Virtual Gourmet

April 3, 2011                                                                                                       NEWSLETTER

The Barge Bridge by Edward Penfield (circa 1899)

This Week

by Edward Brivio

by John Mariani

by Christopher Mariani

by John Mariani


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 Paean to Wonder Bread at 90 Years Old


APRIL 6: John Mariani will be appearing (re-scheduled) on the "Morning Joe"
MSNBC-TV Show on  Wednesday, to talk about his new
How Italian Food Conquered the World.

APRIL 7: Book signing and dinner with John Mariani at Frasca in Boulder, CO.  Call 303-442-6966, with
Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey,  2011 James Beard Foundation Award nominee for Outstanding Wine Service    Chef Lachlan Mackinnon Patterson,  2008 James Beard Foundation Award winner, Best Chef: Southwest. $100 per person.

APRIL 13: Book signing and dinner with John Mariani 
at Tony's in Houston. Call  713-622-6778, with Tony Vallone.



APRIL 15: Book signing and Italian fare at Shawn Cirkiel's Backspace.
Call 512-474-9899. From 5-7:30 PM.   




by Edward A. Brivio

Photos (marked RP) by Robert Pirillo


      Eleven days of dining in Paris has only left me longing for more.

     The euro is still very strong, but even more so than Rome, the French capital is packed with good, modest restaurants where dinner for two need not require suspending  a mortgage payment. Of course, don’t expect bevies of waiters in designer tuxedos in these local restaurants or sweeping views of the Seine, or gilded dining rooms from the 18th century. Nor will you find chefs who are household names  or a cuisine that is as much intellectual as it is gustatory.

    Small, unpretentious, usually crowded with a convivial mix of neighborhood regulars and savvy tourists, with one person in the kitchen, and another, le patron perhaps, in the dining room, these restaurants offer not only some of the best food you’ll eat anywhere at reasonable prices but a sincere smile, warm reception, and attentive, personal service as well. One is as much guest as client.

    You are in Paris, however, the birthplace, and world-capital of haute cuisine, so at least one good splurge is in order.   Here are some of my favorites, based on a recent return to the City of Lights.  (Dinner tabs throughout this article incl. tax, service, and wine.)

Le Manège de l’Écuyer (6 rue de la Sourdiere, 2e, 01 49 27 00 64)  Unable to get a table at our first choice one night,  La Cordonnerie (see below),  I asked the chef where in the neighborhood would he recommend?  He sent us to ta place that we found out later is also owned by him, but with its own chef.  Le Manège is a bright, 20-seat storefront, with  very comfortable, high-backed wicker chairs, black gingham tablecloths, and a single waiter in the front of the house. The night’s offerings appear on a blackboard.


    I couldn’t have asked for better than my aumôniére de fromage, a “beggar’s purse” of puff pastry with a molten center of Gruyère, and a thick round of foie gras was very welcome, with its accompaniment of coarse-grained, whole wheat bread, and the small, perfectly dressed salad that seemed to garnish the plates in so many of the restaurants here. For the main course, we had wonderful confit de canard, which, as you‘ll read, we could never get enough of, and a classic côte de boeuf au Roquefort, or rib-eye with Roquefort sauce. Both came with a potato cake and a cake of potimarron--the winter squash,  very much like a pumpkin (potiron), and very popular in Parisian cuisine--that was extraordinary.

    Thank God I asked the waiter what was the delicious looking dessert the lady at the next table had ordered, for it turned out to be simply the best tiramisù I’ve ever eaten.


Prix-fixe menus: 26.9 and 29.9 euros. Dinner for two, 88.6 euros.

 La Cordonnerie (27 rue St.-Roch, 2e, 01 42 60 17 42.), with two small dining rooms seating maybe 20  people, is the market-driven, chef-centric restaurant since 1964--it's name means "the shoemaker"--that is the stuff of gourmets' dreams. The front room, where you enter, has only two or three tables. The rest of the space is taken up by a large open kitchen, filled with well-used pots and pans, stoves, a refrigerator, some counter space, and a single chef hard at work, shaking sauté pans, checking what's in the oven, chopping a bunch of parsley, whipping cream with a balloon whisk, all with a quiet grace and relaxed intensity that seems never harried.

    What comes out of this kitchen is extraordinary, unquestionably prepared  à la minute, with the personal touch and attention to detail that only a chef who actually cooks in his kitchen every night can provide. This is as far as you can get from an “executive chef,” who may have nothing to do with the preparation of your meal, and even further from those absentee, celebrity chefs who fly in only occasionally to the numerous properties that carry their name.

    As with all the restaurants in this article, reservations are essential, yet, fortunately easy to get. When we walked in to La Cordonnerie on our first night in Paris, only to be told that it was complet.” “Could we come back tomorrow?” we asked, and of course we did.

