Restaurant Cookbooks

Staten Italy: Nothin’ but the Best Italian-American Classics, from Our Block to Yours

by Francis Garcia & Sal Basille

Authors Fran and Sal are two regular guys from the neighborhood, cousins and best friends, whose DNA reads garlic and oil (they’re fifth generation in the food business) and whose six hugely successful restaurants, starting with the legendary Artichoke Pizza, have impressed critics, fellow chefs, and chowhounds alike. They have written a book celebrating big flavor, along with loving (and hilarious) family stories, and rooted in the great Italian-American tradition, handed down through the generations. The recipes are unfussy…simple and fast for school nights, fancier for weekends and holidays and offer readers a transporting, full-bodied take-away, rather than just a book about spaghetti and meatballs. Here you will find Eggs Pizziaola, Pork Cutlets with Hot Peppers and Vinegar, their famous Cauliflower Fritters, and many more authentic dishes served up with gusto.

Alvaro’s Mamma Toscana

by Alvaro Maccioni, James Murphy (Photographer)

Amazon Reader’s Review: “As a customer from US, I often think of London and the wonderful food we always get at La Famiglia, I was delighted when I was there last week and found Alvaro had written a book containing many of our favorite recipes. can’t wait to start trying them at home.. The book is as delightful as Alvaro himself, no wonder he has been so sucessful for the last 30 years.”

Pane e Salute: Food and Love in Italy and Vermont

by Deirdre Heekin, Caleb Barber

Husband and wife author team and proprietors of the Pane E Salute café in Woodstock, Vt., Heekin and Barber made a pilgrimage to Italy soon after they were married, returning with recipes and voluminous travelogues. They share both in this neat little cookbook, providing easy-to-follow recipes for the simple but lovely dishes that are Italian cuisine’s hallmark, alongside essays about life in Lombardy or Tuscany. The recipes are arranged according to season: spring presents, for example, the effortless Asparagi alla Milanese (asparagus with fried eggs) and the savory Costolette d’Agnello con Caprino (lamb chops with fresh goat cheese), while fall offers La Trota all’ Erbe Gresche (trout with fresh herbs) and Torta di Mela (apple cake). While this conceit has the charms of underlining cooking’s connection to nature, it’s slightly bothersome to have to thumb through the entire book to uncover the full catalog of desserts. But that’s a minor complaint in what is, overall, a winning and well-written volume full of honest Italian cooking and memories.

Italian Comfort Food: Intensive Eating from Fresco by Scotto Restaurant

by Scotto Family (Author)

This pleasant, if slight, cookbook from the Scotto family (Fresco), proprietors of New York’s popular Fresco by Scotto eatery, serves best as a souvenir of the restaurant with recipes drawn from the Scottos’ satisfying repertoire and numerous headnote anecdotes recalling the fare they have served celebrities ranging from Bill Gates to Monica Lewinsky. Many dishes are old friends from Italian cuisine: Panzanella Salad, Penne with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Chicken Cacciatore. Even more are simplicity itself: Pasta Salad with Cannellini Beans and Arugula, Sicilian Couscous and Grilled Asparagus. Directions are concise, assuming that the reader knows how, for example, to clean an artichoke or create chocolate curls to garnish a cake. Some of the more extravagant restaurant recipes include Black Winter Truffle and Red Beet Ravioli and the sublime and nearly effortless Mashed Potatoes with Sevruga Caviar. Desserts include a Bill Clinton favorite: Praline Cookies, transformed into sandwiches with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. Although their book is not a necessity, the Scottos do know how to celebrate the comforts inherent in some of the world’s favorite food.

Da Silvano Cookbook: Simple Secrets from New York’s Favorite Italian Restaurant

by Silvano Marchetto, Andrew Friedman, Scott Haas, Colin Dickerman (Editor), Nick Tosches

Restaurant Da Silvano is a small Manhattan treasure. Opened over 25 years ago by Silvano Marcchetto, it was among the first New York dining spots to offer authentic Tuscan cooking. Locals flocked there, followed by celebrities including Jack Nicholson, Paul McCartney, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Overseen by the ebullient Marcchetto, the restaurant’s cooking is now available to one and all in Da Silvano Cookbook, which presents over 120 recipes for its savory straightforward fare. This includes dishes like Linguine alle Vongole (linguine with clams), Rapini con Salsiccia (broccoli di rapa with spicy pork sausage), and Pescespade alla Veneziana (Venetian-style swordfish). The dishes, many of which are generally known, nonetheless have Marcchetto’s special touch that results in superior eating.The book offers recipes for all the courses of a typical Italian meal, from antipasti to dolci, and includes particularly winning meat and poultry formulas like that for chicken cooked in beer, a house specialty. Vegetables, too, receive their due, with dishes like fennel with Parmesan cheese. Among the sweets, the restaurant’s famed panna cotta, a toothsomely firm version, is present, and wine suggestions are offered throughout. Illustrated with color photos, many of the “master” himself, this easy-going but astute collection provides enjoyment equal to a visit to the restaurant itself.

