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Photographer Valery Rizzo shows us Carroll Gardens' true culinary soul, with a look inside a few of the neighborhood's old-school Italian bakeries, restaurants and specialty shops.

Carroll Gardens, once home to a working-class population of Italian immigrants who made a living on the bustling Red Hook waterfront, is better known today for its cluster of some of the borough’s hottest dining destinations. But the neighborhood’s true culinary soul rests in its collection of generations-old, family-run Italian bakeries, restaurants, and specialty food shops that have managed to survive despite the natural law that drives every New York City neighborhood’s inexorible demographic drift.

This month, Valery Rizzo takes us on a photo tour behind the scenes at Ferdinando’s Focacceria, home of the famed Sicilian panelle and spleen sandwiches since 1904; G. Esposito & Sons Jersey Pork Store, where they’ve been making Italian sausage from scratch since 1922; Court Pastry Shop, makers of the neighborhood’s finest sfogliatelle since 1948; Mazzola’s Bakery, which has been filling the air with the drool-inducing aroma of freshly-baked lard bread for eighty years; Caputo’s Fine Foods, stretchers of the now-iconic fresh mozzarella since 1973, and D’Amico Coffee, who’ve been roasting beans daily on Court Street since 1948.

Ferdinando’s Focacceria

Ferdinando's Focacceria, on Union Street between Columbia and Hicks streets, opened in 1904. A waitress holds several Panelle sandwiches, for which people have been known to travel from afar. Ferdinando's specializes in authentic Sicilian cuisine.

The family-owned Ferdinando's originally served the workers from the nearby docks. Owner Francesco Buffa expanded the space when he took over the business from his father-in-law, Ferdinando, in 1975.

A vintage black and white photograph of Francesco's father in-law Ferdinando Ciaramitaro standing in front of his Focacceria, hangs on the wall behind the front counter.

An Arancina special features a piping-hot baseball-sized rice ball filled with chopped meat, peas, and sauce, topped with ricotta and finished with tomato sauce and cheese. Martin Scorsese filmed a scene from The Departed here and a wall is dedicated to the many celebrities who have stopped by, including Sean Penn, Pierce Brosnan, Pavarotti, Norah Jones and Mike Piazza.

Frutti Di Mare, a seafood salad that's a Sicilian specialty, and Caponatina, and an eggplant salad with eggplant, olives, celery and capers in a light vinaigrette.

History covers the walls in black and white photographs, like this old photo of the Sicilian city of Palermo.

The Panelle sandwich is Ferdinando's signature dish - fluffy fried chick pea and flour patties, topped with ricotta and grated cheese and served inside a house-baked semolina roll. Regulars often pair it with hot potato croquettes and a Mahattan Special, a pure espresso soda that has been made in Brooklyn since 1895. Ferdinando's is the only place that has it on draft.

Like a scene from On the Waterfront, this old photo shows the smaller Ferdinando's in the mid-1900's, before its renovation in the 70's.

Owner Francesco Buffa with his son David. David holds a plate of Melenzane all Griglia or Grilled Eggplant. The restaurant is also known for its Vastedda - a Sicilian-style sandwich made with spleen, and its many homemade pasta dishes like Pasta con Sarde, made with sardines that Francesco cans himself, with wild fennel, pignoli, raisin and spices.

Edgar Vasquez cooks in the Focacceria's front kitchen. Almost everything is made from scratch, from toasting their own bread crumbs to stuffing their own sun-dried tomatoes.


G. Esposito & Sons Jersey Pork Store

G. Esposito & Sons Jersey Pork Store, on Court Street between Union and President, is a neighborhood institution. Just ask the endless stream of kids that stop to greet the giant pig standing outside the shop. Esposito's is called a Jersey Pork Store because when they opened in 1922, hogs from New Jersey were believed to offer the highest quality pork in the region.

Hanging homemade Sopressata, a dried salami, covers the shop's ceiling. Fresh Mozzarella is made daily, along with a variety of sausages, pepperoni, ricotta cheese, and prepared Italian specialty foods.

A photo on the wall of the current owners George and John Esposito's father Frank as a boy with their grandfather Giovanni, who came from Naples and opened the pork store in 1922. Every morning they begin to making their fresh sausage by grinding the pork, then adding a variety of herbs, cheese and seasonings to the meat.

