Don't fuggetaboutit! Dine with 'Sopranos' stars
Three “Sopranos” are hoping an invitation for their fans to join them for dinner is an offer they can't refuse.
Vinny Pastore (“Big Puss”), Kathrine Narducci (“Charmaine Bucco”) and Tony Sirico (“Paulie ‘Walnuts' Gualtieri”) will be the hosts at “Dinner with the Sopranos” on Jan. 28 as a special feature of the Monroeville Home Show at Monroeville Convention Center.
The actors were part of the large cast of the HBO crime drama series “The Sopranos” that ran from 1999-2007 and focused on New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano (played by the late James Gandolfini).
The Italian buffet dinner will feature family recipes from the cookbook, “Shut Up and Eat!” (Berkley Publishing Group, 2005) written by Tony Lip — best known for his role as Carmine Lupertazzi on “The Sopranos” — and food writer Steven Prigge. The cookbook is filled with family recipes and personal stories from Italian-American actors who starred in the show.
Narducci grew up in an Italian neighborhood in East Harlem, N.Y., where she remembers families with deep ties to her heritage and mothers like hers who loved to cook their Italian specialties. She writes in the book about her inherited love of cooking and she includes her recipe for Italian baked chicken.
“Cooking for others is an extremely personal way of socializing,” she says. “You spend quality time preparing and sharing the food. I think it brings people closer together in the truest sense.”
Sirico came from a poor Italian family in Brooklyn and because of their financial situation, he says, “I ate a lot of pasta fagiole, lentils and macaroni, and I loved it. Eating a good home-cooked meal was important to me, and believe me, my mom made a great sauce.” He shares her recipe in the book.
Pastore, who was born in the Bronx and grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y., was only a part of “The Sopranos” for two seasons before his character was “killed off.” He made recurring appearances on the show over the next few years in dream and flashback sequences.
He has acted in many other TV shows and movies and says he recently has been shooting pilot episodes for several new projects. He also enjoys singing and playing tambourine with his rock and roll band, Gangster Squad, which will be back at Monroeville Convention Center in June to perform at an Italian festival.
“ ‘The Sopranos' was a good show,” he says. “When we shot the pilot, there was something magical on the set; I think it was the cast. For all the actors that came together, it was a long journey.”
He says that dinners like the one in Monroeville give the actors an opportunity to share their memories of the series and meet with the people who enjoyed watching it.
Preparing the meal for “Dinner with the Sopranos” will be chefs and bakers from Pasta Too restaurant in Bethel Park, Tommy's Catering of Vandergrift, Colavita USA Italian foods, Battistoni Italian meats, Maddy's Bakery of Irwin, Kitty's Pizzelles and Gina's Biscottis.
The event also will include a Meet & Greet with the actors, live music, trivia and video clips from “The Sopranos” TV show.
Vinnie Sylvania of Latrobe, Colavita representative and host of a radio food show, “Food Impressions with Vinnie” on 1480 WCNS in Latrobe, will be providing the salad table, featuring greens and beans, antipasto with peppers, pepperoni, bread, cheese and olives, and fresh fruit.
Sylvania says that for people of Italian heritage, the same as with other ethnic groups, “our whole lives revolve around food, holidays and the preparation of food. It's a social thing. Food is part of our culture and daily living and it enhances life. We have to eat; we might as well enjoy it.”
Ray Piacquadio, owner of Pasta Too, will prepare Baked Ziti with Four Cheeses and Italian Meatballs and the restaurant's own sauce, which is now available for sale at local supermarkets.
He says it's the same sauce his grandmother made, “only she made it in 60-gallon kettles and we're making it in 500-gallon kettles.”
Also on the “Sopranos” dinner menu will be Starr Hill Winery Sangiovese, Italian bread, porchetta, chicken Romano, polenta with sausage and marinara, biscotti, pizzelles and tiramisu cookies.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.