Virtual Gourmet

March 7, 2010                                                                   NEWSLETTER

                                                                           Odessa Travel Poster c. 1930 (artist unknown)


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In This Issue


Al Bustan by John Mariani



by John Mariani

   Cleveland gets a bad rap consistently from those who have probably never set foot in this town that straddles the east and midwest. Home to a slew of excellent museums of art and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (right) that is well worth visiting, as well as one of America's great symphony orchestras and enough leading medical centers to make Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston envious, Cleveland has a broad if not very deep dining scene, sadly ill served by its local food scribblers, who seem more interested in finding a cheap eatery than a fine restaurant.
     I get to the city about once a year now and always find places that rank with the best around the Midwest.  Here are two of the new ones.

11401 Bellflower Road
Interiors photos: Kevin Reeves
    Three decades ago Chef Zachary Bruell opened one of the era’s most innovative nouvelle-style restaurants--Z Contemporary Cuisine.  That he did so in the then staid dining climate of Cleveland was all the more remarkable, so he deserved all the praise he got back then.  Ten years later he sold Z and didn’t re-appear on the Cleveland dining scene until 2004, opening a casual seafood house called Parallax,  then a high-end fusion dining room at the Cleveland Clinic named Table 45--all cutting edge of their moment.
     Restless as ever, Bruell (below) has expanded his grip on the city's food culture by taking over a roomy old carriage house restaurant and turning it into a classic French brasserie that exemplifies just how flexible that genre is, despite falling in and out of the spotlight.
   You enter into a sexily lighted white brick bar area with aluminum chairs; to the left is the main dining room, which looks out over the leafy patio and leads to another room done with red brick walls and tiled floors, a fireplace, and large painting of a woman with haunting eyes who looks like a heroine in a Russian novel. To the right of the bar is another dining room, very minimalist,  all in white, a little cold compared to the warm ambiance of the other rooms. Tablecloths would help everywhere, and it can get loud everywhere in the evening.
      It's one thing to find all one's favorite bistro/brasserie dishes on a menu done well but it's doubly rewarding when you can see the personality of the chef in each one. So, nostalgic dishes like braised leeks with Dijon mustard, a chicken liver and foie gras mousseline, and good old hearty cassoulet bubbling with white beans and duck confit were not just rendered impeccably but with a real dose of spirit and Midwestern generosity.  Becoming wonderfully common in American restaurants, charcuterie plays a major role at L'Abatros, including creamy terrine of pork and veal, and a chicken liver and excellent, well-seasoned, nicely fatted housemade sausages.

      Yet that is Bruell’s talent—to take those old dishes and to add his own verve so that they seem amazingly new, as when he combines Midwestern walleye pike with lobster quenelles (below) swimming in devastatingly rich sauce amèricaine, or sublimates the whole idea of French toast by riddling it with wild  mushrooms and a lashing of balsamic sauce. You might start off with a textbook perfect onion soup gratinee, bubbly and steaming hot, sweet with caramelized onions and plenty of Gruyère.
        All true bistros serve mussels but Bruell brings along crisp, hot pommes frites with an aïoli dipping sauce to gild the lilies. There is also roast chicken with a rosemary-lemon glaze, a grilled sausage platters, and skatewing is expertly sautéed in brown butter than given a dash of vinegar.  The pizzas and pissaladière are nothing to get overly excited about, and the menu is  a tad too long, appended by daily specials like oxtail ravioli and beef short ribs with Yukon gold gratin. There is a cheese service here that is wholly admirable, so you could get along with just some charcuterie and cheese and a bottle of wine from a solid list and be very happy.
     You've got to have desserts, though, in all their Midwestern largess--a warm, chewy chocolate brownie with crème anglaise and vanilla ice cream; a frozen lemon soufflé; and good old crème caramel and chocolate napoleons.
      At L’Albatros, the more things change,  in Bruell's hands, the better and better they get. His latest venture is an Italian restaurant downtown that I have yet to visit.  But I can't wait to.
L'Albatros is open daily for lunch through dinner, with  appetizers $6-$12, entrees $16-$23.


