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August 26, 2011     Post-Gazette
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Page4 POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 26, 2011 Pino, Left to Right: Boston Bruins owner Charlie Jacobs, Pino, Peter Chiarelli, Bruins General Manager and Bruins President Cam Neely. The North End, the oldest residential area in Boston, is home to many Italian shops and restaurants. In the heart of this historic neighborhood is Piccolo Nido Restaurant, owned by Castel- venere native, Pino Irano. The restaurant has been visited by famous Italians such as Roberto Benigni, Gugliemo Epifani and former goalkeeper Waiter Zenga. The restaurant was practi- cally the second home of the "Spider Man" Walter Zenga when in 1997 he came to play for the New England Revolution, the team he fin- ished his soccer career with. Pino has many memories with important people such as Richard Gere and Katie Couric, to name a few. But the memories that are most dear to him are those he shared with Zenga. He remembers, "Walter would call me for whatever prob- lems he encountered. I enjoyed accompanying him in becoming familiar with the City of Boston and together we shared mo- ments that I will truly never forget." Throughout the years, Pino's restaurant has become popular in Massa- chusetts, not only because of its authentic Italian cui- sine but also because of a particular practice, remov- the Chef~Shaman of Boston ing "II Malocchio" or the evil eye. In fact, Pino is recog- nized for helping the Boston Red Sox overcome the "Curse of the Bambino". This superstitious curse began in 1918 when the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees despite having been the strongest team in baseball during the tenure in Boston. After selling Ruth, 86 years had passed since the Red Sox last won the World Series with him in 1918. "The curse was inter- rupted when Red Sox Presi- dent Larry Lucchino came to visit me", explains Pino. "I understand that the Red Sox had been stricken by "ll Malocchio" and after a few visits from Lucchino I was able to remove the evil eye." Then in 2004 the Red Sox championship drought came to an-end as they were once again crowned World Series champions. From that moment something special arose in the Boston sports world. A few years after helping the Red Sox, Pino was able to help the Celtics to their first NBA championship in 20 odd years by using the same techniques with players such as Brian Scalabrine and Coach Doc Rivers, who believed in Pino's practice. By this point the story began to draw attention from the media and an article was written about it in New England's most popular news- paper, The Boston Globe. Then, this past June after 39 long years without a Stanley Cup, Boston was once again recognized as world champions in the hockey world. Not surpris- ingly, even this victory stemmed from Boston Bru- ins players visiting Piccolo Nido. One can witness it themselves as the "Boston Channel" news cam-eras caught footage of Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara plac- ing the prestigious Stanley Cup in Pino's hands. Pino, authentic shaman in the kitchen, has put forth not only his good Italian tastes but also the magic and be- liefs typical of rural southern Italy. Thirty years ago, when he began his great adven- ture around the world he brought along the knowledge of the great Italian cuisine from his region. FROM CASTELVENERE TO BAHRAIN AND ONTO MASSACHUSETTS Boston is not the only traveling experience that Pino has had. After graduat- ing from the school of hospi- tality he worked as a chef on a cruise line and eventually landed in Bahrain. Eventu- ally he made the longest journey of his life by cross- @@eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee@ ing the Atlantic and arrived in one of the most beautiful cities in the United States: Boston. Pino frequently made trips back to his home village of Castelvenere. How- ever, when he settled down and had a family these trips became less frequent. His mother, Antonietta, and brother, Carlo, still reside in his native Castelvenere. Carlo works as a professor in a school of hospitality. His youngest brother, Angelo, has always been in- volved in politics and