My recollections of the first time I entered the spacious, bustling kitchen of Villa Joe's restaurant brings me back a long stretch of years. I was twenty years old when I stepped into the dynamic heart of the restaurant. I was simply dazzled by the abundance of food, cooked and uncooked, in escalating stages of preparation, all being assembled, concocted, confected into forms creatively visual and delectable. As a promising fashion designer I was enthralled by the scene so artistic in my eyes. I saw a palette of colors, the modeling of textures and contours as if designed and draped at a couturier's studio. I had a sixth sense I would like to be a part of this activity.
My husband Frank's mother was busy at the antipasto table sorting salad greens, chicory and arugula. Frank introduced me to her. I said, "Hello, may I help you?"
You may find yourself matching recipes with the lighthearted fables in my husband's memoir, A Remembrance of a Restaurant; A Decameron of Dining, or his other works, Under Blue Skies of Naples, Chez Dogs, and Naples of Salvatore DiGiacomo, which might grant a realized recipe added piquancy. For your convenience I have charted correspondences on the last page.
Irene Palescandolo was a very young, well known fashion designer when she met her husband Frank whose parents owned a landmark Meapolitan restaurant located in Coney Island. She married Frank and changed careers, becoming part of the team that ran the restaurant. She brought fresh ideas and youthful energy to a business that was already a generation old.