Pastries for Pesach

SWAMPSCOTT – Sara Winer stood in her recently redecorated kitchen emanating the serene aura of a person who is in the right place at the right time. “My kitchen is my happy place,” she said as she took a loving glance around the gray-toned sleek yet warm sanctuary, which has been kosher since the day she got married 49 years ago.

The Swampscott baker comes from a long matrilineal line of bakers, starting with her Russian Bubbe Sara, for whom she is named. She is renowned for her creative and delectable creations, which are decidedly not low-calorie. “There really is no substitute for butter if you want a rich cookie or cake,” she said.

Finally succumbing to repeated suggestions from friends, Winer decided it was time to test the waters and start a baking business. She launched “Sara’s Baked Goods & Specialties” last Passover, when she decided to offer a few of her personal favorites items to a few friends.

Baking for Passover can be challenging and tedious because no leavening agents are used, Winer shared. She makes sure all ingredients are kosher for Passover and she uses only her Passover dishes and cooking implements. “I buy eggs five dozen at a time,” she said.

This Passover, she again is selling desserts and kugels. Some she can bake in advance and freeze; others, like her chocolate-dipped meringues and sponge cake, are made just prior to delivery. New to this year are the vegetable farfel kugel and her personal favorite, Passover granola, loaded with nuts, coconut, raisins and honey.

The response so far has surprised her. “I always think people could do this themselves, but they either like what I make or don’t have that same excitement about baking,” she said.

Creativity is also in her genes. Her mother, sisters, nephews and son excelled in painting, photography and animation. Winer tried her hand at fine arts, but found her medium – and her calling – in baking. “It is also therapeutic, meditative, and fun. It satisfies my need to give, to nurture and to care for my family and friends,” she said as she poured a cup of tea and set out a plate of her favorite cookies: hermits, pecan sandies, chocolate chip and poppy seed.

The science of baking fascinates Winer, and she loves working with yeast. “A couple of ingredients and voilà! You have a challah!” she said with a broad smile.

She worked for 18 years as a sales rep at Rivkind Associates, a large printing company in Stoughton, and gifted her clients with baskets of handmade cookies at the holidays. “They all came to look forward to it every year,” she said.

After retiring in 2013, she had a lot of time on her hands, which translated to a lot of time for baking. Friends celebrating birthdays receive cupcakes or a cake, and her mah jongg friends know not to eat dessert on game nights, because Winer always provides an assortment of homemade goodies. “My freezer is literally full of cookies, cakes and breads,” she said.

Although Winer’s nuclear family is a great reservoir of talent, she credits her mother-in-law, Ida Winer, as the biggest source of her inspiration. “She taught me how to entertain and how to make everything look nice. She just had a real flair. I like to think I am following in her footsteps,” she said.

For more information, email

Salem’s first rooftop bar touts strong drink, simple food and stellar views



Shelley A. Sackett

Salem has no shortage of special summer attractions and activities.

From recreating at Salem Willows Park and Winter Island to enjoying the Essex Street Fair and Jazz and Soul, Salem Maritime and Salem Arts Festivals, there seems to be something happening every day guaranteed to suit almost every taste and age.

And, as of last month, those who crave a lively seasonal bar with a 360-degree view perched atop a snazzy new downtown hotel can have their specific summertime itch scratched too, with the opening of Salem’s first rooftop bar, aptly and simply named “The Roof.”

Casual high-top tables and plush banquette seating lend the bar a trendy, urban air that suits the slick retro décor of the hotel below. Although The Roof can accommodate 85 guests seated and an additional 150 more standing, its 18-seat rectangular bar fills quickly, especially on balmy, clear summer evenings and weekends.

Offering a casual menu of Mexican small plates and views of downtown Salem (and a sliver of a glimpse of the harbor), The Roof is above Salem’s newest hotel, The Hotel Salem, at 209 Essex Street. Its wood-paneled exterior walls, turquoise and lime green color scheme and live greenery produce the feeling of a hip, vibrant and modern outdoor space.

Glass barricades provide safety without compromising the views and a seasonal heating system will keep patrons toasty as summer fades to fall and Salem’s notoriously busy Halloween season. A retractable awning creates shade over the bar area.

Executive Chef Justin Perdue has created a menu of traditional and composed oysters, ceviche, six taco dishes and three inventive guacamole preparations designed for sharing. Recent standouts include Pork Belly Guacamole, Marinated Flank Steak Tacos with dates, pickled mushrooms and farmer’s cheese, and Roasted Eggplant Tacos.



