Virtual Gourmet

July 24, 2010                                                                   NEWSLETTER

The iconic photo by Fabrizio Ferri of actress Monica Bellucci in Esquire Magazine (Sept 30, 2001).  For more photos from the shoot, click here.



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GOOD NEWS! now has a new food section  called "Eat Like a Man," which will be featuring restaurant articles by John Mariani and others from around the USA. THIS WEEK: A Gentleman's Guide to Dining Etiquette


London Keeps Its Edge
by Christopher Mariani

NEW YORK CORNER: 5 Napkin Burger by Misha Mariani

MAN ABOUT TOWN by Christopher Mariani



London Keeps Its Edge for Eating Out
by Christopher Mariani

    London’s dominance  as one of the great restaurant cities carries on with new entries like Bistrot Bruno Loubet and Joël Brasserie, which are beating the Parisians at their own game; Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, serving up dynamic flavors using top ingredients while he still finds the time to mentor the city’s future culinary talent; and Nahm, an evolution of traditional Thai cooking into fine cuisine. The city’s  reign in the culinary world as an exciting dining destination for modern restaurants was showcased during the London Restaurant Festival  which began in 2009, running for two weeks last October.  The 2010 festival is projected to have over 800 restaurants throughout the city, offering limited menus at very affordable prices (some dinners are listed under 10 pounds), similar to NYC’s Restaurant Week, along with cooking demos and special events like charity dinners cooked by Chef Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Boulud on the London Eye, the city’s 443-foot tall ferris wheel on the Thames.
      I just returned from London to learn more about the Festival and to survey the gastro-landscape and found the energy enormous and good taste everywhere.

Bistrot Bruno Loubet
French bistros have long been a staple in major restaurant cities around the world, but not many have done them as well as chef Bruno Loubet (below), who early on made his mark in the London food scene in the mid-90’s with award-winning restaurants like Bistrot Bruno and L’Odéon.  After spending nearly the last decade in Australia running Bruno’s Tables and Baguette in Brisbane along with Berardo’s in Noosa, Loubet has returned to London to open up his namesake bistro.
     The restaurant is located in the Zetter Hotel on Clerkenwell Road, part of a trendy section of the city filled with a large concentration of innovative restaurants fueled by young chefs.
    The main dining room, with 85 seats, is done in clean, crisp lines, with wood polished floors, floor-to-ceiling windows with very limited decorations on a pleasantly simple white background;  an outside café sits next to a picturesque cobblestone road.  Away from the large windows sits the bistro’s semi-circular, ten-person black marble bar with purple velvet seats placed next to an open kitchen where Loubet and his creative team work diligently.
    I began the evening toasting to “the joy of travel” with a perfectly proportioned margarita, straight up, and the company of my beautiful cousin, Kira, who lives in London.  I dug into delicate Mauricette snails and moist, bite-sized meatballs with royale de champignons while she ordered the guinea fowl boudin blanc with silky leek fondue and chervil sauce, both very lush appetizers.  We also shared the beautifully presented mackerel and piccalilli relish tart with green gazpacho dressing. For my entrée, the boneless quail and pistachio dodine with spinach and egg yolk raviolo was highly recommended, and I was very pleased. My cousin ordered the rich confit of lamb shoulder with white beans and preserved lemon puree with spicy, hot green harissa.  The evening ended with a decadent Valrhona chocolate tartlet, served with caramel and salted butter ice cream.
    The food and service far exceed the price, and that is why Bistrot Bruno Loubet is one the  real steals in the city right now, with appetizers ranging from ₤6.50-€8 and entrees between ₤12-€18.5.

Brasserie Joël

    To stand out in London, a city with such an abundance of culinary talent, is far from easy these days, but Chef Joël Antunes (below) has done so with his return to London by opening the new Brasserie Joël located inside the Park Plaza Hotel Westminster Bridge.  Chef Antunes has a résumé that speaks for itself, cooking throughout the 1980’s at three-star Michelin restaurants like Troigros, Gagnaire, Maximin, Moneau, and Bocuse, then going on to open one of the finest restaurants in Bangkok at the Oriental Hotel; his last project prior to opening in London was Joël Brasserie in Atlanta, Georgia, one of Esquire’s best new restaurants of the year in 2001.
         Brasserie Joël’s dining room is extremely sleek,with a dark wood décor  throughout  and a focus on a large glass wine rack that stores some of the restaurant’s fabulous selections.  I took a tour of the kitchen with Chef Joël and was happy to see it exceptionally well organized, with tantalizing aromas that only increased my eagerness to sit down and eat.
I started with the Andalusian gazpacho, full of heat and seasoning, a brave preparation I wish more chefs would have the guts to produce, centered around a light tomato sorbet.  Next, I tried the seared diver’s scallops, perfectly crisp on the outside and succulent in the middle, surrounded by peas and gnocchi romaine, which only teased my palate for a pasta course.   Joël offers flavorful pasta and rice dishes like oxtail tortellini and baby artichoke risotto with parmesan cheese and sweet sun-dried tomatoes.  For my main course I ate the roast lamb cooked in a French style, medium rare, bordered by artichoke, courgettes trompette and a fantastic basil jus.  The meal ended with a rhum baba and creole ice cream and cannellets that truly tested my will power after having two.

