Sunday, March 24, 2024

Margaret Fontana Assumes Role of Executive Director for New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission

 I'm incredibly proud to announce I've accepted the role of Executive Director for the New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission. I'm looking forward to this exciting chapter with an outstanding organization. Please read the full press release below. 

Trenton – March 18, 2024 - The New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission proudly announces the appointment of Margaret Fontana as its new Executive Director. With an extensive career spanning diverse sectors in media, nonprofit, healthcare, education and entertainment, Fontana brings a wealth of experience and a passion for cultural preservation to her new role.

A seasoned media executive with extensive expertise in various industries, Margaret Fontana has garnered a sterling reputation for her significant achievements. Her background includes notable roles as a writer and producer for esteemed networks such as NBC, Fox, and Discovery Channel, along with a decade-long tenure in corporate Fortune 500, nonprofit organizations, where she spearheaded award-winning media, leadership, and interactive marketing strategies.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Fontana founded the popular online community and blog, Italian American Girl, which boasts over 45,000 members and serves as a vibrant networking hub for Italian Americans worldwide.

Margaret Fontana's commitment to education and cultural enrichment is evidenced by her active involvement as a guest speaker at her alma mater Rider University. Fontana recently completed her Mini-MBA in Marketing & Communications from Rutgers University.

The New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission, established in 2002, is dedicated to promoting and preserving the rich culture, history, and heritage of Italians and Americans of Italian descent. As the newly appointed Executive Director, Margaret Fontana will support the Commission in its mission to coordinate cultural and educational programs that celebrate the contributions of Italian heritage to the fabric of New Jersey's diverse society. Fontana aims to expand its reach and impact through innovative initiatives and strategic partnerships.

"As an Italian American, it is an honor to join The New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission and contribute to the preservation of our rich cultural legacy," said Margaret Fontana. "I am excited to collaborate with stakeholders across the state to promote awareness and appreciation of Italian heritage among students, educators, and the broader community." 

Kicking off the Commission’s first major event since Covid, Fontana will lead the NJ Italian Heritage Commission in its Annual Conference on April 20th at Rutgers University, where “Increasing Awareness of Italian Heritage Through Film,’ will be the featured theme. A panel discussion led by notable educators and Italian American voices, will highlight the discussion on the ‘Integration of an Italian’s Dream Leads to the Origin of the Hispanic People and Beyond.’ Included in the presentations will be: 

·       What Is Happening with Our Statues?

·       The Roman Legacy in the Creation of America

·       Video: Gianni Bernego Gardin's Tale of Two Cities about Venice

·       St. Frances Xavier Cabrini - Immigration

To register for this event email  

Please add RSVP in the subject line.

Sign in and Refreshments from 8:30am to 9:00am

Lunch & Musical Interlude Dame Dr. Mary Rorro

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Check out my interview with the Italian Roots and Genealogy Podcast: A Nostalgic Look into Italian Heritage and the American Dream

 It was an honor to speak to Bob Sorrentino of the Italian Roots and Genealogy podcast show. We had a great conversation all about being Italian American and how each generation of Italian Americans have their own unique stories to tell.  Grazie Bob! 

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Top chefs from New York City & New Jersey will gather on May 20, 2024 for a spectacular tasting event to benefit The Ashley Lauren Foundation, providing hope & help for children with cancer throughout the State of New Jersey.

 Top chefs from New York City & New Jersey will gather on May 20, 2024 for a spectacular tasting event to benefit The Ashley Lauren Foundation, providing hope & help for children with cancer throughout the State of New Jersey.

BRIELLE, NJ – Join us on May 20, 2024 for the Second Annual Ashley Lauren Foundation’s Chefs Who Care premiere tasting event. Celebrate top chefs from Manhattan and New Jersey at the illustrious Essex and Sussex in Spring Lake while enjoying premium wine and spirits, live entertainment, special guests, an extraordinary auction, and some swag. This premiere gathering of renowned chefs aims to raise funds and awareness for The Ashley Lauren Foundation, which provides much needed hope, help and support for children with cancer and their families throughout the State of New Jersey.

This year’s Chef lineup begins with Michelin Star Joseph Sergentakis (Boschetto, Allendale Social), Angelo Competiello (Alta Irpinia), Fabrizio Facchini (Facchini Food Services), Cesare Casella (Casella’s), Joe Tartamella (Felina Ridgewood), Roberto Caporuscio (Keste’ Pizza e Vino), Jesse Jones (Chef Jesse Concepts), Bryan Giron (Perquin by Santelli’s Hospitality), Stephan Yen (Liberty National Golf Club), Chef Joe Settepani (Bruno’s Bakery), Joe Murphy (Bakehouse by Joe Murphy), German Rizzo (Plado Tasting Bar), Hong Thaimee, Jessica Bucceri (JB Couture Cupcakes) with many more to come.  Sponsors include Italian Food Guys Inc., San Pellegrino, Urbani Truffles, Calvisius Caviar, Wines with Causes, D’Artagnan Gourmet Meats, Artisanal Cheese, DeCecco Pasta, Partanna Olive Oil, 21st Amendment Imports (Swift Sure Sauvignon Blanc) and Serena Prosecco, Casa Komos Brand Group (SUPERBIRD Tequila and SUPERBIRD RTDs, Doladira) and 1881 Creativity (Prosecco DOC Brut Organic.) We will also be featuring entertainment by The Event Specialists - Paul Anthony Entertainment. Also making an appearance during VIP hour will be renowned piano sensation NGXB.

