April 23, 2011

Watertown, MA. April, 2011

My friend Nick bakes up a storm each Easter, always has. And when we lived closer to each other, I was able to enjoy the fruits of his labors more often than I do now. Instead, I either follow his infallible recipes to make these Easter specialties myself, or I try to find them at local Italian markets. This year, Nick is not only teaching a class in Italian Easter Baking at NYC’s Institute of Culinary Education, but he’s also at home this week making, according to his email, Pizza Rustica, Torta di Ricotta and both salty and sweet taralli. Me, I went to nearby Russo’s and bought some of their Pizza Chiena, a deep-dish olive-oil crust baked with a filling of ricotta, prosciutto, soppressata, Parmesan and more. The list of ingredients is somewhat flexible. Both Nick and my friend Dan each make theirs with heady combinations of Italian meats and cheeses. My friend Michael follows his nonna’s recipe with cheeses only, mostly fresh mozzarella. And when I mentioned Russo's version to a woman who works at my library, she said, "It's fine, but it's not like my mother's." I’ve seen this Southern Italian savory pie sometimes spelled Pizzagaina, which approximates a common pronunciation in Naples dialect. For the real backstory and Nick’s recipe, click here. Any way you make it, or spell it, it says Buona Pasqua.


  1. Buona Pasqua and thanks for featuring me... ICE used to have an outpost school with about 50 seats in a Westchester supermarket. About 15 years ago I started an Italian Easter baking class there by stating that the recipes are based on my family's vesions and "I don't care how your Aunt Philomena made it." A couple of latecomers arrived a few minutes later and one of them immeditaely commented that my pizza rustica wasn't like her grandmother's provoking a round of loud laughter, much to her puzzled amazement...

  2. "ricotta, prosciutto, soppressata, Parmesan and more" Starch Picnic?