Momo Giancana's Gravy

"A big hit with the whole mob"

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By David Hammond

As an Italian American, I get a little uncomfortable when I sense the strange ethnic pride that some Italians take in things Mafioso. Hey, I'm a big fan of Sopranos and Sinatra, though I can't help but feel it strange to admire criminal behavior (even if, historically, the cosa nostra stepped in to protect folks who were ignored or worse by regular law enforcement; it's sometimes seems easy to forget that these original gangsters made a living on protection, prostitution and murder).

That's all by way of setting up an experience I had last week at Alpine Foods on North Avenue in Elmwood Park. I've had very good Italian subs from this place, but that day I was poking around on the shelves and found a pasta sauce: Giancana brand marinara. On the label is a picture of Sam "Momo" Giancana and the tagline is "A big hit with all the mob."?

Giancana, of course, was a syndicate boss, co-conspirator in various Kill Fidel and possibly Kill Kennedy plots, who got whacked in his basement, grilling sausages, a few blocks from Alpine Foods. Further north on 7419 Irving Park Road, there's Caponie's Trattoria ("the pizza you can't refuse) named, of course, after Scarface Al, another local boy who made it big and bad.

No doubt, Hollywood glamour burnishes mafia imagery, but is it not strange to sell a pasta sauce by trading on the name of someone who was described in a police report as "a snarling, sarcastic, ill-tempered sadistic psychopath"?" I mean, you don't see Vlad the Impaler brand Paprika, Joseph Stalin borscht, or Pol Pot-stickers.

My wife, Carolyn, and I went to York High School in Elmhurst with kids who had last names like Aiuppa, Cerone, and Giancana. We were friends with some of these kids, and I do not mean to slam the name of Giancana or any of the others (I'm not stupid). It just seems strange to trade on the mob connection. My guess is that many members of all those families must feel similarly uncomfortable when they see bottles of Giancana gravy in a jar.

 

Alpine Foods

7538 W North Ave, Elmwood Park

708.453.3505

Reader Comments

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Snake Plisskin  

Posted: November 10th, 2014 1:41 PM

@Mr. Hammond, Mr. Murtagh was obviously recycling his misspellings from his own previous comments.

LeRoy from Austin  

Posted: November 10th, 2014 12:01 PM

You are still my favorite writer. Even with recycled articles, you are the best in the village. Do you have any plans to do a review of some of the rib joints on the west side. The places are real good and the crime is real not like on any jar of noodles sauce

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 10th, 2014 11:16 AM

The word is spelled "amok."

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 10th, 2014 11:06 AM

An ego run amuk!

Not surprised  

Posted: November 10th, 2014 10:25 AM

Not a big fan of this "writer"

Chet from Oak Park  

Posted: November 10th, 2014 9:31 AM

This was a reprinted article that you wrote for Chowhound in 2012. It might be a good idea to reference that in your current post. It made me laugh then and I chuckled again but still would have liked you to take ownership of this re-write.

old news  

Posted: November 5th, 2014 9:05 AM

Isn't this the same column you wrote for Chowhound years ago??? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/111030

Huh?  

Posted: November 5th, 2014 7:31 AM

Sam lived and died 3 miles south of Alpine Foods, not "a few blocks", but a whole lot of blocks from that store. Of course, he probably did send a good bit of his time there in Spaghetti Heights (EP) with his Goombas.

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