After the sausage ingredients are mixed together with the pork, they're stuffed into casings several feet long. Here, co-owner John Esposito works his magic turning, twisting and tying the links by hand with precision and ease. Esposito's makes a wide variety of traditional Italian sausages, including hot, sweet, fennel, provolone & parsley, green pepper & onion and a chicken sausage.

When the sausages are finished they are spun into a circular bundle, patted down and a pin studded cork is used to poke tiny holes into the casing to let out excess air, which helps to keep them from bursting when the sausage is cooked. In the kitchen cleavers and knives hang on a wall together with religious pictures, crosses and family photos.

The countertop and display case are piled high with freshly-baked specialty breads, cheeses, and salami. Esposito's is also known for their Italian sandwiches, big enough for two whole meals. Brothers and co-owners George and John Esposito inside the shop.

Homemade fresh mozzarella salad, prosciutto balls, rice balls (arancini), eggplant rollatini, pork bruschetta and braciole are just a few of the many prepared dishes made at Esposito's.

House-made Chicken Rollatini made with muenster cheese, mozzarella, ham and butter, and Barbeque Spidini - a pork tenderloin sliced, pounded and stuffed with mozzarella, breadcrumbs, olive oil, garlic and parsley. John pounds the fat used to cover the shop's Roast Beef before roasting to keep it moist. (Yes, that's why it's so good.)

Santino Charriez holds a tray of broccoli rabe and sausage. Fresh coils of homemade sausage await their turn in the case.

George with George Jr. Esposito and Santino Charriez. In addition to sausage and prepared foods, the shop also sells a variety of Italian specialty items slikes olive oil, vinegar, tomatoes, imported cheeses, fresh pastas and more.


Court Pastry Shop

Court Pastry Shop, on Court Street between Douglass and Degraw, opened its doors in 1948. A tray of one of their many specialties, Sfogliatelle - a Neapolitan flaky clamshell-shaped pastry filled with an orange-flavored ricotta mixture.

Gasper Zerilli, co-owner with his brother Vincent, fills the Sfogliatelle dough with the ricotta mixture while an assistant baker prepares the next tray of pastry shapes to be filled. A constant flow of baking happens in the spacious kitchen, begining everyday at 7am.

Sponge cakes flavored with rum cool on a table and will later be used as a base for a variety of different cakes. Gasper prepares to place a tray of Sfogliatelle in the oven while another large log of rolled dough waits to be cut for the next batch.

A large pot of Sfogliatelle filling which contains ricotta, semolina, sugar, eggs, diced orange peel, cinnamon and vanilla. The large log of dough is stretched into an even longer roll, and then sliced into discs which are shaped to form pockets to hold the filling. Once stuffed, they're pinched into a shell before baking.

Gasper removes a perfect tray of finished Sfogliatelle from the oven. Trays of finished pastries are placed on racks to cool.

When done, the Sfogliatelle features a crunchy, flaky exterior that contrasts nicely with the orange-infused ricotta filling. They're meant to be served warm with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Sfogliatelle means leaves or layers, because the pastry's texture resembles leaves stacked on top of each other.

Buttered Baba pastry cups wait to be filled. A Baba is another popular Neapolitan specialty - small yeast cakes saturated in rum liquor and sometimes filled with cream.

Cups resembling flowers, filled with pastry batter, wait to be baked. Tools of the trade: bakery utensils and attachments for the shop's industrial electric mixer hang on the wall.

Traditional Sicilian marzipan lambs are made for Easter. Here Gasper measures ingredients to make Anisette cookies. The 100 year old pink marble table they work on everyday was brought by boat from Italy in the 1890s and was in place when Gasper and Vincent's father Salvatore Zerilli bought the bakery 64 years ago.

Gasper pipes perfect rows of the Anisette batter by hand. After the batter is baked each loaf is cut into biscuits and put back in the oven to toast. They're traditionally enjoyed in the morning with coffee and have a slight licorice flavor.

The Zerilli Brothers, Vincent and Gasper, have been working in the bakery since they were kids. The bakery also specializes in cannoli, grain pies (pastiera), Italian cookies and various other Sicilian and Neapolitan specialties. Their lemon ices, served in summer, are touted to be the best in Brooklyn.


Mazzola’s Bakery

Mazzola's Bakery, at the corner of Union and Hicks, is an 80 year-old family-owned bakery specializing in straight-from-the-oven bread. The bakery is owned by Frank Caravello and his children Josephine, Frank Jr. and Anthony. Pictured are Josephine and Frank Sr., in the bakery. Baker Anthony Ilardi holds Mazzola's famed Lard Bread, which is baked with Genoa salami, aged provolone and black pepper.

