Nat (Left) and his wife Mary (right).
Carbone’s restaurant dates back to the 1930’s when Crabtree was a booming company town, mining coal with coke ovens all around. The Great Depression hit Crabtree very hard. Mines and the coke plant closed down. When it did shut down, the Jamison family put up their company buildings for sale. One of these buildings could have been bought for only 200 bucks! in ’36 Nat Jr. and Mary bought the big community building. The upstairs of the building was for bands, roller skating and dances. The downstairs was a confectionary store, bowling alleys and barber shop. So Mary and Nat fixed up an apartment upstairs and kept just the barber shop downstairs. A little whiles after it was opened up, someone asked if Mary would make food for them, so she made sandwiches and soups. Oh if she only knew what she started. The food became really popular and people were lining up for it. Realizing the potential and popularity, in ’38 Nat Jr. thought he’d get a liquor license since the prohibition was over. Mary wanted no part of this beer hall. She said “Did you want a business partner or a wife?”. So no go on the liquor license, until the next day. Mary said “A restaurant yes! a beer-hall – no! And it has to be a family restaurant!” So the legacy of being a family owned, family operated, oriented restaurant was born, and going strong today.
Museo Amedeo Lia, in La Spezia
The Museo Amedeo Lia, or the Amedeo Lia Museum is a fine arts museum located in La Spezia. It came about in 1995 and was inaugurated in December of 1996. The name derives from the engineer, Amedeo Lia. This Museum has a total of thirteen rooms with paintings that range from the 13th to the 18th century, and sculptures varying from ancient, to medieval to modern. The Museo Amedeo Lia is located in the old convent of the Friars Minor of St Francis of Paola who lived in the city of La Spezia around the 1620s. The museum was placed right outside the walled city where the road met up with the Gulf with Genoa. Although, since 1914 the building was abandoned. After the war, it was used as the District Court, and offices. Later down the road, Amedeo Lia made donations, helping the building out with the addition of La Spezia’s own art pieces and the building would now be selected for the site of a museum. Restorations began in 1990, and was inaugurated in 1996 to show off some of La Spezia’s finest art.
There was a ton of noble families that came out of the Italian region of Venice. One of these families was the D’Angelos. Folks in this region usually went by one name, but around the 10th century, as the population increased, a last name had to be adopted. D’Angelo is said to have been a nickname for the first one to carry this name. Since D’Angelo means “From the Angel”, its possible the first one with this name was one of a religious status. As I talked about before in one of my earlier posts, my family is from the northern part of Italy, in the Abbruzo region. Now last names that started in Italy are categorized by a large number of spelling variations. This ties into the northern region in that Northern names often end in the letter “o” where as the southern names end more so in an “i”.
Left to Right: Jerry, and his two sons Rizzi & Jerry Jr.
One of the best restaurants, at least Italian-wise in my opinion, is Rizzo’s Malabar Inn. Tucked in Crabtree, it has been in business since 1935 when the grandparents of Jerry DeFabo opened up a store and bar on the first floor of their house. In the beginning the restaurant was known as the Malabar Inn. 19 years later, in 1954 Rezero DeFabo changed the name to Rizzo’s Malabar Inn. Actually, the current owner of the restaurant, Jerry DeFabo was actually born in the upstairs of the establishment, which has been turned into a dining room. Fast forward to 2013 the resturant is ran by Jerry’s sons, Jerry Jr. and Rizzi, the fourth generations to work in the family. Each son brings their own expertise to the business. Jerry Jr. makes and markets a special line of spaghetti sauces and frozen pasta products whereas Rizzi runs the catering business and coordinates special events at the restaurant. Rizzo’s Malabar Inn has always been a great restaurant. Centered on family and community, most of the families in crabtree have some connection to the restaurant whether having worked there or just giving them business. Probably the best place I can think of to eat. If you haven’t been there yet, make it a priority!!
Address to Rizzo’s Malabar Inn:
126 Rizzo Rd
Crabtree, PA 15624
As I stated in my last blog which talked about my family, I decided to read into the region we are from, which is Abruzzo. Abruzzo broke off from the former settlement known as Aprutium, which today is the province of Teramo. According to the legend, after the Trojan war, both sides (the Trojans and Achaeans) were wandering around the sea for quite a long time. They ended up establishing many settlements on the Apennine Peninusla. Now King Aeneas, who fought on the Trojan side, wandered around the Mediterranean for many months after the Battle of Troy. He came about to the city of Lazio and ended up marrying the King’s daughter Lavinia. These descendants would later found Rome. As for Abruzzo, many cities were founded here by the heros of the Trojan War. King Argos Diomedes who fought with the Greeks, established many towns in Puglia and Vasto, which is considered one of the most beauitiful cities in Abruzzo.
Fast-forward to today. What is the region like now? Abruzzo has always had its own characteristics and still holds its rich cultural heritage. Part of this is due to its inaccessibility because of the mountainous terrain. The cool thing about Abruzzo is that the people living there today take great care in the historical monuments as well as ancient traditions. This makes sightseeing around the cities and areas one of the most beautiful experience of Abruzzo.
(Above, from left to right: my uncle Rich, my father Dennis, their cousin Tommy, and uncle Rege)
My fathers side of the family came over from the region of Abruzzo in Italy. My great-grandfather Gaetano (which was almost going to be my name) and his wife Isabella came over to the United States and settled in Crabtree about 20-25 minutes from here. Crabtree was and still is the definitive Italian town in Western Pennsylvania. Their children were Yolanda, Gina, Amedio, and Secondine which is my grandfather. Secodine married Marie Steligo my grandmother and they had 5 kids. Kathy, Regis, Richard, Jerome, and my father Dennis. My father would say that his dad, Secodine would tell him how since Crabtree is a patch town, about 90% of the houses were duplexes. This means 2 families to a home. Near where we lived, there was 5 families and about 52 children were born within 2 and a half homes. Families with names like Trumbetta, Mangini, Arquillo, Garfola, Elda. They brought over their culture with them, working incredibly hard. My grandfather would work as a mechanic in the day, and come home to a line of cars that would come to the garage at his home and work even more. Even after that he would make extra money being a musician in a band playing the clarinet, saxophone and a scholarship for the oboe. Another characteristic brought from Italy was being sufficient along with the family by raising their own chickens and growing large gardens as well as canning what they grew. My dad would joke around saying they would use sauce as toothpaste. Money was tight, which is why my grandfather worked so much, so we enjoyed all of the little things in life. They had great value to them. Some examples of this was playing sports in the cow fields and fishing in the pond right up the road on a farm, the fellowship being around a close knit family, incredible food like Rizzos and Carbones which are still there today and more successful than ever, and the great fireworks every year. The culture and ethics from Italy have made quite a mark in western PA, and most defiantly in my family and in me.