Guest Post: Italian Restaurant by Rosie Genova

Italian Restaurant
by Rosie Genova

In one of Billy Joel’s more famous offerings, he sings:

A bottle of red, a bottle of white/Whatever kind of mood you’re in tonight/I’ll meet you anytime you want/In our Italian restaurant. . .

“Our Italian restaurant”—doesn’t everyone have one? When I had the idea for the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, I wanted the setting to be homey, with lots of recognizable detail, from the red-checked tablecloths to the carved walnut bar. My vision for the Casa Lido restaurant of my books is informed by a couple of places, including an Italian restaurant I worked in as a college student. It was there I learned about the actual workings of a restaurant, from the inside. The staff would eat together early at the “family table,” tasting the menu specials. As a hostess, I was front of the house. I greeted and seated diners, alternating the sections, so that the servers got equal numbers of tables. (And woe to me if I made a mistake!) But I helped with lots of other things, too: making the silverware set-ups, arranging the coffee station, bussing tables, and generally avoiding that most um, irritating, of tasks: refilling the pepper shakers. 

However, the main inspiration for the Casa Lido comes from what my family considered “our Italian restaurant,” a place called Lorenzo’s, which is now sadly closed. But for twenty-five years, my family frequently dined there. When my mom was alive, she and my dad were weekly regulars, with their own special table and their own special server. It was a place with big portions and a big heart. And truly wonderful food. We celebrated my mother’s 80th birthday there, and the night of her wake, we wandered in late for an impromptu dinner—it seemed fitting, somehow. 

We’re not sure if Lorenzo’s will ever re-open. My husband and I joke that we need to find “our Italian restaurant” somewhere else. And I will say it’s been fun trying! What about you, blog readers—do you have a favorite Italian restaurant? One that feels like home?

A restaurant interior that is close to how I imagine the Casa Lido restaurant in my books.

A wedding with all the trimmings—and death as an unexpected guest…

Victoria Rienzi came home to the Jersey shore to research a new book and perfect her cooking skills at her family’s seaside restaurant, the Casa Lido. But when Vic’s exacting nonna puts her in charge of catering the soup course for a wedding at the exclusive Belmont Country Club, it’s not long before trouble is simmering in the kitchen. Three temperamental chefs are butting heads, their sous chefs are throwing punches, and the formidable club president, Elizabeth Merriman, antagonizes everyone around her.

Elizabeth, aka “The Iron Lady,” has made her share of enemies, including the father of the bride, who was caught embezzling from the country club. She threatens to fire the famous pastry chef in charge of the wedding cake, who doesn’t bother to hide her hatred of Elizabeth. And who is the mystery man in dark glasses, who never leaves the older woman’s side?

Though the wedding goes off without a hitch, by the time the happy couple and their guests depart, Elizabeth Merriman is missing. When her body is found on the beach the next morning, it appears that the country club president slipped from the top of the seawall, but Vic isn’t convinced. Did The Iron Lady finally push someone too far? And did that someone push her back—into the arms of death?

Purchase Links – Amazon 

Bestselling and award-winning author Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. The inspiration for her cozy series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, comes from her deep appreciation for Italian food, her affinity for the New Jersey seaside, and her love of classic mysteries from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. A former journalist and teacher, Rosie also writes women’s fiction and suspense. The proud mama of three grown sons, she still lives in her favorite state with her husband and a charming mutt named Lucy.

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