at one point even held the position of provincial general secre- tary of the left wing political party. Pino's childhood friend, Barbato De Risola, re- calls that politics has always been one of Pino's true pas- sions. "In the years of our youth, when the ideologies were strong, we had many heated discussions about politics," said Barbato. An- other strong friendship Pino holds back in his hometown is with former Mayor and physician of Castelvenere, Mario Scetta. Scetta ex- plained, "The thing that I admire most about Pino is his willingness to help oth- ers." Those who visit Pino claim he was always re- membered for his hospital- ity and great dinner conver- sations, especially the ones about Castelvenere. Pino with Bruins Captain Zdano Chara holding the Stanley Cup. II North End, il pifl vecchio quartiere residenziale di Boston, ospita negozi e ristoranti tipici italiani. Nel cuore del quartiere "ll Piccolo Nido", locanda italiana del castelvenerse Pino Irano. II ristorante ~ frequentato da personaggi famosi italiani di passaggio a Boston, come testimoniano le foto di Pino con Roberto Benigni, Guglielmo Epifani ed il portiere Walter Zenga. II ristorante ~ stata prac- ticamente la seconda casa del~'mitf~b ...... uomo ragn6", quando nel 1997 si trasferi nel New England Boston Revolution dove concluse la sua carriera di calciatore. Tanti i ricordi che legano Pino a personaggi famosi, come l'attore Richard Gere, ma quelli vissuti con Zenga hanno un sapore particolare. "Walter -- ricorda Pino -- mi chiamava per qualsiasi problema. A me piaceva accompagnarlo nella sua conoscenza della citt~. Insieme abbiamo trascorso momenti indimenticabili". II locale di Pino in questi ultimi anni 6 diventato cele- bre in tutto il Massachusetts non solo per l'ottima cucina italiana, ma anche per una pratica particolare, che conferma le origini sannite del ristoratore: togliere il malocchio. A Pino, infatti, viene riconosciuto il merito di aver contribuito a vincere Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers and Pino. la "maledizione del bambino" (the curse of the Bambino), superstizione di fama mon- diale addotta come motiva- zione per il fallimento dei Red Sox, il team statunitense di baseball pifl forte dei primi decenni del secolo scorso, rimasto a bocca asciutta nella World Series dal 1918, quando vendette il mitico Babe Ruth ai New York Yankees. II digiuno -- spiega Pino -- si ~ interrotto 'dopo 86 anni, cfuando il presidente Larry Lucchino venuto a trovarmi e ho capito che erano stati colpiti dal malocchio. Dopo una serie di incontri gli ho tolto quella maledizione e nel 2004 hanno vinto il cam- pionato. Pura casualit~t, frottole? Eppure da quel momento qualcosa 6 iniziato a serpeggiare nel mondo sportivo bostoniano, tanto che qualche anno dopo il ristorante inizia ad essere meta anche dei cestisti del Celtics, guarda caso anche loro a bocca asciutta di titoli nazionali da ben un ven- tennio. Pino adotta con loro la stessa tecnica. Tra i giocatori che hanno voluto sottoporsi alla pratica -- racconta -- anche Brian Scalabrine, nei Celtics dal 2005 alla fine del 2010, quando 6 stato acquistato dai Chicago Bulls. Guarda caso -- aggiunge -- nel 2008 i Celtics sono tornati a vincere la Nba. A questo punto la storia inizia ad interessare anche i media, conquistando anche articoli sul "Boston Globe', : il quotidiano pifl diffuso nella citt~t ed in tutto il New Englandl Nel giugno scorso, poi, i Boston Bruins, dopo trentanove anni di digiuno, si aggiudicano il campionato nordamericano di hockey. Una vittoria, anche questa, che ha a che fare con il ristorante del North End. I rapporti tra la squadra ed "ll Piccolo Nido" sono testi- moniati anche da "Boston Channel", che riprende il capitano Charra passare nelle mani di Pino la prestigiosa Stanley Cup. Pino, autentico sciamano dei fornelli, si ritrova cosi ad esportare negli States non solo i buoni sapori italiani, ma anche la magia e le credenze tipiche di quel mondo contadino del Sud, ancora particolarmente forti quattro decenni addietro, quando inizi6 la bella awentura di un giovane castelvenerse, che prese a girare il mondo per proporre la buona cucina campana. L to R: President of the Boston Red Sox Larry Lucchino, Pino, Luciano and Red Sox owner John Henry...