The Sopranos Family Cookbook

As Compiled by Artie Bucco


By Artie Bucco

By Allen Rucker

By Michele Scicolone

By David Chase

Formats and Prices




$16.99 CAD



  1. ebook $12.99 $16.99 CAD
  2. Hardcover $28.00 $35.00 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 1, 2008. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Nuovo Vesuvio. The “family” restaurant, redefined. Home to the finest in Napolitan’ cuisine and Essex County’s best kept secret. Now Artie Bucco, la cucina’s master chef and your personal host, invites you to a special feast…with a little help from his friends. From arancini to zabaglione, from baccala to Quail Sinatra-style, Artie Bucco and his guests, the Sopranos and their associates, offer food lovers one hundred Avellinese-style recipes and valuable preparation tips. But that’s not all! Artie also brings you a cornucopia of precious Sopranos artifacts that includes photos from the old country; the first Bucco’s Vesuvio’s menu from 1926; AJ’s school essay on “Why I Like Food”; Bobby Bacala’s style tips for big eaters, and much, much more. So share the big table with: Tony Soprano, waste management executive “Most people soak a bagful of discount briquettes with lighter fluid and cook a pork chop until it’s shoe leather and think they’re Wolfgang Puck.”

Enjoy his tender Grilled Sausages sizzling with fennel or cheese. Warning: Piercing the skin is a fire hazard. Corrado “Junior” Soprano, Tony’s uncle “Mama always cooked. No one died of too much cholesterol or some such crap.” Savor his Pasta Fazool, a toothsome marriage of cannellini beans and ditalini pasta, or Giambott’, a grand-operatic vegetable medley. Carmela Soprano, Tony’s wife “If someone were sick, my inclination would be to send over a pastina and ricotta. It’s healing food.” Try her Baked Ziti, sinfully enriched with three cheeses, and her earthy ‘Shcarole with Garlic. Peter Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri, associate of Tony Soprano “I have heard that Eskimos have fifty words for snow. We have five hundred words for food.” Sink your teeth into his Eggs in Purgatory-eight eggs, bubbling tomato sauce, and an experience that’s pure heaven. As Artie says, “Enjoy, with a thousand meals and a thousand laughs. Buon’ appetito!”


Copyright © 2002 by Warner Books, Inc. and Home Box Office, a Division of Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P. All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Text Copyright © 2002 by Warner Books, Inc.

Recipe photographs copyright © 2002 by Warner Books, Inc. The Sopranos photographs copyright © 2002 by Home Box Office, a Division of Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P. All Rights Reserved.

The Sopranos, HBO and IT'S NOT TV. IT'S HBO. are service marks of Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P.

Grand Central Publishing

Hachette Book Group USA

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Visit our Web site at

First eBook Edition: September 2002

ISBN: 978-0-446-54534-1


Many, many thanks to: David Chase, Ilene Landress, Russell Schwartz, Sandra Bark, Michele Scicolone, Ellen Silverman, Carolyn Strauss, Miranda Heller, Richard Oren, Martin Felli, John Ventimiglia, Federico Castelluccio and cast and crew, Sandra Vannucchi, Nona Jones, Victoria Frazier, Chris Newman, the gracious staff of the New Jersey Information Center, and the incomparable assistance of Bree Conover and Felicia Lipchik. Also, I'd like to thank Ann-Marie, Blaine, and Max for all their love and support.

—Allen Rucker

Thank you to Ilene Landress for never getting depressed with all the meetings it took to produce this book. We already thanked our mothers, so thank you to my grandmother, Theresa Melfi, one of the world's great cooks and also my father, Henry Chase who was a really good cook, pie maker, and, perhaps more important, convinced me to eat mussels and clams. To most of my relativesthey are good at the stove, my wife, Denise, and her mother, Simone Kelly, where I first experienced French food, and also to my daughter, Michele with whom we've had a lot of happy, delicious lunches and dinners.

