All photos by Liz Barclay (@liz_barclay)

Italian-America food traditions are, at their heart, all about family. Meals are long, and appropriately so—the gathering is as much about eating as it is about camaraderie. Everything revolves around the kitchen, and the cook rules—what she says, goes. And what she makes, well…everyone eats. It all begins with antipasto, prepared at the cook’s whim (there is no wrong way to make antipasto), and ends with espresso and cookies—often hours later.
Though there is joy in the simplicity of red-sauce fare, there are also nuances impossible to glean from television or cookbooks. One must enter the fray, mix it up, and learn first-hand from a pro. Camille Parisi, a top-shelf home cook, welcomed us and shared her secrets for perfect meatballs and eggplant parmesan. Her lessons are passed down from her grandmother, with whom Camille lived during a rich childhood in the Bronx, but they are peppered with her own personal inventions. Italian-American cooking is, after all, always evolving, generation to generation. Draw from Camille’s lessons and forge your own traditions.