My grandparents were from Naples, Italy before they decided to migrate to the United States where they started their own family. I haven’t been to Naples yet but I feel a close connection to the place because my grandmother would always tell me beautiful stories about the place and the people there.

I have always been close to my grandmother. She was the one who took care of me when I was just a little girl because my mom had to work different shifts as a nurse aide. When my mom finally got a regular day job, I would stay at my grandma’s place after school where my mom would pick me up when her work was done. I cannot complain though, I loved spending time with grandma and when other children had to put up with different babysitters or spend the whole day at daycare, I had my grandma to take care of me all the time.

A grandmother’s love is different from a mother’s love. You feel like you are spoiled crazy and you are a princess before her eyes. And she would stuff me with all the food that I liked. Of course, her specialty was Italian cuisine. She used to make pizza and lasagna all the time and I could have them all to myself. I could still smell the aroma coming from the kitchen and feel the warmth of the oven enveloping us. Oh how I loved that feeling of anticipation for her cooking and when I finally put them in my mouth, it was indeed heaven on earth. Different herbs and spices made their presence known and it was magic. I have always thought that my grandmother could open up her own restaurant with the way she cooked. Whenever I would tell her this and how perfectly delicious her cooking was, her face would always light up and she would tell me that her cooking was just especially for me and our family. Yes, she loved our family so much. She would always host Sunday lunch and everyone would just be excited (and be very full afterwards) with grandma’s cooking. I also looked forward to Sunday lunch because that’s when we all gathered together, shared our stories, laughed a lot (or cried sometimes), and just enjoyed each other’s company over good food. Family and food, that’s what brought us all together.

It had been years since grandma left us. I had to carry on with my life even though I could still feel the pain. I happened to pass by Castiglia’s Restaurant during one of my business trips and decided to go inside and see what they had to offer. As soon as I opened the door, the same aroma from grandma’s kitchen from years ago hit my senses and I was taken back to the times I spent in her kitchen, waiting for her to finish cooking and start serving my comfort food. I ordered their pizza and lasagna and instantly knew that someone from Naples cooked these amazing dishes. They almost tasted like grandma’s cooking. And the restaurant’s ambiance and approachable staff made you feel at home, almost as if you are family. I can’t stop smiling because I know it was grandma who led me here to make me feel her love.