“Your Italian Restaurant”
By Rosie Genova
By Rosie Genova
My series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, is set in a fictional Jersey shore town, specifically in a family-owned restaurant called the Casa Lido (“beach house” in Italian). The restaurant has a history that dates back to the 1940s, and has been in Victoria’s family for 70 years. It’s a small, red-checked-tablecloth-and-chianti kind of place to which faithful customers come back season after season. There’s an antique bar (but no television, as dictated by Victoria’s formidable grandmother) and an outdoor garden that provides vegetables and herbs for the restaurant’s dishes. It’s the kind of place that feels like home. In fact, the cover of my first book, Murder and Marinara, beautifully captures the restaurant as I have imagined it.
The Casa Lido was inspired by the kind of local family place that Billy Joel once dubbed “your Italian restaurant.” In my family, our Italian restaurant is called Lorenzo’s. It’s a bring-your-own, homey kind of place with huge portions, friendly servers, and a loyal customer base. As my sons are fond of reminding me, we go to Lorenzo’s for just about every family milestone—births, deaths, graduations, birthdays, engagements, and just about everything in between. We know the waitresses by name, but they don’t have to know ours, as everyone is either “hon” or “baby”!
As a college student, I worked in another such restaurant in my home town: an iconic place called Ange and Min’s. I fondly remember sitting down to so-called “family meals” for the staff, in which we were served family style and occasionally got to taste the specials. Many of these experiences inform the world of the Casa Lido, particularly in the hustle and bustle of busy weekend nights, the attention to culinary detail, and most importantly, the family atmosphere in which customers are made to feel like one of the gang.
I’ve tried to recreate “your Italian restaurant” with the Casa Lido, and if you decide to visit, you’ll get a warm welcome and a great meal (and perhaps solve a murder along the way!)
The Wedding Soup Murder by Rosie Genova
The Second Italian Kitchen Mystery
Victoria Rienzi is still on the Jersey Shore learning the family's restaurant business as research for her new book. Unfortunately, Vic's research feels more like punishment as her Nonna has her forming a thousand tiny meatballs, or polpetti, for the Italian Wedding Soup the restaurant is making for a special wedding. In addition, she has to go on site to help prepare the soup and special cookies for the reception with her ex boyfriend, Tim, the sous chef. Add some volatile chefs and staff at the fancy country club and we have a recipe for murder!
This second book in the Italian Kitchen Mystery series explores secrets. Multiple secrets are revealed to us as the book progresses; some good, some a possible reason for murder. Does what lies in the past determine what happens now? Do secrets, whether long hidden or recent, make things better or worse?
I'm happy to be back on the boardwalk. In addition to a solid mystery, Rosie Genova has given us another fun look into the Rienzi family and their relationships with each other as well as their restaurant, the Casa Lido. I'm curious as to what will develop between Vic and Cal, as well as between Vic and Tim. And I love seeing penance as 100,000 polpetti!
Italian Recipes included.
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