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Bergen Businesses carry on the 'mangia' movement

Italians still maintain a significant presence in Bergen, and Italian is the most commonly identified first ancestry in the county.  Many Bergen food establishments cater to new generations of Italian-Americans who want prepared food that tastes like it did in "the old days."

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"To a certain extent, Italian cuisine was really created in the United States, because the cuisine in Italy is all local," says Dr. Erick Castellanos, assistant professor of international studies and anthropology at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah. "The standardization came when they had to co-exist." "Italian" food in the Unite States was also further defined by "deviation from the adherence to local traditions," note Castellanos. "It had to appeal to Italians and non-Italians too".

Italian-American dishes such as spaghetti and meatball, baked ziti and eggplant pamesan have always been top sellers at Rudy's Ristorante in Closter.  But Charlie Osso, who has owned Rudy's with his brother Fred for 30 years, still serves Old World Italian meals of escarole and beans, scungilli, and broccoli rabe sautéed in garlic and olive oil.

Osso, originally from Calabria, has watched this region's demographic makeup change, from many Italian customers years ago to many different nationalities today.

By Joyce Venezia Suss

As Published In (201) Magazine, November 2007

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