The small plates complement The Roof’s cocktail program that boasts three rotating seasonal cocktails on tap, fresh house-made frozen Frosé (frozen rosé), sangria and the usual craft beers and wine by the glass and bottle.


So far, the Frosé and various guacamole offerings have been the most popular items. To keep up with the volume, The Roof plans to buy another Frosé machine. As for guacamole, “we can go through 50-60 avocados on a busy day!” Perdue exclaimed.

He admits that managing The Roof’s wait list has been difficult. “During peak times we can have a wait list of almost two hours and hundreds of people. Once people get up there, they are happy and enjoy the atmosphere, but we’re still working to find a balance between turning tables quickly and inviting people to lounge around and relax,” he said. “It’s a fortunate position to be in.”

Nonetheless, Perdue said overall response to the rooftop bar has been strong and positive. “We have been busy since day one. When we opened in June, the amount of people who immediately went out of their way to visit really blew us away,” he said.

Although The Roof has no special events planned for this summer, Perdue said he looks forward to exploring different programs in seasons to come. He also plans to add more tables and chairs to accommodate more guests and “hopefully bring the waitlist down.”

In the meantime, those anxious to check out Salem’s first rooftop bar are advised to come early and bring plenty of patience.

More Than Just Pizza and Spaghetti



Anyone who has traveled to Italy and had the great fortune to eat even one dinner in Lucca knows that not only is the town a draw in its own right, with its enclosed walls and lovely broad parks, but that its food is also among Italy’s most compelling.


If Lucca is not on your 2017 agenda (or within your budget), Salem can dish up the next best thing: Vittorio Ambrogi, Lucca native and executive chef at Trattoria Orsini, located in the previous Grapevine space at 26 Congress Street.


The former chef of the Grapevine (where his wife Stacy was one of the owners), Ambrogi has created a modern Italian menu that features dishes ranging from chopped salads to grilled octopus to his special “Orsini Meatballs” (veal, beef and pork meatballs braised in Chianti tomato sauce with Cavatelli pasta).



Ambrogi’s famous pasta Bolognese


Ambrogi’s accent is as deliciously Tuscan as his cuisine, and he peppers the conversation with “pero” (Italian for “but”) and other Italian phrases. When asked what are some of his favorite dishes to cook, he lets loose with a belly laugh and says, “Risotto and sauce. You can’t go too far from the sauce in Italian.”


According to Michael Gajewski, a Trattoria Orsini General Manager (“I’m really just a glorified busboy,” he joked), although the chef and space are the same as the Grapevine’s, the new restaurant differs in significant ways. Major renovations included adding expanded patio space and creation of a different “look” with new furniture, a sleek bar, and two rooms with cozy tables where diners can enjoy quiet and intimate conversations as well as terrific food.


However, what has remained the same is what makes Trattoria Orsini as special as the Grapevine was. “Having Vittorio and a lot of the old staff back, and of course Vittorio’s food and his nightly specials” are what patrons are happiest about. And of course, everyone is looking forward to spring and summer on our beautiful new patio,” he said.


The new restaurant opened last summer with over 4,000 square feet of interior dining and a 2,000+ square foot patio. Completing renovations, equipment procurement, permitting, staffing and menu production were among the biggest challenges, according to Gajewski.


Among the menu’s most popular items are the meatballs, risotto, arancini (rice balls), shrimp scampi, octopus, cod and, of course, Ambrogi’s famous Bolognese sauce. The chef added the Grilled Octopus appetizer (accompanied by fried black polenta, olives, capers and fresh tomato sauce) as an item unique to the new restaurant. The dish was not on the Grapevine menu, and has been a huge crowd pleaser.


His Pan Roasted Cod dish, while among the most popular entrees, is not really an Italian dish as far as Ambrogi is concerned, because Italians don’t have access to the same kind of fish Americans do. “Cod is not a very popular fish in Italy. It’s not as meaty and juicy as it is here. It’s also a smaller fish,” he said.


While Ambrogi loves cooking and creating inventive and delicious nightly specials, he also likes his days off. Last Monday and Tuesday he took advantage of the recent snowfalls and decided to go skiing at his favorite place, Sunapee, which is “always fun”.


The Tuscan chef has been cooking for over 27 years, including almost 20 at the Grapevine where he developed quite a loyal following. He reflected on his long career and devoted patrons, and added modestly, “We’ve been putting out pretty decent food for many years and we are still doing that.”


Trattoria Orsini is located at 26 Congress Street and is open from 4 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. For reservations, call (978) 594-8048 or visit



Back to Basics: Cookies and Milk

“Goodnight Fatty” satisfies those late night munchies

Above:  Erik Sayce and Jen Pullen, proud owners and creators of “Goodnight Fatties”.


Fatties on parade from left: Blueberry Lemon Cream, Peanut Butter S’more, and the Cowgirl Fatty, made of oatmeal, Ghirardelli dark chocolate, cinnamon, coconut and crushed pecans

Late last Friday night, a small storefront on Derby Street was abuzz with conversation, music and camaraderie. Couples canoodled at the bar, small groups huddled, drinks in hand, talking and laughing, and the duo behind the counter could barely keep up with the food orders.

The latest trendy theme bar or craft brew pub? Not quite. These millennials (and a couple of baby boomers) were savoring the nostalgic comfort and shockingly fabulous taste of homemade, small batch cookies and bottomless glasses of milk.

“I like chocolate inside chocolate,” said Anthony Schepsis, pointing to the puddle of melted chocolate that had oozed onto his plate from inside the warm double chocolate cookie he had just demolished with a cold glass of milk. “Who doesn’t like a cookie at 10 p.m. on a Friday?”


Soniya Tejwani and Anthony Schepsis on a Friday night date night at their favorite new bar.

That was exactly the question Goodnight Fatty creators and owners, Jennifer Pullen and Erik Sayce, asked themselves after a date night in Salem not too long ago. “We were walking home from Turner’s Seafood and were both talking about how great it would be to have a quick place to get a warm cookie late at night,” Pullen said. The pair brainstormed the whole walk home, and came up with the “Goodnight Fatty” popup concept before they reached their front steps.

“We made a pact to keep it a secret – even from our own family!” Pullen added. “We were nervous our idea wouldn’t come to fruition.”

Once they had a plan, the couple, who both work at Salem Academy Charter School – Pullen in the food program and Sayce in the office of Communications and Development – needed a venue.


Fatties ‘N Cream – the most popular cookie – is vegan with a pudding base and Oreo’s and Taza Dark Chocolate from Somerville MA.

The day before Derby Joe’s, the breakfast, lunch and coffee shop at 142 Derby Street, opened its doors for the first time, Sayce “barged in”, in need of a cup of coffee. “They still served me!” Sayce exclaimed, even though they weren’t officially open. Sayce and Pullen became friends with Dan Crowther, Derby Joe’s’ owner, and brought him their first cookie, the “Cowboy Fatty”, to try.

As they drove away, Sayce remembers looking in the window and seeing Crowther dancing by himself as he finished eating it. “That’s how you know it’s good!” Pullen chimed in.

The young couple pitched the idea to Crowther that they commandeer his Derby Joe’s space after he closed and “sling cookies on weekends.” Crowther loved the idea, and the Goodnight Fatty popup was born.
Each weekend, from 7 p.m. until midnight, the two serve up a new variety of “Fatties” (the official name for their cookies) made in small batches, with ethical and quality ingredients, and most importantly served warm so they perfectly complement the ice-cold milk that is their patrons’ beverage of choice.

Sayce and Pullen met when they were in college, he at Salem State University and she at Keene State College. They had been friends for years before they started dating and last year, Sayce asked Pullen to marry him. Once they found out how expensive weddings were, they decided they could either go into “massive credit card debt or start a cookie business on weekends,” Sayce said.

Both are floored by the support they’ve received. They want to keep growing the business as long as it stays fun and something Salem residents want. By next month, they hope to add home delivery service of warm fatties.

For Pullen, who grew up on a large horse farm in New Hampshire her family still runs today, starting Goodnight Fatty has helped make Salem, which to her feels like a “huge city”, feel more like home. “It’s exciting to meet more locals and see them come back week-to-week smiling,” she said.

With Pullen’s background and skillset helping on the kitchen side of creating breathtakingly decadent flavors and adhering to the technicalities of food safety, and Sayce’s marketing tools, the two vegans could be poised for expansion. Instead, they are savoring their current accomplishment and the thrill of keeping their product fresh each week. “For now, we’re just excited to have some success under our belt and are totally focused on just pulling off next weekend,” Sayce said.

Goodnight Fatty is located at 142 Derby Street, in the Derby Joe’s location and is open Friday and Saturday from 7p.m. until midnight.