    Foie gras with a very light sprinkling of cocoa was a surprisingly delicious combination, while andouille de Guémené, a smoked pork sausage from Brittany, was served warm with pommes à l’huile, potatoes cooked in oil, that really were its perfect counterpart.

    For plats principaux,  we had an exceptional escalope de veau normande, sauce au calvados et frites, a substantial veal cutlet,  more like a veal steak, beautifully browned and tender, in a pool of brown sauce enriched with cream and a hint of Calvados, that was truly delicious. And then there were the frites! “Fries,“ how can such a banal monosyllable be used for those served here? Hand cut, on the longish side, their nothing-special appearance masked the perfect fried potato, with a crunchy skin and a creamy inside.  The well-traveled lady at the next table left  almost all of her frites, and it took all my self-control not to ask her for them.

    My main course was a cabillaud aux saveurs douces, douces not as in “sweet,” but as in “mild.” Nicely caramelized, and subtly, very mildly, flavored with cinnamon, cumin and other spices, the obviously super-fresh cod found perfect accessories in white rice, and diced fennel cooked in a very light cream sauce. Everything toned down so as not to overpower the clean, delicate flavor of the fish.

    A very generous cheese plate, with 4 large, ripe wedges: Roquefort, Camembert, Tomme de Savoie, and Époisses, all  chambres--brought to room temperature--finished the meal, as did fresh raspberries in a superb sabayon, topped with whipped cream.

Starters: 5.5 to 8.9 euros, entrees: 15 to 20, desserts: 6.5 to 9. Dinner for two, 109 euros.


    Located on the main street of the implausibly lovely Île St.-Louis, Le Relais de l’Isle (37 rue St. Louis en l’Ile, 01 46 34 72 34) offers perfectly executed, classic French cuisine in a narrow room whose walls are covered with framed b/w photographs of jazz musicians. La patronne serves as the lone waitress, and, given that each order calls for a trip up and down a flight of stairs to the kitchen on the second floor, she does an admirable job. The warmth of her welcome, and the careful attention she gives to each table’s needs come from more than professionalism, they come from the heart, as does the playing of the pianist who spins out beautiful medleys of jazz standards each evening, at just the right tempo and tenor.

    Dinner began with a round of  chèvre, warm from the oven, atop a small green salad, and a  duo of foie gras dishes--cooked mi-cuit, and pan-fried, poêlé --a large portion--with a fricassée of girolles et cèpes), slices of toasted baguette, and salad. Then a beautifully burnished roast partridge,  perdreau rôti, a whole bird cut in quarters, with girolles, in a pool of dark, rich vigneronne sauce based on red wine, and a puree of salsify. I enjoyed  filet de boeuf, a large hunk of tenderloin with a classic sauce Bêarnaise, rich with tarragon, served with hand-cut fries, and a mesclun salad.

Starters: 9 to 19 euros, plats principaux: 21 to 29, desserts: 9 to 11. Menu dégustation: 50 euros for 5 courses. 

Le Trumilou
(84 Quai de l’Hotel de Ville, 01 42 77 63 98) is an old standby that remains as good, and as reasonable, as ever. A huge frisée salad chock full of yummy lardons and topped with a perfectly poached egg, and saucisson chaud de Lyon with wonderful pommes de terre a l'huile, and a crock of good grainy mustard, were followed by disappointing riz de veau grand’mere, good flavor, but a little rubbery. The chef, I suppose, might have bypassed the admittedly involved, preliminary preparation of sweetbreads necessary to ensure that the finished product has just the right texture. My partner adroitly filleted a whole, grilled sole that could not have been fresher or more delicious.

    An  exemplary Île flottante, the ball of meringue firmed-up, but not stiff, the crème anglaise flavorful yet ethereal, and made even more scrumptious by the lightly browned crust on the meringue, the whole thing rich and satisfying yet light as a feather, as insubstantial as a breath. It’s a classic dessert but one too often treated with smiling condescension. Here, a skillful chef has once again demonstrated why this bagatelle, redolent of the age of the boulevardiers, continues to show-up on some very high-end menus. Of course, its appearance at a critical moment in the 1957 movie "Desk Set"--a Tracy/Hepburn vehicle-- hasn’t hurt either.                              [RP]

Starters: 4. to 14 euros, plats principaux: 15 to 22, desserts: 4.5 to 7. Prix-fixe menu: 19.5 euros, dinner for two, 89 euros.


