The legend that pasta was inspired by Chinese noodles, brought to Europe by Marco Polo in the 13th century, has been widely mentioned. To many, though, like Angelo "Rocky" Zarlenga, the Chinese origins of Italian pasta are a myth.

"It's baloney! And if you don't believe me," he said jokingly, "Just ask Tony Soprano if it's true that the Chinese invented spaghetti."

Rocky was a character and very close family friend who immigrated from Sicily. I credit him for teaching me "the proper way" to make giardiniera, an Italian relish of pickled vegetables.

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I know Rocky would have loved the Italian Corner, one of the very best Italian delicatessens I've ever lucked into, in East Providence, Rhode Island. The display cases are filled with the finest Italian meats that you'd have to go to Italy to find, extraordinary cheese selections and ready-to-go homemade pasta meals, imported olives, roasted red peppers, marinated mushrooms and house specialty salads, and the shelves are stocked with Italian olive oils and imported cookies.

When Guy Fieri of the hit food show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives stopped in, he was blown away by the legendary sandwiches, pasta and sauces. He said Italian Corner was one of the few outstanding Italian delis in America.

Massimo Dellolio, chef and manager, has a pasta room where his imported equipment makes some of the most delicious pasta this side of Milano.

The combination of their calamari steak sandwich is amazing, and their roast beef is rare and delicious.

Finding this gem satisfies half of my quest. If I can only find a Jewish deli as qualitative, I'll be in culinary heaven.

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