Redemption Fish Closes the Loop


Local startup farm grows fish in a sustainable way

By Shelley A. Sackett, Correspondent


Colin Davis, co-founder of Salem’s Redemption Fish Company, has a history of merging his entrepreneurial spirit and interest in “sustainability” (the intersection of ecology, economics, politics and culture). The 30-year-old Trinity College graduate had already launched two start-ups when he and his roommate (and fellow Redemption Fish co-founder), Andy Davenport, decided it would be fun to raise fish in a sustainable way in the basement of their Cambridge apartment.


Davenport, 27, who met Davis through Craig’s List when seeking a roommate, has a background in biology and chemistry and worked at Biogen. By the time the eviction letter came from their landlord, their “hydrofarm” had over 10,000 trout. “I talked Andy out of his job and into starting a fish farm with me. Basically, this was a hobby that got horribly out of control,” Colin said with a chuckle as he pointed with pride to the 10,000 square feet of space that Redemption Fish Co. now occupies in Shetland Park in the space that housed another seafood farming enterprise in the 1970s.



Owner Andy Davenport goes fishing for some rainbow trout in one of the holding tanks at Redemption Fish Co. at Shetland Park in Salem. Wicked Local Staff Photo / Kirk R. Williamson


Davis and Davenport’s goal is to run their plant like an ecosystem, using the least number of inputs for the maximal output. There is no compost waste. There is little fish waste, and there is little water waste. “We try to close the loop on everything we do,” Davis said.


The basic principle behind what they’re doing is called “aquaponics”, the marriage of aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water). Davis’ enthusiasm is palpable as he explains the process in a nutshell:


First, they feed the fish. The fish fertilize the water. That fertilized water gets pumped up to a grow bed of clay balls that biologically filtrate the wastewater through a nitrification process. Then, they grow plants in the grow bed.



Redemption Fish Co. owner Andy Davenport looks over a verbina plant and an orange tree that are being grown hydroponically. Wicked Local Staff Photo / Kirk R. Williamson


Aquaculture currently occupies the majority of floor space. Although there are huge vats growing tilapia, bass, brown trout and experimenting with Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout are the only fish they are currently commercially producing. In the wild, it takes 18 months to two years for a rainbow trout egg to reach “market weight” of one pound. Davis grows them in about 12 months.


A couple of months ago, Redemption Fish Co. started harvesting a few hundred of its first trout eggs and selling them to a handful of restaurants and through Farmers Markets.

The goal is to be producing 1,000 pounds of rainbow trout per week by the end of the summer and to distribute them locally.


“Not shipping them across the country is the way this is better than mass produced trout from one of the three mega farms in this country. We leave a smaller [carbon] footprint,” Davis said.



Owner Andy Davenport holds up a tilapia at Redemption Fish Co. in Salem. Wicked Local Staff Photo / Kirk R. Williamson

Hydroponics, the other part of the aquaponics equation, uses 5% of the amount of water growing plants in soil would, and the plants grow faster. “Growing plants this way actually saves waste water we’d otherwise have to dispose of,” Davis pointed out.


On the day of this visit, one grow bed had a three foot orange tree, tomatoes, lemon verbena and ghost peppers. They just harvested 20 pounds of basil, which Jean Louis Faber, owner of the Jean Louis Pasta Shop on Derby Street, took and turned into pesto. He also bought some of Fish Co.’s rainbow trout to use in his smoked trout ravioli.


“That’s the fun part about local small business. I can just wander in places and say, ‘I think what you’re doing is cool. Can we work together?’” said Davis. “There’s something really neat about being able to grow basil two blocks from where it’s turned into pesto, and the consumer can walk to the store. That doesn’t exist in urban areas in the United States anymore.”


Within five years, Davis estimates Redemption Fish Co. will produce 250,000 pounds of fish and the better part of one million pounds of produce yearly. Future expansion plans include large-scale hydroponic production; he also wants the company to help others start small hydroponic gardens for their own consumption.


Davis points out that it takes three gallons of water to produce one pound of trout and five pounds of vegetables. In dirt, one pound of broccoli alone uses 75 gallons of water, according to Davis. “Nature doesn’t have a concept of waste. We invented waste. Up until man, there was no such thing,” Davis said. “Resources in, resources out, this [aquaponics] is probably the single most efficient way you can possibly grow food for human consumption.”