Appetizers ₤6-₤9, Pasta ₤12-₤14, Entrees ₤12-₤22.5 (Prime NY steak ₤29)


 Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen

    Jamie Oliver, one of London’s most recognized chefs, is not only creating great dishes but using his culinary talent to give back to the community with such projects as the School Dinners campaign, an attempt to educate school cafeteria personnel on how important it is for students to eat healthy.  Oliver has also been running an apprenticeship out of the kitchen of his very own restaurant, Fifteen, offering troubled young adults between the ages of 18-24 a career as a chef,  yet somehow he also finds the time to produce some of London’s finest Italian food, do TV shows, and write cookbooks.
The restaurant, which owes much of its success to executive chef Andrew Parkinson, presents a forgotten group of youths with an opportunity to train as highly skilled chefs.  The 12-month program, launched eight years ago, recruits its students from housing offices, youth centers and takes recommendations from local probation officers.  The chosen candidates spend the next year transitioning into a demanding schedule, cooking three days a week at Fifteen under the supervision of its chefs while also attending classes at Lewisham College studying for their NVQ2 qualifications.  The program, which accepts 18 students per year, is funded primarily by the restaurant’s revenues, along with  donations given to The Jamie Oliver Foundation, which is a way for Oliver to give back to the industry that made him so successful.
          Fifteen is split into two separate restaurants, the ground floor Trattoria (right), with a casual atmosphere, serving classic Italian dishes like pasta e fagioli and linguine alla carbonara, and the more formal downstairs dining room, where I ate, with a more complex menu selection.  The downstairs room is known for its unique, bright pink carpet, open kitchen, and walk-in glass wine showcase housing a selection of terrific Italian reds.
       I started my meal with buffalo mozzarella, with flavors and textures few mozzarellas capture--cream, salt, and a soft consistency with just the right amount of elasticity.  For my main course I ordered the pan-seared fillet of sea bream with the English asparagus named Jersey Royals, black olives and lemon crème fraîche, a very light entrée, perfect for lunch.  Dessert was a delicate and creamy basil panna cotta (left) with sweet English strawberries and shortbread, the highlight of all the desserts I tasted throughout my visit to London.
     With branches of Fifteen in Cornwall, Melbourne, and Amsterdam, Jamie Oliver is doing something caring and nurturing  for people beyond merely satisfying them, a commitment I hope to see more chefs follow.

Trattoria  Antipasti ₤7.5-₤12.5 Pasta ₤9-₤10.5 Entrees ₤14.5-₤22.5; in the downstairs dining room the nighttime tasting menu is fixed priced at €60.


    In many of the great food cities around the world, one of the questions asked by forlorn food lovers is, “Where can I find authentic Thai food?”  Even if I were asked this question in NYC or San Francisco, I would take some time to respond. But when asked that question in London, the answer is easy: Nahm, the only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant in the entire UK.
Nahm, opened in 2001 under the supervision of executive chef David Thompson,  is located in the luxurious and prestigious Halkin hotel, on the southeast corner of London’s beautiful Hyde Park. The restaurant quickly gained praise from the city’s food community and critics and has continued to do so for the past nine years.  While staying at the Halkin recently, I dined at Nahm and got exactly what I was looking for--traditional Thai flavors, ingredients, and a whole lot of heat.  Chef de cuisine Matthew Albert has held onto the restaurant’s Michelin star and seems only to have improved on the food over the past decade.
My nahm arharn, a traditional Thai meal, consisted of many wonderful flavors and dishes including kanom krok bpuu, small coconut cupcakes with red curry crab.  I also ordered the plaa hoi shenn, a Scottish scallop salad with coconut, Asian citrus and the beautiful scent of fresh lemongrass.   For my main course I had the lon gapi, prawns with shrimp paste simmered in coconut cream with braised mackerel and white turmeric.  Chef Albert does a fabulous stir-fry called pat het ton grataim, mixed with “chicken of the wood” mushrooms and wild garlic leaves.
    For those with an irresistible urge for Thai food, make it a point to drop the Halkin and book a reservation at Nahm.
    There is a ₤55 fixed price dinner; À la carte ₤9.50-₤18.50.

