How To Make Lasagna At 120-Year-Old Italian Restaurant Ralph’s In Philadelphia

<b>the oldest Italian-American</b>

<b>restaurant in the country.</b>

<b>The Rubino family</b>

<b>is about to celebrate</b>

<b>their 120th year</b>

<b>of staying in business.</b>

<b>When you think about</b>

<b>Italian-American food</b>

<b>in this country,</b>

<b>they are the epicenter of that.</b>

<b>Today, I'm gonna cook with</b>

<b>Nana Elaine and Elaine's sons,</b>

<b>Jimmy and Eddie.</b>

<b>-So, Marcus, we're gonna</b>

<b>make our veal Parmesan.</b>

<b>-Yeah. And what type of veal</b>

<b>are we talking about here?</b>

<b>-This is milk-fed veal.</b>

<b>This is the top grade of veal.</b>

<b>-Who do you buy it from?</b>

<b>Must've been --</b>

<b>I mean, it's all about</b>


<b>You guys have</b>

<b>been buying from --</b>

<b>-We have Esposito's Meats</b>

<b>at the Italian Market.</b>


<b>-They've been doin' it</b>

<b>God knows how long.</b>


<b>And the seasoning is important,</b>


<b>Otherwise, it's just a bunch</b>

<b>of bread crumbs.</b>

<b>-Yes, yes, it is.</b>

<b>First, we flour it.</b>


<b>-Both sides.</b>

<b>Then we're gonna dip it in egg,</b>

<b>put it in bread crumb,</b>

<b>cover it real nice.</b>


<b>-We want to put our gravy</b>

<b>back there.</b>

<b>Pan-fry some of these bad boys</b>

<b>in some olive oil.</b>

<b>-It's so interesting --</b>

<b>a dish like this,</b>

<b>like, the bread crumbs</b>

<b>is so important</b>

<b>because, if you burn them,</b>

<b>it doesn't taste good.</b>

<b>-Oh, God. There's --</b>

<b>Even though it's hot</b>

<b>and typically when oil's hot the</b>

<b>food itself you're cooking in it</b>

<b>doesn't absorb the oil,</b>

<b>it's still --</b>

<b>there's still flavor</b>

<b>going into that bread crumb.</b>


<b>-Although, we like to think,</b>

<b>even if we didn't season it,</b>

<b>our gravy is so good, you know,</b>

<b>it still would be good.</b>

<b>-When I think about gravy,</b>


<b>I think about a creamy sauce</b>

<b>that my grandmother made</b>

<b>and I put it on everything --</b>

<b>on meatballs,</b>

<b>on roasted chicken.</b>

<b>When you talk about gravy</b>

<b>for an Italian-American</b>

<b>in South Philly,</b>

<b>it's red sauce.</b>


<b>-A nice ladle of gravy.</b>


<b>This is it.</b>

<b>-And that's it.</b>

<b>That's our veal Parm.</b>

<b>-So now we're gonna make</b>

<b>the lasagna, right?</b>


<b>So, what we're gonna do first</b>

<b>is season the ricotta.</b>


<b>-Eddie's yummin' over there.</b>

<b>-It's good.</b>

<b>-We're gonna eat</b>

<b>soon enough, bro.</b>

<b>-Yeah. Yeah.</b>

<b>-I love ricot.</b>

<b>-Mix this really well.</b>

<b>Okay. Okay.</b>

<b>So, we're gonna put a layer</b>

<b>of gravy on the bottom.</b>

<b>Okay. And then we have</b>

<b>our lasagna noodles, okay?</b>

<b>Now, what we're going to do is,</b>

<b>we're gonna go seven this way,</b>

<b>four this way.</b>

<b>You meet 'em in the middle.</b>

<b>-Lasagna is from Naples.</b>

<b>All of these things</b>

<b>that we think about</b>

<b>as Italian-American food</b>

<b>get much larger</b>

<b>than they'll ever be in Italy.</b>

<b>It was part of that "Italian</b>

<b>meeting American" culture.</b>

<b>So the lasagna got richer,</b>

<b>with more mozz, more ricotta.</b>

<b>It was a way to show</b>

<b>that our culture</b>

<b>is both big and rich</b>

<b>and it matters.</b>

<b>And America loved it.</b>

<b>-We cook these noodles</b>

<b>in salted water.</b>

<b>-It's important that you don't</b>

<b>make the -- them too soft, also.</b>

<b>-Mm-hmm. Al dente.</b>


<b>-Al dent.</b>

<b>-Everything's al dente.</b>

<b>And that's -- It's funny, 'cause</b>