Cucina Simpatica: Robust Trattoria Cooking From Al Forno

by Johanne Killeen

Cucina Simpatica brings to America’s home cooks the luscious and lusty food of Al Forno, the acclaimed Providence, Rhode Island, restaurant. The restaurant and its owners/chefs, Johanne Killeen and George Germon, have won many national awards for the superb cooking and down-to-earth style of their version of hearty yet utterly simple trattoria and Italian home cooking. In this, their first book, they translate their stylishly fresh and imaginative approach to Italian food into accessible recipes that will make every home cook itch to get into the kitchen. The 135 recipes reflect Killeen and Germon’s informal but meticulous cooking. Included are explicit, clear instructions for making their famous grilled pizza, which can be done even on a simple hibachi. The book is organized by course – from starters, soups, salads, bruschettas, crostinis, and polenta to pizzas, pastas, grills, roasts, braises, vegetables, condiments, and desserts — but the authors urge you to structure a meal that suits you: two starters, pizza only, main-course salad. George and Johanne cook pastas and vegetables and almost everything else in the restaurant’s wood-burning ovens and grills, and the smoky tastes that permeate these foods make for sublime eating. With the same flair and robust results, they also cook in and on conventional ovens and stoves and they teach you how to achieve their spectacular results. Novice and experienced cooks alike will be amazed and delighted by the wallop of assertive taste and subtlety produced by the simple, widely available ingredients and the easy, everyday techniques.

Patricia Wells’ Trattoria: Healthy, Simple, Robust Fare Inspired by the Small Family Restaurants of Italy

by Patricia Wells, Steven Rothfeld (Photographer)

“We instantly identify ‘trattoria’ with a simple, generous, full-flavored style of food,” writes Wells (Bistro Cooking), and she was sufficiently impressed by trattoria cooking to travel through Italy for about a decade, looking for the best in family-owned and -operated restaurants. The 150 recipes collected here are the result, gathered from many trattorias and regions of the country, and the harvest is memorable, whether it is the sauces (red pesto, made with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, hot red pepper, olives, oil and herbs) or the desserts (toasted hazelnut cake) that most intrigue you. Wells covers appetizers, pasta, rice dishes, breads, meats, fish and more with down-to-earth dispatch and flair. (“Like so many popular dishes,” she cautions, “eggplant Parmesan has been banalized,” and she proposes a corrective.) In between recipes come advisories: “Pay attention to salt” (she prefers sea salt to table) and “Know your beans,” in this case, the dried.

Modern Italian Cooking

by Biba Caggiano (Author)

Caggiano (Northern Italian Cooking), a northern California restaurateur, offers an appealing array of some 200 recipes. Rigatoni with mushrooms, prosciutto and cream, and chicken with herbs are typical of the delightfully fresh dishes that can be prepared with a minimum of fuss. Experienced cooks will enjoy more challenging fare like pasta roll stuffed with spinach and cheese, which calls for homemade pasta to be rolled out by hand. Many will be pleased by the variety of regional recipes represented, from alpine pasta and chick-pea soup or apple strudel with raisins, pine nuts and jam to Neapolitan fusilli with meat sauce or calzone stuffed with cheese. Caggiano confidently nudges at the cuisine’s boundaries, presenting cucumber and pink grapefruit salad as a logical variation of classic Sicilian oranges and fennel, and cold roast beef with capers and anchovies, the Italian version of a quintessentially English dish.

Biba’s Taste of Italy: Recipes from the Homes, Trattorie and Restaurants of Emilia-Romagna

by Biba Caggiano (Author)

It’s been more than 40 years since Biba Caggiano came to America from her home in northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, and she still yearns for the luscious food that has earned the region a coveted spot on the culinary map. Long an accomplished author, television cooking-show host, and restaurateur, Caggiano still finds a constant source of inspiration in the cooking of her homeland–from the rich stuffed pasta dishes and complex ragus of Emilia to the simple grilled fish dishes and lusty brodettos (seafood stews) of Romagna.

Biba’s Taste of Italy is a fascinating culinary tour of Caggiano’s beloved region. In chapters on every course from antipasti to dolci, Caggiano introduces readers to the succulent dishes of the area and paints a vivid portrait of both the food and the people. Her salty-sweet Eggplant Parmigiano stars the region’s own Parma ham and Bolognese sausage; Seafood Risotto recalls the irresistible bounty of the Adriatic sea that laps the shores of Romagna; and the trademark of Emilia-Romagna cooking–stuffed pasta–appears frequently in dishes like Squash Ravioli with Squab Ragu and Balsamic Vinegar and Cannelloni with Meat Stuffing. In the spirit of the region’s small villages, Caggiano offers recipes for unassuming dishes like Roasted, Marinated, and Skewered Eel, in which the delicately sweet flavor of this unusual fish is expertly balanced with the simple yet robust flavors of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, fresh sage, and pancetta. Roasted Stuffed Breast of Veal is a truly classic Emilian dish, and Caggiano’s version–stuffed with a mixture of sautéed vegetables, Parmigiano, nutmeg, and eggs, then roasted golden brown with a crisp crust–is among the most delectable. Desserts run the gamut from the light, delicious Chestnut-Ricotta Fritters to the dense, sweet Honey-Walnut-Raisin Pie to a refreshing Strawberry Gelato. The clear, easy-to-follow instructions accompanying each recipe make the book a joy to cook from and the beautiful page design makes it a pleasure to peruse. A brief chapter on the wines of the region and another on Where to Eat in Emilia-Romagna make the book complete.

Trattoria Cooking

by Biba Caggiano (Author)

Caggiano is the chef/owner of a restaurant in Sacramento, California, as well as author of two previous books on Italian cooking. Her latest work is a collection of recipes from trattorias all over Italy as well as trattoria-style recipes of her own devising: simple, authentic food like Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Peas. Although some of the recipes are good versions of standards, there are many regional dishes that will be less familiar to Americans. Caggiano loves good food and writes with enthusiasm. She also includes thoughtful wine suggestions as well as tips and “notes of interest” on ingredients, techniques, and variations.