              John Dalton                      

“We are so honored to announce our Humanitarian Award Recipient for the event – entrepreneur and philanthropist, John Dalton,” stated Monica Vermeulen, Founder/CEO of The Ashley Lauren Foundation. John Dalton is the CEO of Monmouth County based company, IT Initiatives, an award-winning technology solutions design and delivery partner for senior living, hospitals and healthcare, education, and government sectors. John has served on various charitable boards and committees throughout his career while striving to support those in need philanthropically and through his work at IT Initiatives.

The Ashley Lauren Foundation, the beneficiary of this remarkable event, has been providing vital assistance to children with cancer and their families in New Jersey for almost two decades. “I founded this organization in 2005 based on my own experience when my daughter, Ashley Lauren, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of three,” shared Vermeulen. Through various programs and initiatives, the Foundation offers financial, emotional, and material support, ensuring that families have the resources they need to navigate the challenges of pediatric cancer. “We help with Direct Financial Assistance (all household bills, traveling expenses to and from hospitals, funeral expenses and much more); Material Assistance (food, clothing, household items); Emotional Support (for the entire family); 2 Major Parties for the Children and their families (Spring Party at the Boardwalk and Christmas Party); Advocacy; “Making Dreams Come True” Program; Birthday Brigade (each child is celebrated on their Birthday); Outings and anything else that is needed to make their lives easier and bring smiles to their faces. This event will strengthen our ability to bring much-needed resources and assistance to children and their families who are facing the horrific disease of pediatric cancer,” continued Vermeulen.

Co-chairs of Chefs Who Care are Eric Vitale (Eric Vitale Photography) and Gennaro Pecchia of The Ashley Lauren Foundation. Tickets are $195 per person (6:00 pm – 10:00 pm) and $250 for VIP package (5:00 pm – 10:00 pm) and may be purchased by going to Proceeds will go directly towards supporting the programs and services provided by The Ashley Lauren Foundation. For more information about the Chefs Who Care event, including sponsorship opportunities and media inquiries, please contact: Monica Vermeulen, Founder/CEO, 732-414-1625.

About The Ashley Lauren Foundation:

The Ashley Lauren Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing hope and help to children in New Jersey who are affected by cancer. The foundation offers direct financial assistance, emotional support, and various programs to improve the quality of life for children and their families as they undergo treatment. For more information, please visit

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Happy Anniversary 15 years of Italian American Girl!

Another year its now 15 years from when I started the Italian American Girl web site.   Facebook was just starting, Twitter just launched and no Instagram then, my site took off so quickly just because of our tight knit Italian American community.  The support I received from my fellow Italian American friends from all over the country and in different parts of the world was amazing.  Till this day, we still have the same connections, its pretty amazing.  Being Italian American is definitely a very unique experience, I had the best of both worlds, growing up Italian American in the USA.   I think in today's climate of heavy immigration discussions, we are experiencing a new wave of immigrants who may or may not come into the country through the proper channels, but its also a severe economic and dangerous climate in the world.  When my father came over from Italy he was the oldest of his family expected to support the family after his father died in World War II, my father's uncle worked to get him to the USA to help him, everyone in Italy was poor, he knew if my father stayed there he would not make it to support an entire family.   My father is in the USA now close to 60 years, came over on a ship the whole nine...  true immigrant experience, yes my father is now almost 90 years old.   

Living in the USA and living the American dream is a challenge, the economic climate for most people is difficult, and if you don't speak the language even harder and you are treated badly, in my opinion.   America is about a dream, its about working hard.  If my father didn't come here and work as hard as he did, I would not have or do any of the things I've experienced or are able to have and enjoy.  I thank my father for everything he's done for me and my entire family.  Thank you for continuing to support my blog, my brand, my experiences; without you and our community we can't thrive.  Grazie a tutti.  xoxo 


Sunday, August 13, 2023

Summer Italian Tomato Salad

 First tomato salad from the garden. 🍅 🌿 🍅 I added a chopped zucchini, tomatoes, red onion, basil, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Delicious and healthy.

Italian Meatball Recipe

 Italian Meatball Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cup of bread crumbs ( this can be home made from toasted Italian bread or store bought) 
  • 1 pound of ground meat, (you can substitute any meat, we prefer Turkey 100% lean.)
  • 4 oz. grated cheese Pecorino and Parmigiana
  • 2 Tsp of salt
  • 1 Tsp of pepper
  • 2 Eggs 
  • 10 stalk or pieces chopped parsley 
  • 2 cloves of garlic 
  • 1 or 1/2 cup of water - depending on the quality of your bread crumbs. 

Mix all together, form balls (secret to keeping them nice and together, drip some warm water onto your palm of your hands as your rolling the balls.)  Then once you have your balls ready, fry them in a pan of very hot vegetable oil or canola oil. (some people like to substitute oils, we find this works best for us.)  Flip them till they are golden brown as you can see from today's meatball making.   

If you  have any questions, feel free to email me at 

Happy Sunday! 

Friday, August 11, 2023

Making Black Olive Bread - Pane Alle Olive Nere

Well, it's time for a new post and I wanted to share an amazing baked bread that my brother Santo made, its a black olive bread, Italian style.  I believe many Italians make this in many variations as we like to experiment and also be simple with our staple dinner element.  

My brother has since baked a few loaves since this original loaf pictured here, I believe he wanted to perfect it and it almost seemed to get better each time he baked it.  

Now, once he made it, we had a chance to warm up the bread and enjoy with it with extra virgin olive oil and red pepper flakes.  

The next day I cut a slice and made a very glamorous avocado toast, which was amazing.  Pictured to the right I also made a plain authentic pizza type snack.  My brother followed the exact recipe from Orsara Recipes linked here: Black Olive Bread  Leave a comment if you have a good bread recipe to share!