I've always been fascinated with the Mob, in movies and in print, and one thing that seems to run through the whole subject, in fiction or in fact, is food. I own The Mafia Cookbook by Joe "Dogs" Ianuzzi. The Wiseguy Cookbook by Henry Hill. A Goodfella's Guide to New York, by Henry. I own an autographed script of Goodfellas with Henry's moniker on it. I have the film Dinner Rush, and of course I have The Godfather.
How did these guys eat so well while doing such bad things?
Henry Hill, in particular, is in love with food. You can feel it in his recipes. A tried and true one is his recipe for pizza dough. It hasn't failed me yet. Joe Dogs apologises for injecting so much fat into his rich cream sauces and casually talks about whacking some poor fool in the next sentence. Sample item: Sweet Lobster with a Béchamel Sauce. Probably not a dish best served cold.
And the movies are great. I learned about slicing my garlic for the marinara sauce with a razor blade from Goodfellas. And all those rat bastards in The Godfather ever seem to be doing is sitting down to eat and drink—massive amounts—when they're not throwing the dishes around the kitchen, that is. I know that in this case there is a heavy influence from Francis Coppola, who owns his own highly esteemed winery in California. No wonder "the veal is good here" for police captain Sterling Hayden—it's his last meal.
But who would imagine an entire movie set around the nefarious dealings of the Mob in a trendy New York eatery, the plot of which is filled with entire slabs of babble about good food? That would be Dinner Rush. I won't spoil it for you, but you'll get a rush out of the ending.
And of course there's that memorable line when Clemenza has finished dispatching Paulie Gatto in the front seat of a car on the causeway. "Leave the gun—get the cannoli." Stuff like that almost makes me want to screw up my eyebrows in a bad restaurant and say "Look how they've massacred my manicotti."