2391 West Eleventh Street

     There's a good deal of vitality in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, mostly small to medium-sized restaurants often set within charming old homes. You even get a pretty green park thrown in at Bistro on Lincoln Park (which replaced Sage on these premises), along with enthusiastic young chef Peter Joyce (below) and his wife Megan.   Peter  has worked in good area kitchens, including Salmon Dave’s Pacific Grille, Pier W, and  Blue Point Grille, and you get a good sense of his focus when you hear that just about everything you will eat was made on premises, which have a clean, cozy look of blond wood floors and celadon painted walls, with three dining rooms that include an even cozier little adjunct (seats 12) overlooking the street.
       Joyce is happy to point out that he and chefs de cuisine Cory Hess and Jenn Brown use Cryovac, by which they make a dish then preserve it in an air-tight plastic bag to be cooked in something called an "immersion circulator," basically hot water.  I have no particular problem with this when it comes to dishes like confit of duck, where the meat keeps its flavor. Obviously Joyce is not doing this with his excellent sea scallops with seared foie gras mousse, fava bean puree, and truffle vinaigrette, which takes second-to-second timing to get right.
      I also enjoyed his feta cheese tart with ramps and a tomato confit, and the crispy pork belly with a potato cake, mustard, and crème fraîche is a stand-out example of this now ubiquitous use of pork.  Tender chicken comes with a beurre noisette, cannellini bean puree and almond sauce, and if you've never had Great Lakes walleye, have it here--it come with bacon, pea sauté, anise hyssop and a carrot foam, all flavors that take very well to the mild fish.  A hanger steak had plenty of flavor and a correct chewiness but French fries were oddly flavorless.  Nor can I get too excited about an angel's hair carbonara with peas, veal bacon, and morels that have little to do with a classic carbonara
    Bistro offers 20 bottles of wine for $20 each--an excellent idea, for the selections are carefully made and the prices very, very reasonable. Desserts are kind of fun here, generous and sweet.

Bistro on Lincoln Park is open nightly for dinner from 4:30 PM. Appetizers run $6-$15, entrees $16-$21.



al Bustan
319 East 53rd Street

      It is beyond me why traditional Middle Eastern cuisine has not wholly captivated an American dining public that has easily embraced Mexican, Italian, French, and Spanish cuisine but still seems to regard the food of Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Greece, and Turkey as somehow a third-level alternative, despite the fact that the ingredients used are the basis for the rest that straddle the Mediterranean. There is certainly nothing exotic about the ingredients (although I don't know why anyone likes eating grape leaves), and the savoriness of the cuisine is of a type that sophisticated  New Yorkers, at least, should love with the same degree of  intensity they do other cuisines.
     So, if I had to introduce someone to the true wonders of Levantine cuisine,  I would take him straightaway to Al Bustan, a place I could easily eat at once a week forever. This is the new, swank location of Al Bustan, which had been around the corner for two decades.

