Who is Orlando? He’s my Dad. Here’s little about him. Orlando Augustus Bonicelli was a high school (Chisholm, MN) and college (Notre Dame) basketball star. Even though I didn’t know him until he was almost 40, I knew he was handsome in his youth just like I knew my Mother was beautiful. We had the pictures to prove it. He was joyfully competitive in the way that people are when they know they are good at something. Aside from basketball, he was a master golfer, tennis player, and curler and took very special pride in trouncing younger players – often. He was also a cook.
My Dad didn’t cook every day. He was more of a Holiday and special recipe chef. Once he had the apron on Dad owned the kitchen and he LOVED it! He felt that we should have a meatball recipe. My Grandparents (on my father’s side) were from Northern Italy. This is not the “meatball” part of Italy. But, my Dad wanted to have a family meatball recipe so – he got one from his secretary (which was what admins were called in those days) Norma. He tested the recipe on weekends – many times – making small adjustments. He tried it with venison and moose meat (which thankfully he quickly abandoned) and through all of the tweaking we finally had our meatball recipe. My staff and I have done further tweaking to make the very delicate meatballs hold up in a restaurant setting and we just never seem to have enough sauce!
When I decided to put it on the restaurant menu, I felt it was a real way of sharing something that I come from and that every member of my family from the oldest to the youngest recognizes as their Father’s, Grandfather’s, and Great Grandfather’s very special culinary contribution to their lives. My father passed away in 1985. There is not a day that I don’t think about him and now there’s rarely an evening when I don’t smell his fabulous meatballs and sauce simmering in the kitchen – Bonicelli Kitchen.