Ichi Sushi and Sashimi

   Nowadays, many Japanese restaurants seem to have lost their food focus by becoming part of the  pan-Asian fusion trend, serving every dish possible, including sushi rolls, Peking duck, kung pao chicken, thai crab cakes, egg rolls, and filet mignon on one menu. When I dined at Ichi, just across from Big Ben at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, it was refreshing to read a menu that concentrated on just one Asian cuisine, Japanese sushi.
         Ichi, seating only 30, is a small restaurant consisting of a handful of tables and an eight-seat sushi bar where guests can sit and watch head sushi chef Sadayuki Okamoto  (below) from Hiroshima, create their meals.  Okamoto has been working with sushi for over 30 years and does an outstanding job of locating the freshest fish possible along with assembling the sushi in very artistic displays.
         Along with an order of cold edamame beans, I tried Ichi’s specialty drink, the Primo Maneki Neko, made with Japanese whiskey, sweet vermouth, cherry brandy, and dash of bitters.  One of Okamoto’s signature starters is muzuku, seaweed grown on rocks, served with sweet vinegar, something I have never tried before, with a slightly slimy texture but a great combination of seaweed flavor and the right amount of acidity and sweetness from the vinegar.
   I then sampled a wide range of Ichi’s nigiri sushi, like pristine tuna, fatty soft salmon--my favorite--warm eel, and sea bass.  All were of the highest sushi quality and screamed freshness.  For a dish somewhat heavier, try the crispy softshell crab roll  made with an entire softshell crab lightly flowered, sautéed, and served hot with the crab meat, as juicy as could be.  Ichi may only few a few weeks old, but its food and service are already well polished as might be expected from a chef with such long service in the tradition..

Starters ₤3-₤6.5 Sushi rolls ₤4.5-₤8, Sashimi (2 piece per portion) ₤6-₤9.5, Nigiri (1 piece per portion) ₤2.5-₤5.50.


