Thursday, June 11, 2015


Emilie takes a selfie
Log Item: Would you take an Italian motorcycle to an Italian restaurant? It would seem to be a no brainer but there are are a lot of Italian restaurants out there which brings me to the eternal question of WHICH one to go to?

Do old Mafia joints serve the best Italian food?

I'm thinking about Mulberry St. in New York City. Sparks Steakhouse where Paul Castellano was shot down, Don Peppe in Queens, and Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy where Crazy Joe Gallo was murdered in the middle of his birthday. Rao's in New York is good too. I was there in 2003, right before Louis Barone shot down Albert Circelli for bad-mouthing a female singer. (Scorsese used the spot for inspiration, even featuring Rao's regular Johnny Roastbeef in the movie, Goodfellas.) La Mela used to be called the Mayfair Boy's Civic and Social Club. Rudy Guliani's favorite mob joint in NY is Da Nico. There is the Green Mill in Chicago, Camille's in Providence and The Coliseum in Boston.  Total mob, good chow.
My daughter, Emilie, who is along for this run on the Diavel prefers Umberto's Clam House (used to be called Da Gennaro) where she orders the lobster ravioli every time she is in New York. But I'm not driving her to New York. She MUST learn to settle for local cuisine. Did I ever call her spoiled?
There is the Newport Sausage Company in Newport Beach, California - and the old reputed mobsters retired, leaving it to their kids, who expanded it and re-named it. Most of what the bad guys did consisted of bookmaking and twisting speedometers on cars. The sausage was excellent.

Filipi's Restaurant (San Diego's Little Italy) comes from the same pedigree, and while the place was sold, Roberto De Philippis' kids still run some of the franchises. Old Man De Philippis was the reputed head of the San Diego branch of the Los Angeles LCN Family. It's a title that he disputes (he's 81 years old now). The place is a landmark in Little Italy and the food is Italian American, or American Italian, depending on your perspective.
De Philippis is from a restaurant family with roots in New York City. His parents, Vincent and Madeline, moved to California from The Bronx. They founded Filippi's Pizza Grotto in 1950 in San Diego. 
In 1976, De Philippis pleaded no contest to three counts of federal income tax evasion and was sentenced to two years in prison. He served about a year. “If everybody went to jail who cheated on their income tax, there'd be a prison on every corner,” De Philippis said.

Never eat more food than you can lift
Then, in 1980, the liquor license of the Mission Valley restaurant was briefly suspended. “There was a customer, he was bookmaking in the restaurant, and we didn't know nothin' about nothin',” De Philippis said.
He opened Butcher de Carlo, a restaurant in Tijuana that was a big hit with the spy crowd, the Mexican Army and the Federal Judicial Police. I was there a number of times. Best steak in Northern Mexico, hands-down. There was a whorehouse on the second floor if the customers wanted to risk a social disease (Mexican nationals don't often use condoms). I never made my way upstairs...for those of you with dirty minds.
De Philippis said that secret to his restaurant success (in the US and Mexico), "Hire attractive waitresses. You'll think I'm crazy, but I believe they make the food taste better.”

I only recently learned that they opened a restaurant about ten miles from where I live. I could go there normal, or I could ride Italian Devil for old time's sake. And if I'm goin' Mafia, Emilie is tagging along for supper.

Following the ride, Emilie takes a selfie to assure herself that she didn't gain weight after bolting down half a plate of fetucini alfredo and half an order of garlic bread. (she brought the rest home)


  1. Now I want to go to all of those places.

    1. I like Italian food, but it's always more fun when there is a story behind it.