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Anna V. D’Adamo, who was known for her Italian cooking, cookies and volunteerism, dies

Anna V. D’Adamo, whose kitchen was known for its piquant sauces, lasagna and other Italian delicacies as well as a never-empty cookie jar, died of heart failure Dec. 26 at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. The White Marsh resident was 91.

The former Anna Veronica Giorgilli was the daughter of Serefina and Biaggio Giorgilli, both Italian immigrants. Her mother’s first husband died during the 1918 influenza pandemic, leaving her with three children. She remarried Mr. Giorgilli and the couple proceeded to have 10 more children.

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“She was one of 13 and was the 13th child,” said a daughter, Deborah D’Adamo of Abingdon. “How they managed with all those people in a four-bedroom house, I’ll never know.”

Anna V. D'Adamo volunteered at the Sons of Little Italy Lodge and St. Leo Roman Catholic Church.
Anna V. D'Adamo volunteered at the Sons of Little Italy Lodge and St. Leo Roman Catholic Church. (Family Photo / HANDOUT)

Mrs. D’Adamo was born in Baltimore and was raised on High Street in Little Italy. She was a graduate of the old St. Michael’s Business School on Wolfe Street in East Baltimore.

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After graduating from St. Michael’s, Mrs. D’Adamo worked as a secretary for an insurance company. She met her future husband, Joseph G. D’Adamo, at a wedding. The couple married in 1949 at St. Leo Roman Catholic Church in Little Italy.

The couple began married life at a home near Patterson Park and then moved to Belair-Edison, where they lived for many years until moving to White Marsh more than 20 years ago.

Her husband joined The Evening Sun in 1946 as a sports writer, and went to work at the newspaper’s old Sun Square building at Baltimore and Charles streets. He was later promoted to chief makeup editor, and worked in the composing room at the paper’s North Calvert Street building until retiring in 1987.

“She was a real Italian Donna Reed,” recalled Ms. D’Adamo, recalling the 1950s-’60s ABC sitcom, “who always had my father’s dinner ready when he came home from work.”

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Mrs. D’Adamo’s well-loved kitchen became the heart and soul of her domestic life.

“She was a fabulous cook and everyone loved her lasagna, but Dad took credit for its recipe, and they fought over it,” Ms. D’Adamo said with a laugh. “It had lots of meat and cheeses.”

Another one of her culinary triumphs was her gnocchi.

“She made them and would put them in the freezer and give them to people. She really didn’t like them because she said they were too heavy,” Ms. D’Adamo said.

When she wasn’t busy with her pasta dishes, Mrs. D’Adamo turned her attention to baking Italian specialties.

“She would make Italian wedding cookies and one of her recipes made 150 cookies. It was an all-day project,” her daughter said. “She also made cookies that were filled with jelly, the Italian version of the Linzer torte cookie.”

In addition to caring for her home and family, Mrs. D’Adamo was a volunteer at the Catholic High School library where her daughters were students. She also was a volunteer at Archbishop Curley High School.

“If for some reason she didn’t show, the nuns would coming looking for me asking where my mother was,” Ms. D’Adamo said.

In later years, she spent endless hours volunteering at the Sons of Little Italy Lodge and at St. Leo’s, where she was the volunteer coordinator.

“She volunteered more than most people work,” her daughter said. “And she was always baking cookies for St. Leo’s for their various festivals, sometimes baking thousands of them.”

She gained a bit of unseen fame with Baltimore newspaper readers in 1980 when her husband began writing Dining Out, a restaurant review column in The Evening Sun. She was his critical sidekick dining companion, and what distinguished the column was the inclusion of a recipe of a restaurant’s signature dish.

“She loved it, but didn’t like being told what to eat,” her daughter said.

Mrs. D’Adamo’s opinion on a meal was always included in her husband’s reviews, and she was referenced by name.

“For instance, she liked her steaks well-done and a reader wrote in telling her how a steak should be cooked,” Ms. D’Adamo said. “She didn’t like people being critical of her but she loved going out on the town.”

Good food was a shared interest, her daughter said.

“Both were so interested in cooking, and while she was more into basic cooking, he was more adventuresome,” she said. “And she continued cooking until the last six months.”

The couple shared a mutual love of travel and had visited Italy six times, and also traveled throughout Germany, Switzerland and Spain, as well as around the U.S.

Mr. D’Adamo died in 2017.

Mrs. D’Adamo enjoyed crocheting and spending time with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She was a lifelong communicant of St. Leo’s where services were held Dec. 31. Plans for a celebration-of-life gathering to be held this spring are incomplete.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. D’Adamo is survived by a son, Joseph G. D’Adamo Jr. of Chase; another daughter, Denise Iafolla of Chase; three grandchildren; and 17 great-grandchildren.

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