For Easter, Mazzola's makes a traditional Italian Easter bread - a sweet dough with a hint of Anisette that's decorated with eggs. Mazzola's makes them in the shape of a basket, a large ring or in smaller individual-sized versions. The Caravello family also recently purchased the shop across the street, which is now Francesco's (named after their father Frank) a pizzeria and trattoria.


Caputo’s Fine Foods

Caputo's Fine Foods, back on Court between 3rd and 4th Place, is best known for their iconic fresh homemade Mozzarella, which they have been making since opening in 1973. Frank Caputo starts with chopped cheese curd, then adds boiling water to warm and soften the curd. He adds no salt because it hardens the otherwise delicate, creamy cheese. After softening, Frank stretches, pulls and squeezes the curd to form the Mozarella.

Here Frank forms what he calls a Scamorzza, which is the largest of the four sizes he makes. He also makes a 'Regular' size; Bocconcini, the smallest size; and the Ovaletti, is egg sized (Ova meaning egg in Italian.) Frank Caputo in the shop's kitchen, which is about to undergo a major renovation.

Caputo's makes the fresh mozzarella about every hour throughout the day. Frank says the cheese should be eaten fresh, at room temperature, within a couple of hours of being made. Once refrigerated, the cheese hardens. Caputo's also makes a wide variety of fresh homemade pastas and ravioli.


D’Amico Coffee

A painting of D'Amico Coffee, in business since 1948, adorns the shop's front window. D'Amico's, at the corner of Court Street and Degraw, roasts their coffee beans throughout the day in small batches, in a big red roaster which sits near the entrance.

150 pound sacks of recently-delivered raw coffee beans are stacked throughout the shop. Co-owner Joan D'Amico shows off the familiar-looking freshly-roasted brown beans next to unroasted beans, which are green. D'Amico carries a variety of Fair Trade Organic coffees and they supply restaurants, firehouses and bake shops throughout the borough.

D'Amico imports beans from Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Guatamala, Brazil, Columbia and many other coffee-producing regions. The shop uses a beautiful vintage scale to weigh the beans.

Joan and Frank D'Amico are the third generation owners. Frank's grandfather started the business. Joan and Frank cheerfully greet an endless stream of regulars by their first names all day long. They also offer their coffees and other products via mail order and wholesale.


Caputo’s Bakery

Also on Court Street, near Sackett, Caputo's Bakery (no relation to Caputo's Fine Foods) opened in 1904, and still offers fresh breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies.


The Good Friday Procession

Members of Brooklyn's oldest Italian parish church, Sacred Hearts - St.Stephens Church, parade through the streets of Caroll Gardens every Good Friday. Traditional Italian hymns, an Italian funeral band, and a procession of neighborhood men, women and children re-enact the journey of Christ to his tomb, by candlelight.

All photos © Valery Rizzo. All rights reserved.

Valery Rizzo is a Park Slope-based photographer with a love of good food and all things Brooklyn. You can find more of her work on her website, and follow her food adventures on her photo blog, Eating Brooklyn.


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  87. Tom Sfraga says:

    I grew up at 274 Court St, my grandfather ( John Catanzaro ) also owned a music shop. Sold all the hit records of the day, ( All 78ths )sold all kind of musical instruments, also made recordings. My friends Sal, Snooks, Pee Wee, Fred,Pete,Manny,Dee,Sonny, use to stop by Court Pastry and pick up some sort of pastry, and munch out!! Although we were all Italians,we ate like Vikings!! Snooks and I went to Ebbets Filed one afternoon to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play the New York Giants. Before leaving for he game we stopped by our favorite store. Court Pastry, We grabbed a few pastries, and off to the game. The pastries were gone by the bottom of the first inning!! Oh yeah, the Dodgers won 5-4 on a base hit in the bottom of the ninth inning by Gil Hodges!!!I now live in Alaska and love it up here, but I sure miss Court St and all my dear friends!! We hope to get back there some day and see Carrol Gardens,Court St.and all our friends!! But no matter what!! That Brooklyn thing will always in my soul and accent. Thanks, Tom

  88. vincent sellitti (aka "skinny vinny") says:

    I wish to compliment the article and the pics whch I enjoyed viewing. The memories which have been awakened are priceless and I would not trade one for as long as I live.I grew up on Tompkins Pl. and went to Sacred Hearts Catholic School on Chiva Pl.and Hicks St. Anna avoca was one on my classmates as I remember her brother Ron Savocca.I spent many days on Strong Pl. playing ball with friends like Lou DiTucci and 9-10 other guys of all the same age.Our original group called Brooklyn Boyz still keep in touch via e-mails and occasional get togethers some of which are joyous and some not so joyous.One of my favorits lunches was panelle sandwich, riceballs and manhattan special soda which I got on Henry st. across from Cammarerri’s Bakery. Thank You for reliving my epecial memories.