Chef/Owner Elias Ghafary trained as a chef in Beirut then moved to France, waited tables and began cooking at Hôtel de la Poste in Vezeley, then moved to  Paris to take manage the popular Lebanese restaurant Yeldizlar. After five years there, he  operated Alamir, before moving to NYC in 1988 to open up his own Alamir on 2nd Avenue between 74th and 75th Streets. Al Bustan was launched in 1991 and it was a hit, known as much for its food and for its genteel service and handsome décor.
     Of course, the heart and soul of Middle Eastern restaurants are their mezes, the finger foods that are always tantalizingly spiced and textured and easy enough to enjoy plenty of without busting the bank.  Those at Al Bustan (right) are outstanding and unstintingly freshly made, from the rich baba ghannouj and the addictive condiment called mouhamara--red peppers, pomegranates, and walnuts to eat with the fresh hot pita bread that keeps coming. The wonderfully peppery, green notes from two salads--jarjeer (oregano) and malfoof (cabbage)--puts out of mind most green salads of western Europe, and the toasted pita with halloumi cheese called arayess bil jibneh went quickly at our table. You just want to order seconds of everything here, not least the afiha, baked pastry topped with minced meat, tomato, and pine nuts--a luxuriant pop-in-the-mouth dish full of textural contrasts.
      There is an old saying in Lebanon
that a man is  "like St. Lawrence" and refers to someone who gets angry, referring to the sad saint whom the Romans roasted on a gridiron (Catholic kids in grammar school are told he asked to be turned over because he was done on one side! He is also patron saint of football becaues of the gridiron!).  In any case, Lebanese cooks are expert with meats cooked slowly or quickly on the grill, like the sujuk of sautéed spicy beef sausages; shish taok, grilled marinated chicken cubes; and kafta, minced lamb, mixed with chopped onions, spices and parsley, all succulent and highly aromatic. They also do the traditional bastermah of sun-dried beef, and the delightful kibbeh bil lahme maklieh made of ovals of ground beef and cracked wheat stuffed with lamb, onion and pignoli. As a Mediterranean country the Lebanese have a highly developed seafood cookery, too, and I loved the samakeh harra of baked red snapper, topped with a lightly spiced tahini sauce.
     Desserts are good, not outstanding, several with the honeyed touch so beloved in the region.
     The winelist at Al Bustan has several of the better known bottlings, not least Château Musar (which is always too pricey) and others you can enjoy at decent prices.
       NYC has many very fine Middle Eastern resaurants, but Al Bustan is one of the stand-outs right now.

Appetizers are $6.50-$8, entrees $18-$29. There are two mezes fixed price dinners for 4 people at $45 and $50.


VINO 2010
by Brian Freedman

        To me, the best days are those spent in various stages of discovery: Of a new restaurant, of an unfamiliar ingredient,  or of a grape variety or region I’d never heard of before. Genuine discovery, however--the kind that shifts how I view the world of flavor--is rare.
    Which is why the three days I spent in New York, at Vino 2010 in the beginning of  February, was such a treat.
    For the second year in a row, the Italian Trade Commission played host to Italian Wine Week, a gargantuan gathering of producers, writers, and members of the trade in New York. From February 2nd to the 6th, well over a thousand wine professionals descended upon the city (the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was the center of gravity) to attend seminars, panel discussions, wine dinners, and tastings. And, as is so often the case, it was the unexpected aspects of the program that made the biggest impression.
    With a wine history that stretches back millennia, and with countless indigenous grape varieties, Italy has the potential to be a goldmine for wine lovers. Unfortunately--and this is the case with so much of the wine world--the vast majority of consumers stick with relatively familiar grape varieties from the same well-known regions of the country when the time comes to open a bottle of Italian wine. Of course, a country with Italy’s incredible diversity of terroirs and winemaking traditions is about far more than the handful of grape varieties that most people are familiar with--Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, etc.--and the regions with which they’re most comfortable. (These wines are often great, to be sure, but they are certainly not exhaustive of what Italy’s wine life consists of.)
    The great benefit of immersing yourself in several days of dialogue and tasting like the programs at Vino 2010 provided, then, is having the opportunity to explore those dark little nooks and crannies that may not constitute the main body of its contemporary winemaking culture, but that certainly contribute a real added sense of depth and soul.
    The first seminar I attended focused on what the program called “the new generation of Southern reds.” The topic of the lecture and tasting was the wines of Calabria, the region at the toe of the Italian boot where a sense of loyalty and respect for the traditional, native grape varieties has helped prevent them from disappearing altogether, said wine writer Alfonso Cevola, who led the seminar.
    How fortunate for us. The wines we tasted, though crafted from varieties that are generally unfamiliar to even passionate Italian wine lovers--Gaglioppo, Magliocco, Greco Nero, and others--generally possessed the holy trinity for wine enjoyment: Expressiveness, terroir-specificity, and idiosyncrasy. The Senatore Vini Ciro Rosso Classico Riserva “Arcano” 2006, for example, produced with 100% Gaglioppo, possessed an aroma that fell somewhere between the funk of a container of dried porcini and the prettier perfume of a jar of herbes de Provence. The palate--darker, spicier, and filled with ripe cherries--contained an edge of tea-like bitterness that was both totally unexpected and utterly charming. At the beginning of the program, Mr. Cevola instructed the attendees to put aside our preconceptions about what to expect from the wines; Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the rest, he explained, would not necessarily provide an adequate framework for appreciating the more “wild” flavors of these ones. He was right: Their uniqueness is exactly what made them so appealing.
    On the opposite end of Italy, up in Friuli, the wines, expectedly, are quite different. And while the reds I tasted were lovely (I’m a fan of Refosco), it was the whites that grabbed the lion’s share of my attention at the Friuli dinner held at Le Cirque. This was a unique and far too uncommon way to experience a particular region’s wines: It was set up as a walk-around tasting and dinner, with chefs from restaurants in the region providing appropriate pairings for the wines.
    My wine of the night was Conte d’Attimis-Maniago’s Bianco Ronco Broilo 2005 from the Colli Orientali del Friuli, a wonderfully unique Chardonnay - Pinot Bianco blend whose grapes were dried for 40 days prior to pressing, lending the wine a rich, nutty character that was perfect both on its own as well as alongside the polentina con ricotta mele e rafano, a polentina with ricotta, apple, and fresh-shaved horseradish. I was also charmed by the range of thoroughly gulpable Friulanos, Ribolla Giallas, and Sauvignons. These are whites that more people should be familiar with: Their combination of fruit, minerality, and refreshment are irresistible.
    The seminars ran the gamut from an excellent discussion on the role that social media plays in the wine world to a tasting and seminar on Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and covered a wealth of topics in between. There were other wine dinners, extensive tastings, and ample opportunities to explore what has been for millennia, and still remains today, one of the most diverse, complex, and rewarding wine cultures in the world.
    Even now, and even among professionals, there is an entire universe of unexplored Italian wine territory that is more than deserving of attention. As a wine, food, and travel writer, engaging in exactly the kind of work that I did at Vino 2010, in exactly that sort of exploration and discovery, is what really gets me excited about the future of the wine world, both in Italy and elsewhere.
    You don’t need a monocle or an ascot to appreciate that.

