“They’re named after my friend’s dog who ran after the sheep, and she called them the ‘Hairy Jets’ because they—” and Rossellini waves her hand to signal a quick running motion as we approach their pen gate, which she leans over while her daughter Elettra is still closing it.
“Elettra, show the eggs with pride,” Isabella says, clutching a live chicken and encouraging her daughter as we step inside the coop; Elettra awkwardly rolls the three eggs in her palm and shoots back, “I’m trying!” The fennel and heirloom peppers and the rest of the produce are under the control of Patty Gentry’s Early Girl Farm, which supplies New York City restaurants such as Diner and Marlow & Sons, but the animals—and therefore, the eggs—are all Isabella’s.
On that specific day, though, Roberto is running a bit late; he’s caught in the torrential downpour that hit the city that afternoon but somehow managed to drift just past the South Shore. When he finally makes it, he has his girlfriend by his side and a rain-spattered copy of his first Ford Models comp card in hand. “Bella, bella, bella,” Isabella repeats when Roberto hands it to her; she hugs him and looks up to meet his eyes. “Piccolo,” an Italian word for short, she says to the chickens around her ankles before squatting down to hold out her son’s comp card to show them. “His mother’s a midget.”
“Pasta’s the first thing I learned to cook,” she tells me, pulling noodles out to test their doneness. As a kid, though, she typically topped it with the tomato sauce her mother taught her to make. (Isabella, as an Italian, says she learned it through “osmosis.”) While Isabella says she also cooks every day, Elettra has made a career in food and food writing; she runs the blog Impatient Foodie, and next summer, she’ll have a published cookbook with the same name.
“In America, it’s so formal to invite people over for dinner because you have different dishes and sides,” Isabella tells me. “But in Italy, we make easy things like pasta, so when people say, ‘hey, I may bring two or so friends,’ you can tell them to bring them.”
And so, we eat.