EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 2, 2012

Old cookbook sparks memories


By her own admission, she is not a very good cook, but loves Polish food as much as Italian, loves cookbooks and finding good recipes, and is thankful her daughter has become such a good cook.

Here is that April 2008 column highlighting Mama Leone’s restaurant, with a recipe from Mama Leone’s collection:

I am fortunate to have some fascinating cookbooks. One is “Leone’s Italian Cookbook,” published in 1967. I have used many recipes from this book over the years.

The book itself is a treasure trove of fascinating information, such as best wine to complement a dish, cooking equipment you should have on hand, and so much more, such as the foreword in the book written by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1966.

A little bit about her restaurant; Mama Leone opened in 1906 with only 20 seats. Enrico Caruso sang at her opening. It became one of the most legendary Italian restaurants nationwide, with chefs trying to reproduce her recipes. Presidents, visiting dignitaries, actors, visitors to New York, all wanted to eat there. The restaurant grew to 1,500 seats by the 1930s, serving up to 6,000 dinners nightly. Sadly, after Mama Leone’s death, the restaurant was sold in 1959.

According to her book, this spaghetti with sausage and eggplant dish is an old family recipe that Mama Leone had on her menu from the first night her restaurant opened, with her as the only cook.

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has over the years.

Spaghetti With Italian Sausage & Eggplant Sauce

Makes 6 cups sauce


1 pound Italian sweet sausage

1 eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)

2 large garlic cloves, mashed

10 fresh parsley sprigs, leaves only

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup butter

2 ounces salt pork, diced

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 green peppers, sliced very thin

One (1 pound can) crushed or chopped plum tomatoes

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