Brian Freedman is a food and wine writer, wine educator, and food and wine consultant. He is Director of Wine Education for the Wine School of Philadelphia, contributing editor for Philadelphia Style Magazine, wine columnist for Affluent Magazine, and writes the blog for His web site is



PETA is seeking to raise funds  to place a life-size rendition of the founder of KFC in Corbin, KY ( home of the first KFC., made entirely of chicken feces, intended to radiate "the smell of the crowded, filthy sheds in which chickens are forced to live out their short lives before being killed for KFC's buckets.”

FOOD WRITING 101:  Do Not Try to Write
on an Empty Brain

"True story: Years ago, I invited my buddy Steve over to watch a game. He offered to pick up some wings. I offered to call in the order. Delirious with anticipation (beer! football! chicken skin!), my eyes rolled back and my fingers, suddenly trembling, dialed.
   `A dozen hot! A dozen mild! A dozen barbecue . . .' I yelped into the phone like I was 8 again, spazzing out at Children's Palace. My buddy showed up a bit later, with a small bag.
     `They screwed up," he said matter-of-factly. `The only order they had for a Steve was for 72 wings.'
    I never told him the truth, that he actually saved me from days of self-loathing and regret. Why should I? We all understand that sometimes the blood leaves a guy's brain and pools in his . . . stomach. It happens at lots of establishments: wing shacks, rib joints and at Mike's Place in Kent."
--John Campanelli, "A loaded menu at Mike's Place in Kent: Eyes on the Fries," The Plain Dealer (2/5/10).


