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The Popularity of Italian Cuisine

It’s certainly true that Italian cuisine has become increasingly popular in the Western world in the last several decades. Why is that, exactly?

Some Americans attribute it to the immigration of Italians over the last century or so. Others talk about how most ingredients in Italian cuisine are relatively inexpensive and easy to find in the marketplace. Those of us who prefer a simple answer suggest that Italian cuisine is delicious and is therefore popular.

We think all of these answers are true. For us at Goodfellas, however, Italian cuisine makes us think of cooking for our family. Culinary skills are a good thing, and using them with love to create a delicious meal for the whole family to enjoy is the main reason we love to cook. When you visit us at Goodfellas, we will feed your family as if you’re our family. That’s how we want to earn our own popularity!

Celebrating the Caprese Salad

Insalata Caprese. The Caprese Salad.

It’s a simple dish. A classic and beloved first course. The basic ingredients include mozzarella (preferably Buffalo), tomatoes, green basil, and then topped with olive oil, salt, and often other seasonings.

By Rainer Zenz (Self-published work by Rainer Zenz) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Caprese salad originates from the island (and town) of Capri, which is on the southern end of the Gulf of Naples. (Yes, Capri pants are also named after this island!)

Did you know that the salad is meant to represent the colors of the Italian flag? The basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes correspond to the green, white, and red, respectively, of the Italian flag. So come on in to Goodfella’s and order a Caprese salad!

Weird Italian foods!

Most cultures that have been around for centuries have developed some strange foods. Italy is no different. Italians have developed some crazy foods that they still enjoy today. Warning, these foods are decidedly not for the faint-hearted.

The first one, Casu Marzu, is certainly only for the bravest of eaters. It is cheese…fermented by maggots. You can find it in Sardinia. They take a wheel of their local favorite cheese, Pecorino, cut the rinds, and then leave it out for a few months. Flies eventually lay eggs in the cheese. The thousands of eggs hatch into larvae. The larvae eat the cheese, and then excrete it. Wait a few more months and the wheel of cheese is soft, strong-smelling, and, well, full of maggots. The excreted, fermented cheese that remains is then consumed usually on a cracker/flatbread. Maggots might jump away as you try to take a bite. Supposedly, the aftertaste lasts for hours. Seriously, people do this. Granted, this entire process violates the EU’s standards of food hygiene, so you’ll never find this in a store. It seems you’re only going to find it in the homes of people who carry on the tradition.

The second, lardo, is available throughout Italy, but Colonnata in Tuscany is well-known for its variant. Lardo is essentially slices of cured pork fat. It is considered a delicacy, and although the flavor is relatively mild, the calorie count is quite robust.

If you’re in a Sicilian town like Palermo and you’re interested in trying a truly local street food, then order Pani ca meusa. In the local dialect, pani ca meusa means “bread with spleen.” That’s right, a spleen sandwich! The spleen is boiled, cut into strips, and then fried. Lay it on bread, top with ricotta or another kind of cheese, and your pani ca meusa is ready. It’s an iconic, popular meal for locals. The spleen’s flavor has been compared to liver, but it’s apparently not quite the same.

There are more examples of weird foods, but we’ll stop for now. If none of these foods appeal to you, then you can stop in at Goodfella’s and order something from our delicious menu!

Dads and desserts

We learned this weekend that last Thursday was National Cannoli Day. Well, if anyone knew about it, we hope they celebrated with a Cannoli or two. As far as we’re concerned, here at <b>Goodfella’s</b>, <i>every</i> day is Cannoli Day.

Of course, Sunday was Father’s Day. We salute all the dads out there, and look forward to welcoming them here in our restaurant (you can order him a Cannoli!). While we’re at it, let’s show our love to Sal, owner of <b>Goodfella’s</b> and father of two amazing kids!

Have a great week!

A few places to go in West Sicily

If you’ve ever dreamed of going to West Sicily, you’ll need to know where to go and what to see. We’d like to offer a few ideas.  There are many more places to see and things to do in West Sicily, but these places are good for a start.

Of course, Palermo, Sicily’s capital, is an obvious choice. The mix of architectures from throughout its history is spellbinding. The Theatre Massimo and Politeama are two mind-blowing examples of neoclassical architecture that can’t be missed. You’ll also want to visit Palermo’s historical food markets to immerse yourself in the local lifestyle and cuisine.

By Xerones (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Erice is a town built in medieval times on top of a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean.  Erice is a venerable time capsule. Be sure to visit the castle. The view is without equal.

