Pittsburgh Native Pens Poignant Novel About Italian Immigrants Growing Up in Pittsburgh

ScanAndrew Cecere grew up in the Pittsburgh of the 1930s, back when the idea that ancestry is destiny permeated American thought. In cities, it was the age of racial and ethnic neighborhoods. The Italians here, the Irish over there, beyond them the Poles, the blacks, and so forth. In the urban mosaic, you knew your place, and were expected to make the best of it.

Such is the prevailing mood in the Italian-American neighborhood of East Liberty that is the setting for Cecere’s novel, The Avenue, published last December by Rosedog Books. Here, two friends, both offspring of immigrants, grow up during the waning years of the Depression and choose very different paths in an America riddled with prejudice.

Pre-war Pittsburgh and the Italian community of East Liberty loom large in the novel. “The book’s setting more or less describes Larimer Avenue, a real street and neighborhood where I grew up, but the characters and story are fictional, drawn entirely from my imagination,” says Cecere, a retired attorney who lives in Richmond, Indiana.

Cecere, who recently turned 94, wrote the book on legal pads more than twenty-five years ago. “It started entirely as an exercise in personal pleasure since I’ve always enjoyed writing and telling stories,” he explains. “When I finished I had the handwritten pages typed up and pretty much forgot about it. Eventually I passed the manuscript to some friends to read. They told me how much they liked the story and started nagging me to get it published. So here we are.” [Read more…]

Beyond Star Trek; Pittsburgh’s Zachary Quinto Stars in Sequel Opening This Weekend


By Alberto Macchione

Stranded on a hostile planet, Captain Kirk, Spock and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise face an alien threat. Slated for a July 21 release, ‘Beyond’ the new Star Trek installment looks to build on the $853 million dollars already collected at the box office. The new franchise has trebled the takings of any Star Trek Motion picture so far, and from what we have seen in the trailers, is set to do it again.

The re-imagining of Spock was a delicate casting decision as the character transcends the science fiction universe from which it is derived. Pittsburgh-born Zachary Qunito who has a science fiction pedigree having starred in the highly successful television series ‘Heroes’ and ‘American Horror Story: Asylum” will reprise his role as Spock for the third time.

Quinto sought the approval of the enigmatic Leonard Nimoy when he took on the role of Spock saying that he had lost his own father very young and that his father and Nimoy were “around the same age [and that] the physical resemblance is undeniable. [Leonard Nimoy] was an incredible friend and influence on me.” [Read more…]

Gelato Flowers—Almost Too Pretty to Eat

Personality Profile: Corrado Riccelli

In this month’s Personality Profile, Ciao Pittsburgh chatted with Pittsburgh native Corrado Riccelli. Born and raised in the small town of Sharpsburg, PA, Corrado grew up during a time when that town was primarily populated by Italian immigrants and first generation Italian-Americans. Growing up, Corrado was surrounded by many Italian-Americans—‘compare’ of the family as well as his aunts and uncles. In fact, he spoke Italian before he learned to speak English. Today, Corrado has been married for 14 years to his wife Sabrina. They currently live with their two daughters, Isabella and Sofia, in Shaler. Corrado was kind enough to respond to some of our questions about his Pittsburgh roots, his career as a medical sales representative as well as his Italian heritage.

CP: First, tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and what you do for a living.

Corrado: I was born and raised in Pittsburgh in a small town called Sharpsburg to Italian immigrant parents who were from Calabria, Italy.  My mother Rita (Posa) is from Amantea and my father, Salvatore, was from Catanzaro. I was raised by my mother and my stepfather Carlo Lista who was from Naples, Italy. I currently work as a medical sales representative.

CP: What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Corrado: I find my current career extremely rewarding. One aspect of my position is to work with products that aid in improving the development of neonatal babies. To earn a living and assist in saving the most precious of lives is a blessing.

CP: Can you tell us about your Italian heritage? 

Corrado: I feel that my heritage is very much my identity. I was brought up in a house with not just my parents but also my grandparents, Antonio and Filomena Posa.  It was like having four parents and my heritage was embedded in me on day one. We lived, breathed, ate, spoke and lived Italian. My fondest memory was my grandmother and my mother making homemade pasta and bread while listening to Sal Patitucci on the Italian radio station. Another fond memory was my Nanna in the garden nurturing her tomatoes. [Read more…]

Aroma Savory Cornmeal Biscotti

AROMA Biscotti

Serve these as part of an appetizer with cured Italian meats and cheeses, or as a side with soup and salad. AROMA Savory Cornmeal Biscotti will complement any meal and quickly become a family favorite.

—Nicky D Cooks


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup finely ground cornmeal
  • ½ c Pecorino Romano Cheese finely grated
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons AROMA Italian Seasoning
  • 2 Teaspoons baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet w/ parchment paper or a baking mat

2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, Pecorino Romano Cheese and AROMA Italian Seasoning

3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, do this for 3-4 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, until well combined.  Slowly add the flour mixture, just until it is combined- do not over mix it.  Let the dough rest, covered in the refrigerator for about a half an hour.

4. The dough will be sticky so lightly flour the surface to roll out the dough. Roll the dough into about 12-inch long rolls (3). The biscotti will expand as it bakes, so keep the logs smallish. Place the rolls on the baking sheet and bake for 18- 20 minutes, firm to the touch and just beginning to brown.

5. Decrease the oven temperature to 330 degrees. Let biscotti to cool on the baking sheets until they are cool to the touch about for 10 – 12 minutes. Slice the biscotti into 1/2-inch thick pieces, and return to the oven for the second bake. Bake the biscotti on one side for 5-7 minutes, turn them over and bake for another 5-7 minutes until a golden brown. Do not let them burn so watch them carefully- adjust cooking times accordingly.

6. Let them cool on a wire rack, they will continue to harden as they cool.

Yields about 36 pieces.

Adapted from Bob’s Red Mill Baking Book: 500 Recipes Featuring Good and Healthy Grains

Originally from Rhode Island, Nicky D Cooks is a writer for Ciao Pittsburgh who currently resides in Peters Township. You can find more of her recipes here.