The homogenous colors of concrete and brick blend together in the Bloomfield neighborhood, only accentuated by occasional advertisements and signs. As I walk further along the cracking sidewalks, I notice a multitude of murals embellishing the walls surrounding me; the area becomes progressively more vibrant. Upon entering Del’s Ristorante DelPizzo, the atmosphere changes dramatically. The dim lighting is juxtaposed with the colorful wallpaper and floor, and the aroma of marinara sauce pervades the air.
Del’s was founded in 1949 by Mary and Benny DelPizzo, the grandparents of the current owners; siblings John and Marianne (“About Us.”). They were gracious enough to allow me into their kitchen, a world of escaping steam and constant activity. Here, a diverse group of local workers fry, sear, and boil the food ordered by the customers in the dining area. My family orders a plate of “1949” lasagna, fried zucchini, and a large pizza, which proves to be satisfyingly cheesy and tasty. Italian-American food is a true composite, a new, unique cuisine. Italian immigrants like Mary and Benny DelPizzo, who arrived in 1908, adapted traditional recipes to a new market, creating famous foods like round pizza and spaghetti with meatballs (Mancuso, Janice Therese.). Because of the new popularity of Italian foods in America, the production of foods like olive oil and tomato products increased dramatically in cities like Sicily and Naples (Gabbaccia, Donna R.).
The lasagna is rich, smothered in ground beef and mozzarella cheese. When I ordered it from the menu, it was advertised as a “1949” recipe. Within the 20 years prior to the founding of Del’s, Italian food gained increasing popularity, despite the decrease in imports from Italy due to Mussolini’s “battle for grain” and high depression-era tariffs. Because of the low supply of traditional food, many American companies began attempting to replicate ingredients like aged cheese, tomato sauce, and pasta (Gabaccia, Donna R.). This became a thriving industry, fueling the Italian-American food industry for years to come.
1- “About Us.” Del’s Restaurant Pittsburgh. Del’s Restaurant, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
2-Mancuso, Janice Therese. “A Brief History of Italian Food in America.” A Brief History of Italian Food in America. La Gazzetta Italiana, n.d. Web. 01 May 2014.
3. Gabaccia, Donna R. “History in Focus.” Pizza, Pasta and Red Sauce: Italian or American?, an Article from. History in Focus, Autumn 2006. Web. 02 May 2014.
4. Mariani, John. “Italian America | SAVEUR.” SAVEUR.com. Saveur, 11 Nov. 2011. Web. 02 May 2014.