By Michal Osmenda from Brussels, Belgium (Panorama from Erice, Sicily, Italy) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Marsala is an ancient city with the archaeological sites to prove it. It is also home to a world-famous region of the wine industry. There are plenty of places in Marsala where one can sample the bold local wine (and even go on guided tours!).

By Mboesch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Next time you’re in Goodfella’s, you can discuss planning your trip to West Sicily with your loved ones over a great meal!

Garlic and Human History

Did you know that garlic is one of the oldest known foods? Garlic has been in use since before written history. Every major civilization of the ancient world used garlic as a flavor for foods as well as a medicinal herb (and even religious rituals).

Garlic has its origins in Central Asia. We domesticated and cultivated the plant starting in India around six thousand years ago. In the following millennia garlic made its way to the Middle East via the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires, followed by Egypt, and of course the Romans and the Greeks. There are references to garlic in both the Bible and the Koran, in ancient Egyptian writings, as well as in Greek and Roman texts.

By Pivari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

All of these civilizations touted the medicinal qualities of garlic, claiming it could treat everything from dog bites to asthma, and to even keep leprosy away. By the time garlic spread to Europe in the Middle Ages, medical books claimed garlic could cure smallpox and the plague. In the mid-1800s it was proven that garlic can kill germs, so it was widely used in both World Wars as an antiseptic as well as a treatment for dysentery.

Garlic is enjoyed these days all over the world. As recently as 2012, worldwide production of garlic was greater than 24 million tons.

I don’t know about you, but I want an order of Garlic Knots from Goodfella’s right now!


Memorial Day

As you know, yesterday was Memorial Day. Of course, people in this country have many ways of spending the day: attending parades, visiting loved ones, going to the beach, having a barbecue. We hope everyone had a great day.

We wanted to take this opportunity to honor and remember all of the men and women who sacrificed their lives serving in the armed forces to ensure our continued safety and prosperity.

Now that Memorial Day has passed, that means summer is just around the corner. We look forward to seeing you at Goodfella’s this summer!



(We are willing to bet you read that word and heard it in your mind with an Italian accent. We know we did.)

The word mozzarella is first used in a cookbook that dates back to the 16th century. The term is a form of the word mozza, meaning “cut”, derived from its method of production. Genuine mozzarella is not the low-moisture version made from cow’s milk used in restaurants and sold in grocery stores across America. The cheese sold and marketed as Mozzarella di Bufala Campana is made only in specific locations in several southern regions of Italy. As the name suggests, it is indeed made from the milk of Italian water buffalo.


It is a semi-soft cheese with a milky flavor that was largely unknown outside of the regions where it is produced until the arrival of modern refrigeration, vacuum-sealing, and shipping technologies. In the old days, mozzarella had to be served the next day after it was made. Immerse it in brine and it would last a week. These days we have ways around these limitations. We also have the low-moisture version we all know and love here in America. Mozzarella appears in many of our dishes. Come into Goodfella’s and order a round (or two) of our delicious Mozzarella sticks!


A Very Brief History of DeBary, FL

We are proud to call the city of DeBary as the home of Goodfella’s. This week we wanted to learn a little bit about the history of our city. DeBary’s history traces back to the nineteenth century. The city is named after Frederick de Bary, a successful wine merchant from New York City.

The de Bary family traces its roots to French-speaking modern-day Belgium. (Samuel) Frederick de Bary himself was born in Frankfurt, in modern-day Germany in 1815, where his family had settled. He later emigrated to New York, importing wine and champagne into the United States. After amassing his wealth in New York City, he purchased land in 1871 near Lake Monroe in Florida and built DeBary Hall, an 8,000 square foot Italianate mansion which today serves as a museum.

By Ebyabe (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Four years later de Bary bought a steamboat on the St. Johns river, which led to a successful steamboat merchants’ line which was eventually merged with the Baya’s Line and was later sold.

Frederick de Bary died in 1898, but his legacy lives on in the City of DeBary, which was incorporated almost a century later in 1993. If you’d like to learn more about DeBary’s history, we suggest clicking here to visit the city’s history page on their official website.

Italian Matriarchs

IMG_3352Many of us are aware of the role of the matriarch in Italian-American society. We’ve all seen the stereotypical Italian mom in movies and on TV. Oftentimes the mother is the lynch-pin of the Italian family. She is a hard worker and thoughtful caregiver. She’s not afraid to speak her mind. She also makes a fantastic manicotti.

In light of Mother’s Day this last Sunday, we want to celebrate all the mothers out there. We understand the hard work that moms do every single day, and we want to say we love you for it. You taught us everything we know, and we’re suddenly hungry for some manicotti.