Davis and Davenport closed their own loop on making their dream a reality through a fluke. Davis’ mother was telling her optometrist about her son’s interest in starting a fish farm. As luck would have it, her optometrist knew Peter Lappin (whose family owns Shetland Park), who had started Sea Plantations in the 1970s to raise fish and seafood for research and commercial consumption. The space was empty and still housed Sea Plantations’ equipment.


Davis got on the phone and called Lappin, who “forced me to read his book (‘Live Holding Systems’)” which chronicles Sea Plantations. Ultimately, Davis and Davenport were able to lease part of the 50,000 former Sea Plantations space from Bruce Poole, one of Lappin’s original partners who runs his environmental services firm in space adjacent to Redemption Fish Co.


“There are not a lot of people trying to start urban fish farms, and not a lot of other convenient things this space could be used for, so we were pretty lucky to run into this,” Davis said.


When Mayor Kim Driscoll (whose favorite fish dish is grilled salmon) recently welcomed Redemption Fish Co. to the Salem business community at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, she emphasized how excited she was that the company uses innovative and sustainable technologies to grow food. “This company’s products will offer a healthy and local option to Salem and the region’s restaurants and food suppliers, providing one more terrific ‘farm to table’ opportunity for customers and diners,” she told the Salem Gazette.


Although finding funding for a sustainable urban farm in a finite space remains Davis’ biggest challenge, he is as optimistic about the company’s future as Mayor Driscoll. “If we worked with every restaurant in Salem, we could feed thousands of people out of a tiny basement a quarter of a mile away,” he mused.


For more information, visit Redemption Fish Company’s facebook site or or email


Let the Gaming Begin!

Bit Bar Salem: where two bits still buys what it did in 1980

By Shelley A. Sackett, correspondent


You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in economics to realize that 25 cents doesn’t buy what it used to. Armed with a single quarter, you would have to time travel to 1945 to use it to buy a pound of hamburger; to 1960 to buy a gallon of gas; and to 1970 to buy a loaf of bread.


Or, you could just walk into the new Bit Bar Salem arcade-restaurant-bar hybrid at the intersection of St. Peter Street and Bridge Street, plunk your quarter into a vintage Ms. PacMan or Donkey Kong arcade machine, and pretend it was still 1980.


“Yes, it really is a quarter for a game. We say inflation be damned!” Rob Hall, one of the five co-owners said with a chuckle.


Bit Bar co-owner Rob Hall plays his favorite video game, Mortal Kombat. Wicked Local Staff Photo / Kirk R. Williamson



The genesis of Bit Bar was Hall’s interest in classic arcade games (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, etc.) The North Shore native, who graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a concentration in programming and media, set up a Facebook page for people who lived in the Boston area and enjoyed talking about these classic games. He met Joshua Allen, a technician by trade whose hobby is collecting and restoring arcade games, through his page. Andrew Wylie, a vintage shop owner who is plugged into the creative and music community in Greater Boston, joined the group. So did Max Clark, the restaurant manager at Trident Booksellers in Boston. Last, Allen brought in a friend of his, Gideon Coltof, who had just earned an M.B.A. at Babson College and was looking for an interesting project.


The group tossed around the idea of doing “Bit Fests”, pop up arcade events that would take place mostly at breweries. The idea was successful in other areas, but untested locally. “We were always interested in having a permanent location, but even before that, we were thinking it would be fun to do a classic themes festival,” said Hall, who admitted that the idea of moving these 300-lb. machines to temporary locations for a day or two was “a totally crazy idea. Totally insane.”


Coltof thought it was a textbook way to get a feel for the market before taking the brick-and-mortar plunge. “It’s not often you come upon a completely unguarded market like this. There was nothing in the Boston area,” he said, referring to the Bit Fests as “three tons of fun”.


In December 2014, the group did its first pop up event. Over the course of a year, Boston Bit Fest had ten events, but as early as last summer, they started looking to make the brick and mortar a reality. Originally they looked in Cambridge, Somerville, Malden and Boston, but it was hard to find interesting, good space.

One day, Coltof saw a listing for the old Salem jail space that had been home to The Great Escape and most recently, A&B Burgers. Hall had been mentioning Salem as a possible location, but this was the first time a potential listing had caught his eye. “Gideon thought it was funny, like ‘Ha, ha, ha. Look at this, an old jail!’, but I live on the North Shore and had eaten here when it was A&B. I told him it was a great space,” said Hall.


Coltof came to Salem and was blown away. “I tried to get a sense of what Salem was like and I thought, ‘This is really cool. We can really make this work.” They signed the lease and began working on Bit Bar Salem in January.


