Ferrante’s Restaurant & Signature Catering in Mequon has delighted taste buds and filled stomachs for over four decades. Many of its dishes are original family recipes from Rome that have remained unchanged.
Like some Italian-American restaurants, Ferrante’s—as its name suggests—offers catering. But unlike other Italian-American restaurants, Ferrante’s offers kosher catering.
How’d that come to be?
“In 2000 a friend asked me to cater her daughter’s bat mitzvah,” said owner Amy Ferrante-Gollwitzer, who has worked at the restaurant since she was 15. “I had to make a kosher noodle kugel. I’d never made one before. [My friend] gave me the recipe.”
All was going well until a mashgiach (kosher supervisor) couldn’t find a hechsher (kosher symbol) on the egg noodles.
“I wanted to cry and leave—it was all too much stress,” said Ferrante-Gollwitzer. “But I went outside, took a deep breath and remembered I was doing this for my girlfriend.”
It later turned out there was a hechsher; it was just hard to find on the packaging.
Despite the momentary scare, Ferrante-Gollwitzer decided to embark on a kosher catering service that same year. She’s also operated Ferrante’s Cafá B Data at the Harry and Rose Samson Jewish Community Center for the last four years.
With Chanukah fast approaching, I sat down with Ferrante-Gollwitzer to kind out what she’s got cookin’.
ZM: You must be preparing a lot of latkes this time of year.
AFG: We do more sufganiot than latkes.
ZM: I think American Jews are more familiar with latkes; sufganiot are more popular in Israel. Can you talk a bit about sufganiot?
AFG: They’re little [fried] donuts, kind of like a Polish paczki. We traditionally use a raspberry filling because it seems to be the most popular flavor.
ZM: So, they’re popular?
AFG: We make, like, 5,000 of them!
ZM: Where can people get them?
AFG: You can go online and order them from the JCC or order them from the café at the JCC.
ZM: What about latkes?
AFG: We have them on the catering menu during Chanukah.
ZM: Do you have any secrets you’d like to share about making latkes?
AFG: The key is to make them fresh and eat them right out of the frying pan. That’s the best way to eat a latke.
ZM: Do you have a favorite Jewish food?
AFG: One of the things I’ve been making for a couple customers are kasha varnishkes. They’re bowtie pasta, bulgur, lots of sautéed onions and schmaltz—they are so good!
ZM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
AFG: I couldn’t do all this without my amazing staff.
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