View Full Version : Where Have You Gone, Joe Dimaggio?

01-21-09, 08:05 AM


January 21, 2009 --

WHAT'S in a name?

If it happens to be Joe DiMaggio Jr. - everything.

A distant cousin of the Yankee legend, this DiMaggio, 49, recently took over the kitchen of Zanaro's restaurant in White Plains (1 Mamaroneck Ave.; 914-397-9400), where his comforting Italian fare - think pasta fagioli and rigatoni with Sunday sauce - is served in an impressive room with 40-foot ceilings.

We caught up with DiMaggio to talk baseball, meatballs and what it's like living in the shadow of the Yankee Clipper.

What was it like growing up with your name? It didn't really hit me until I was in my early 20s. I got pulled over by a cop. He looked at my driver's license and [said], "Is your father Joe DiMaggio?" I'm like, "Yeah, you know my father?"

So the cop let you go? Oh yeah. To this day I still get let go. And the upgrades on airplanes are great.

Was the name ever a curse? When I was in the Marines, one of the drill instructors asked me my name. I said, "Sir, the private's name is DiMaggio," and he says, "I suppose your first name is Joe." I go, "Yes, sir" - and he smashed me in the stomach!

Because he thought you were being fresh? To put me in my place.

Did DiMaggio get to sample your cooking when he was alive? Twice in the '80s at a restaurant called Maggio's in Boca Raton named after Frank Sinatra's character in "From Here to Eternity." It was a family-style Italian restaurant, so everything was served on big platters and people would eat like they're going to jail. I guess because they never knew when they were going to jail! I remember cooking the Sunday sauce. I don't remember him really saying anything about it. I did play golf with him once in 1983. I never played golf in my life, and on the seventh hole he told me to take a hike. He said, "Get off the course!" It took six years for him to play golf with me again.

Did you do better the second time? I did. I made it my life's mission to learn how to play because it was embarrassing getting kicked off the course!

Do you have any other memories of him? I was at an autograph signing with him and this man put a picture of Marilyn Monroe on the table for him to sign. He [DiMaggio] pounded his hands on the table and left.

Do you get a lot of baseball fans in your restaurant? Every day. You argue with the guys who come in with Met hats.

How would you improve the concession fare in the new stadium? You got to have your hot dogs, but I think grandma's meatballs would go over crazy.

Did you play baseball growing up? Oh yeah.

I bet all the kids wanted you on their team. No, they didn't. I stunk.