    • Louis Di Tucci says:

      Hi Vinny,
      I just saw your comments about the article about our old, wonderful neighborhood. If you go back onto the website where you left your message and scroll down to other comments from the past, you’ll see my remarks on January 8, 2013 that were posted on this site. Love and best wishes to you and your family! From Dee (Lou Di Tucci)

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  91. Richard DesLonde says:

    I lived across from Ferdinando’s when I was 5 back in 1963. My mother was Rose Tramaglia or maiden name Nogaro. Grandfather Vincent and grandmother Virginia I . Aunt Jenny and Aunt Jeanie uncles casper and joey and jimmy and Tommy.
    i had lots of aunts and uncles. I used to play Skellsy with that bottle caps and shoot them into the box you outlined with chalk.
    Stick ball and stoop ball! what memories! Running home with hot bread from the bakery and eating off one end and turning it around before you got home!
    The produce stand on Union near the freeway. SO many many memories! wish I could go back in time!

  92. Roxanne Paulette says:

    Hi there.Im hoping someone knows the Carlino family.They were my grandparents thst lived on President street in the 1940s.There names were Angelo and Vinenza carlino.Im looking for alittle history and hope someome can help me in reguards to my family.Plse call or email me 347 444 9867.Fingers crossed .Thku

  93. Ronald Savoca says:

    I moved out of the neighborhood some 43 years ago, but still go back to the old neighborhood. Their was nothing like living in Carroll Gardens, since we all knew one another. I still go to fernandos, court street backery as well as the two bread stores. Though the neighborhood has changed with so many restaurants, it brings back memories of playing in the street, sitting on the stoops at night and talking with your buddies. My daughter use to live in NYC and we go to the old neighborhood and now my son who lives in Manhattan goes. I lived at 47 Strong Place, and was fortunate to live their. Great Article and pictures

    • Tom Patella says:

      My brother sent me this email of the Old Neighborhood, I started reading some of the post & I can’t tell you the memories it brought back to me. I was born on Tompkins Pl. & my wife was from President St. We are married 50 years & live in NJ we still get together with friends from SI originally all from Carroll Gardens & all we talk about is the Old Neighborhood. I owned Tom’s Pizzeria on Court St. my uncle Tom was the original owner it was next door to D’Amico Coffee Shop which used to be Frank’s father & mothers grocerie store many years ago. I can go on but you new comers could never visualize how it was growing up in that neighborhood. So all you new comers enjoy what you have now & some day you will have your own memories of Carroll Gardens ( Red Hook ) BTW it’s been a long time since I heard the name Ronny Savoca. LOL. God Bless.

    • Valery Rizzo says:

      Thank you Ronald!! and thank you for sharing your memories.

    • Alfia Bongiivanne (gigi Tonachio) says:

      Came across your name. Many years since we sat at rapt attention
      and listened to the Sisters try to educate all of us. There were
      so many in the class. But learn we did. Yes, we were so lucky
      to live in such a great neighborhood. Some of us from grammar school
      still keep in touch. Our roots are so deep. Thank you Carrol Gardens
      for a truly great childhood.

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  96. Steven Millio says:

    I lived at 4th Place and Henry St. and left in 1976. Missed all the delicacies from home. Many here in West Palm Beach and most of South Florida imitate but don’t duplicate. I especially miss the panelles.

  97. frank renna says:

    Hi, I used to live at 162 union st in 1935. Does anybody remember the baccala store on the ground floor? Send pictures if you have any.

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  104. Wow! Taking a road trip to Brooklyn this week to Ferdinando’s and I want that sfogiatelle!

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  115. Patricia says:

    Just curious — @John Iovine — are you related to Jimmy Iovine on American Idol? I heard he was from the neighborhood. My best pick for Italian cookies and lobster tails — Court Pastry — hands down.

  116. Patricia says:

    Just wondering if Johnny Iovine is related to Jimmy Iovine on American Idol. I heard he’s from the neighborhood. Court Pastry is my favorite for their cookies and lobster tails. Have never had any better than theirs.

