Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Is the original Vince's Spaghetti not the original Vince's Spaghetti?

In the process of writing my Monday post about the @OntarioCA Twitter account, I performed a Google search for "vince's spaghetti." When I did, the first search result was Vince's Spaghetti...in Torrance, California.

The first part of the Vince's Torrance story sounds familiar to a lot of us:

It has been over 55 years since Vincent Cuccia and his two brothers first opened Vince's Restaurant in Ontario, California.

Built on Holt Boulevard near the corner of Mountain Avenue, the original Vince's was a six-stool, open-air roadside stand which put to good use the acres and acres of orange groves that comprised Ontario in the middle 1940's. Along with orange juice, Vince's originally served a French Dip Sandwich, based on an Au Jus recipe created by Vince's mother, to the many movie stars as they traveled along the highway to Palm Springs, and to the members of the Armed Forces stationed at Edwards Air Force Base.

But ever the visionary, and frustrated by an inability to find spaghetti and meat sauce comparable to that in his native Chicago, Vince convinced his mother to help him develop the meat sauce recipe that is still used today. After almost two years of trial and error and taste tests, to which the family would add their opinions: "add some more of this," or "it's got a little too much of that"—Vince and his mother created exactly what they—and apparently a lot of other people—were looking for.

At the same time, the menu was not the only thing marked for expansion. As word of Vince's fabulous spaghetti sauce spread, people would line up to get take-out of the same generous portions that are still served today. Before long, the original idea of orange juice and fresh fruit was absorbed by the almost 600 plates of spaghetti served daily—a total of almost 11 tons of spaghetti served per week.

But fast forward a few decades after 1945, and the story...um...forks:

After 25 years of working with the family, Vince and his brothers agreed to go their separate ways; Vince sold his interest in the Ontario location and moved with his wife Louise, daughter Rosemary (affectionately known as DeeDee), and her husband Bill, to the South Bay.

Hawthorne Boulevard looked attractive to Vince, so he settled on the corner at 23609, and in April, 1973, Vince's Spaghetti Restaurant of Torrance was opened.

So if Vince himself (who has since passed away) moved to Torrance, then is the Torrance location the original Vince's?

Interestingly enough, the Ontario version of this story seems to be lacking one particular word. See if you can spot it.

The Cuccias arrived from Chicago as WWII was ending.

Once in California, the Cuccia's opened a family sandwich stand in late Summer 1945. Frank Cuccia's father John was still in Europe in the Army when Cuccia's uncles and aunt opened the stand. Two months later Cuccia says, one of those uncles happened to be eating a plate of his mother's spaghetti when a customer spied it and asked if the plate of pasta and meatballs was on the menu. It wasn't, but anything for a good customer and a plate of spaghetti was brought in from the family's home. The rest is history.

Yes - if you scan the entire history, you will never see any of Frank's uncles mentioned by name. And, needless to say, the Ontario website says nothing about the Torrance location.

I don't know if this apparent schism is accidental, if there's a simmering feud, or if the two branches of the family are lobbing meatballs at each other.

Have any of my readers been out to Torrance? Can you offer a comparison?

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