Mondays with Mama
I wanted to create this blog to share a few thoughts and ideas that have come up in conversation over the years at Mom and Dad’s Italian Restaurant. First, I will begin with a little history before jumping into my first of many topics; I am married to Danilo Pistelli, who was born in Ancona, Italy, almost 55 years ago. He lived in Italy with his parents and brother until 1973, when they moved to Tallahassee, Florida, to live and work with their family members who had a restaurant there. The original Mom and Dad’s Restaurant began in Defuniak Springs and from there his family members open new restaurants in Lady Lake, Apopka, Tallahassee, later to Thomasville, and finally in Valdosta. To date the original Mom and Dads in Defuniak is still operational as is the Valdosta, Thomasville, and Lady Lake, and only the later three are family owned. The one in Tallahassee was sold and no longer has any affiliation with the other restaurants. We have been in Thomasville for forty years and have been lucky enough to continue the legacy of Osvaldo and Tita Pistelli who brought the restaurant to Thomasville back in 1977 and even luckier to have our children working with us.
Mom and Dad’s Italian Restaurant has a tradition of pasta and sauces and bread made fresh daily and we feel that consistency is a must in the longevity of any business. Because we make things daily, we are our own quality control personnel but our customers are also there to guide us when something seems different. If you have ever baked bread, you know that the weather can play havoc on the outcome. It is funny but with all the successes we have enjoyed over the years, it is still something we try to maintain in our daily prepping of food – Consistency.
One conversation that has occasionally popped up has been that customers from other areas have experienced chicken parmigiana made differently than we make it. In fact we have been told we make it wrong. And so I spoke with Danilo’s family to ask why we made ours the way we do. The explanation made sense to me so I thought I would share it. First of all, Chicken parmigiana is not an Italian dish. The original parmigiana was made with eggplant as meat was expensive in Italy. The eggplant was breaded and fried and then baked with sauce and cheese. Later when Italians immigrated to America, they found meat was less expensive and would substitute chicken or veal or beef for the eggplant. When Danilo’s family began to make items for their menu, they made chicken caccitore instead of parmigiana. It was chicken that was baked with Italian seasonings and tomatoes and then served with a marinara sauce. It did not seem to be as popular so they took the chicken, which was very tender as it just fell of the bone, placed it in a casserole and covered it with marinara and then mozzarella cheese and baked it. Our customers loved it! However some question us and compare it to other Italian restaurants. We have developed a substitute as we do cook to order here. Our version of fried chicken(Chicken Tita) is a chicken breast that has been lightly tenderized, battered with panko bread crumbs and sautéed, then we placed in a casserole dish with sauce and cheese. This is delicious as well but not my personal preference. And since we aren’t talking about an authentic Italian dish and we are talking about a preference, feel free to take sides.
So this may spring board different questions or discussions which I look forward to blogging about in the future. But this also leads me to make my customers aware that we would try to do most anything to make your experience enjoyable. We want you to feel at home and if we see you again my husband will most likely have made the connection. And if given notice, any requests can be accommodated, from a previous special to a particular cheesecake to a favorite wine or even a dietary restriction. We want you to have the best dining experience possible.
Ci vediamo doppo!