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  118. john Iovine says:

    THIS neighborhood, carrol gardens, is one of the greatest places or used to be , since so many are gone, everyone mentions the remaining food places but there are so many gone by. for instance there was leotta pastry on henry street, Barbara, pastry on columbia street and president. also cioffi pastry on sacekett street and columbia, and Maresca’s pastry shoppe on president between hick st. and columbia sts.wonderful pastry and breads. They used to ship over seas to our boys durig WWll . it was wonderful i sent my brother a box of italian cookes from there to him in england he shasred and loved it with his friends there in service with him he was a radio man on the Nona Ray B 24 flew 27 or so missions over germany.god bless that entire neighborhood and all the people that lived there and live there now, little do they know the history they have bought into. the raw and fresh italian neighborhood that is a land mark int eh hearts of many that grew up there such as myself. I for one used to sing in St. charles Chapel down president street no long there , and in st. stephens and the immaculate hearts of jesus and mary on summit between henry and hicks street that has the procession every good friday every single year unless rain forbides it.they have marched int hat parade with light rain even on good friday with umbrellas over the blessed mother dressed all in black morning her sons death, the glass coffin in which his body is carried is till in great condition and used every good friday for theat procession. oh my god suck bitter sweet memories of this magnificent wonderful old neighborhood that even movie makers could not resist and put scenes from cammeraries bakery in the movie MOONSTRUCK. scenes fromt he movie wtih Cher and Nick i forget his nickname lol sorry the actor big actor very famous now., in any case the flovor of the neighborhood most of it lost except for the few that remain due to generations of children from that area grea up and moved on in life hopefully to bigger and better however the very essence of carroll gardens will never die it remains there in tha neithborhood. such wonderful people , suchwonderful tradions, such wonderful food and such wonderful cooking captivated by italians who came from Napoles, sicily, bari,sorento ischia, gaetta,monde di procida,amalfie,and much much more. when a holdiay came carroll gardens lite up with festivities and the whole nieghborhood was buzzing with peoople who practically knew each and every one of the people here u would hear bone giorno her eand there and everywhere and just a simple sunday morning in summer especially smells of magnificent food came from windows all over the neighborhood singing the praises of different flavors and foods from all over italia, yes wonderful italy.aj such wonderful memoreis never ever to be forgotten . how can we who came from there forget when its still in my veins even at my age 78 yrs old, its in my veins and in my heart and in my mond and memories of yesteryear and days gone by. God bless us everyone and god bless the wonde3rful carroll gardens then knwn to all of us by red hook.A truly christian neighborhood, still blending with new comers and never lost some of the flavor it orriginall had, oh yes one more thing Ferdinandos ws there since 1904 on union street which was the fresh produce market for all to shop at 6 DAYS A WEEK. ALL FRESHY PRODUCE SOLD. each stand that was int he street along the curb had differenet veggies and fruit and all sortso of wonderful fresh foood for sale and the stores trhere had wonderful clothes, and deli foods all italian fna frnakies with his old fashoned house dresses on union street always bargainig with the ladies lol he made a mint in that store he owned. from girdles to house dreses socks shoes undies of all kinds for summer an winter lol it was such a heart warming store when u went in lol my mom would bargain with im all the time on prices lol oh gee , can we just have one week back of that wonderful era???? no? well then we live in its wonderful memories which to this day are bitter sweet.

