Italian Food Recipes – About Tessa

Italian Food Recipes by Tessa’s Kitchen Tales

Italian Food Recipes is what Tessa’s Kitchen Tales is about. It is filled delicious old school Italian recipes and stories of growing up and eating in the Bronx.

After much encouragement from family and friends to share my Italian Food Recipes, here I am!  I am a fourth generation American born and raised in the quaint borough of New York City known as the Bronx. I am very excited about sharing my family recipes and stories while I was growing up in an Italian American family.

My Family

My mother was mostly of Neapolitan/ Calabrian descent with a little of English and French.  I had great-grandparents and grandparents that lived in Harlem at 116th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues in Manhattan, New York.  My great-grandparents eventually bought a brownstone around 1910 where grandmother grew-up. This was known as ‘Italian Harlem’ and she lived there until she married my grandfather.  They lived in the brownstone briefly until moving to Brooklyn, and then to the East Bronx.

The Bronx

My father is of Sicilian descent. My paternal grandparents, after they married in the early 1940s, lived in an apartment on Bathgate Avenue in the Bronx’s ‘Little Italy’ known as Arthur Avenue. In present day, this neighborhood continues to have a market filled with Italian specialty meats, cheeses, and delicacies both homemade and imported from Italy.  This is the place to get your ravioli, amongst other mouthwatering foods, for your holiday meals. There is also an abundance of bakeries, pork stores, pizzerias, and restaurants on most every block [a street to everyone that lives out of New York City]. When my father was about two years old, the family moved to a house in the northwest section of the Bronx close to Westchester county.

My Own Family

I have been married for over thirty years and was blessed with two beautiful children. We also raised them in the Bronx in a predominately Italian area. When my daughter and son moved out on their own, they would call or text me. They wanted to know how to make the different meals that they ate while they were growing up.  Of course, I would sit down and type up recipes and send them off to my kids. I would guide them over the phone about the techniques and tricks of cooking.

Sharing My Passion

Nowadays, when my children come back home for family dinners, I reminisce about when I was young—traditions, holidays, vacations, etc.  Recipes are always a part of those memories.   Writing family recipes for my kids gave me the incentive to possibly put together a cookbook. I would want them to pass along to my grandchildren.  That idea was put on the back burner until now.  With the convenience of social media, I decided to start compiling my family recipes and memoirs. This is what this site is about. A mixture of my recipes and memoirs. I hope to one day soon have these great recipes and stories published.

There is no doubt that New York City and the surrounding boroughs have many, many great ethnic restaurants.  Arthur Avenue is a place for great Italian food, but when I was growing up, great Italian food was found in most kitchens throughout my neighborhood. 

Restaurant food can be good, but there is nothing like a homecooked Italian meal.  I have memories of the traditional Sunday dinner at both grandparents’ houses.  A pot of marinara sauce or gravy (made with meatballs and sausage) would be cooking. On most Sundays we would have the marinara sauce or gravy served over various cuts of pasta—rigatoni, fusilli, ravioli, etc. 

Sunday Gravy

My paternal grandfather, who was a butcher, would bring a ‘piece of pork’ . The pork was stuffed with fresh garlic cloves, Italian cheese, and seasoning to braise. He would then put into the gravy which would simmer on a low flame for no less than three hours.  I have memories of my grandmother dipping a piece of Italian bread in the pot of sauce for me to taste.  The dipped bread with a sprinkle of grated cheese was a little snack before the meal.  This was to ‘hold me over’ until we sat down to dinner. Just talking about it is making me hungry!

Sunday was not the only day for a great Italian meal.  Join me and learn more about the traditional Sunday dinner and the everyday Italian family recipes and stories about when I was growin’ up and eatin’ Italian in the Bronx.

The Bronx Board’s Photo Gallery Morris Park Avenue between Colden and Radcliff Ave around the late 70’s early 80s.

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