David Chase


Cooking the Neapolitan Way


Despite the fact that I'm the son of cooks, majored in regional Italian in cooking school, and have been to Naples twice, I don't consider myself an expert on the history of Neapolitan cooking. So I made a few calls and found onea Newarker steeped in the culinary lore of our forefathers, a self-described "bookworm," Ms. Natalie del Greco.

The authors of this exciting new cookbook have asked me to write a few words about the origins and evolution of Neapolitan cooking, which I'm honored to do. With the explosion of interest in Italian cuisine among the baby boom generation, the question of "roots" becomes all the more urgent. Although my own forefathers, like many in the Newark area, are from the province of Avellino, adjacent to Naples, I will generalize my comments to include the whole greater Neapolitan area. The important distinction is that this food did not originate in Tuscany, Rome, or Sicily. Enough said.

Neapolitan food, like the Neapolitan people, is essentially hearty and straightforward—what Middle Americans would call "stick to the ribs" food—though centuries of outside influences have also given this cuisine variety and sophistication. The area around Naples, with the sea on one side and rich mountain farmland on the other, is a veritable cornucopia of raw ingredients. Broccoli, olives, and other vegetables grow like weeds. Neapolitans were once called mangiafoglie, or leaf eaters, by Northern Italians because their diet was so rich in vegetables.

Then, with the influence of foreign invaders like the French and the Spanish, and the introduction of a few new ingredients, the unique cuisine of Naples began to emerge. First pasta, or in the parlance of the times, maccerone (macaroni), moved to the center of the table. It was easy to store for months on end and it went with almost anything.

Meanwhile, at some point, a resourceful Neapolitan came up with the idea of spreading a juicy red vegetable from the New World—the tomato—over flat bread, add a little cheese, and call it pizza. Pizza, like much of this cuisine, started out as peasant food but soon became high-class. As the story goes, one day Queen Margherita, wife of the reigning foreign overlord in the 1880s, decided to try a little of this so-called pizza. A smart pizzaiolo made a delicate concoction (i.e., no garlic or anchovies) with only tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, the three colors of the Italian flag. The queen apparently loved it, the dish was dubbed Pizza Margherita, and you can now get it in Dubai and Tibet.

"Americans are like Germans!"Q&A WITH FURIO GIUNTA

FURIO (F): What do you want, Artie?

ARTIE (A): How do you like America?

F: I like it a lot.

A: How do you like the food in America?

F: Not so good.

A: How so?

F: First, you use too much sauce on your spaghetti. Very bad. Too soupy. Can't taste the pasta, the semolina.

A: I'm making a note.

F: Then you do something really stupid. You drink cappuccino after dinner!

A: Yes, that's very big here.

F: Well, it's stupid. Back home, cappuccino is in the morning, before 11 A.M. After dinner, it's like a, how do you say, milkshake. Americans are like Germans!

A: Ouch.

F: And, finally, never serve pasta and meat on the same plate. Very German. First the pasta, then the meat. That's the right way.

A: That's a lot of plates.

FF: Make somebody to wash them. Kids here are spoil.

A: You must like something over here.

F: Yeah, my own moozarell'… you can't screw that up.

A: That's it?

F: No, I really like pigs in their bed. The cocktail franks. You buy frozen and heat them up.

A: Pigs in a blanket? You're kidding.

F: The dough should be soft, nice.

A: But you can get that merda anywhere.

F: I wish.

Of course, the sauce of the tomato went very well with spaghetti too. The thing about pasta and tomato sauce—or any sauce—is that you can eat it constantly in an endless assortment of tastes and textures, as many young gourmands have discovered. Some experts say that it was the great Naples-born opera singer, Enrico Caruso—the Pavarotti of his day—who helped spread the cause of pasta. Being an opera singer, he had a big appetite and apparently demanded a bowl of spaghetti daily, no matter where he performed.

No doubt Caruso also craved a little pizza after a hard night of Puccini, and given the massive immigration of Neapolitans to America from 1870 onward, there was probably a pizza shop around the corner. This great influx of immigrants, mostly poor, mostly unskilled, brought the whole rich palette of Neapolitan ingredients with them—anchovies, basil, olive oil, garlic, and onions (though not in the same dish), their cheeses, and all of their preserved pork products, like salami, prosciutto, and capicola.

