The death of Henry Hill, the Lucchese mobster who turned government informant and brought down many of his "brothers," has us thinking about Goodfellas. The now-classic 1990 Martin Scorsese film was based on Nicholas Pileggi's book about HIll, "Wise Guy: Life in a Mafia Family." Two of the most memorable scene revolved around mobsters and their love of food:
Scorsese's mother Catherine, who was born on Elizabeth Street, appeared as Tommy (Joe Pesci)'s mother, and she famously cooked for the cast and crew of her son's movies. When Jimmy Kimmel asked Martin Scorsese about shaving garlic with a razor—that's what Paul Vario (played by Paul Sorvino) does in prison—the director said, "My mother made a dish called chicken with lemon and garlic and if you go to Francis Coppola's restaurant he has it on the menu... It's pretty good, pretty close... The garlic was cut so thin and she would put it on the chicken and the chicken would be roasted... and the garlic would blacken and then disappear into the lemon juice. It was delicious." Mmmm.
Catherine Scorsese died in 1997, at age 84. Martin Scorsese published a book of her recipes, and his famous friends remembered her cooking: Robert DeNiro said, "She made the best pizza I've ever eaten. I always wanted to serve it at TriBeCa Grill," while Harvey Keitel said, "In my memory, Catherine was the epitome of a warm, loving Italian mother. She enjoyed watching me eat as much as I enjoyed eating her cooking." And Pesci said, "Katie was one of the sweetest ladies I ever met. She was a true innocent. She never did anything bad; she never knew anything bad. In terms of her cooking, it's a toss-up as to who's a better cook, Katie or my mother."
Here are three recipes from Catherine Scorsese: