Sam Arena


Keep It Simple with Sal . . .  


The author:

Arena (some say ‘Sam’, some say ‘Sal’) was born in 1939 and raised on Gelston Street, on the west side of Buffalo, in one of 20th century America's great traditional Italian communities.  He attended Technical High School, but pledged for and joined Tau Zeta Tau, a Lafayette High School fraternity.
After a successful 25 year career with Prudential Insurance and raising a family of five children with Jean, his wife of over 50 years, Sal was able to retire early and dedicate time to one of his passions: cooking (and eating) wonderful food with family and friends.
The "recipe" for this book combines lessons learned from Sal's childhood kitchen with the practical necessities of cooking for a large family. Seasoned with his unique culinary creativity, the result is a simple instruction guide to bringing more joy and love to your dining room table.

Sam was featured at the Author's Aisle of the 2013 Buffalo Italian Festival.


Photo by Patti Schiappa   


Salvatore L. Arena, insurance executive, loved to cook

BUFFALO, November 10, 2014: Salvatore Louis Arena (May 25, 1939 – Nov. 5, 2014), a Williamsville insurance company retiree who was passionate about cooking, art and his family, died Wednesday in Hospice Buffalo, Cheektowaga, following a struggle with cancer lasting several years. He had been in hospice care for two days. He was 75.

Arena, known as “Sam,” grew up on Gelston Street on Buffalo’s West Side.

He graduated from Hutchinson Technical High School in the city. He later did college coursework at Bryant & Stratton Business Institute. Arena served in the Army for two years, from 1957 to 1959.

For 25 years, Arena worked for Prudential Insurance Company in Williamsville, starting as a sales agent. He was a district manager for the company by the end of his career. Arena retired from Prudential in 1987.

He later owned a Super Duper grocery store and a laundromat in the Sheridan-Harlem Plaza.

He and his wife, Jeanette, were Williamsville residents for 42 years. They also lived in Palm Beach Gardens in Florida for part of the year after he retired.

Arena loved to cook – he was known for his sauce and pasta as well as other dishes – and wrote a cookbook of his own a couple of years ago, called “Keep it Simple With Sal.” The Arena family had Sunday dinner every week at Arena’s house, with at least 20 people attending, and Arena would cook for those dinners, his wife said.

He also enjoyed horses and horse racing, and liked to go to the track.

Arena was a painter, working in oils, and was known for his paintings of natural scenes.

He also was known for his singing, and for “his love of family and friends,” his wife said. For years, every Tuesday night he and his wife dined with the same set of friends from childhood.

He was a lifelong Catholic.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, the former Jeanette LaDuca of Buffalo; three sons, Michael J., John V. and Salvatore A.; two daughters, Rosemarie Arena and Jennifer Hanulewicz; two brothers, Michael Arena and Robert Arena; and 14 grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Monday in St. Pius X Catholic Church in Amherst.


       While doing some genealogy research for an acquaintance in the Montante/Montalto family, I discovered that Sam and I had a common ancestor.  I'm only sorry that I hadn't found this relationship before Sam passed on.


       Sam was an accomplished chef, which was evident from his popular culinary articles for the quarterly newsletter/magazine of the Per Niente club.   To honor his work in that publication, at its annual Christmas dinner the club presented this plaque to Sam's family.


Sam at Hutch Tech
(Click image to enlarge)


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