READ ABOUT GENERATIONS-OLD FAMILY TRADITION OF EASTER PIE; COURTESY OF ANTONIO’S (2014)
Originally published March 6, 2014…
Some people call it “pizza rustica” and some call it “pizzagaina.” Others more simply call it “Easter pie.” Debating the correct name will never end however everyone can agree on one thing – the delicious cheese and meat savory dish is a wonderful Easter tradition.
I have been a fan of this heavy-as-a-brick, pie-type dish since I was a little kid watching my grandmother spend hours making something my uncles and cousins would devour in minutes. These days, I go to Antonio’s Italian Specialties deli and meat store in Wanamassa to get that savory smell in my house.
Antonio’s uses a generations-old family recipe imported from Italy for their dense and creamy Easter pies. I spoke with Mario Troiano about the traditional dish, which he is taking orders for now. He, along with his family, put their heart and soul into everything prepared at the deli.
TBP: Let’s go by what you call it – pizzagaina.
Troiano: My mom has been making it since I was a kid. The recipe we use is the exact recipe my grandfather, Nonno, taught my mother twenty years ago.
He was from Naples and always very, very picky about his food. Nonno loved food. He gave the traditional Neapolitan recipe to my mother and if she didn’t make it exactly the way he liked it, he would tell her.
She’s got the recipe perfect now and that is what we sell here and at our other shop on Staten Island.
Basically, it’s the absolute best quality salami, ham, eggs and fresh cheeses wrapped in a homemade crust.
Making it the traditional way is a dying art because it’s so much work but we won’t do it any other way. My mom and dad are in the back making sure it’s done the way my grandfather would be proud of. Each pie is done from the heart and takes over four hours to make from start to finish.
TBP: And when a pie is done and ready to serve it’s like nothing else. All the rich ingredients melted and held together by the flaky crust is something so special.
Troiano: How can you not like it? And it’s tradition. Every ingredient on its own is great so together, it’s the best.
One pie weighs three pounds and we make hundreds of them for our customers, who have become our friends, for Easter.
TBP: You are baking bread on the premises now, which is amazing. Your meat case is becoming legendary. The turkey I got for Thanksgiving was hands-down the best ever.
Troiano: If you come here on Saturdays you will see my dad making sausage by hand. A big restaurant around here uses our sausage in its recipes now.
We do a lot of catering this time of year including pork roast stuffed with goat cheese, figs and pancetta and veal rollatini with spinach, prosciutto and fresh mozzarella.
In Staten Island customers have standing orders for lamb, ham and turkeys. You can’t get fresher than what we have.
Antonio’s Italian Specialties, 732.988.1570. Follow them on Instagram.
Read more of The Coaster and TheBPlot’s coverage of Antonio’s.