The children of Simone and Caterina DePasquale learned a few things from their parents about Italian traditions, hard work, and food preparation, and now they bring those lessons to Market Street in downtown Wheeling at Depasquale’s Trattoria.
The eatery, open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., specializes in authentic Italian sandwiches, salads and soups, and catering service is also an option. Fred DePasquale serves as the general manager with the goal of continuing his family’s tradition of providing the tastes of Italy. The menu also includes a few American classics like the grilled chicken, roasted beef, tuna, and ham and turkey subs and salads, but it is the “DeSimone” that sits as the establishment’s signature sandwich – and for good reason.
“When my parents came to America, all they knew was how to be Italians,” explained Vita DePasquale, the daughter of Simone and Caterina Depasquale. “They came to America because this was the land of opportunity, so they worked very hard so they could raise us and offer us a good life. And to be honest, I have no idea how we learned how to speak English because Mom and Dad always spoke Italian in our house.”
The Depasquales immigrated separately to the United States in the 1930s, and they met by chance in Martins Ferry while they were visiting relatives. Simone was working in a Kentucky coal mine at the time, and Caterina was a bathing suit seamstress in New York City.
“They met, and then they started writing letters to each other,” Vita recalled. “And in three month’s time they decided to get married on Feb. 18, 1939. They chose to live here in the Valley because my father got a good-paying at Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel.”
But that’s not all Simone and Caterina did for their children. While Mother was cooking and baking and nurturing the children, Simone did concrete work and bartending on the side until making the decision to open the S. DePasquale Italian Grocery Store in Martins Ferry.
“There wasn’t a place in this area where you could buy Italian foods until my dad opened that store,” Vita said. “He sold all of the Italian meats he would find at Pittsburgh’s Strip District, and he also grew a lot of the vegetables himself — everything from tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers, and he also walked the woods to find the best mushrooms.
“My dad would also make homemade Italian sausage at Easter and Christmas, and he also started making wine,” she continued. “And my mother? Every Sunday the family came to the house for a big dinner with chicken soup and spaghetti and meatballs. Every Sunday. It was one of those traditions, and it was delicious every single time.”
The DePasquales now share those traditions and recipes with their patrons of the Upper Ohio Valley.
“My mother was always cooking and baking, and her cookies and fresh bread were something we always looked forward to,” Vita said. “And my father worked a lot, but when he wasn’t working, he was in the kitchen with her making us our favorite meals.
“My father was very strict with us because he didn’t want us to bring shame on our family, and since our childhoods that’s been very important to all of us,” she said. “And he always wanted us to sit down sometimes and read a book so we could make something of ourselves when we became adults. And that’s exactly why we are here today.”
Additional information and daily specials at DePasquale’s can be discovered by visiting their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DePasqualesTrattoria?fref=ts, or by visiting the eatery’s web site: http://www.despasqualestrattoria.com/.