In 1898 a young man left his home in Petilia Policastro, Calabria in search of a better way of life in America. Like so many immigrants in search of this dream, he would not stop in New York but would find his way to Williamson, West Virginia, and a job with the N&W Railroad. It was after several years of hard work, money earned and saved, that my grandfather, Raffaele Ierardi, would finally bring his family to the land of dreams in America.
Working on the railroad and later as a butcher he would build a home in the “Little Italy” area of Williamson. It would be here that my grandmother, Caterina (Timpari), would raise her children, encouraging them to learn the ways of America while maintaining the culture and traditions of their heritage. From the wood-fired oven where she would bake as many as 20 loaves of bread at a time to the homemade Italian sausage and delicate pastries created during the holidays, that heritage was maintained and passed down by my Aunt Francesca, Uncle Domenico, Aunt Mary, and my mother, Vincenza (Jenny to all who knew and loved her). Although they are gone, what remains is “La Famiglia,” the family in Italian!
It is the love and memories of my family, Italian music, food and customs that encouraged me to research not only here but in that small town in Calabria. Even though I had traveled to Italy previously with my family it was not until this trip that the excitement and emotions would take over. Visiting my ancestral home in Italy, walking the street where my grandparents had lived and meeting so many relatives confirmed my desire to maintain and carry on the traditions of “La Famiglia.”
Today, at 1327 6th Avenue in Huntington, WV, you can smell the sauce simmering, taste the meatballs, and experience the aroma and taste of wood-fired pizza. Using the same recipes brought here from Calabria over 100 years ago and maintained through each generation, it is our desire to let you taste and savor home cooked Southern Italian food, “Cucina Calabrese.”
Being able to cook with my sons is probably one of the greatest enjoyments I could ever imagine.
So it is with the love and support of my wife, Terri, sons, Joseph and Jordan, and so many others that we prepare and bring to you what we have enjoyed for so many years. From the wood-fired pizza and homemade sausage to the Pita Piata and biscotti prepared as though Nonna Caterina and Mama Vincenza were there with us, guiding and instructing our every step.
“Mi Famiglia,” my family, will live on in the Italian tradition we bring to you at “La Famiglia!”
Ciao, Buona giornata!
Ralph R. Hagy