The 3,000 square foot space features two rooms of classic arcade and pinball machines with total capacity of 106, including seating for 70. The outdoor patio accommodates an additional 60 people. There are 30 machines in the bar area and another 30 in a warehouse in Everett, which they rotate for variety. These are the original games, painstakingly restored, refurbished and spit shined to their original glory. Some of the most popular games are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and pinball machines Cue Ball Wizard, Hook and Cyclone.


Under Executive Chef Eric Hammer, formerly of Tavern in the Square, the attention-grabbing menu features Walking Tacos (“a tasty, traveling taco minus the mess”), snacks, sandwiches, entrees and sweets. Specialty cocktails are whimsically named “Pooka”, “Dankey Kang” and ”Pinky & Clyde”, among others. Local breweries are featured and Maine Root supplies Fair Trade Certified organically sweetened sodas


Most important to Hall and Coltof is that Bit Bar Salem be as green as possible, leaving the smallest carbon footprint and supporting the local community. “We pay living wages. We recycle our cooking oil into biodiesel fuel. Our meat is from Walden Meats (‘happy cows and chickens’). I want to be sure we are building something we can be proud of,” Coltof said.


Mayor Kim Driscoll is excited to welcome Bit Bar to Salem and to stake her personal arcade turf. “This creative business will add to our downtown’s growing reputation as a hip, vibrant and diverse dining destination. Beyond just the new jobs and economic activity this restaurant will bring, its innovative theme will make a real unique experience, not simply in Salem but for the whole greater Boston area,” she said, adding,” I look forward to setting their high score in Galaga.”


After a “soft opening” in June, the group is looking to tweak a few things before hosting its grand opening. Their biggest issue is managing all three things that Bit Bar Salem is: a classic arcade, a bar and a restaurant. During the day, it is more like a restaurant; at night, it feels like a busy bar. And then there are the 30 arcade games. “Our biggest challenge is how much floor space to devote to tables and how much to games. We are loath to give up a single game in our floor-plan, but if a bussing station has to go somewhere, or a server station is needed to make the flow of the place work ten times better, then we have to do it,” Hall said.


Like Mayor Driscoll, Coltof and Hall each have favorite games. For Coltof, it’s Rolling Thunder, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the pinball game Cyclone. For Hall, it’s more personal.


“Altered Beast”, a fun classic Sega game, is not necessarily the best game ever made, according to Hall. But for him, it is especially fun to play because it is one he helped fix and restore. “Just seeing that come back to life after you think it’s dead and gone is something,” he said.

Mothers Day Cookbook Creates a Family Legacy

Keepsake helps grieving daughter cope with loss

By Shelley A. Sackett


Susan Mineo and her five siblings grew up on the predominantly Italian Pratt Street in Salem smelling her mother’s famous sauce and tasting her unrivaled cooking every evening. As kids, she remembers even their school lunches being the talk of the Bowditch School lunch room.

“We had brown-bagged meatball sandwiches and eggplant parmesan, beef cutlets, chicken cutlets, pork cutlets, etc.,” she said, admitting that on a few occasions, she traded her gourmet home cooking for the “more common” peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


The eight Mineos. Back row: Frank, Mineo’s Mom (Gloria) and Dad (Santo). Front row: Diane, Julie, Susan, David (Diane’s twin), and Tony on Susan’s lap.

She also loved watching her friends’ faces when they were lucky enough to be guests at the Mineo dinner table. “While they were eating, their eyes would roll to the back of their head. So many would say, ‘I can’t believe you eat like this every night!’” she said with pride.

Her mother was equally caring and generous in feeding sick friends, or “just anybody who happened to walk in.” Her father’s back seat was like a Mineo Meals on Wheels, full of carefully labeled plates for him to deliver.

“My mother had a compassionate, nurturing self. What she was proud of was being a mother. That was the proudest role in her life,” Mineo said.

Mineo’s mother, Gloria, learned to cook from her mother, whose family was from Abruzzi, Italy, but took what she learned to a whole new level. “Most people either bake or cook. My mother did both extremely well,” she said.

Gloria, in turn, passed on her love and skill to her daughter (and her five siblings, including three brothers), and some of Mineo’s favorite childhood memories are when her mother taught her to cook. “I loved when she was teaching me to make Tiramisu. It is so complex and was so easy for her. She was so talented — she was a true artist,” she said.

