by Pino Luongo
Will America’s appetite for all things under the Tuscan sun ever be satisfied? Not likely with Pino Luongo’s Simply Tuscan. Luongo, owner of 10 restaurants and Manhattan’s market Tuscan Square, may have spent the past 20 years in the Big Apple, but he is still synchronized to life in the Tuscan countryside. Simply Tuscan honors those rhythms with its seasonal organization and easy mix of food lore, travelogue, and personal reminiscences. Luongo opens with spring (though fall is his favorite season for cooking); in this section, the Italian passion for simplicity–which Luongo constantly endorses–achieves quintessential form in a mache salad topped with quail eggs. The fall section is studded with such treasures as a trio of recipes showcasing the revered tartufo bianco, or white truffle. All the reader really need remember, though, is Luongo’s offhand remark on his favorite way of enjoying this delicacy: shaved over fried eggs. Simply Tuscan speaks to cooks of all abilities. The pared-down arrangements of summer and spring will yield memorable results for less-confident cooks who take care to use only the most immaculate and best ingredients. More familiar hands will welcome the savory complexities of the fall and winter menus. Professional cooks will want the book for its bomboloni recipe alone. A favorite from Luongo’s childhood, this sweet fritter is used to evaluate potential pastry chefs for his restaurants. If you can’t make bomboloni, you’ll never cook for Pino.