by Misha Mariani


35-01 36th Street @ 35th Avenue
Astoria, NY

            People love taking credit for the creation of something great, not least the American hamburger. Food items that have gone by the name hamburger can be dated all the way back to the 19th century, but these were not what we now associate with the modern day hamburger sandwich.  There have been many claimants for its creation, not least Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, CT, as of 1900, for having first cooked ground beef patty on  a  patented cast iron broiler, between two slices of white bread, but not a bun. Louis’ Lunch is still open and still considered one of the best burger spots in the country.
         The simplicity of the hamburger idea has opened the doors for others to capitalize, expand, re-invent, embellish on, and feed off  our unconditional love for the item. Years ago Chef Daniel Boulud, on a whim,  at his DB Bistro Moderne put a $55 burger on the menu made with short tribs, foie gras, and black truffles (now $32 without foie gras) that kicked off the fad. In 2005, Danny Meyer opened Shake Shack, a small, upscale, handcrafted burger joint in Madison Park, NYC, fueling a craze that has caused the opening of numerous burger shops and the attempts of distinguished chefs to re-invent the burger.
            In 2003, before the fad really started, one burger had already established itself as among the best in NYC; found on the menu of Simon Oren and Andy D’Amico’s Nice Matin restaurant, the "5 Napkin Burger" was born. Because of its success and popularity, together with partner Robert Guarino, they  decided to open up a 5 Napkin Burger resto in Hell’s Kitchen and went on to open up two more, one on the upper West Side and most recently,--thank you, Andy!--just two blocks from where I live here in Astoria, Queens.
            All three restaurants have been designed with the same blueprint and motif,  “butcher shop chic” as they call it, with white tiled walls, meat hooks hanging from the ceiling intertwined with old-fashioned filament light bulbs, black and white square tile floors, chalk boards with funky  drawings, antique scales butchers used to  weigh out meats, and one of my favorite touches, antique seltzer bottles, ranging in color from rich greens, cobalt blues, clear glass and shapes and designs  highly sought for their rarity.
            So let’s get to the burger: it's made of 10 ounces of ground beef, supplied by Pat LeFreida meats (another driving force in the current hamburger craze) handcrafted and cooked to perfection on a griddle. The trademark “5 Napkin Burger” (above) is then topped with Gruyère, onions, creamy rosemary aïoli and nestled on  a toasted buttery brioche bun. This burger definitely ranks amongst the top burgers I’ve eaten, nicely caramelized meat, one of the benefits of cooking on a griddle, sweet onions to balance out the sharp Gruyere, and a perfect lean/fat ratio that allows the meat to hold onto its fat instead of just rendering it to the griddle to be shamefully scraped away. The burger is  juicy, full of flavor and impeccably cooked.  To  accompany it, all the burgers are served with a generous portion of golden, crisp fries.
            If it’s your first visit, don’t miss that signature burger, but if you feel you want to venture farther  into the menu offerings,  there is  a great array of other dishes that fit in seamlessly with their staple. For starters the Deep Fried Pickles, wrapped in pastrami and served with sauerkraut and mustard oil are an absolute must, crispy and utterly decadent. Other starters are great Pork Taquitos, tasty little hard shelled tacos, only three inches long, filled with braised pork, sour cream, and salsa, and their Hell’s Kitchen Wings come with  green tomato and pineapple ketchup.
            There are also other burger options, like the Ahi Tuna burger with Asian condiments; the Italian Turkey burger with mozzarella, tomato sauce and vinegar peppers; or the Inside Out burger, for those watching their carbs, wrapped in lettuce--all outstanding alternatives. There is also a burger for two, one pound of beef  with a choice of any two sides--certainly a good burger, but I would definitely opt for two singles first, for the reason that the former is  comprised of two thinner patties as opposed to one large one.
           And if you’d like to avoid burgers entirely,  there is a 8-ounce Kobe beef hot dog and a variety of entrées ranging from Milanese chicken tender, Lobsters Roll Sliders, and Steak Frites, along with fabulous sides like corn meal battered onion rings, house-cured pickles, or vinegar-based cole slaw that is  perfectly light and refreshing to balance out the burger and the fries.
5 Napkin Burger also offers a signature cocktail list, with drinks like their Tennessee Tea or Citrus Cooler, and an extensive beer list as well as tap beers brewed just for them. The hours the pace is open are ideal so that no matter the night of the week or the time of the day, there is really no bad time to go to 5 Napkin Burger for a bite to eat.

Open daily till midnight. Brunch on Sat. & Sun. Starters run $$7.25-$10.75, burgers $11.95-$22.50, main courses $15.50-$19.75.



by Christopher Mariani

W Retreat and Spa in Vieques and Alain Ducasse--The W Hotel Worldwide recently opened the doors to its first beachside Retreat and Spa within North America, eight miles east of Puerto Rico on the small, 55-square mile island of Vieques, following the success of the W’s first Retreat and Spa in 2006 on the island of Maldives.  The Vieques hotel is set on 30-acre of beachfront, with 157 guestrooms, and promotes its “new way to escape” by experiencing the island’s natural beauty on and off the property. Patricia Urquiola designed the Retreat with the idea of replicating the natural surroundings of the island throughout every inch of the venture, including the rooms, spa and outdoor lounges, said to be a major factor in the attempt to “de-tox and refuel” the guests.

     The retreat will also host Chef Alain Ducasse’s inspired signature restaurant Mix on the Beach, offering French influenced Latino-Caribbean dishes. Ducasse has appointed  executive chef Dagan Lynn, previously at Alain Ducasse at the Essex House  and  Mix in New York City.  Ducasse's team is also said to be responsible for the retreat’s two other restaurants, along with all food and beverage items found on the room service menu.

    Room rates from $249 per night.



According to government documents examined by USA Today, many meals served to passengers on major airlines are prepared in unsanitary and unsafe conditions that could lead to illness.  Food and Drug Administration inspectors cited numerous catering facilities that prepare airline food and found food stored at improper temperatures, unclean equipment and employ workers "who practice poor hygiene," along with cockroaches, flies, mice and other signs of inadequate pest control.

Cartoon by Nicholson from "The Australian":


"If the fried ge da is like verbal sparring with Katharine Hepburn, the ge da soup is like holding hands with Audrey Hepburn.
Afterward, if you need help jump-starting your carb digestion, try a foot massage."--Thi Nguyen, "Beijing Restaurant," Los Angeles Times (6/25/10).



