A guest post, today, from Frank Imbergamo, in his own words talking about growing up in the North End of Boston.

I grew up in one of the best neighborhoods in the world. Boston’s North End.
My father, Guy Imbergamo, passed away in November of 1956 so my mother raised all four of us…my older sister, Josephine, my younger siblings, Skip and Rosemarie, and me, Frank, on her own at 414 Hanover Street.

It was a close-knit neighborhood.
Everyone like a family.

As a kid, I loved playing pool.
I used to go to Minnie’s Pool Room on Charter Street and then later we used to go to Carlo’s on Hanover Street or Mazza’s on Little Prince.

We were also members of the Madonna Della Cava society, a social club that also ran a feast every August.
My friends and neighbors were the Passacantillis who lived next door and who also owned the Blue Front restaurant which was like our second home.
We used to love their meatball sandwiches and pork chops and vinegar peppers.
It was like eating at home.

One of my fondest memories from my childhood was waking up to the aroma of fried meatballs and gravy cooking on Sunday mornings.
There was nothing better.
Of course, some of the meatballs never made it into the gravy because we always had to taste a few friend meatballs.
My brother, two sisters, and I would sit around the table and my mother would give us a couple of meatballs before we headed out to Church.
We couldn’t wait until we got home again because we knew what a great meal awaited us…Mom’s gravy and meatballs served over macaroni or ravioli.
We’d always have fresh baked bread from the bakery along with our meal.
What a perfect day!

My passion for cooking started way back then when I was a boy.
I remember going to the meat markets in the North End on Saturdays with my mother and grandmother to buy fresh meat for the gravy.
We would go to the Economy Meat Market on Prince Street, E-Gray’s at Haymaker Square, and then we’d go to Kennedy’s for butter and Blackstone Street for the fruit and vegetables.
Sometimes on the way home we’d stop at the chicken house on Richmond Street to buy freshly-killed chicken.
Along the way we’d meet family and friends who were making the rounds, too, picking up all the special ingredients for their special dinners.
It was a wonderful experience.

Whenever my mother and grandmother made gravy, I’d watch with great interest.
I would see how they mixed the hamburger for the meatballs and watch them browning the meat before it went into the gravy.
Sometimes they would add sausages, beef braciola, and pork to the gravy along with the meatballs.
They cooked with passion for they were cooking for the family they loved.

(Frank Imbergamo has appeared on the Food Network’s “Emeril Live!” show.
His recipe for gravy is one of the top-rated recipes.
And he has a cookbook “The Good Life-Favorite Italian Recipes” you can buy at www.barnes andnoble.com.)

All of this would not come about without going back to where it all began with my mother and my grandmother and their love for their family and their love of cooking.
To my mother, Mary Imbergamo, and my grandmother, Rose Solimini, “Mille grazie con amore.”