<b>when Ralph first started...</b>

<b>Ralph cooks most of</b>

<b>our pasta dishes.</b>


<b>-That was one of the main</b>

<b>things we said --</b>

<b>everything has</b>

<b>to be al dente.</b>

<b>-Ralph Allen.</b>

<b>That's Ralph Allen.</b>

<b>-That's the Ralph.</b>

<b>Finally, I find Ralph.</b>

<b>-[ Laughs ]</b>


<b>My man.</b>

<b>-The word "loyalty"?</b>

<b>That's it, right there.</b>

<b>Yeah, yeah.</b>

<b>-That's really, really good.</b>

<b>-I've been here 22 years.</b>

<b>-22 years. That's awesome.</b>


<b>-Very honorable person.</b>

<b>-No matter what's going on,</b>

<b>I haven't missed a day of work.</b>

<b>-He has not missed a day.</b>

<b>-My man.</b>

<b>-This is no lie. No lie.</b>

<b>-No. Wow.</b>

<b>And -- And how long</b>

<b>have you been here?</b>

<b>-28 years.</b>


<b>-I was helping out at the door,</b>

<b>maître d'ing.</b>


<b>-And they asked me if I wanted</b>

<b>to come in the kitchen.</b>

<b>And it's been -- I've been</b>

<b>in the back ever since.</b>

<b>-That's amazing.</b>

<b>It gave me goose bumps,</b>

<b>because --</b>

<b>Talk about a family affair,</b>

<b>but it's also the extended</b>

<b>la famiglia.</b>

<b>The staff at Ralph's</b>

<b>has been there for 20, 30 years.</b>

<b>They came in as kids,</b>

<b>and they've never worked</b>

<b>anywhere else.</b>

<b>There's something really,</b>

<b>really beautiful about that.</b>

<b>And I think that says so much</b>

<b>about the Rubinos,</b>

<b>how they take care</b>

<b>of one another.</b>

<b>What's the best thing</b>

<b>about Italian culture?</b>

<b>-They're traditional.</b>

<b>That's what I love about it.</b>

<b>They don't change stuff.</b>

<b>That's what I love</b>

<b>about Ralph's,</b>

<b>and that's why I stay.</b>

<b>-The funny thing is, in this --</b>

<b>in our family, if you want</b>

<b>to alter just one little thing,</b>

<b>it's like going</b>

<b>through Congress.</b>


<b>-It could take up to three</b>

<b>or four years for it to pass.</b>

<b>-I'll wait.</b>

<b>Ryan, come over here</b>

<b>for a second.</b>

<b>Uh, we're debating something</b>

<b>as we speak.</b>

<b>-Listen, it's a bad idea.</b>

<b>Don't do it.</b>

<b>Don't d-- Whatever it is,</b>

<b>don't do it.</b>

<b>What's up, man? How are you?</b>

<b>-It's good to meet you.</b>

<b>-Good, good, good.</b>

<b>-All right.</b>

<b>-How does it feel to think about</b>

<b>your great-great-grandfather</b>

<b>started something</b>

<b>almost 120 years ago?</b>

<b>-When they came over, they</b>

<b>worked before we opened up</b>

<b>the restaurant,</b>

<b>and they saved money.</b>

<b>-Yeah, yeah.</b>

<b>-So the big step</b>

<b>was coming here.</b>

<b>And then, the even bigger step</b>

<b>was opening up</b>

<b>their own restaurant.</b>

<b>-How long was it</b>

<b>between coming here</b>

<b>and working and then</b>

<b>opening the restaurant?</b>

<b>-Seven years, right?</b>

<b>'93 to 1899?</b>

<b>-1893 to 2000.</b>

<b>Seven years.</b>

<b>-To 1900.</b>


<b>-When you think about Ralph's</b>

<b>15, 20 years from now,</b>

<b>how do you envision</b>

<b>to take into the future?</b>

<b>-It's always about,</b>

<b>how do we continue this</b>

<b>and grow it with respect</b>

<b>to where we've come from?</b>

<b>-That's great.</b>

<b>-And again, you don't want</b>

<b>to pull too far in.</b>

<b>You just want to get it enough</b>

<b>where it makes the curve there.</b>

<b>Bring these over.</b>

<b>-You got to be Michelangelo.</b>


<b>-So, it really is --</b>

<b>It's a work of art when you th--</b>

<b>It's like a puzzle.</b>

<b>A luzzle.</b>

<b>A lasagna puzzle.</b>

<b>-[ Laughs ]</b>

<b>I can't wait.</b>

<b>I want to eat.</b>