SottoCasa Harlem: Real Authentic Italian Wood Fired Pizza Comes to the Heart of Harlem


(Matteo and Elena Prospiti)

After four years of opening two Brooklyn locations on Atlantic Ave and Boerum Hill, Sottocasa Pizza now brings authentic real Italian thin crust wood fire baked pizza to the center of Harlem.


I met with Matteo Prospiti and his wife Elena who are managing partners at the newly opened Sottocasa Pizzeria restaurant located at 227 Lenox Ave right in the middle of West 121st Street and was received as if I was family, in fact the restaurant has the look and feel of a Italian villa which makes one feel right at home, and I swear while sitting at the bar drinking sparkling water on a hot summer mid afternoon talking with Matteo my mind drifted for a minute and I actually felt that I was in Italy hanging out with a friend just shooting the breeze. Such was the easy going and friendly manner of Matteo and his lovely wife. Now Sotto Casa translated from the Italian means “Under the Home”, but in Italian it is understood as (near the home) or (in the neighborhood).


Matteo and Elena made all the furnishing for the restaurant themselves, Elena made the wall decorations herself by hand, they made the tables with recycled wood, including the bar!


I had become very fond of the back room dining space with the fantastic skylight roof, which was at one time a garden space but an extra room was build over it sometime in past by former owners.

This Husband and wife team made this restaurant look more like a home than a business, which gives this pizzeria an extreme charm that is hard to find anywhere else in Harlem. They did extensive research on the location in which they opened the restaurant and discovered that it was in the past a soul food chicken place, and a synagogue. When Matteo and his wife first came to Harlem they fell in love with it right away and had the same feeling that many of us harlemites have, that it’s more like a small town that distinguishes itself from the rest of New York.

All the ingredients and recipes for their pizza and food are authentic Italian and fresh, and for an extra four dollars Sottocasa offers Gluten Free Pizza! They take extra care to avoid cross contamination for the safety of their customers.

In addition to real Italian pizza, SottoCasa offers imported Italian beers on tap and bottled, as well as imported Italian wines, red and white. SotoCasa will very soon be offering wine and beer tastings so that Harlemites can fully experience the flavor of Italy.


I left SottoCasa with a smile on my face, as I felt that I just left from a visit with an aunt and uncle in Italy, which is how they make all their customers feel, like family. Ciao SottoCasa!


   (One of Elena’s Handmade wall decoration at SottoCasa)

The Ubiquitous Boutonniere: Or the Mysterious Origins of the Flower Label Pin

The label pin flower is well known by many, but most young men had not been introduced to this men’s fashion accessory until attending a funeral, prom or wedding for over half a century, However the flower lapel pin or Boutonniere from the French (button hole) has been a part of the gentleman’s dress for a far longer period of time.


The origins of Boutonniere is shrouded in mystery, but one legend has it that when Prince Albert and Queen Victoria married, photographs was still in its infancy, so their wedding photographs was taken one year later and Queen Victoria presented her husband with flowers as a token and symbol of her love for him. The ever gentlemanly Prince Albert cut a hole in the lapel of his dress coat and inserted the flower in the “button hole.” The distinctive look and style was quite impressive and of course all the gentlemen began to follow suit.

For many years the Boutonniere was common place with men even wearing it in the office at work, but sometime after World War II the practice began to wane as a common fashion statement for men but was keep alive by movie stars and celebrities, and this classic style became reserved for weddings and other special occasions.

Now there has been a resurgence of this classy and stylish look that has taken on a more profound look as well as being made from all types of fabrics and materials and, over time morphed into label pins with various insignias and designs to show club or political party affiliations to national pride or as an award of corporate prestige to just plain novelty.

What’s on your lapel???