  119. John Iovine says:

    this is such a wonderful showing and article on my dear beloved red hook( Carroll gardens) i was born andd rasied here till my parents died in 1984 and 1985 the procession on good friday was a must lights wnent out side even lamps just to make extra light int he streets as the procession passed with a small band playing a funeral derge of some kind so solemn and serious the little italian ladies from bari all dressed in black holding real lit candles in their hands and marching. It was a sad but also gve the felling of a grand feast yet to come on sunday which would be easter, and the wonderful lard breads, and magnificent hard boiled egg breads and the wonderful tortonno breat wich wa s slight twisted bread in a wreath shaped breadd th most magnivent bread ever tasted by any true italian breas lover, AS MUCH as it is still enjoyed today, it could never ever be like the old days when the neighgborhood was really and truly filled iwth italians from every part of italy and they seemed to congragate in the same blocks altogehter it was wonderful one has to live it to enjoy it to the fullest but , today u can truly get a taste of italy which has been used that phrase over and over but it it true, it is a true taste of italy like no one has never, ever, known.oggia sto tanto aleria che cuase cuase me metessa a chiangnere per sta felicita. ma overa or non overa che sto tornano a napola m overa che sta ca o trene steve anchora inda stazione cuan aggia n dese e prma mondolina, chisto o paeso do sole, chesto paeso do mare chisto so e paesa a tutte e parole so docce o so amare , so sempre parole da amore. bravo gianni ! this song was played in every house hold of the true american italian as well as the full blooded italians that lived there and it was sung by jimmy rosselli himself on disc or whatever formawt one had in those days.God Bless it , the neightborhood the people those here anwd gone, and all those wonderful days when oife was worth living andd meant something when one another helped eavch other to get over hurdles that life would throw our way at times.we were a family yes all of us we didnt know everybody but we said hello to every one as we passed each other int he street son our way to buy some of the most wonderful ingredients to make those w0onderful italian dishes we still treasure to this day in ur mind and in our hearts, we miss our dear relatives and parents and the wo9nderful food which occasioanly come to enjo0y when we go down to the old neighborhood but it never leaves our hearts for one moment. God Bless those days and those feelings and tastyings and wonderful people.Little italy????? what u kidding? little italy was right there in carroll gardens simple and true to tradition and FAMILY as well as friends.; amen god bless us everyo9ne.thx

    • Valery Rizzo says:

      Hello John, I am so glad you found this story and enjoyed it so much. I wish I had spent more time in South Brooklyn/Red Hook back then, I was not too far away in Park Slope. Carroll Gardens really is a gem because you can still feel that sense of community, history and real Italian spirit all around you and of course amazing food. Truly one of the best stories I have ever had the pleasure of photographing.

      • john Iovine says:

        thank you sweet lady for ur comments on my story, No one could love the memories and aura of such a wonderful neighborhood humble and simple in its ways yet such magmificent history was being made and no one realized it at the time lol well its most gone now , at least the true italian essence and flavor but the people now mostly yuppies i hear keep it very very nice in fact a littel better than when it was all italian butttttttt, the spirits of italy remain in some shoppes to this day and ches and nicholas cage filming moonstruck well let me tell u we were all moonstruck in those days wonderful and simple as it was the the best food , and shoppes and culture in the world .a mix of every kind of italian from italy that my friends is what made that neighborhood yes the mix of wonderful italians. god bless them all and please lord dont forget ur children of today.

    • Lisamarie Muscianesi Librera says:

      Hi John, my family is still here since the late 1800 my great grandparents came from Sicily and worked hard and bought their house that we still own. I grew up on President Street between Clinton & Henry Streets. I still buy from all the stores mentioned in the article. My family owned a butcher shop on Union Street between Hicks & Columbia St. Your memories brought back a lot of memories to me. I’m so happy you have all these memories too. My son’s are growing up in the House I grew up in. I’m not leaving here I’m a lucky girl my parents bought the house in the 70 ‘s I was 5 and now I’m 48 and I treasure my house and my neighborhood.

      • Carolyn Dabbene armenia says:

        I believe you r the daughter of two old friends of mine.

        I was friends w your parents, Noel and Theresa, and w your Aunt Lillian. I also knew both sets of your grandparents–Prudence (providenza) and Dominick, and your mother’s parents as well. My brother, Anthony, was friends w your uncle who they called Tim, for Thimsen. Your mother lived on Clinton street, and your father on union street. Your dad worked at Long Island college. Your grandparents moved to First place right next door to my grandmothers house.Our group got together for dinner on union street and Henry St now almost 20 years ago. That was the last time I saw them. Your father knew my father because both had pigeons. So many memories, such a great place to live. Values learned then are still with me. I cannot possibly tell you what it meant to grow up in the old neighborhood and to have been surrounded by so many wonderful friends. Please wish your family a happy new year. I now live in New Jersey but frequently visit my real home.

        • Michael Visconti says:

          I came across your comments when “Googling” my grandparents names Providenza and Dominick Penna. I cant imagine it being a coincidence that another couple with the same names resided in Brooklyn.

          Sadly, they both passed away in 1977. when I was only 7. My Grandfather worked on the Brooklyn docks and I would love to know more about them if you are connected to them i n some way.

          I am the son of their daughter Josephine Anne Penna born in Brooklyn in 1945.

          Hope to her from you.