Guidelines for submissions:  QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes.  When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below.  Thanks.  John Mariani

* On Mar. 7 thru Mar. 31 in Washington, DC, Art and Soul, located in The Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia Hotel, will offer a prix-fixe 50th Birthday Menu in celebration of celebrity chef/owner Art Smith’s birthday. Executive Chef Travis Timberlake developed the 3-course menu of Chef Art’s favorite foods. $50 pp. Call   202-393-7777 or visit

* Through March  in Livermore, CA, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards will be hosting their 1st Annual Wine Month, offering all wines by the bottle half-off for those who dine.  Guests are invited to choose from the restaurant's selection of over 400 wines.  Call 925-456-2450 or visit

* On Mar. 9 in Vail, CO, Larkspur Restaurant will host a Guest Chef Dinner featuring Mark Dommen from One Market Restaurant in San Francisco. Five courses with wine pairings for $125 pp.  Call 970-754-8050. Visit

* From March 10-14,  the Brunello Restaurant at the Baglioni Hotel London will be hosting  guest chef  Chef Pino Lavarraof the Rossellini’s at Palazzo Sasso, in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast,  the first in the series of seasonal guest chef events. £95 pp.  Call  0207 368 5900. 

* On March 10 in Yountville, CA, Chef Michael Chiarello of Bottega will prepare a special dinner with fChef Lachlan Patterson of Frasca in Boulder, CO. Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey, also of Frasca, will be at Bottega to pair wines from their own label, Scarpetta, with the 4-course tasting menu, plus  a tasting of Chef Chiarello’s   Ribolla Gialla. Call 707-945-1050.

* On Mar. 10, in Alexandria, VA, Brabo by Robert Wiedmaier will host a ‘Beer vs. Wine’ dinner where Thor Cheston, beer director at Brasserie Beck will go up against Leah Dedmon, wine director at Brabo, with respective beer and wine pairing of choice for a 4-course meal prepared by Chef Wiedmaier. $95 pp. Call 571-482-3308.

* On
March 11,  Petrossian will celebrate the 25th year located in the landmark Alwyn Court building on NYC’s Upper West Side with a CAVIAR-centric 4-course prix fixe menu – from amuse through dessert and coffee – at $90 pp. Guests should mention Anniversary Menu when reserving. Call 212-245-2214.
* On March 13 & March 17, in Chicago, The Hunt Club will host two St. Patrick’s Day parties featuring “The Irish Threeway”--a “quaffer” bomb shot with the large bottom bulb containing 11 ounces of Guinness and the small top bulb containing one ounce of Bailey’s Irish Cream and Bushmills Irish Whiskey for $7. Additional food and drink specials for March 17 include $5 “Stuffed Blue Burger” and $5 specialty martinis. Call 312-988-7887.

On Mar. 14 in Sonoma, CA, the Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa’s Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar are presenting their 4th Annual Salt and Sparkling Wine Dinner featuring a 5-course dinner paired with sparkling wines from Gloria Ferrer Winery.  Presented by the team of Chef Janine Falvo and Sommelier Chris Sawyer.  Resort & Spa.  $95 pp. Call 707-931-2042.

*From March 15-28, The Tarrytown House Estates on the Hudson is offering a special package for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, which features prix-fixe specials at all the finest restaurants in the Hudson Valley. The Tarrytown House Estates package incl. overnight accommodations and full American breakfast for two in the historic mansion. Its restaurant, The Cellar, will also offer 3-course  dinners for $28.  Call 800-553-8118 or check their Website at

* On March 16, April 6 and May 4, in Bellevue, WA, "the Scandinavian Wine Hacks" - Erik Liedholm and Lars Ryssdal, will present a series of wine classes at Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar.  The March class explores the Northern Italian wine regions of Piedmont & Tuscany, the April class spotlights Bordeaux, and the May finale focuses on the Pacific Northwest.  $90 each or $240 for the three-class series. Call Erik Liedholm at 425-456-0010 ext 46.

* On March 25 in Calabasas, CA, Saddle Peak Lodge presents an evening with Semler Vineyards. Executive Chef Adam Horton will pair a four-course dinner. $95 pp.  Seating limited to 45 guests. Call 818-222-3888.

