot
We honeymooned in Aruba and it had everything! Beach, resorts, restaurants, shopping (Aruba had just opened a new Louis Vuitton store while we were there! And I got to pick out my wedding gift from Kevin ; )
9. Fave Movie?
I am not a movie person!
10. Biggest accomplishment?
Raising our two beautiful kids!
11. Favorite month?
December! We entertain all month! Baking, Cooking, cocktails, family and friends! It’s the best!
I am nominating the gorgeous and very talented Amy Wilson of http://www.amywilsonphotography.com, a photography blogger!
Amy, here are your questions:
1. If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go?
2. Solid cream cheese or whipped?
3. If you could go back and change one thing in your past, what would it be?
4. Where is your favorite driving distance travel destination and why?
5. Favorite magazine?
6. What does your favorite go-to outfit look like and how long have you had it?
7. Walking or running?
8. Did you eat wings with your husband while dating him?
9. What is your favorite sport? Team?
10. What is your #1 dish to bring to a party? Recipe?
It is hard to miss the small crowd gathering on the sidewalk as the oysters are being shucked at 2106 Penn Ave in the Strip District. Open garage doors, a long fully stocked bar, undersea cartoons painted on the walls, and warm inviting smiles make Luke Wholey’s restaurant almost impossible to walk by without a little taste.
An avid adventurer and fisherman, Luke Wholey’s dreams exceeded sales and prep work at the family’s Strip District grocery store, Wholey’s. After working on a commercial salmon fishing boat in Alaska, Luke found himself behind a large grill in front of the family grocery store grilling fresh fish for Pittsburgh. As his skills as a chef outgrew the outdoor grill, Luke leased a great spot and Luke Wholey’s Alaskan Grille was born.
After a short meeting with Luke, I knew his restaurant would be the perfect fish week finale! He catches and prepares the freshest seafood in very unique ways. Wild Bill from The Deadliest Catch has frequented the restaurant this summer! The best part is that Luke loves explaining what you are eating, where is comes from, and why he prepares it the way he does. Let’s face it, when it comes to fish, I need solid explanations from an expert
Luke chose one of his favorites, a yellowtail collar appetizer as the first bite. I never would have ordered this on a menu myself!
My party ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna, the Thai Chili Catfish Bites, and the Lobster Bisque French Fries to start!
The entrees we shared were the Shrimp Volcano, the Crab Stuffed Sockeye Salmon, and the always comfortable Fish ‘N Chips with added fried shrimp and scallops!
The salmon dish was a beautiful bright color. Luke explained that the bright red flesh color is indicative of the sockeye salmon variety. The adult spawner sockeyes turn a bright red color when migrating.
The Shrimp Volcano as well as the lobster bisque french fries featured the reataurant’s lobster bisque. Delicious, dark, and dippable, the soup did not disappoint!
For dessert, Luke Wholey’s Alaskan Grille serves A.Ward’s cheesecakes! A favorite of one of Pittsburgh’s favorites, Christina Aguilera! I was lucky enough to have one of A.Wards limoncello cheesecakes for my birthday this year! Also my favorite!
Visit Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille! Prepare to learn something about fish and be wowed by the food! Enjoy!
Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille
2106 Penn Ave. in the Strip
I absolutely love fish tacos, any kind of tacos, and I’m always searching for the best! Between Penn Ave Fish Company’s fish tacos and Edgar’s Taco stand’s Carne Asada tacos, I am a happy girl.
I eat some form of taco every time I’m in the Strip District! (And Penn Mac olives and cheese and La Prima coffee and Colangelos pizza and Pittsburgh Popcorn Company) Yikes!
Anyway, every fish taco is different; made with different fish, cooked plain or spicy, stuffed with lettuce or cabbage, and the list goes on. Penn Ave Fish Company uses a variety of fish, boiled in onion water, totally spicy, stuffed with cabbage, topped with tomatoes…and they are delicious!
I visited my fish mongers at Penn Avenue Fish Company and told them, for Fish Week on the blog, I wanted to make amazing fish tacos like the ones they make everyday! They chopped fresh grouper, salmon, and tuna, ready to cook. This saved me the fish choosing process, of which I am totally clueless, and the chopping time for sure! This is why you need a good fish monger!
Penn Avenue Fish-ish Fish Tacos
(makes 6ish tacos)
1-1/2 lbs. chopped tuna, grouper, and salmon
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp. taco seasoning
4 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup chunky medium salsa (I used Ortega)
2 tbsp. Sriracha sauce
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 chopped tomato
6 tortilla shells
Fill a pot with water and chopped onions.
Bring to a boil.
Cook until the chopped fish floats (5-8 mins, not long!)
Remove fish with a slotted spoon to drain water.
Place fish in a mixing bowl and coat with taco seasoning while warm.
Mix together the sour cream, salsa, and sriracha in a small bowl.
Fill the tortilla shells with shredded cabbage, tomatoes, fish and sauce! Sprinkle some cilantro!