Joe Virgilio Makes Saint Joseph Rolls is a wonderful addition to Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project. So many thanks to Joe for taking time from his busy work day to allow filming! Highlights include Joe sharing stories about the early days working alongside his grandfather and cousins, when the thousands of rolls needed for Saint Joseph’s Day were made by hand.
Tag Archives: Joe Virgilio
This past spring while working on Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph film project, I filmed Joe Virgilio making Virgilio’s Saint Joseph rolls and wrote a post for GMG about Virgilios. At that time, Al Bezanson, owner of the Green Dragon Schooner, shared that during Schooner Festival, Joe Virgilio welcomes the schooners with warm loaves of freshly baked bread as they sail into Gloucester Harbor.
Al provides more details:
Virgilio’s started donating bread to the visiting schooners two years ago, and it now threatens to become a popular new tradition. The first year Brett and Max Ramsey, in Brett’s high speed inflatable, met up with schooners as they entered the harbor and presented them with a loaf or two along with a pineapple. In some cases the bread was still warm from the oven. When that happened with Adventurer, out came the butter, and the bread was enjoyed in a flash. Last year Max and Dom Nesta made the deliveries, and more of the Sea Scouts may be handling it this year.”
In the photos Al provided, Green Dragon had just received a delivery in the outer harbor as she entered from Manchester.
I was so struck by the Virgilio’s generous, welcoming gesture and thought what better time to pass along Al’s story than the night before the Schooners begin to arrive. As Al points out, “When you get around schooner people you may hear them talking about the need to have extra butter aboard in Gloucester. This is a very big deal in fending off other ports that are vying for schooners that same weekend. Thanks Joe and the high speed Ramsey/Nesta delivery guys!”
This morning we continued filming for Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Film Project; today at Virgilio’s! So many thanks to Joe Virgilio for taking time from his busy, busy work day running the bakery.
We talked a bit about the history of Virgilio’s, founded in 1934, and at its current location since the 1950’s. At that time, Virgilios was not only a bakery, but a full grocery store as well (before there were supermarkets) and you could purchase goods such as whole chickens and sausages.
The Virgilios began making St. Joseph rolls in the early 1950s, specifically for the Feast of Saint Joseph and today, they make them year round. Back then, there were so many families that celebrated the Saint Joseph traditions that even as young kids, Joe and all his cousins had to hurry to the bakery after school to help their grandfather fill the St. Joseph roll orders. Now the bread is made with state of the art equipment but in his grandfather’s day it was all made by hand. Joe smiled thinking about how his grandfather would love today’s mixing and baking machines. I went home with a camera-full of stories and bag full of Joe’s bread, both generous, and much-appreciated gifts.
Virgilio’s Saint Joseph rolls are super yummy plain, with a touch of butter, or olive oil, and are even more super delicious made into one of their world-famous sandwiches!
In case you missed the Virgilio’s Phantom Gourmet episode, here it is:
As did Maria, Nina, and Domenic from Caffe Sicilia, Joe took time from his tremendously full work day to allow time for filming and sharing his stories. We’re so blessed to have these fabulous and welcoming bakeries/grocerias in our community. Next week, filming at Sclafani’s is scheduled!
Addendum ~ Al Bezanson writes in the comment section (see below):
“As a side note, did you know about the tradition of delivering donated fresh (sometimes warm) Virgilio’s bread to schooners as they arrive for the Labor Day Schooner Festival? When you get around schooner people you may hear them talking about the need to have extra butter aboard in Gloucester. This is a very big deal in fending off other ports that are vying for schooners that same weekend. Thanks Joe and the high speed Ramsey/Nesta delivery guys!”
THANK YOU AL for your always super helpful comments. This is information about Joe’s generosity that we would never have know without you sharing!