* On Mar. 26 in Louisville, KY, chef Laurent Géroli of The Brown Hotel will host “A Salute to Women, Wine and Whiskey.” A 5-course dinner with wine pairings, special guests Joy Perrine, mixologist of Jack’s Lounge; Susie Selby, owner/winemaker of Sonoma’s Selby Winery; Louisville chef Kathy Cary of Lilly’s, and Chicago chefs Gale Gand of TRU and Susan Goss West Town Tavern. Cheese maker Judy Schad of  Capriole Farms will provide cheese and hors d’ oeuvres prepared by students and faculty from Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies and Julep’s Catering. $125 pp  to  benefit students at NCHS. Call 502-583-1234 ext. 7108. Deluxe rooms at $109.

On Mar. 27, in Seattle, WA, the Washington Wine Commission hosts leading journalists, sommeliers and restaurateurs for a series of seminars and tastings focused on Washington wines. . . .   On Mar. 28, the Taste Washington Grand Tasting, featuring more than 225 Washington wineries and more than 75 Seattle-area restaurants. Visit or

* On Mar. 29 in San Diego, Urban Solace restaurant will welcome Jews and gentiles alike to an Urban Seder led by Sam the Cooking Guy (Sam Zien) and restaurant critic Steve Silverman, to raise money for Jewish Family Service’s “Project SARAH,” supporting survivors of domestic abuse.  $90 for adults, including wine, and $75 for children. E-mail Debi Saltzberg at, call 619-295-6464 or visit

* From March 29 -April 3 in NYC, the Loews Regency Hotel will be offering a new Passover menu designed by Executive Chef Andrew Rubin, by updating the classics, including Gefilte Fish, Matzo Ball Soup, Brisket, Tzimmes and Kugel. $54 and items are also available a la carte. The specialty cocktail, Haroset Highball is $18.The hotel will offer Kosher-style food all week long in addition to regularmenu items.  Call 212-759-4100.

NEW FEATURE: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linking up with four excellent travel sites:

Everett Potter's Travel  Report

I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the  web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury  Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and  a frequent contributor to National  Geographic Traveler,  and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their  travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special  places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of  staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star  places as five-star experiences."  THIS WEEK: SARASOTA AND THE CIRCUS; Smart Deals: A Multisport Trip with ROW Adventures in Idaho, Montana and Washington; Butterfield & Robinson in 2010.


Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio.  He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.


Tennis Resorts OnlineA Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored  two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to  Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991).

Family Travel Forum: The Family Travel Forum (FTF), whose motto is "Have Kids, Still Travel!", is dedicated to the ideals, promotion and support of travel with children. Founded by business professionals John Manton and Kyle McCarthy with first class travel industry credentials and global family travel experience, the independent, family-supported FTF will provide its members with honest, unbiased information, informed advice and practical tips; all designed to make traveling a rewarding, healthy, safe, better value and hassle-free experience for adults and children who journey together. Membership in FTF will lead you to new worlds of adventure, fun and learning. Join the movement.

Family Travel Forum

All You Need to Know Before You Go

nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist,;;


MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Robert Mariani,   John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery,  Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

 John Mariani is a columnist for Esquire, Bloomberg News, and Diversion.  He is author of The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink (Lebhar-Friedman), The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink (Broadway), and, with his wife Galina, the award-winning Italian-American Cookbook (Harvard Common Press).

 Any of John Mariani's books below may be ordered from by clicking on the cover image.

My newest book, written with my brother Robert Mariani, is a memoir of our years growing up in the North Bronx. It's called Almost Golden because it re-visits an idyllic place and time in our lives when so many wonderful things seemed possible.
    For those of you who don't think of the Bronx as “idyllic,” this book will be a revelation. It’s about a place called the Country Club area, on the shores of Pelham Bay. It was a beautiful neighborhood filled with great friends and wonderful adventures that helped shape our lives. It's about a culture, still vibrant, and a place that is still almost the same as when we grew up there.
Robert and I think you'll enjoy this very personal look at our
Bronx childhood. It is not yet available in bookstores, so to purchase a copy, go to or click on  Almost Golden.
--John Mariani

© copyright John Mariani 2010