Ah, the good ol’ days…and the infamous Sunday evening “Test of the Warrior”!!! 💪🏼 💪🏼 💪🏼
No, it didn’t involve any feats of strength (although the participants would easily make a grown gorilla look like a li’l wussy)…war paint…nor any official judging or even, keeping score!
The contes, er, event would take place along 86th Street & Stillwell Ave in Brooklyn…and since it was held on Sunday evenings, it often followed the traditional 2nd generation Italian-American Sunday dinner of macaroni & gravy (What’s this pasta & sauce nonsense?), meatballs, sausage & bracciole.
And that was just the appetizer!!! 🤪
A bunch of us late teen-early 20s neighborhood guys would pile into our Chevys…Monte Carlo, Impala, Nova, Caprice, Malibu…and head south, from Dyker Heights (home of Welcome Back, Kotter!, Dr. Fauci’s Dad’s pharmacy & several Mafioso chieftains) to Bensonhurst. 86th St & Stillwell Ave, to be exact.
The first stop in the “Test of the Warrior” was always L & B’s Spumoni Gardens.
A couple of slices of its world famous Sicilian (square) pizza was mandatory, followed by either a pint of Spumoni ice cream (Italian, multi-flavored gelato w/ nuts & candy) or a large eggplant or chicken parmigiana hero.
Many times, both!
Note: What makes their pizza so famous – – and DELICIOUS!!! – – is that they first place a layer of mootz-a-dell cheese on the crust, then top it with a generous portion of tomato sauce.
Very similar to Bella Pizza (63rd St & 11th Ave).
Note 2: “Mootz-a-dell” is the NY-acceptable pronunciation of “mozzarella”.
Ricotta > > “Ri-GŌTH-a”
Manicotti > > “Mah-knee-GŌTH”
Calamari > > “Gol-a-MAAAAD”
🖕🏼> > “Vafagool”
Note 3: You’ll notice that I used “macaroni & gravy”, but then said “with a generous portion of tomato sauce”.
Hey, what’s up, Scungilliface?
Rule: When the sauce is made with meat, then it’s gravy!
It’s marinara (maad-a-nodda) sauce as it’s made quickly without meat!
OK, there’s the bell! Paisan School’s over…
Across the street, we’d then hit White Castle. They invented the hamburger slider…14¢ apiece, 16¢ w/cheese (it may have been 16¢/18¢). You hadda get a least 8-10 of them (they were steamed, not fried nor broiled), accompanied by a few orders of fries & a shake.
BTW, there was only one McDonald’s, recently opened at the time, in all of Bklyn w/ its almost 3MM inhabitants & no Burger King either! Besides, you NEVER, EVER ate fast food at home!!!
We would then waddle over to the corner to Dunkin’ Donuts.
For dessert, of course!
Since we were definitely classy gavones (sorry, you’re gonna hafta google that one!), we would usually have coffee with our pile of donuts. My personal favorite was the old-fashioned glazed chocolate!
It was amazing that our earth-mover tires could actually withstand the weight of 4 of us in a single chariot as we ventured back to the ol’ neighborhood.
What eating extravaganza would be complete without a quick stop by Fat Joe’s Carvel store (you know, right down the block from the Regina Center, on 65 St & 13 Ave) for a large chocolate cone or a Flying Saucer as a nightcap?
Yes, my friends, just a walk in the park when you were a growing young man in the ’70s!
*rumbling & gurgling*
As always, thank you so much for listening!