    • Cathy Ciorciari Fedora says:

      John, Thank you so very much for your beautiful words which captured the wonderful essence of our truely wonderful neighborhood. Unless you grew up there and experiencedthat first hand…it’s hard to explain to someone who never had the blessing of being there. I grew up on Woodhull Street my family name was Mazzella. I grew up in my grandparents house…a house that my Grandma Cookie grew up in. It’s been many years since I’ve lived there but I will never forget the life we had there. . Thank you for your eloquent words. God bless ~ regards froma Floridian Brooklynnite

  120. Louis Di Tucci says:

    The best memories of my life are from growing up in South Brooklyn (aka Carrol Gardens).
    I was born and lived on Degraw St, between Clinton and Henry Sts, until I got married. With names like Pasquale, Natalie, Frederico, Clelio, Luciano, Francis you can understand why we all had nicknames like Johnny Meatballs, Snooky, Patty, Pee Wee, Sonny, etc..

    Remember playing stickball in the streets, baseball with a “pimple” ball (very few ever heard of that), box ball and stoop ball with a spalding. Used to roll up old newspapers with a piece of string and play “poison ball” where you tried to hit your friend with it, but if he caught it you were out of the game.

    Spent so much time hanging out on stoops, where you learned to play Brisk or Pinochle until you got chased away by the landlord.

    On Mothers’ Day, you’d buy a pink carnation from the vendor outside Sacred Hearts Church on Summit Street (or a white one if you mother was no longer here. I remember always getting a lump in my throat when my friend, Sonny, bought one of these since his mother was gone since he was just a little kid.

    Some other memories of the neighborhood:
    Halloween meant turning your jacket inside/out so it wouldn ‘t be ruined by the chalk and socks filled with flour…
    Cammamerri’s bakery on Henry and Sackett with the irrestible smell of freshly-baked bread rising from the basement ovens (long before Cher and Nicholas Cage became “moonstruck”…
    The smell of those deep=fried panelles, rice balls and vastedde sandwiches on Hicks Street…
    A penny or two cents worth of pickled eggplants from the big jar at Tunettes on Sackett Street….
    Henny’s ice cream parlor on Court St where you could spend the whole night as long as you bought a fountain coke or an egg cream(try ordering one of those outside Brooklyn)
    A grump old man named Giacominna, who, from his pushcart, sold a tri-flavored gelati in the summer and would magically convert his cart into a fire-burning stove in the fall where he sold hot jelly apples on a stick. He was in styly long before Cinzano canopies and sidewalk cafes came into vogue….
    An African-American named Jackson, who, with his duck-footed strut would walk through the neighborhood and would burst out into dance wherever he saw a bunch of guys hanging out on a corner. If you threw some pennies as he danced, he’d do the most incredible split…and as he walked away with his loot, perspiring through his shirt, he’d have the biggest smile of satisfaction on his face as though he’d just played The Palace (Brooklyn Beau Jangles, are you still dancing somewhere today?)
    Union Street, congested with peddlers and pushcarts, with the aroma of discarded wooden crates burning in steel drums…
    buck, buck, how many horns are up?….
    neighborhood feasts, with bright lights, 101 peddlers, the smell of sausage with peppers and onions, zeppole being deep-fried, and the stars of the local opera company singing Italian classics from an elevated bandstand…
    homeowners rushing into the streets with shovels to pick up horse manure so their backyard trees would produce bigger figs…
    bringing my father’s fedora to a little store on Union Street to be steamed and blocked…
    the cry of the junk man on an early Saturday morning…
    the big fire in January, 1951, which destroyed our beautiful Sacred Hearts on Summit Street, leaving only 4 walls standing…

    the excavation of Hicks Street to make way for our neighborhoodls’ contribution to the BQU…
    wearing knickers to Sacred Hearts School and trying to get home before too many of the other kinds from PS 13 or PS 29 would see me….
    processions through the neighborhood streets on Good Friday…
    home-made skate wagons, putty blowers, 2 wheeler bikes with foxtails on the handlebars….

    Wish all of you who may be reading this could have experienced these memories…other things may come and go, but these last a lifetime.

    Anyone wanting to share these and other memories can feel free to contact me at

    God Bless!

    • Valery Rizzo says:

      I wish I could have experienced some of these things too Louis, thank you for all the wonderful descriptions and memories. Carroll Gardens sure is loved. My job as a photographer is done if I can bring these memories back for so many. Feel free to mention any other places worth checking out..I will have to look for Tunettes, Henny’s and hot jelly apples if they are still around and I need to have a lemon ice this summer at Court Pastry.

