For the first time in a number of years, Aida Turturro did not cook a Thanksgiving feast at her Montauk home. “I was invited to a nearby friend’s house, so I make a mean dish of roasted peppers, which I brought as a gift.”
Aida describes her special techniques roasting the peppers in the oven, carefully peeling them using quality olive oil, some balsamic reduction with a pinch of salt and pepper, letting them marinate, getting the right combination. “I even brought Ollie, my five-year-old Yellow Lab, to enjoy the celebration.”
Come Christmas, Aida—a fan of Citarella in East Hampton, the smoked salmon, the Russian tea cookies, the apple strudel and marinated artichokes—anticipates making her sensational lasagna. Then there’s Aida’s cauliflower croquettes: Cauliflower first sautéed in onions and garlic…frying them in a buttermilk batter, like a zeppole…add some parmigiana…DELICIOUS!
The COVID months have meant Aida has been hanging out at her Montauk abode for the most part, with occasional trips to her Manhattan Gramercy apartment, or a random out-of-town trip for film work. Most recently, as production slowly resumes, Aida shot episodes of a television series in Serbia. “It was kind of stressful traveling, not knowing,” she says, “but once we got into it, things worked out.
Closer to home, “I just shot two guest star episodes of Blacklist and one episode of Law & Order, both NBC shows on the west side pier. I recently did a pilot, Nightbirds. I even got to include Ollie in one of my scenes for Blacklist. Ollie wants to know whether he will be getting paid,” she jokes.
Of course, beyond many movies, Aida is best-known for her 49 episodes of the classic HBO series The Sopranos. Amazingly, when the production began, she wasn’t even part of the show.
“I attended the premiere of The Sopranos with my friend James Gandolfini,” she tells. Tony Soprano himself encouraged her for a role in the show, starting with the second season. She felt inspired, and earned two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
Aida’s father, an artist and painter, originally took the family for vacations to Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons. Aida visited friends in Montauk and decided about 20 years ago that was where she would buy a home.
One of her favorite sidelights is to organize things. “Since I was 12, this makes me so happy, I am fast, helping people at their home, packing. People who give me discarded sheets and towels, I bring to animal shelters. I like to help people figure out things they don’t need. It’s a hobby which makes me feel I’ve accomplished something, in between acting jobs,” she analyzes.
A Type-2 diabetic for many years, Aida has recently lost weight. “Take diabetes seriously,” she warns. “Pay attention. Deal with it, learning about food.” Aida takes pride in her careful diet and regular exercise, which includes walks on the beach in Montauk, which she considers renewal and “such a blessing.”
Aida stays in regular contact with her two cousins, actors John Turturro and Nick Turturro. “Nick is in California, so I don’t get to see him too much. John is in Brooklyn and occasionally visits the Hamptons. A few years ago I did two plays in Italy with John and his family, and it was wonderful.” After COVID, she is planning another trip to Italy.
“It’s been a bumpy, negative year for all of us,” Aida concludes. “We have to turn it around. For me it starts at home in Montauk, helping a neighbor or doing something nice.”