Gloria also invented a few recipes, including Easter turtles with colored eggs, and on more than one occasion would cook more than one thing for dinner if Mineo or any of her siblings didn’t like what she had prepared. “We were spoiled rotten. We were lucky kids,” Mineo said with a chuckle.

Seven or eight years ago, she decided to start working on a cookbook of her mother’s recipes. Her mother kept her treasured recipes on handwritten index cards, and each time she visited her parents in Florida, Mineo took some home with her. She and her parents developed a system: she would format the recipes into her computer, send the hard copies to her mother for editing, and her father would mail them back. “We were a team, because my mother didn’t drive, so my father played a crucial role,” she said.

Mom and tiramisu

Gloria Mineo piping her tiramisu

The family continued this routine for three years. “My mom was my second set of eyes and there were lots of things in her head that were not on those index cards, so I needed her. We used tons of paper and ink and postage, but we accomplished what we set out to do,” she said.


All her siblings supported her project, adding excerpts and even having their own children write something about their grandmother’s legacy. Finally, she designed the book, took photographs, and had her son enhance the cover page. Sadly, her father died from cancer just four months prior the book’s completion.


On Mother’s Day 2011, she presented her mother with the finished product: “Gloria Mineo’s Family & Friends Cookbook with her own personal flair.” “I don’t think she ever expected it to be what it was. When I handed it to her, she was shocked and just cried. I knew then I did something important which touched her deeply,” Mineo said.

Unfortunately, Gloria passed away last October after a long illness, and this is Mineo’s first Mother’s Day without her. In their final days, both her parents were at Kaplan House/Care Dimensions. However, that care didn’t end with her mother’s passing. With the support from the Bertolon Center for Grief & Healing, Mineo has had ongoing help with her journey through her loss with an array of grieving groups and individual sessions.

Because Mineo was the primary care taker for both of her parents, their loss created a tremendous void. She lauds Care Dimensions’ for allowing her to mend at her own pace. “Their emphasis on no time limit has softened the edges of my loss. They acknowledge the individual as who they are,” she said, noting that other companies set arbitrary numbers of weeks or months, after which a person should be healed. “The staff is a gifted group of compassionate, patient, thoughtful and dedicated people,” she said.

Mom and dad

Gloria and Santo or Mom and Dad on their honeymoon in 1951.


Although this Mother’s Day will be an especially hard one for Mineo, she takes solace in having completed and shared the cookbook with her before she passed. “It gives me solace, looking at it, touching it and, of course, using it. My Mom is not in my past, as she is in my daily world as much as ever,” she said.




Mom’s Tiramisu


1 box custard pudding, cooked

½ pt. whipped heavy whipping cream

1 egg yolk

½ cup sugar – plus ¼ cup

1/3 cup sherry liqueur

1/3 cup Kahlua

1 large package Italian hard Ladyfinger cookies

2 boxes Ladyfingers, the hard cookies

2 cups espresso coffee, room temperature

2 lb. Mascarpone cheese, Italian cream cheese

1/3 cups of sugar

1 lb. Philadelphia cream cheese room temperature

1 box custard pudding (cooked not instant) or 1 box instant vanilla pudding

1/3 cup sherry wine, a good one

1/3 cup Kahlua

½ cup sugar – 1/3 cup sugar

1 pint heavy cream

2 tbs. cocoa

1 dark chocolate candy bar, use a good chocolate


Mix coffee and Kahlua.

Beat mascarpone, cream cheese, and sugar. Whip until creamy soft – add custard or pudding and whip until soft and airy. Fold in 1 cup of whipped heavy cream.

In a 9”x12” oblong pan place a thin layer of cream cheese mixture in the bottom of the pan.

Mix Kahlua into espresso coffee and add 1/3 cup of sugar. Dip the Ladyfingers quickly into espresso and layer them in the pan on top of the thin layer of cream cheese mixture. Add ½ half of cheese mixture on top of the cookies. Dip second layer of cookies into Kahlua quickly and cover the cream cheese and then add the rest of the cream cheese on top. Sprinkle with sifted cocoa and shaved chocolate bar.

With left over whipped cream using a pastry bag with a star tip, you can design (piping), the edges of the pan.

© Gloria M. Mineo


Susan Mineo’s graduation in 2005 from Salem State College/ University



Helpful Tips for those Coping with the Loss of a Mother

By Patrice DePasquale, LICSW and Bereavement Counselor for Care Dimensions

As Mother’s Day approaches this may be a challenging time of year for people who have had their Mothers pass away, either recently or years ago.  As adults, our relationships with our parents often change and mature over time and we may find that we value the relationships more and become friends with our parents. We turn to our Moms for comfort, decision-making and reassurance. When a Mother dies, people often feel like they have lost their closest ally in life.