They even brought the idea of take-out pizza. Long before home pizza delivery was the American norm, street vendors in Naples would walk around with metal boxes on their heads and sell you a hot pizza right outside your kitchen window. And you can still buy it on the street there today.

For many new Italian-Americans, food became a means of economic survival. Artie Bucco's family story is a case in point. The family-run Italian restaurant quickly went from a neighborhood respite to a national clichÉ—the red-checked tablecloth, the straw-covered Chianti bottle, and spaghetti "with-a da meatballs" served by a guy with a handlebar mustache. Soon American capitalism was marketing spaghetti and meatballs in a can. That's what happens when you bring one of the world's great culinary treasures to this country. Americans both embrace it and debase it.

But now the clock seems to be turning back, and people everywhere are hungering for Italian food that is closer to the real thing, imbued with the ingredients and the care that "authentic" Italian food has always been given. You might say that the message of Neapolitan cooking is like the message of the people themselves: relax, sit down, serve yourself a little pasta, and taste life. We should all thank them for this great pleasure.

Marinara Sauce

Tomato Sauce

Makes about 3 cups

2 large garlic cloves, lightly smashed

1/4 cup olive oil

2 pounds very ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or one 28-ounce can Italian peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped Salt

8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

In a large skillet, cook the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat, pressing it occasionally with the back of a spoon, until golden, about 4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the sauce is thick, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the tomatoes. Stir in the basil leaves.

Serve over hot cooked spaghetti or other pasta.

Sunday Gravy

Makes about 8 cups

For the Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound meaty pork neck bones or spareribs

1 pound veal stew meat or 2 veal shoulder chops

1 pound Italian-style plain or fennel pork sausages

4 garlic cloves

1/4 cup tomato paste

Three 28- to 35-ounce cans Italian peeled tomatoes

2 cups water

Salt and freshly ground pepper

6 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

For the Meatballs

1 pound ground beef or a combination of beef and pork

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs, preferably homemade

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon very finely minced garlic

1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

To Serve

1 pound shells or rigatoni, cooked and still hot

Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Pat the pork dry and put the pieces in the pot. Cook, turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer the pork to a plate. Brown the veal in the same way and add it to the plate.

Place the sausages in the pot and brown on all sides. Set the sausages aside with the pork.

Drain off most of the fat from the pot. Add the garlic and cook for about two minutes or until golden. Remove and discard the garlic. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.

With a food mill, puree the tomatoes, with their juice, into the pot. Or, for a chunkier sauce, just chop up the tomatoes and add them. Add the water and salt and pepper to taste. Add the pork, veal, and sausages and basil and bring the sauce to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little more water.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs:

Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl. Mix together thoroughly. Rinse your hands with cool water and lightly shape the mixture into 2-inch balls. (Note: If you are making meatballs for lasagne or baked ziti, shape the meat into tiny balls the size of a small grape.)

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the meatballs and brown them well on all sides. (They will finish cooking later.) Transfer the meatballs to a plate.

After two hours, add the meatballs and cook for 30 minutes or until the sauce is thick and the meats very tender.

To serve, remove the meats from the sauce and set aside. Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve the meats as a second course, or reserve them for another day.


Serves 8 to 10

Sunday Gravy (page 14) made with tiny meatballs

10 to 12 strips (10 × 4 inches each) fresh egg pasta


2 pounds whole-milk ricotta

1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, or a combination

Remove the meats, including the meatballs, from the gravy and set aside the pork and veal. Cut the sausages into thin slices and put them with the meatballs.

Lay out some lint-free kitchen towels on a flat surface. Have a large bowl of cold water ready.

Bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt to taste. Add a few pieces of the lasagne and cook until al dente, tender yet firm to the bite. Scoop the pasta out of the water and place in the cold water. When cool, lay the pasta sheets out flat on the towels. (The towels can be stacked one on top of the other.) Continue cooking and cooling the remaining lasagne in the same way.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spread a thin layer of the sauce in a 13 × 9-inch baking pan. Set aside the best-looking pasta strips for the top layer. Make a layer of pasta, overlapping the pieces slightly. Spread about one-quarter of the ricotta on top of the pasta, then scatter on about one-quarter of the tiny meatballs and sliced sausages and one-quarter of the mozzarella. Spoon on about 1 cup more of the sauce and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the grated cheese.

Repeat the layers three more times. Make a final layer of pasta, sauce, and grated cheese. (If you are making the lasagne ahead of time, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake, or as long as overnight.)

Bake the lasagne for 1 hour and 10 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling around the edges. If it starts to get too brown on top before it is heated through, cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil.

Remove the lasagne from the oven and let set for 15 minutes. Cut the lasagne into squares and serve.

Bistecca Pizzaiola

Steak Pizzaiol' Steak Pizzamaker's Style

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 small tender steaks

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper

One 28-ounce can Italian peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch of crushed red pepper

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Pat the steaks dry. Add to the pan and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer the meat to a platter.

Scatter the garlic into the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, oregano, red pepper, and salt to taste. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened.

Return the steaks to the sauce. Cook briefly, turning the steaks once or twice, until they are warmed and cooked to taste. Serve hot.

Linguine alle Vongole

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

Serves 6

3 pounds littleneck, Manila, or other small hard-shell clams

1/4 cup water

6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 small dried peperoncino, crumbled, or a pinch of crushed red pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound linguine


With a stiff brush, scrub the clams well under running water. Discard any clams that have broken shells or that don't close up tightly when handled.

Place the clams in a large pot with the water. Cover the pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook just until the clams begin to open—you will hear a popping sound. Transfer the opened clams to a bowl and continue cooking the remaining clams. Discard any that refuse to open. Set the pot aside.

Working over a small bowl to catch the juices, scrape the clams from the shells, placing them in another bowl. Pour all of the liquid from the pot into the bowl with the juices. If the clams are sandy, rinse them one at a time in the clam juices. Pass the liquid through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a paper coffee filter.

In a 12-inch skillet, cook the garlic, parsley, and peperoncino in the oil over medium heat until the garlic is golden. Add about two-thirds of the clam juices and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove and discard the garlic. Stir in the remaining juices and the clams and cook 1 minute more.

Meanwhile, bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the linguine and salt to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until the linguine is al dente, tender yet still firm to the bite. Drain the pasta.

Toss the pasta with the sauce over high heat for 1 minute. Serve immediately.

Polipetti in Salsa di Pomodovo

Baby Octopus in Tomato Sauce

Serves 6

2 pounds baby octopus

2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped fresh tomatoes or chopped canned Italian peeled tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


On Sale
Aug 1, 2008
Page Count
208 pages

Artie Bucco

About the Author

ALLEN RUCKER was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and has an MA in Communication from Stanford University, an MA in American Culture from the University of Michigan and a BA in English from Washington University, St. Louis. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Sopranos: A Family History,” as well as two books with comedian Martin Mull, “The History of White People In America” and “A Paler Shade of White.” His next book, “The Sopranos Family Cookbook,” comes out in September, 2002. As a TV writer-producer, he co-founded the experimental video group, TVTV, and has written numerous network and cable specials and documentaries, including “The History of White People In America,” “Christopher Reeve: A Celebration of Hope” (Emmy nominee), “CBS: The First Fifty Years,” “Penn & Teller’s Sin City Spectacular,” “Big Guns Talk,” a history of the Western, and TNT’s “Family Values: The Mob & The Movies.” He is also the head writer of the official Sopranos website. Mr. Rucker is the recipient of the duPont-Columbia Journalism Award, the Writers Guild Annual Award, and two CableACE Awards, among others. “The History of White People In America” was honored by the Museum of Television & Radio at their 2001 Paley Television Festival in Los Angeles. Mr. Rucker also teaches in the USC School of Cinema-TV. He lives in LA and is married, with two children.

Learn more about this author