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old noodles

In 1896, in Italy’s Puglia region, famous for its abundant grains and vegetables, a son was born to grocer Giuseppe Panini, famous for being the son of Nunzio, creator of the Panini, or sandwich in Italian. Which was invented quite by accident when Nunzio laid some grilled eggplant and fresh goat cheese between two slices of foccacia bread he had just pulled from the oven, but that’s another story…

Destined for gastronomic greatness by his birthright and in his own right, 6 year-old Giuseppe Jr. left his home in the Mediterranean at the “heel of Italy’s boot” in 1902 and crossed the Atlantic with his family to explore America. There, he served the well-heeled citizenry of Boston at his father’s grocery store. But that’s if they happened to be in the market for great pasta. Because young Giuseppe was never stocking shelves or sorting supplies. Instead he was always making and sampling pasta. Penne to bombolotti to spaghetti, his passion for producing the perfect pasta soon earned him the nickname “Noodles”, which would stick with him for the rest of his life. Remembering fondly childhood summers visiting his aunt and uncle in Venice, Noodles retired to the Venice of North America, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and that is where I met him and basked in the warmth and humor of his inspiring stories.

So it was only natural that when my family and I, first around the dinner table and then around the drawing table, designed our sandwich and pasta place, we  named it Noodles Panini, in honor of another food-loving family. And in case you’ve heard that it was the Earl of Sandwich and not Grandpa Nunzio who invented the sandwich, remember that in food, as in life, anything is possible. So stay open to new ideas and fresh tastes…and eat plenty and often at Noodles Panini.