Sunday: A day to pray, play, give thanks. . . and eat | Pamela’s Food Service Diary


STATEN ISLAND, NY – The idea of ​​“Sunday” has sparked a lot of thinking over the years, especially in the food industry. It’s nice to hear about the traditions and memories of other Staten Islanders.

Shaw-naé Dixon owns Shaw-naé’s House in Stapleton, a soul food restaurant fueled by family recipes. She said, “Every Sunday, like most African Americans, we attended the Sunday dinner. My grandmother taught us to get together. She believed in the organization. We had entrees, soup to start, amazing entrees and of course the classic dessert. She was making apple pie with the traditional white sauce we all loved.

This sauce is made from vanilla and cream made from flour, sugar and vanilla extract. This is something Shaw-naé does occasionally at a restaurant.

Shaw-naé’s family hails from the historic Sandy Ground in Rossville, an African American-established enclave that dates back to 1799. His late grandmother, Lois Augusta Henry Mosley, asked children and adults to step in. in a circle before eating. (Mosley was Advance Woman of Achievement and author of “Sandy Ground Memories,” a book written with historian Barnett Shepard.)

Sundays with Shawn-ae Dixon’s Family (Courtesy Shawn-ae Dixon)

Shaw-naé described, “Everyone was passing a cup around. We would like to express our gratitude and share what we were grateful for. My grandmother loved all of her children in each generation, she made sure we knew how important our family history was and what the future would hold for us if we were thankful and praying.


Sunday dinners now with the Dixon family (Courtesy of Shawn-ae Dixon)

Michael Passarella from West Brighton spoke about his roots in New Brighton. He recalls, “Every Sunday growing up, we would go to my grandmother’s on Stanley Avenue for Sunday macaroni – macaroni and meatballs, salad. They lived right behind the Staten Island Hospital. “


He said his grandparents spoke only Italian but understood English. After the meal, grandmother played cards and grandfather took out the accordion. And then there was a weekly treat that was a regular source of contention.

Meatballs and macaroni

Meatballs and “macaroni” (Staten Island Advance / Pamela SIlvestri)Staff-Shot

“Whatever leftovers we had, instead of saving a few and reheating them later in the week – and they still argued about that every week – there were plenty next to them.” , like a wasteland. She would put the leftovers on the wall for all the cats, ”said Michael. He laughed heartily as he spoke of his grandfather shouting in Italian: “Why are you giving it to cats?” And they would argue about it in Italian.


Leo Balaj enjoys his Sundays in other people’s dining establishments. He closes his Leo’s Deli that day every week to spend time with his family. (Courtesy of Leo Balaj)

Leo Balaj, of Albanian origin, closes his West Brighton business, Leo’s Deli, on Sunday.

“I lived in Italy for eight years and Sunday was always for the church. So you dressed well and went to church, then you went for dessert and coffee afterwards, ”he said, adding:“ And that was a major reason for deciding to close on Sunday. . “

Now he takes the kids to other people’s food establishments around the borough.

He said: “We like to have breakfast outside the restaurant or elsewhere and we usually go to the Staten Island Diner on Victory Boulevard or the Island Coffee Shop on Manor Road where we always find a lot of customers and they will say to us, ‘Why are you not open on Sunday?’

Sri Lankan food

These are hoppers, a pancake cooked with an egg. (File photo in advance of Staten Island)Pamela Silvestri

Sundays have their culinary traditions on Staten Island. Of course, there’s the AKA “Sunday Sauce” AKA “sauce” at Italian restaurants like Guliana’s in Great Kills and Nucci’s South in Richmond Valley. But there are also Sri Lankan diets like hoppers and special dishes. Sunday is the only day Vigi Devadas serves Biriyani Fried Chicken, a new special Asha rice. But the hoppers – a concave pancake made from coconut milk – draw Tompkinsville fans from across the region all afternoon for a taste. The Ceylonese treat features a fried egg in the center.

And there is also a new tradition, a Gospel Brunch on Sundays at the Pavilion on the Terrace in New Brighton. Owner Kecia Weaver said their first month last month was a big success. She plans future meals in the order of $ 45, a buffet served only on the Lord’s Day. Details are to come.

Sunday is also a day of rest. So after the meal there will be a good nap in the weekend forecast.

Pamela Silvestri is Editor-in-Chief of Advance Food. She can be reached at


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