WILTON, Conn. — An 83-year-old former lawyer is finding a second calling as a cookbook author.
Anthony LoFrisco said he's been amazed at the response he's been getting since self-publishing his book, "The LoFrisco Family Cookbook: How Josie Brought Sicily to Brooklyn" in December 2016.
That includes a glowing thumbs up from Publisher's Weekly, which he's still reeling over.
Pretty impressive considering the Wilton resident had no outline or preconceived ideas when he started writing down the stories of his youth -- and the cooking that accompanied it. "It just flowed out of me," he said.
The father of four said the project was something he had thought about for years. But he started to take it seriously three years ago when his kids began asking him to write down his mother's recipes.
His mom, Josie, a Sicilian immigrant, didn't write things down — but luckily, LoFrisco's wife, Eleanor, now deceased, took copious notes. The result is his 280-page book — part memoir, part cookbook, but all an ode to decades of good, simple eating spanning everything from antipasti to desserts.
In other words, don't expect Mario Batali-like ideas, he said.
"These are not fancy leading-edge kind of recipes," explained LoFrisco.
"They are literally pure family everyday recipes that replicate the best of what was made every day."
Among his favorites: fried spaghetti, meatballs and a lasagna that, he said, will "drive you crazy."
Many have stories attached to them -- LoFrisco said the writing part was easy when he sat down and put pen to paper -- going back to his youth in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn.
Food, he said, was the epicenter of the family's social activities and he was often by his mother's side in the kitchen soaking up the atmosphere as well as the anecdotes.
Spaghetti aglio e olio, for example, was usually served as a midnight snack during family card games or when mama “just didn’t have time to cook.” More elaborate meals like spedini (rolled veal cutlets) or linguine with lobster sauce were reserved for big family gatherings and special occasions.
As Restaurateur Don DeMarco writes in the book's forward, "The taste memories of a child raised on the streets of Brooklyn are of an enduring value...Only the heart can record like that."