Remember what it felt like when you were a little...
Remember what it felt like when you were a little kid and the ice cream truck rolled up, and your mom said you could have whatever you wanted that day?
That is the kind of excitement I had today, having the privilege to interview Steve Schirripa. He starred on my favorite series, The Sopranos and played Bobby Baccalieri or, "Bacala", the Italian mobster you couldn't help but love, "a sweet gangster"...if you will. Well, fast forward to today and let me take you on a journey, to become a part of the family, and to let this Native New Yorker fill us in on one of his latest creations: Uncle Steve's Sauce.
The Authentic New York Story of
Uncle Steve's Sauce
SET: I have, of course, been a long time fan of the Sopranos. So, when I heard you were coming out with sauce, I thought: Who better to make a great homemade Italian sauce than one of my favorite Italian mobsters?! So tell me, what made you decide to create the sauce?
SS: Thank you. (smiles) Well Joe [Joe Scarpinito], my partner and I - we were sitting at that counter right over there one night, and my mother had passed away [recently] in July of 2013. And he said: "We should do something, you know, your mother was such a great cook. Let's do a sauce!" You know, Joe's an idea guy, an entrepreneur, and he said "let's do a sauce, lets do a sauce" So, I said, "okay, let's do it!" Ah, Uncle Steve's Italian Sauce was born. Pay attention, kids, this is how the bad boys make sauce. They turn to their mothers!
Setting Out to Create The Best and The Healthiest "Jar Sauce"
SS: So I got my mother's recipe and we decided to make it healthier. My wife helped to inspire us. She is a really healthy eater. She runs marathons, she eats organic, and she doesn't eat any meat. So, we made it gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, and kosher. It took us a long time to get it right, and (chuckles) we threw away a lot of sauce to get it right. Let me tell you, I had never eaten a "jar sauce". I had never even tasted one, until I had made my own. I wasn't a "jar sauce" guy! I tasted it, I liked it, then it had to be thicker.
We had to fine-tune it, and once we fine-tuned it, I was stunned! Most people I know, like yourself, don't eat "jar sauce".
[SS] Yet it's a multi, multi -million dollar business. Also, most people nowadays don't have time to make sauce anymore. You know when I was growing up, my mother was in the kitchen and she didn't work, so, you know, you make sauce a couple times a week, and on Sundays! (chuckles) Now days, usually a lot of moms and dads are working all the time. I know right?...I barely have time to use my microwave! [SS] So, we set out to make the best and healthiest sauce we could, and I really think we succeeded. I think they succeeded too! I can't believe I am saying this, but I'm crossing over to the jar sauce side! [SS] I like doing it and the people are really happy with it, and I'm not lying when I tell you, that not one person has ever said that this sauce sucks! (laughing) No really, I honestly believe if you taste it, you will become a fan. Done and done.
I can tell you, it's pretty darn amazing! It really is as good as he says. His mom's recipe rocks! And for all of us Set In The City gals who don't cook: Put it on some Linguini and tell your boyfriend you made it from scratch!!! Oh come on, don't tell me I'm the only one who's done that before!!!!
Italian Joints Good Enough For a Mobster
SET: So tell me - when you're not home cracking open a jar of your own sauce, what are your favorite Italian restaurants in New York City?
Peasant is my all time favorite Italian restaurant. I've known Frankie DeCarlo for about 14 years and that is just the best restaurant.
I also really like Gino's in Brooklyn, it's an old school red checkered table cloth kind of restaurant. Another really great place is Vinnys in Carrol Gardens. I mean, those are places where it's simply just really good food.
SET: I also heard you were recently at Hunt and Fish Club, the new hot spot. How did you like it?
SS: It was really good, it's my friend Nelson Braff's , who I went to college with and I've known for a long time. He's owned a bunch of different restaurants, and he invited me down. It really was a great, beautiful place. I'm sure it's gonna be the scene for quite a while.
Big Daddy's Rules!!!! Laughs and Life Lessons
SET: I know you have two lovely daughters and a fantastic book you wrote called Big Daddy's Rules, which I bought by the way, and love, it's awesome! Entertaining, heartfelt, and so totally real.
What is daddy's number one piece of advice for parents and children?
You're their father. You're not their friend, but you are the best friend they are ever going to have.
You have to remember it's okay to say "no" to your kids, people nowadays are afraid to say "no", they're afraid to hurt their kids feelings, they're afraid they're kids are going to go to the therapist and say whatever, but it's okay to say "no" and hurt their feelings. I think you'd be surprised to know that kids really want to be disciplined more than you think. They want the guidance.
Read the book and trust me, you don't want to piss off Big Daddy!
Garden of Laughs and Giving Back
SET: I've seen you many times at Madison Square garden cheering on the Knicks and the Rangers.
Especially the Knicks!
SET: So speaking of The Garden, I know that it's your turn to be in the spotlight and that you are hosting the Garden of Laughs, at the MSG Theatre which I am totally going to go see! Anyone who has ever seen you on interviews or on the Conan O'Brien show, knows exactly what I mean, and how wildly funny you are...See the Video below for a funny sample of just how funny Steve is!
SS: (chuckles) Yes, thank you. The Garden of Laughs is for the Garden of Dreams Foundation. They do a bunch of really great stuff for the kids. I have been involved with them for a few years now. We've got some of the greatest comedians like Lewis Black, Bill Burr, Dane Cook, Billy Gardell and J.B Smooth and I will be hosting it. And there will also be a lot of other celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, and athletes making appearances, so it is going to be a really big night.
SET: I totally can't wait!! And in the meantime, as if all there isn't already enough going on… Steve's also in an upcoming amazing film:: Chasing Yesterday by Joseph Pernice produced by Ian Karr.
An All Around Great Guy
Big Night, Big Laughs, Great Sauce, Great Guy. Chalk this up to another great day in New York City! Where else could you meet one of your favorite actors and find out that they're even cooler in real life? I Love New York!
Come out March 28th at 8:00, and Join Steve and I at the Garden of Laughs.
And now, for one final note from Steve Schirripa...
The "Who needs to be slapped?" Video
Lol - hopefully not me?!
I am also always looking for new and interesting NYC Characters that can unveil more secrets to the city, so don't hesitate to contact me if you know someone that would be a perfect candidate for an interview!
If you think your home is Set In The City worthy, and would like an article placed on the site, reach out to me at Douglas Elliman:
*Photo of Sue (SET) and Steve by Devin Johnson