Although J. Edgar Hoover—along with every Wise Guy from Mulberry Street to Rush Street—denied the existence of the Mafia, that’s no reason not to have a little fun with “this thing of ours,” as it’s is called by “made” men (those who have earned full membership in a Family, or organized group, which is usually based upon a specific geographic area), and host a “Godfather”-themed, mob-style dinner party.
“This Thing of Ours.” Let your guests know that they’re invited to a dinner party that’s based upon a Hollywood take on some of great films and television, and that they should feel free to both glam it up and ham it up, with cuff links, slicked hair, and their versions of—God help me—the best-of-the-worst accents on “Jersey Shore.” You will want to send a themed invitation, and I would suggest that—to get all your guests in on the act—you invite them to a “making ceremony,” in which they will be inducted “made” guys (or “Wise Guys,” in the lingo of the trade) in your “Family.”
Make an invitation that evokes images of the “Godfather” films, “Goodfellas,” or HBO’s groundbreaking “The Sopranos,” with something to the effect of, “Yooze Mooks are Corjully Invited to Attend a FAMILY Dinner at the residence of Don [Your Name, ended by a vowel, if it doesn’t already include one, or something comic-Italian, like “Baggadonuts”], on [date and other details of the event], at [address, and include relevant info on parking, etc. You should also include suggestions about how you want your guests to come dressed.]. RSVP to my consiglieri, [Your Partner]. Ciao, Bello!”
“Organized” Syndicate: In essence, we’re really talking about two separate parties: An Italian dinner party, and a chance to have some fun with your “Goodfellas” (not to mention the “Made Broads”—women—you may want to invite). So that everybody gets into the act, try to rope some of your friends (“associates”) into helping pick movies, activities, and possibly menu planning (or at least bringing the Remy or Grappa). If you do have assistance, appoint these people to be your “Underboss” and “Captains” (Italian: capos), who can help you run things. Hey, you’re the Boss: Fahgeddaboudit! Decorate your place like an old school Italian “social club,” with images of famous mob hits (easily found on mob-themed Web sites), Chianti bottles, and Italian flags as ambience-builders.
“What’s the Action?” Your “associates” and “soldiers” (Italian: soldati) need to be brought into the flavor of this “Wise Guy Commission”/Dinner Party right out of the gate, to use an old race track term. As the Boss (or Don, or Godfather, the names are interchangeable, depending on the sensibilities of the individual mob leader, and how much influence the Francis Ford Coppola had had on him—no joke: for many made guys, life-imitates-art, and they take on Hollywood’s imagined trappings of the Wise Guy life), you should wear a gaudy looking ring, and have your Underboss let associates know as they enter that they are expected to “Kiss the Ring.” Sit in a cushioned chair a la Don Corleone, and pet a cat (even a toy one will work) a la Marlon Brando in the memorable opening scene of “The Godfather” (or “One,” as real-life made men call it; see note regarding “life-imitating-art,” above).
The Underboss can also tell guests that they may call upon the Boss for a single “favor” (as the Godfather did for Nazorine the baker), which, depending upon your flight of fancy, can be a real gift of reasonable magnitude (“Enzo, my dear friend, of course you can sit on the love seat under the oil of Mamie van Doren in the living room.”) Or you can play it up for fictional camp (“You want me to have ‘Bobby Nine-and-a-Half’ whacked? Anything for you, Ray-Ray, my most valued capo.” Afterwards, when it’s time your associates to depart, you can tell Bobby, “The boys and I agree, you gotta go. It’s time for your last ride.” Of course, no one actually gets killed. You did get that part, right?). This would also be the time for grateful associates, capos, and soldiers to bestow “tribute” unto the Don (you). (“Hey, Paulie, who was s’posed to bring the Grappa? ‘Ricky the Twink?’ Fahgeddaboudit!”)
“Friends of Ours:” Before the big “Commission meeting” and dinner, your Underboss should select some appropriately fun and mob-inspired movies for your guests—er, associates—to watch while they relax, and to keep the mob theme going throughout the evening. “The Godfather” (“One” and “Two”—“Three” if you’re hardcore), “Goodfellas,” “Donnie Brasco,” and my personal fave, “The Sopranos,” will set background mood, and as a backdrop to dinner. Since many Wise Guys are “degenerate gamblers,” to use the parlance of the “life,” a fun mini-casino would be a great way to invoke the “Goodfellas”-mindset. Cards games are time consuming, but craps and blackjack are short-and-sweet, and fast-paced.
“A Day at the Races:” We used to play a fun horse-race inspired game when I was a kid. Line up two checker or chess boards length wise, so that you have eight squares running along one side and 16 squares running along the other. Take eight (8) plastic horses (you can purchase these at most arts-and-crafts stores), and align them in the eight squares along the shorter side (this is the “Starting Gate”). Favored “Wise Guys” among your guests can be given six-sided dice—one apiece—and associates can place bets of Monopoly money on each horse.
At the start of each race, have one person roll for each horse, and the number is that amount of spaces to advance for the particular horse. Roll for each “round” until one horse “reaches” the final, 16th square. Set up a Monopoly money “purse,” and give it to the winning Goodfella, along with some inexpensive gifts, like plastic water guns and gold-foil-covered, coin-shaped chocolates. For the “Winner’s Circle”—given to Wise Guy with the winningest-horse at the end of the night—gift a bottle of Chianti or champagne as an extra grand prize.
“Where’s My Taste?” Kick things off Italian-style with a classic cocktail, a Negroni (see below), dry Martinis (with just a splash of vermouth), served on ice, and lots of sweet Italian red wine, like Lambrusco. (Post-dinner, your “boys” will want to refresh themselves with a shot of chilled Limoncellos, or tasty grape-based Grappa. For appetizers, Bruschetta is a perfect combo of sweet tomatoes, crisp lettuce, and fresh garlic, and a plate of prosciutto and Italian cheeses will also kick-start appetites. For the main event, choose a casserole entrée—something like baked ziti or lasagna, made with sweet ground sausage, as well as lean ground beef in the meat sauce, or “gravy.” For dessert, its cannolis (Sicilian pastries filled with sweet cream), spumoni (Italian ice cream), or Tiramisu (a cake-based dessert made from Ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese, liquor, and coffee—is your mouth watering yet?).
Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker, and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.