Table’s Edge Celebs

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Famous people found around the Table’s Edge. Besides Elizabeth Taylor.

Rachel Maddow. A regular at Green Street Cafe. She was a local radio personality in Northampton, Massachusetts before she rose to Queen of MSNBC.

Sous-chef at Curtis & Schwartz, Gabrielle Hamilton. She became acclaimed author of Blood, Bones & Butter and still holds court at her East Village gem, Prune.

President Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge Park Cafe.

Liz Taylor & Lobster

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What do Liz & lobster have to do with Table’s Edge? Virginia Woolf. Jim Wolff.

It’s a good day to reprise my favorite obituary headline ever:

Helen Lavalle, 94, Advised Elizabeth Taylor
Amongst her many jobs, Helen was a waitress at the former Williams House, where she was the only waitress who could tell Elizabeth Taylor that one lobster was enough.

-Daily Hampshire Gazette

Elizabeth Taylor was here at Smith College in the 60’s filming “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, with Richard Burton. Assume that’s when she may have tried to indulge in local lobster binge-ing and Helen would have none of it. The old Williams House in nearby Williamsburg, Massachusetts, was famous for its haute cuisine brought to the Valley by Jim Wolff, featured in Table’s Edge.

Great Holiday Season!

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Thanks to all who found Table’s Edge over this past holiday season. As we migrate back to our roots in New York City this Spring, we will remember our time in Northampton, Massachusetts in the Pioneer Valley.

Those who retain their great cuisine are India House and La Veracruzana. Godspeed and good eating.

Carol Colitti Levine

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Table’s Edge ~ Perfect Holiday Gift

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cover

There has been a resurgence of interest in Table’s Edge as a nostalgic keepsake of Northampton, Massachusetts’ dining heyday. 1970’s- 1990’s. Beardsley’s underworld haunt. Williams House. Fitzwilly’s fern bar. Curtis & Schwartz. Eastside Grill. Del Raye. Green Street Café. Brasserie 40A. Circa.

Secrets of Paradise City’s restaurateurs who came to the Pioneer Valley from far and near. Their stories and recipes galore from these great chefs.

Hardcover illustrated edition in its second printing. Perfect holiday gift. Autographed by author Carol Colitti Levine. Buy it on Amazon.

Great Winter Read

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“If you’re looking for a great winter read, Carol Colitti Levine has written a book that’s sure to be of interest to anyone who’s familiar with the region’s restaurant scene. Table’s Edge is billed as anecdotal history of Northampton’s rise to prominence as a dining destination. To that end about half the book is given over to a series of character sketches describing those who’ve established, owned, or run restaurants in the Meadow City.

In putting Table’s Edge together, Levine interviewed people like Gail and Dan Yacuzzo of Eastside Grill, Claudio Guerra of Spoleto and Del Raye, and Martin Carrera of La Veracruzana. The book also lays some historical groundwork, describing the influence of men like Lewis Wiggins, Wiggins Tavern; Jim Wolff of Beardsley’s fame; and Roger Kirwood, who opened Fitzwilly’s, one of the region’s earliest fern bars. Originally conceptualized as a collection of recipes from the city’s best restaurants, the book morphed into a ‘Who’s Who’ of Northampton dining as Levine pursued her research.

Kitchen secrets nonetheless remain a part of what makes the book special, and readers will discover that Levine has procured the secrets of area favorites like John Sielski’s Chocolate Pots de Crème, Green Street Café; and the Ginger Chicken Kadai served at India House. In all, the book incorporates dozens of recipes contributed by various Northampton landmarks. The book itself is a high quality production, attractively illustrated and handsomely bound.”

– Hugh Robert, Offthemenuguy © 2005

Founding Tables

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photo-39Northampton has lost a stalwart in its dining history. Dan Yacuzzo, former owner of Eastside Grill. Got his start at Roger Kirwood’s original fern bar, Fitzwilly’s where Dan in turn trained current CEO, Fred Gohr.

Dan and his wife Gail were dining royalty in Paradise City. All of their stories and recipes can be found in Table’s Edgephoto-37

 

 

 

Road to Table’s Edge

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Eateries Book Focuses on People, by Denise Favro Schwartz
Springfield Republican Sunday Magazine:

“When your hobby is dining out at the trendiest restaurants, as Carol Colitti Levine writes in the forward to her book about the people behind the city’s vibrant dining scene, it makes sense that her desire to own a restaurant would be as sweet and fat as crème brûlée. Having enjoyed careers in international banking and teaching, and having moved from Springfield to New York, then fourteen years in San Francisco, and back home to Western Massachusetts to raise her son near family, Levine found herself still dreaming of fine food and the establishments that served it. New to Northampton, she resumed her hobby of searching out the best places to dine.

