Princeton- Gabriella G. Marchetti (née Tomassoni) left this world on January 9, 2021, at age 96, after a good and long life. A devoted wife and mother with movie star looks, she was a fantastic cook who enjoyed nothing more than feeding those she loved.
Gabriella was the youngest of five children, born in 1924 to Gaetano Tomassoni and Maria Petrosemolo in Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy. She was exceptionally close to her three older sisters, Gilda, Elsa and Adriana, who preceded her in death and with whom she is surely catching up right now over an endless pot of espresso.
Gabriella earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature from the University of Naples in the years after World War II. In the mid-1950s, enamored with the U.S. and in search of adventure, she made her way by ship across the Atlantic to New York City, where she found work and support in the local Italian community. She met Francis R. Marchetti on a blind date in Manhattan and the two married on May 31, 1958. The couple eventually settled in Skillman, N.J., where they raised two daughters and lived until 2016, when they moved to assisted living. In the late 1960s, Gabriella worked as a substitute teacher for Montgomery Township schools. In the 1980s she taught French and Italian at Notre Dame High School, in Lawrenceville.
Gabriella knew how to throw a dinner party. If you were lucky enough to be invited, you might be treated to silky, fork-tender ossobuco or a rich, many-layered lasagne verde alla Bolognese, with frozen coffee soufflé or a billowy lemon meringue pie for dessert. She was an active and enthusiastic volunteer at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in the years that her daughters attended, chairing the annual Christmas bazaar fund raiser twice and manning the bazaar’s most popular booth, at which she sold her home-cooked Italian specialties. She turned that popularity into a series of cooking classes that she taught in her kitchen.
Even though Gabriella became an American citizen, Italy always remained strong in her heart. She loved Italian things: stylish hats and bright silk scarves and colorful majolica ceramics. She loved all of Italy, but mostly she loved Rome and the blue Adriatic waters and green rugged mountains of Abruzzo. Each June, she would return to her homeland with her daughters in tow and spend the halcyon days of summer among her beloved sisters.
She had boundless energy and a smile that could, and did, light up a room. She had opinions— lots of them—and was not shy about sharing them. She was stubborn and also strong-willed; in 1990, after many decades as a smoker, she quit cold turkey and never looked back. She lavished love and good food on her family, and was elated when she became a grandmother, first in 1996, then again in 1998 and 2000. She was the best of nonnas to her three grandchildren.
Gabriella’s loss is deeply felt by all who knew and loved her. She is survived by her husband, Francis R. Marchetti; daughters Maria Marchetti (Golowski) and Domenica Marchetti (Vance); and grandchildren Nicholas Vance, Adriana Vance, and Gina Golowski.
At the family’s request, services for Gabriella will be private. Arrangements are under the direction of the Hillsborough Funeral Home, Hillsborough, NJ.