  121. Vinny Fiore says:

    I don’t miss any of it. Because i still live here and enjoy it everyday.
    never leaving brooklyn.

  122. Vince Errigo, Jr says:

    The older group will remember it all as “Red Hook” not Carroll Garderns, I grew up on 2nd Street between Hoyt and Bond and went to JHS 142 back in the late 50′s. We used to go Ferdinando’s and the House of Calzone across the street. Along with Angie’s for hot jelly apples, sandwiches from Penna’s on Henry and John’s on 4th place and finish it off with lemon ice fron Court Pastery. The neighborhood had everything you ever wanted and the greatest of friends growing up.

    Thanks for bringing it all back!

    • D.P. says:

      Great to hear someone finally mentioning Penna’s Sandwiches . I still haven’t found an establishment that can match those great tasting sandwiches on a Frank Sinatra as Frankie would call them . Lived down the block on Woodhull St. Went to Sacred Hearts on Hicks and Degraw. Anyone remember the chicken house on Hicks and President ? Played lots f ball on Rapeleye St As well as Carroll Park.

  123. Denise says:

    I grew up in Carroll Gardens,Lived there up to my adult years wish I could go back many memories.Love it

  124. Sammi Lim says:

    This makes me feel so blessed to have found my cute little apartment in Carroll Gardens. I love my neighborhood!

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    great work photos were wow

    • Uelly says:

      “finitude is par for the course” word.Tradition has long conealtfd finitude with fallenness (thanks in large part to Augustine’s Neo-Platonic bent of mind/body dualism). But Genesis 1 depicts a creation being crafted within the constrains of time, and there is no primordial struggle with evil finitude is deemed “very good.” This is why I appreciate Caputo’s interaction with Derrida, as traditional absolute assertions of self (I believe; I don’t believe) denies the complexity of things. Derrida advocated the “wordless word” and a “yes more ancient;” I think that is applicable to the biblical account.As far as cyborg soteriology goes, I mean.. Peter did say that we are to “hasten” the coming of eschaton, but I am not sure that means humans themselves effect a singularity..Totally remember that Star Trek TNG episode btw. Good stuff.

  126. I used to live there on second place. I still visit because my sister and brother still live there.

  127. I lived in carroll gardens and it was wonderful. I still go back because my sister and brother still live there there.



    • Carolyn Dabbene armenia says:

      I seem to remember knowing you from sacred hearts. Is that possible. My name then was Carolyn Dabbene.

  129. Antoinette Scotto Sisti says:

    I remember when this area was called South Brooklyn. My parents moved to (upscale) Bensonhurst in the late 40′s-early 50′s but we always returned to this area for the best of Italian goodies. My favorite to this day, although I now live in South Florida, is Court Pastry, with Mazzola’s a close second. Today, two of my children live in the NY area, and I have instilled in them my love for the treats served at these two fabulous establishments. Thank you for this wonderful article which was sent to me by my daughter who is passing on the love of old-world Italian food to her own family. And so the tradition continues…

  130. Gregg says:

    For my last three trips back to NYC, I have stayed at the Inn on Second so I can enjoy this amazing neighborhood. It is definitely a must see on any trip to NYC.

  131. Dolores says:

    I love going back to the old neighborhood; you can’t beat the food there!!! Wish my uncles were still alive – Muscianesi’s Meat Market & Lockwood Liquor Store!!! Miss them & know there are looking over me.

  132. Angela Amato-Haag says:

    Wonderful pictures of Carroll Gardens. I grew up on Sackett St. between Hoyt & Bond. I now live in New Jersey for the past 35 years. Still come back for the panelles, the lard bread and cannolis and cookies from Court St. No Italian holiday is complete without all these goodies. No place like South Brooklyn. Those truly were the good old days.

  133. Mark says:

    Everything you see here will be replaced with cafes, bookstores and chain coffee shops. The neighborhood shown here is dying,if not already dead. This is due, no doubt, to the influx of newcomers who have removed all character from this once wonderful neighborhood.

  134. linda says:

    gave me the chills grew up there such good memories mother in law always got me strawberry from court pastry the best the good old days glad they have carried on traditions

  135. Valery Rizzo says:

    Thank you Sylvie!

  136. Brings tears to my eyes! Could not be prouder to call Carroll Gardens home. Thank you for documenting, Nona & Valery.

  137. Gina says:

    Bravo Nona Brooklyn and Kudos to Valery Rizzo for such a great pictorial and vision of what I know to be the heart and soul of Carroll Gardens. Excellent!!

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