The Rossini family hails from Pesaro, Italy, in the region of Marche where the family had a restaurant that had passed down through several generations.
Alessandro, born in 1915, married Cosima Gianello who was born in 1920.
Their children were Lucia, born in 1942, and Umberto, born in 1945. The Second World War proved to be disastrous for the family and in 1950 they immigrated to Toronto after being sponsored by an uncle of Alessandro’s. The family quarreled, however. While Alessandro and Cosima wanted to be good immigrants, other family members were still rooted in the past and supported Mussolini, even though they had suffered under his regime.
After working and saving, Alessandro and Cosima decided they had had enough of family squabbles and moved to Vancouver in 1960. There they joined the large Italian community in East Vancouver. He opened a small restaurant on Commercial Drive, bringing with him the recipes from home. This was where Umberto learned all about the restaurant business. Rossini’s quickly became one of the better places to dine in that part of town and their unique cuisine set them apart from other eateries. At the end of this document you will find some of their menu items.
When Umberto reached the age of 21, Alessandro and Cosima thought it was time for him to get married. So, after several letters back and forth with relatives, they shuttered the restaurant and went back to Pesaro. For a month, Umberto was shopped around like some kind of merchandise. People were eager to have their daughters delivered into the hands of a prosperous family in a country untouched by war and full of opportunities.
The Catalani family who lived in Senigallia, a short distance from Pesaro on the Adriatic Coast, had two girls, Claudia and Silvana. Claudia, who was 20, was pushed on him. But Umberto only had eyes for Silvana, who was three years younger. So after a good deal of bantering and bartering, the two were betrothed, after which the Rossinis packed up and returned to Canada, while the Catalanis got busy with wedding preparations. Six months later, in 1967, they returned for the traditional Big Italian Wedding. Umberto was now 22 and Silvana, 19. After a few weeks, it was back to Canada with the bride and groom.
Three years later they had a daughter Leonora. We learn about her in Chapter 43.
In 1972, Ray was born. Not intending to carry on with the restaurant business, he goes to university to study criminology. He is an all-Canadian kind of guy. Plays hockey and baseball. He graduates in 1994 and, after talking it over with his high-school sweetheart, Georgina, he joins the RCMP and heads to Regina for Depot Training. After he has completed his training he finds he is posted in Burnaby. He marries Georgina. They are both 23.
Georgina comes from a broken family. Raised by her father, a hard-working man, and her aunt, she goes to work at a popular bar and restaurant after high school. Ray’s family had never been happy with their relationship, but when she enroled at the Italian Cultural Centre to learn Italian, their reticence gradually wanes. She also asks Silvana to teach her how to prepare the Italian meals that Ray loves. That’s when they become very close.
When Ray is posted to Ocean Bluffs Detachment in 2003, Umberto and Silvana miss them. They decided to sell Rossini’s and move to Britannia Bay to be near them. They soon open Catalani’s, having sold the name Rossini’s to the new buyer in Vancouver. About Umberto, Silvana says, “He’s not going to retire. Only God will retire him!”
Fearing that he may be transferred elsewhere, Ray leaves the RCMP and joins the Britannia Bay Police Department. He has already become a Sergeant. Georgina goes to work in the restaurant becoming invaluable to Silvana.
Along the way, Ray and Georgina have two children, Marcus Alessandro, born in 1998 and Gabriella Leonora, born in 2000.
Catalan scampi, boiled salmon with peppers, shrimps in pink sauce
Seafood salad, marinated anchovies and swordfish with balsamic sauce
Marinara polenta (cornmeal boiled into a porridge), soup of mussels and clams
Fried white fish with balsamic Catalan sauce
White tagliatelline with seafood
Marinara dry passatelli (pasta formed of bread crumbs, eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, lemon, and nutmeg) with pomodoro di Pachino (tomatoes from the southeast coast of Sicily)
Fish grilled with skewers – scampi, monkfish and sole
Bruschetta – Grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper
Ciauscolo: smoky pork sausage flavoured with fennel, garlic and vino cotto, a non-alcoholic ‘cooked wine’ made from grape must with a unique sweet-and-sour flavour. Served spread on toast.
Rupoli prosciutto, farmer’s salami,
Olives all’ascolana. Green olives pitted and stuffed with a filling of meat and cheese, dipped in beaten egg and breadcrumbs, and deep-fried to a golden brown in sunflower oil.
Bresaola carpaccio (air-dried, salted beef),
Crouton with black truffle cream
Sliced beef with endive, parmesan and grilled vegetables
Skewers of mixed meat and lamb served with potatoes roasted with fennel and garlic
Brodettoall’anconetana. Fish stew oil, garlic and saffron served on toast
Dry passatelli (pasta formed of bread crumbs, eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, lemon, and nutmeg) with mixed mushrooms and porcini
Orciano-stylet acconi. Rippled pasta with broad beans
Lana’s Legendary Lemon Pie
Coffee and digestif
Bianchello del Metauro
Bianchello Metauro (Fiorini)
Sparkling Pinot (La Delizia)