If you grew up in Lower Manhattan when I did, 50 years ago, you might have thought you knew the food of southern Italy: Pizza, meat ragu, lasagna, stuffed shells and seafood “fra diavolo.”
Italians, almost all from Naples, Sicily and other points south, populated a great deal of territory below 14th Street, and my world was one of Jews who embraced that cooking and recognized it as superior to anything we could generate. We ate those red-sauce dishes all the time, as well as overly sweet and heavy desserts like cannoli and sfogliatelle that we bought on Grand Street, in Little Italy.
But the cuisine of Naples is much more sophisticated than the southern Italian food of my youth.
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