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Author Sarah Arcuri Writes about the Italian Food Influences in Her Debut Novel, The Owner & the Wife

Learn how Italian life inspired storytelling and a massive online following for Sarah Arcuri, who also shares her recipe for Mozzarella in Carrozza.

Coming from a traditional Italian family who gathered for pasta dinners every Sunday, I developed a love for reading and writing at a young age, and I knew that when the time came to write my own stories, the influence of my culture would be at the forefront. Such is the case in my debut novel, The Owner & the Wife, an operatic, nostalgic Italian American love story for the ages. Set in 1980s New York City, the novel mirrors my real life as both restaurant owner and wife, but these parallels between fact and fiction weren’t by design.

I’ve always considered myself lucky to be Italian American, and when I moved to Baltimore’s Little Italy in 2016, it felt like coming home despite not being a native of the neighborhood. Surrounded by fellow Italians and Italian Americans, a church on the corner where time was told by the bells ringing ancient hymns, and a slew of restaurants and bakeries, inspiration was all around me, all the time. Working nearly every position at my cousin’s famous bakery, Vaccaro's, I eventually shifted gears and made the move to fine dining, working just a few blocks away at the now defunct Aldo’s Ristorante.

Immersing myself in the restaurant industry, I diligently learned every aspect of the business over the course of a year. After long days of hosting and waitressing, I would return home and dedicate hours to crafting my characters — that is, until a serendipitous encounter brought someone strikingly similar to a character from my story into my life. As I was writing the tale of a woman falling in love with an Italian restaurateur, my own love story was unfolding in real time when I met my now husband who is, coincidentally, an Italian restaurateur. However, the only aspect of the book that is rooted in my own reality are some mishaps I had while working as a waitress.

Otherwise, this fictional story is a deeply human tale of three people whose lives are forever changed by their chance encounter. The novel explores the impact of relationships, from brotherhood to friendship to romantic relationships, self-discovery, and the transcendent power of true love. From the vibrant streets of New York’s Little Italy to the glittering casinos of Atlantic City to the crystal blue shores of Montauk, The Owner & The Wife has all the ingredients for the perfect summer read.

If you follow me on social media, you probably know me as The Sweet Paisana. I started the platform as a blog in 2016 (this was before the age of TikTok!). There, I shared my love of Italian food, family recipes and traditions, and other lifestyle content, and in late 2021, I made the shift to short form video content. I have now grown my platform to over six figures, and I have been cooking my way through the delicious recipes featured in The Owner & The Wife. Below, I am sharing one of my favorite recipes from the book: Mozzarella in Carrozza. This casual, fried dish hails from Naples, and it just so happens to be one of the most important dishes in the novel, though you’ll have to read the book to find out why… 

The Owner & The Wife will be available on May 16, 2023, and it is available for pre-order now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Please visit my site for more information. Connect with me on social media at @thesweetpaisana

Mozzarella in Carrozza

Mozzarella in Carrozza

Recipe by Sarah Arcuri
0.0 from 0 votes
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 slices 8 white bread

  • 1 pound 1 sliced mozzarella, 1/4 inch each (low-moisture; not fresh)

  • 3 3 eggs, whipped

  • 2/3 cup 2/3 breadcrumbs

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 Pecorino Romano cheese

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 Italian parsley, fine-chopped

  • Olive oil or vegetable oil for frying

Directions

  • In a bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano, and Italian parsley.
  • Place the sliced mozzarella on a slice of bread, and top it with another slice of bread to create a sandwich.
  • Submerge the sandwich in egg, coating all sides.
  • Bread the sandwich in the breadcrumb/cheese/parsley mixture (be sure to coat the sides!).
  • To double coat (optional), dip the sandwich once again in the egg, then in the breadcrumb mixture again (coating all sides).
  • In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil or vegetable oil over medium heat.
  • Once the oil is heated, place your sandwiches in the oil to fry.
  • Flip, once the crust turns golden brown.
  • Serve with marinara sauce and enjoy!

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