Crescenza (we all know her as “Jan”) is from a family of eight, born in a small town called Conversano outside of Bari, Italy in 1945. Jan met her husband Tony when she was 15 and they were married when she was 20.
While life was good in the “old” country, Tony and Jan had four daughters, and were concerned at the prospect of marrying them all off. (In some regions of Italy, parents of daughters must not only pay for the wedding – they traditionally buy the bride and groom their bedroom furniture and pay for many of the new couple’s expenses.) So when Jan’s brother, who was already in Portland, suggested they come and live here, Jan and Tony decided to give it a try. This was no easy decision – they had no money, spoke not a word of English, and their youngest daughter was only one year old. But they did it in 1977 – borrowed money from their family and arrived in America with nothing but a few bags and their four children.
It was a struggle at first, and it took them four months to get a job where English wasn’t a necessity. Jan’s brother helped them find a job at an upholstery house where she and Tony worked together for the next twenty years. Now Jan and Tony have their own upholstery business (T.J. Upholstery) and are responsible for Mother’s lovely cushions and pillows.
Everybody loves to eat at Jan and Tony’s. They make their own ricotta and other cheeses and relatives come from far and wide when it’s cheese-making weekend. Family and friends gather around the kitchen table almost nightly, and everyone swears nobody cooks like Jan — you be the judge!
Grilled Fresh Mozzarella Sandwich
on grilled country bread with a basil pesto, tomatoes & field greens
fresh, homemade mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes, basil & olive oil
Ragu & Rigatoni
slow-cooked pork and “Painted Hills” beef in a tomato sauce, served on rigatoni, topped with parmesan cheese
a vegetarian dish even meat eaters would love – eggplant stuffed with a bread & eggplant filling, garlic, parsley and cheese, served with orecchiette pasta & marinara sauce
Braised Chicken with Red Wine & Porcini Mushrooms
this isn’t really one of Jan’s dishes, but it’s so good we had to include it. chicken braised with porcini mushrooms, red wine & sage, served with smashed red potatoes & sautéed vegetables.
little doughnuts, some filled with a gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut) and others with a vanilla pastry cream, served sprinkled with sugar