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

* Beginning July 26 in San Francisco, CA, Chez Papa Resto hosts “Wine Nights with the Wine Director.” Wines selected by Wine Director George Aknin up to 55% off the current list price, plus  no corkage fee charged on these evenings. Call 415-546-4134 or visit <

* On July 26, in NYC, Spina will hold a 4-course "Mystery Dinner" featuring Damiani Wine Cellars from the Finger Lakes. Damiani viticulturist Phil Davis will be on hand to discuss these  wines and guests can win prizes by answering questions about the menu and wines. $65 p.p. Call 212-253-2250.

* On Aug. 5 in Louisville, KY, The Brown Hotel will host a special dinner featuring the Californian wines of Napa Cellars. Exec chef Laurent Géroli  have created a five-course menu. Guest speaker will be Mr. Joe Shirley, winemaker from Napa Cellars in St. Helena, California. $65 pp.  Call 502-736-2998 or

* On August 5, Urban Farm Table on the Plaza in Washington, DC, will host a 4-course dinner with wines under the stars on Woodrow Wilson Plaza. Among participating chefs are Todd Gray (Equinox) and Tiffany MacIssac (Birch&Barley and ChurchKey). $70 pp.  Email for tickets; 202-466-6286.

* On Aug. 7 in Cincinnati, OH Daveed’s restaurant will host FARMbloomington’s chef Daniel Orr for a 12-course meal of platters of dishes from Orr’s award-winning cookbook, FARMfood - green living with chef daniel orr. $45 pp, Call 512-721-COOK.

* On Aug. 8, in Atlanta, JCT. Kitchen & Bar will host the 2nd annual "Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival "to benefit Georgia Organics.  The event will celebrate some of the South’s best chefs, farmers and mixologists.  Live entertainment from The Spazmatics. $50 pp., $45 for Georgia Organics members,  if purchased by Aug.  1 ($65  after). Visit or

* On Aug. 7 in Cincinnati, OH Daveed’s restaurant will host FARMbloomington’s chef Daniel Orr for a 12-course meal of platters of dishes from Orr’s award-winning cookbook, FARMfood - green living with chef daniel orr.$45 pp,  Wine selections from the portfolio of Vintner Select. Call 512-721-COOK.

* On Aug.  8 in Dallas, TX, Stephan Pyles presents A Tasteful Pursuit, multi-course dinner  and auction benefitting Share Our Strength.  Participating restauyrants chefs incl. Stephan Pyles, Samar by Stephan Pyles, Dallas; Matt McCallister, Stephan Pyles, Dallas; Teiichi Sakurai, Tei-An, Dallas; RJ Cooper, formerly of Vidalia, Washington D.C.; Celina Tio, Julian, Kansas City; Randall Copeland and Nathan Tate, Ava Restaurant, Rockwall and Maggie Huff, Stephan Pyles, Dallas. $175 pp. Call 888-273-6141.

* On Aug. 9 in Charlottesville, VA, Keswick Hall & Sieg Wine Distributors will host the Virginia Wine Crush Golf Tournament on Keswick’s  golf course. Participants will enjoy a gourmet boxed lunch, sample amazing wines as they proceed through the 18-hole course and the tournament will conclude with a Wine Cocktail Reception and prize giving. Proceeds  benefit the Charlottesville Music Resource Center. $150 pp. Call 434-923-4363 or email Mairi Kincaid at To book accommodations, please call 888-778-2561.

* On Aug.  10 in LondonThe Stafford London by Kempinski will introduce an event series titled “Pub Talk.” The series kicks off with “Cellar Talk” led by resident Master Sommelier Gino Nardella., who will share his tips for building, expanding, and storing a personal wine collection, along with recommendations of “wineries to watch.” Guests will also enjoy a guided tasting of some of his current favorites accompanied by light canapés.  The event is free. Call +44-20-7493-0111.

* From Aug. 13 – Oct.  31, in South Beach, FL, The Setai’s Fifth Anniversary celebrationwill present a special Dim Sum and Champagne menu every Friday from 7pm to midnight, eight plates of signature Dim Sum and new refined additions and includes Taittinger Champagne. $75 pp, with a luxury Dim Sum Menu available at $175 pp with a gladss of Vintage Comte de Champagne 1998. .     

* From Aug. 14 – Sept. 14 in Pennine Lancashire, England, the  Pennine Lancashire Festival of Food and Culture will encompass 60 events incl. the World Gravy Wrestling Championships, culinary canal cruises, opera and strawberries, steam train lunches, ale trails and medieval food markets.  E-mail

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: CAPTURING THE NATIONAL PARKS


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: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani,   John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, Elin Jeffords 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