It didn’t take long to realize she had moved to “the Valley of Great Dining.” In the back of her mind was the thought of opening a place of her own. On a visit to Manhattan with her husband to have dinner with old friends, she reconnected with Joy Simmen Hamburger, who had published a cookbook of recipes from restaurants in Tribeca. With marketing instincts on overdrive, she used friends as focus groups, answering their questions about what she wanted to do with her life now that she had left corporate life behind. Her answer? A cheerful, “I want to open a restaurant. “They all told me I was crazy,” she said, over coffee in one of Northampton’s busy bistros, just a few weeks before the publication of her book. They cited the long hours, financial risks, employee turnover, small kitchens, she said. She wondered why anyone would ever want to own a restaurant if it was so bad. So she did other things with her life. Time went by. Her former boss called and asked Levine to act as Managing Director of the Dutch Bank in Boston, suffering the two-hour commute, each way, for years. Finally, she said “bye-bye, bank” for a final time…

She reasoned that if it was too crazy to open a restaurant, she could write a book about the crazy people who had. Northampton’s rich menu of dining spots offered great material. And she was ready to tell the stories. Levine examines the Hotel Northampton, as well as the Wiggins Tavern and Coolidge Park Cafe within it, Fitzwilly’s, Eastside Grill, Spoleto, Pizzeria Paradiso, Del Raye Bar and Grill, Spoleto Express, Mulino’s, Brasserie 40A, Bishop’s Lounge, Green Street Cafe, Circa, La Veracruzana, India House, the Great Wall and Curtis and Schwartz Cafe. She is careful to point out that her book is not a cookbook or a book about restaurants. While a delicious selection of recipes occupies the back of the book, its main courses are the tales of the people who made the eateries happen.

“It’s about people,” she said. Claudio Guerra is one of them. The owner of Spoleto, Spoleto Express, Pizzeria Paradiso and Del Raye Bar and Grill, Guerra said, “‘The book was a great idea,'” according to Levine. “I spent two hours hearing his life story.” She was intrigued… Levine said that although she had an idea of where she wanted her book to go, she “let the process” guide the way. “I was naive about everything,” she said, except marketing. “That’s what I did professionally.” She had a marketing plan and started to do homework regarding publishing. She began to interview restaurant owners or managers, many of whom she learned about from other restaurateurs. She was fascinated by how the stories of one person linked with another, how “their paths had crossed.”

Altogether, Levine interviewed 20 past and current movers and shakers in Northampton’s restaurant scene. “It was like herding cats” trying to reach them, she said. From these experts in the field Levine loved, she said she learned “that it was even harder to run a restaurant than I’d thought. And it’s not very glamorous. When I had thought about owning a restaurant, I’d had this image of sitting on a stool at Elaine’s (in New York) hanging out and enjoying the life. It’s not like that at all.” From her conversations, Levine realized that the reasons people went into the restaurant business – their love of cooking, fresh food, and gardening, their creativity, and their own stories about their connections to the family kitchen – were the things she wanted to write about. “I have to tell everybody’s stories,” she said. “The book is people’s life stories. The recipes are the bonus at the end.”

Around The Table

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Around the table’s edge sit chefs and restaurateurs who’ve come to Paradise City from far and wide. A Colonial pub owner is the first to be seated, later joined by a Long Island ‘French Connection’ cop, a glitzy goodfella in the 70’s, to entrepreneurs trained in New York’s haute cuisine hey day, Chicago’s white glove sky clubs, Germany, Italy, Mexico and China. Each brings a unique tale, some coincidentally overlap. All have great stories and recipes to share.

Buy it on amazon.

NoHo Recipes

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Some of the 40 recipes you will find in Table’sEdge:

WigginsTavern
Salmon Ballontine
Fitzwilly’s
Chipotle Steamed Mussels
EastSideGrill
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Pecan Butter & Spinach
Spoleto
Spaghetti Bolognese
Curtis&Schwartz
Mochaccino Waffles w/ Cinnamon Espresso Butter
GreenStreetCafé
Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup
Circa
Chicken Roulade w/ Figs & Brie & Red Onion Jam
Mulino’s
Veal Française
GreatWall
Scallion Pancakes
IndiaHouse
Onion Bhaji
LaVeracruzana
Enfrijoladas