From Calabria to Long Branch, the connection continues. A special luncheon was recently held at Felicia’s Kitchen to celebrate the shared roots of Italian emigrates from the tiny town of Amaroni who settled in the seaside community of Long Branch, NJ. The town of less than 2,000 residents is located in the province of Catanzaro in the region of Calabria.
The event was organized by Phyllis Salvato, who produced the oral history of five Long Branch families titled “From Calabria to Long Branch – A Century Remembered.” Longtime Long Branch residents Mickie Gagliano, Mary DeLisa, Josephine Chevalier and Barbara Heggie joined her. Anna Marie Mendes of Long Branch also attended. Their family oral histories are captured in the hour-long film available for viewing on Rutgers University’s New Jersey Digital Highway @ https://njdigitalhighway.org/.
The restaurant’s owner Felicia Zaffiro is also from Amaroni. With her husband, Sam Zaffiro, originally from Rome, the two immigrated to the United States in 1981, settling in Long Branch, which has been the home to Italian immigrants from Calabria for well over 100 years. Felicia and Sam brought with them their love and appreciation for the food of their Italian homeland. The Calabria-Long Branch connection was clearly the force that fueled the luncheon and was an opportunity for all to celebrate their Italian heritage and community connection with food prepared by Sam and served by Felicia and the restaurant’s staff. The stories shared and food served provided a warm and rich portrait of Italian family life, accompanied with lots of laughter. Felicia’s Kitchen in Little Silver has been serving authentic Italian cuisine since 1987.