Grrr! Talkin' Like a 'Soprano'

Now that "Paulie Walnuts" and "Sylvio Dante" have re-signed with the Godfather over at the HBO family, "Sopranos" fans can breathe easier.

The cast is just about all buttoned up for the final eight episodes of the mob show.

If you're like me and wondering why they're even bothering after last season's soap opera that was more a story about a psychotic gay murderer than about old-fashioned crime and punishment: Apparently there are still plenty of fans out there.

July Fourth weekend on the Jersey Shore is a testament to that fact.

Near the beach there's an Italian deli that takes its food very seriously. The cold cuts are the best money can buy, the refrigerator is filled with homemade pastas and other Italian specialties and they take pride in their freshly filled cannoli.

The owners are transplanted Italian-American New Yawkers who are probably the nicest store owners you'll ever meet, who take time to prepare your order just the way you like it, only better, and the men and women behind the counter call everyone "doll," "honey" and "sweetie."

Nothing Grrring there, except when the various clientele decide they want play to a role, and the fake Italians, or "The Sopranos," as I like to call them, come out.

These people may very well be Italian-Americans (or at least look Italian), but they're mostly third and fourth generation nowadays. And they think when pronouncing any food of Italian origin, they need to drop the final vowel, and that somehow ingratiates them to the owners of the Italian specialty deli.

You ever notice these folks?

Mozzarella cheese becomes Mozzarell, but it's pronounced "Moots-a-Rell," and all of a sudden they're speaking so loudly in a newly formed baritone they may as well call it "Moots-a-Yell."

Prosciutto di Parma becomes "prashoot-dee-parm," and "at $24.99 a pound, it better be da-best prashoot you ever seen."

Manicotti is "Mani-Got" — not sure where the G comes from there. Escarole loses its front E so it's "scarrrrole" — make sure to roll the Rs. And gnocchi is "neeyawk," naturally.

Antipasto? You got it, "antiPast" — don't forget to pop the P.

I even heard one customer order an Italian combo hoagie but "no toe-mott." I assumed, as did the counter help, the woman meant no tomatoes, but when did tomatoes become Italian?

And don't even think about ordering a tray of meatballs without qualifying them. "I'll take a tray-a-meatballs ... niccccccce" — as if without the nice the owners would serve a "tray of meatballs ... grosssssss."

What amazes me more about these "Sopranos" is that once they leave the confines of the Italian specialty deli, they become Americans again.

They lose the swagger and the accent and they're also inconsistent with the dropping of the last vowel.

Why isn't pepperoni pizza pronounced "pepperone peets?" I don't get it.

Do you think they went to the movies to see Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prad," instead of "The Devil Wears Prada" or "The Da Vince Code?"

Do you think their dream car is a Maser-at? Of course not, it's most definitely a Maserati, and the speed bike Ducati is not a "Doo-Cot."

Is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia "Anton ScaLee?" How about Ol' Blue Eyes? I've never heard any Italian call him "Frank SiNot!"

"Robert De Neer," "Al Pacheen," "Andrea Bochell," "Luciano PavaRott," "Camille Pag," "Isabella Rosselleen," "Michaelange," "Leonard Da Vince."

We can go on and on like this.

While many Italian-Americans have picked up this way of speaking from their parents and grandparents, I suspect many of them just watch way too much television.

Oh well, I guess I'll just order my manicotti with a side of meatballs without the extra flair, and hope when I get home, it'll be just as nice as the dish served to the guy who ordered "Mani-Got with a side-a Meat-a-balls ... niccccccce." Grrr!

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