Water is on the stove: Ravioli are cooking!

Jan 23, 2001 9:09 AM

I LOVE RAVIOLI! That’s the way it was in my neighborhood. Everyone seemed to feel the same way. We didn’t get them that often. They were a treat. When the word was out that ravis were in the water, I’d show up early for dinner. Stickball or playing cards under the streetlight was forsaken. Ravioli was in the water!

Life was much simpler then. Not that ravioli was simple. Quite the contrary. Grandma — God bless her — worked long and hard to make homemade ravioli. In those days there was no place to buy them ready made. They were made from scratch.

Armed with a long, homemade rolling pin, she began by rolling out the dough on the kitchen table. Roll, roll some more, add flour, smooth everything out and roll some more with all her might. The dough had to be just right. She was really fussy about the dough. It couldn’t be lumpy and it couldn’t be too thick.

When the dough was all rolled out, she would get a large tablecloth and cover it. There it would sit overnight on the kitchen table to dry.

Early the next morning, when the rest of us were still counting sheep, Grandma would be in the kitchen. She’d get a wide-mouth glass, turn it upside down and begin cutting out round ovals of dough. Then she would spoon out lumps of ricotta filling on each of the patties, cover them with still another patty. Then, with a fork she would seal each one.

By the time I got up to go to Sunday mass, she was hard at work. By the way, she only made ravis on Sundays — not every Sunday either — or holidays — nearly all holidays!

An army of ravioli lined the table. They stood at attention waiting to be slid into the boiling water. On the stove was the gravy (sauce, to you Americans). The smell drove me mad. And, of course, hungry, to boot. If the lady of the house was not rushed, she’d dip a piece of bread into the gravy, put it on a plate and serve it.

Mama mia! I couldn’t wait to get out the door to church. I knew dinner would soon follow.

All these thoughts and others came to mind the other day when a taste for good ravis overcame me. By now, nearly everyone knows that I frequent a number of Italian ristorantes. But, whenever I get a taste for ravis, I head for Roma Deli on Spring Mountain Road.

It’s not a fancy joint by any means. It serves good food at good prices and the ravioli is something to rave about.

Roma Deli is owned by Rob (Roberto) Tedeshi. He learned all about Italian food growing up in Rome. His career as a restaurateur came in the midstream of life. Prior to that he spent a career in the casino business in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and even offshore before setting up shop on Spring Mountain, a little east of Jones on the south side of the street.

Chances are good that ravioli doesn’t mean as much to people as it once did. But, for us who grew up in a different era they were something special. And, thanks to my grandmother’s kitchen they always will be.

SUPER SUNDAY! I haven’t been to a Super Bowl since the last time it was played in Tampa. Rather, I spend Super Sunday at Caesars Palace. I’ve done that for years now. Plans for XXXV? Caesars, of course. No hustle, no bustle and the word is out that Dean Harrold went deep into the kitty to make sure the groceries are the best ever. Up a notch? Bam! Bam! Many notches.

If anyone’s interested, lay the points and take Baltimore. It’s more of a sentimental bet for me. But, who cares? I knew a girl who picked more winners with a hatpin than I ever did with past performances. The late columnist John Steadman was the best fan Baltimore ever had. He would have it no other way than see his beloved team win the Super Bowl.