Erma "Mama" D'Avolio


Over 5 million Italians emigrated to American from Italy between 1820 and 1978. Each one came with a dream and each had stories to share. But there was one very special one, the one whose story I am most interested in sharing with you. It’s about a young woman who arrived at Ellis Island in May of 1935. She traveled across the Atlantic alone, carrying her young children, anxious to be reunited with her husband. She arrived in Niagara Falls and settled on Elmwood Avenue in the heart of Little Italy.

She brought with her, many recipes from her home in Collarmelle, Provence of Aquila. Erma was an excellent chef and worked in the family’s restaurants until her death at age 96. Her sauces, homemade pastas, gnocchi and zucchini supreme made her famous with the locals. She shared her culinary acumen with neighbors, family, senators, congressmen, judges and yes, even notorious members of La Cosa Nostra. But this woman had a secret. It was found in every recipe. Of course she incorporated only the freshest ingredients but her secret was found in her olive oils.  Only the finest were good enough. The love of course, added flavor as well. All who knew her, adored her.

To family and extended family she was lovingly referred to as "Mama". Today, her legend lives on in this establishment. Her name was Erma D’Allesandro D’Avolio.

She was my grandmother.
Mama D'Avolio

Danny Gagliardo

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