10 To 15 Ripe Plum Tomatoes
2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
1 Teaspoon Sugar
Salt & Pepper
1 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Fresh Thyme (Or Herb Of Choice)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Quarts Whole Milk
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Chopped Pitted Kalamata Olives
2 Tablespoons Capers, Drained
Chunky Pesto Sauce:
2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves, Packed
1/4 Cup Lightly Toasted Pine Nuts
2 Large Garlic Cloves
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Pound Pasta of Choice
Fresh Basil Leaves
1/4 Cup Lightly Toasted Pine Nuts
Halve the tomatoes, and place skin side down on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle over them the garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and sugar.
Drizzle with the olive oil and place in the oven.
Bake for about three hours or until they have shriveled yet still remain moist.
Cool, and coarsely chop.
To make the ricotta cheese, line a large sieve with a layer of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.
Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to 195 degrees F. in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring often to prevent scorching.
Add the lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, just until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat, and let the mixture sit 5 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain 1 hour.
After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered in the refrigerator. (Fresh ricotta will keep in the refrigerator 3 days)
To make the pesto sauce, place all the ingredients in a food processor except the oil, and pulse.
Start to add in the oil slowly, pulsing continuously until you have a chunky paste.
Reserve 1/4 cup of the pesto sauce, then refrigerate the rest for another use.
If you do not plan to use it right away, store in a container with an additional layer of olive oil on top to prevent discoloration.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water until it is "al dente".
Drain, reserving a small cup of pasta water, and return to the pot.
Add the roasted tomatoes, olives, and capers and toss with the pasta.
Return the pot to the stovetop and cook for a minute or two tossing the tomatoes and pasta along with a little of the reserved pasta water until everything is piping hot.
Serve the pasta in a large pasta bowl, or smaller individual ones topped with scoops of the ricotta cheese and a drizzle of the pesto sauce.
Garnish with the basil leaves and lightly toasted pine nuts and serve immediately.
When two innocent men were killed by mobsters in 1972 at a Manhattan eatery, the Mafia took a hit too.
"Yeah, I left it noisy. That way it scares any pain-in-the-ass innocent bystanders away."
"The Godfather"was still playing in New York theaters five months after its release and audiences were still greeting that line with nervous laughter when, on Friday, Aug. 11, 1972, a hit man from Las Vegas walked into the Neopolitan Noodle, an Italian restaurant on Manhattan's East 79th Street, at the height of the dinner hour rush.
Mistaking four businessmen at the crowded bar for his actual targets, Colombo family acting boss "Little Allie" Persico and three mob lieutenants, the hit man opened fire with two long-barreled pistols, killing two of the businessmen — kosher beef wholesalers from Westchester County and Long Island — and wounding their companions.
The men were old friends meeting to celebrate a daughter's wedding engagement. They arrived at the Noodle as the Persico party was being seated for dinner. While the four wiseguys were out of harm's way at a table in the dining room, the hit man shot the four innocents who had taken their places at the bar. The businessmen were casualties of a Colombo family civil war that had ignited four months earlier in spectacular fashion when "Crazy Joe" Gallo was gunned down at Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy.
The explosion of violence at the Neopolitan Noodle 40 years ago this week — one of the few times in the mob's long, bloody history when truly innocent bystanders were killed in a hit gone wrong — left in its wake an outraged citizenry and a city full of moviegoers who didn't find the reality of warring Mafia families as entertaining as it was on screen.
"The Godfather" celebrated the mob at the height of its wealth and murderous power. Gay Talese's nonfiction book about the Bonanno family, "Honor Thy Father," noted that the Mafia, with annual earnings that exceeded those of nine Top 10 Fortune 500 companies combined, was the biggest business in America at the time.
But if the movie made mobsters look like pious family men with fedoras and .45s, the Neopolitan Noodle killings exposed the vicious reality. The day after the mayhem, New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin condemned "The Godfather," which until then had been almost universally praised, as "hard-core pornography." And an angry New York Mayor John Lindsay demanded that "the romanticization of the mob must be stopped and the gangsters run out of town."
It took 20 years to accomplish the latter — mob godfather John Gotti's conviction and life sentence in 1992 more or less marked the end of the era when the New York Mafia reigned as an all-powerful and seemingly invincible force in New York's economic, political and cultural life.
As for Lindsay's hope that the public's romantic fascination with an enormous and highly organized outlaw gang of thieves would diminish, the mob's grip on the public imagination is arguably stronger today than it was 40 years ago when "The Godfather" was released.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film's opening, Paramount Pictures held special screenings of the original, with prints restored by the film's director, Francis Ford Coppola, in theaters across the country in March. And the movie, along with"The Godfather: Part II" and "The Godfather: Part III," was the centerpiece of AMC's widely promoted "Mob Week," a recent festival featuring 19 of Hollywood's best-known mob-themed gangster films, each introduced by cable star Anthony Bourdain.
The shooting at the Neopolitan Noodle, by contrast, is hardly embedded in the public mind. The 40th anniversary on Saturday of the dimly remembered killings will pass with little fanfare or commemoration. And the names of the real-life innocent bystanders felled by a mob gunman — Sheldon Epstein, 40, of New Rochelle and Max Tekelch, 48, of Woodmere — will probably remain as they have been all these years, largely forgotten.
In May of 1991, while eating breakfast at the National restaurant in Brighton Beach, Russian gangster Emile Puzyretsky was shot nine times in the face and chest. None of the 15 witnesses in the restaurant remember seeing anything, including seeing gangster Monya Elson crawl around on the floor for several minutes collecting the shell casings.