by Christopher M. Halleron
Photos by Craig Wallace Dale
If you visit the facebook group Hoboken Mommies and search “inducing labor,” you’ll find scores of entries with hundred of comments. One constant in those threads, among Hoboken Mommies in the know, is the well-documented magic of Leo’s Eggplant Parm.
Of course Leo’s Grandevous itself is a constant in Hoboken, with Leo & Tessie Terlizzi first opening the Italian restaurant on the corner of 2nd & Grand Streets in 1939. Now 80 years later, with grandchildren Nick & Grace at the helm, the longest running restaurant near the birthplace of Frank Sinatra is seemingly playing a starring role in the birth of more and more Hoboken residents.
We reached out to a few local obstetricians, but none were willing to go on record to confirm or deny the miraculous effects of Leo’s exceptional Eggplant Parmesan—with an exquisite sauce, swaddled in a snuggly warm blanket of mozzarella. The pregnancy website WhatToExpect.com lists both eggplant and the omnipresent garlic among the foods that “can’t hurt/might help” when it comes to inducing labor. Although they specify that, “To date, there’s no proof that these foods will start labor unless you’ve already begun to dilate.”
We’d rather get our eggplant advice from generations of Italian-American Hoboken women who have seen this recipe help get the bun out of the oven.
“It’s Grandma Tessie’s recipe,” says granddaughter Grace Sciancalepore, General Manager of Leo’s Grandevous. “We used to only serve it on Friday nights until about ten years ago. Now we serve it every night.”
Over the past 80 years, Hoboken has seen a staggering evolution from hardscrabble blue-collar community to post-collegiate stopover for young professionals. Recently, it has now transformed into “an attractive home for residents of all ages, from infants to empty nesters” (according to the New York Post)—thanks to desirable real estate, remarkable proximity to Manhattan and unrivaled views of the NYC Skyline. Yet in the midst of all that, Leo’s has more or less remained the same—to the benefit of all who walk through the door.
These days, you may see as many kids in Leo’s as you will pictures of Frank Sinatra. Family has always been a central theme to the Leo’s experience, and as Hoboken’s families continue to grow, the Mile Square City’s maternal mavens continue to tout the merits of Tessie’s Eggplant Parm.
“Word got out, and the legend grew,” says Grace. “Leo would have a good laugh.”
So if you’re on the verge of another mouth to feed, or even if you’re just eating for one, stop into Leo’s (200 Grand Street) and try this Hoboken Born N’ Raised specialty. When it comes to inducing labor, results may vary.* But for great food in an amazing atmosphere, Leo’s Grandevous always delivers.
(*This article is not to be taken as scientifically supported medical advice. Please consult your physician.)