Biagio Paul DiLeo , my grandfather, was born in Bari , Italy in 1894. He served as a cook in the Italian Navy during WWI. Biagio emigrated to America in his early twenties and settled in Shrewsbury , MA . He was introduced to and eventually wed Lucia Colangelo. Ironically, she too had been born in Bari , Italy , however the two didn't meet until they cam to the States. Lucia and biagio raised four children. During the Depression he would pick coal along the train tracks to heat his home. But, Biagio also had a beautiful garden and made his own wine. At times he would use this to barter for services rendered.
My grandmother made her own jelly. I can still smell it cooking. My grandfather was a frugal man having become that way out of necessity. Everything in the garden was canned or eaten fresh. Nothing was ever wasted. The foods that they made were incredible. They could make a meal out of practically nothing. Meals at their house were always a culinary delight. All food was prepared and eaten in the basement kitchen. I swear they spent half their lives down there. The kitchen on the first floor was virtually unused.
The real living was in the basement. At mealtime, my grandfather would send one of the grandkids to get the wine in the storeroom. But, we'd all go! We'd take a quart size green bottle and fit the mouth with a funnell so we could pour it from a gallon jug. The benefit of the job was the large swig of wine each of us would take before returning to the kitchen table. After all, no one could see us back there. After each meal, fruit, nuts, or cheese was served. If nuts were served, you were allowed one nut for each year of your life.
If you were lucky, Biagio would take out a big block of Provolone cheese and carve you a slice so thin you could see through it. Naturally, those wrinkled cured olives were also served - Delicious! Honestly, my grandparents should have had their own restaurant. They have both passed on, 'God Rest Them', but because of them I'll never forget the taste of 'homemade' food or the feeling of 'home'. Now my husband Tim and I would like to invite you home, to enjoy the food and ambiance of the old Italian ways. Welcome to Biagio's
Gina 'DiLeo' Friend
P.S. But don't worry, we won't make you eat in the basement!