My Family Recipe Rocks Episodes

Pallotta Sisters' Family Favorite Recipes

Joey Fatone cooks some homemade Italian dishes with two sisters who own a restaurant in Boston. About ten years ago, the former hairdressers opened Nebo where they serve their family's favorite recipes.
They say it's never too late to try something new, and the Pallotta sisters are testament to that. Ten years ago these hairdressers swapped their scissors for chefs' knives. Now they have turned their favorite family recipes into a family business.

"Everything about these recipes is memories," says Carla Pallotta.

Carla and Christine Pallotta grew up in Boston's North End, a predominantly Italian neighborhood. Despite spending lots of time in the kitchen as kids, they didn't really start cooking until they decided to open up a restaurant, Nebo Cucina and Enoteca.

Nebo is where Joey met up with the sisters to learn some of their favorite family recipes.

Christine explains how they went from hairdressers to restaurateurs.

"We had a hair salon for 23 years until I got bored one day and said to my sister, 'I'm opening a restaurant the way Ma would cook every night," said Christine.

"I thought she lost her mind," says Carla.

"We never cooked before. We never worked in a restaurant," says Christine.

Three weeks before the sisters opened Nebo, their mother came in and taught them her recipes. Their mom never wrote recipes down, she cooks from memory, taste and touch, so the sisters had to do some reverse engineering to get the recipes.

Today, Carla and Christine are showing Joey how to make four different dishes: stuffed artichokes, stuffed peppers, minestra and beans and a spumoni sundae.

First, they make the stuffed artichokes. Once they mix together the breadcrumbs, eggs, Romano cheese, salt, pepper, parsley, capers, garlic and olives, they separate the leaves of the artichoke and shove in the stuffing.

"We don't bake them. We get a pot and put a little bit of water in the bottom, some garlic and some olive oil. And then just sit them in so they fit in the pot really tight. Cover them and let them steam. When the leaves can pull out easy they're done," says Carla.

Next, the sisters prepare a similar dish -- stuffed peppers. This time they use olive oil instead of eggs in the stuffing.

The bread used for the stuffing is baked right at the restaurant. The recipe is over a hundred years old and the bread is made from a starter that came over from Italy.

While the artichokes are steamed on the stove top, the peppers are placed in a well oiled pan and baked at 350 for about 45 minutes.

Once the peppers and artichokes are done, it's time for a taste test!

"Look at all the breaded goodness in there," he says. "You taste everything in there! This is really fricking good."

And for the artichokes, Carla explains that you can scoop out the stuffing then peel off a leaf with your fingers.

"For the artichokes, you use your teeth and scrape it to get the meat off the bottom," says Joey.

To get to the heart of the artichoke, cut off the bottom and then scrape out the spines.

"The heart has a lot of flavor," says Christine.

Next is Carla's favorite dish -- minestra and beans.

"Why is it your favorite?" asks Joey. "I think the simplicity of it. I mean to literally just put something in a pot and let it braise and the different flavors going in," says Carla.

This simple recipe combines prosciutto ends, pepperoni, cannellini beans, spare ribs and escarole. The ingredients are simmer for about two hours.

"We like to put our minestra and beans over a fried pizza. It's just corn meal, add some salt some pepper and a little drop of oil," says Christine.

The homemade polenta pizza is cooked in a well-oiled cast iron pan.

"It's a very, very rustic dish," says Christine.

"This is truly incredible. The flavors are ridiculous and I know I'm going to save room because we have a spumoni sundae we're going to make now. So let's get back in the kitchen!" says Joey.

The Spumoni sundae is the sisters' twist on a traditional Italian dessert. They start by coating the bottom of the ice cream dish with an espresso chocolate Nutella hot fudge, then a couple scoops of vanilla gelato followed by a couple scoops of pistachio gelato. That is topped with amaretto cherries, whipped cream and pistachios.

"Alright, let's all dig into this bad boy," says Joey.

After a taste he declares, "That's frickin' dangerous!"

"I'm not lying I gained eight pounds when we first did this recipe," says Carla. "I was doing two or three a day."

For more on the Pallotta sisters and their restaurant, visit
Segment 1
Stuffed Artichokes
Stuffed Artichokes
These stuffed artichokes are exactly like the ones the Pallotta sisters' mother and grandmother made.
See Recipe
Segment 2
Stuffed Ditielli Peppers
Stuffed Ditielli Peppers
A simple, flavorful dish handed down to Carla and Christine Pallotta from their mother.
See Recipe
Segment 3
Minestra and Beans over Fried Polenta
Minestra and Beans over Fried Polenta
This hearty, rustic Italian stew with a great combination of flavors is Carla Pallotta's favorite dish.
See Recipe
Segment 4
Spumoni Sundae
Spumoni Sundae
A twist on two dessert favorites - spumoni and the sundae!
See Recipe

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