If you are coping with the loss of a mother, here are some suggestions as Mother’s Day approaches:

-Realize that your grief has no time table and that walking past the large and cheerful display of Mother’s Day cards at the grocery store may trigger a painful grief reaction for people who long to spend the day celebrating with their Mom.

-Seek support from others, whether by joining a grief support group or talking with close family and friends about your emotions.  This support can validate your feelings and help you process them.

-Focus on taking care of yourself with the basics, such as eating and sleeping well, exercising and taking time for activities you enjoy. Being kind and patient with yourself can help you to better cope with your feelings of grief.

-Find ways to honor and commemorate your Mother either privately, as a family or in your community. Plant flowers that your mother loved and make a memory garden.  Cook one of her recipes to share with friends or visit her favorite restaurant or outdoor venue. Reminisce at family events about happy times from your childhood. These types of activities can help you feel more connected to your Mother and allow you to feel that you are continuing a relationship with her.

-Remember that the gifts our Mothers have given us over the years, such as unconditional love, comfort, and support always remain with us in all we do.
Care Dimensions offers a variety of support groups, including Loss of a Mother and Loss of a Parent, several times a year. For more information, please visit, or call 855-774-5100.

Melt Ice Cream: More Flavors More Frequently


Christiana Kroondyk, owner of Melt, enjoys her personal favorite: Atomic Coffee.


Shelley A. Sackett


Even as a kid growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, ice cream stood out among its dessert peers for Christiana Kroondyk.


“I remember biking to the nearest shop with friends and eating it after a quick trip to the beach with my family,” said the owner and creator of Melt Ice Cream, an artisanal ice cream line that now has its own storefront home in the former Salem Screamery location. “Ice cream was always a special treat growing up.”


Her taste for ice cream never wavered over the years, but in 2009 her interest changed from eating it to making it. While vacationing with her family, they found a newly opened ice cream shop run by a couple that sold unique and delicious flavors, such as lavender mint basil and maple bacon — “before bacon was a ‘thing’.”


When Kroondyk got home, she quit her Human Resource Compensation Department job, bought a personal ice cream machine, and began trying out recipes and experimenting with unusual ingredients. “My focus with Melt is making all the ice cream myself. I use local ingredients where I can,” she said. Her original plan was to sell Melt as an artisanal ice cream line at farmers markets.


Instead, when The Salem Screamery was put up for sale last year, Kroondyk bought it, “definitely something I envisioned, but not as quickly as it happened.” For a year, she operated the shop as the previous owners had — selling ice cream from Bliss Dairy in Attleboro, MA — all the while experimenting with her distinctive flavors and thinking about how she wanted to make the store “hers”.


“I wanted to change the environment of the store. We updated the inside a lot over this past winter to make it warm, happy and inviting,” Kroondyk said. While she spends a lot of time at the store, this year she’s more behind the scenes making ice cream rather than behind the counter scooping it. Still, she loves saying “hi” to the regulars. “Meeting and getting to know the customers and the community is extremely important to me.”


Equally important is her commitment to unconventional and all natural ice cream flavors. “Coming up with funky flavors is most fun for me,” Kroondyk said, noting that she only uses real ingredients. “My mint chip ice cream is not green,” she pointed out proudly.


Her goal is “more flavors more frequently” and she features four or five “Rotating Flavors” that change every week or two. Right now, customers have the chance to taste 18 “flavors to melt for”. The rotating ones include vanilla chai, anise with candied fennel (a must for black licorice lovers), green tea, and banana with caramelized white chocolate. Of the 14 “standard” flavors, however, not all are all that standard: potato chip toffee and chamomile chardonnay top the list.


With all these exotic creations to choose from, what unusual flavor is Kroondyk’s favorite? Without a pause, the maestro of the non-traditional breaks into a wide, little girl smile, and reveals her taste buds’ old-fashioned, Grand Rapids roots: Atomic Coffee.


Melt Ice Cream is located at 60 Washington Street in Salem. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Visit for more information.



“Artisan” is a term used to describe “food produced by non-industrialized methods, often handed down through generations but now in danger of being lost, according to the School of Artisan Food website. Tastes and processes are allowed to develop slowly and naturally, rather than curtailed for mass-production.”