Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Family Stuff

The picture shows my zio (uncle) Ettore Fenaroli at the stove of his restaurant in New Jersey. I'm not sure of the date when this picture was taken but my best guess is that it was taken in his 40's sometime before WWII. Uncle Arthur was born in 1887 in the village of Pocigatone, Province of Parma, Italy (Region of Emilia Romangna) and immigrated to the United States in 1905. His son, Arthur narrates

"This picture was taken in the kitchen of the first Hudson Villa. The Hudson Villa was owned by Ettore and his partner Charlie Rossi. Subsequently there were three Hudson Villas. This Hudson Villa was located on the edge of the Palisades, about two miles south of the George Washington Bridge. It was a beautiful old Dutch Mansion with an absolutely spectacular view of upper west side Manhattan. The grounds around it were wilderness. Arthur, Rita, Lou and Charlie's son, Lou spent many days exploring the wilderness. There are many stories to tell about the site, including stories about gamblers and show girls from the nearby Ben Marden's Riviera, a night club, speakeasy and illegal casino. Ettore and Charlie were forced to vacate the site when John D. Rockefeller bought a strip of properties along the edge of the Palisades to keep forever wild. The beautiful mansion was removed. In so far as I know the land continues to be wild but there are high rise buildings all around the site."

This photo shows two minor musical celebrities, Arturo Toscanini ( He was from Emilia Romangna and was drawn to my uncles' restaurant by the authentic cuisine: lots of small wild birds and polenta; cotechino; venison.) and Vladimir Horowitz standing near a tree overlooking the Hudson River at Zio Ettore's restaurant. According to my cousin Arthur and other family members, Toscanini was a regular customer who brought Maestro Horowitz as a guest. I'm pretty sure that this picture was taken after the war. Again, my cousin Arthur narrates

"This is the only photo I have of the original Hudson Villa. It was located on top of the Palisades about two miles south of the George Washington Bridge. The picture shows Arturo Toscanini, the most famous conductor of the time and his family. His family included Arthur (sic) Horowitz one of the outstanding pianists of his time or maybe the century. Toscanini often told his friends the Hudson Villa was his favorite restaurant. He often orderred tripe and polenta. He was always addressed as Maestro by my father and his waiters

Note the magnificent view of Manhattan west [side]."

Finally, here is a photo of Zio Ettore and his family.

From left standing: Cousin Arthur, his sister Rita (Aunt Rita), brother Joe.

Seated Zia Antoinetta (Toinietta) and Zio Ettore. Only Arthur and Rita are still alive.


Jennie/Tikka said...

You know, my father and his brothers worked in Italian restaurants right around this time. Even though my dad and his brothers weren't Italian, they were constantly being told, "You need to marry a good Italian girl."

Any of your relatives ever mention the Brandli boys?? They were singing waiters, as dad tells it.

My dad and his brothers grew up in Union City, NJ.

Jennie/Tikka said...

My dad's mom was an opera singer from Switzerland. It would make sense she'd know about/hang around a restaurant that fed Toscanini.

realitybites said...

Those photos are wonderful.

redman said...

love the photos, too. Something about seeing black and white photos of past cooks is mesmerizing. Keep this type of stuff coming, interesting to hear stories about Italian dining in that period. Any old menus on hand you could show?