Au Petit Sud-Ouest (46 Avenue de la Bourdonnais, 7e, 01 45 55 59 59) is in a storefront that is actually a store. The front dining room is a delicatessen, complete with butcher’s display case filled with cheeses and charcuterie on the left, and, opposite, walls of shelves stocked with cans of just about everything you can make from a duck or goose:  foie gras, confit, cassoulet, maigret, and so on,  as well as a large selection of well-priced wines.
    You know you’re someplace where the pleasure of dining is taken seriously, when you notice each table has its own toaster. They understand here that cold toast is an oxymoron; good  foie gras deserves better. Order exactly how much you want (a great idea) either duck or goose, either au torchon or pan-fried,  from 50 grams, for one person, up to 325 grams, recommended for 4 to 5 diners.
50 grams of each was as usual most welcome. Confit de canard with potatoes and cèpes followed next --perhaps the best confit  that we tasted in Paris, with crisp skin and tender flesh-- and  blanquette de veau, which  was perhaps a little bland. There was nothing to fault, however, about the assiette de fromages  that we had in lieu of dessert. Wedges of Ossau-Iraty, a sheep’s milk cheese from the Pyrenées, a veritable Brie de Meaux,  and a Tomme de chèvre, a semi-soft cheese made from goat’s milk, all perfectly affinés, were especially good with warm toast. [RP]

    Here again, Monsieur and Madame who run the place provide a warm welcome as well as attentive service. By our  second visit, we had “our table” and felt like members of the family. This is the place to stock up on foie gras and confit to carry back home with you. We certainly did. Just be sure to declare it; we didn’t.
    By the way, Au Petit Sud-Ouest
is a five-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. Schedule well, and you can finish dinner just in time to catch the Tower’s spectacular light show which happens after dark, every hour on the hour, for 5 minutes. I wonder if Parisians are “over it.“ For visitors, each time is a treat, especially close up. 

Café Med
(77 rue St. Louis en l’Ile, 01 43 28 73 17; left) was  certainly the biggest bargain on the list, and we managed to get in without a reservation. Here again, a simple storefront façade opened onto a deep, narrow rectangular dining room--seating maybe 20 diners--with a high ceiling, and a handful of large, vintage movie posters on the walls for decoration. My favorite was a large one for a film titled “Envoi de fleurs,” starring Tino Rossi, whose gorgeous tenor voice I just happened to discover recently on You Tube.
    The clientele that night was made up of families and young couples, all French-speaking, and the families containing smiling young children up way past what  would be considered their proper bedtime in America, without any obvious deleterious effects on either their health or their morals. We stuck to basics, foie gras to start, then 
succulent duck confit, with half a bottle of Badoit and a pichet of the excellent house wine, and had a delightful meal. The  two young waitresses could not have been friendlier or more pleasant, and although space is restricted, there are a few table that afford you privacy, and we were lucky enough that night to get one.

     Our 3-course formule for 19.9 euros, and our total for dinner for 2 was 56.6 euros.


     And finally, two neighborhood bistros for a quick bite. Both serve dinner, but we were only there for lunch. Both had very tight seating, usually packed with diners, but it was all somehow part of their Parisian charm. The waiters must all take ballet, as well as a little gymnastics, the way they navigate the narrow aisles, packed tray in hand. Le Petit Marcel (65 rue Rambuteau, 4e, 01 48 87 10 20) is right next to Beaubourg/Centre Pompidou on a bustling pedestrian thoroughfare (below). Go there for its high energy, the wry smiles of its friendly staff, and their fast, efficient service. Go also for the great confit de canard, excellent frites, grilled ham and goat cheese on a slice of pain Pôilane, or an excellent ham and cheese omelet, and good, reasonably-priced house wines. Cash only. [RP]

Le Louis IX
(22 rue des Deux Ponts, 4e, 01 43 54 23 89) is located on the Île St. Louis. Try the delicious Normandy oysters on the half shell with a racy mignonette sauce, succulent mussels, great  frites, a superb omelet of girolles, and a wonderful croque delice, that is, a croque monsieur sandwich with a fried egg on top (an altogether excellent idea) the ubiquitous small, perfectly-dressed salad, and bargain pichets  of house wines, especially the exceptional Brouilly, as well as the only rude --really rude--waiter we encountered in Paris. A blackboard displays the day’s specials.

    For that splurge, we headed for Le Diane, the fine dining restaurant of the Hotel Fouquet’s Barriere (46 Avenue Georges V), right off the Champs-Élysées, 
which echoes, on a smaller scale, the latter’s chic, understated, up-to-the-minute elegance. Designed as a temple to haute cuisine, the rotunda-like dining room, all in cream and gold, is at once imposing and dramatic, yet intimate and serene. Trios of niches filled with tall vases of flowers, a large, velvet-upholstered, circular settee in the middle, and the tufted cupola provide the drama, while tall, intricate, leafy, gilt- bronze torchères -- as much ancien régime as 21th Century -- deliver the soft, muted lighting which gives the space its warmth. Widely-spaced tables allow for privacy, and are set with fine china, crystal, silverware, and immaculate napery. 

    Service was provided by a maître d’, a waiter, and a busboy, all elegantly turned out, who performed their tasks with smooth, quiet efficiency. Plates came and went unobtrusively, and  the servers seemed to move on those proverbial “little cat’s feet.” Formal, but sans hauteur, courtly, but sans snobisme, and actually seeming to enjoy their work while still maintaining the room’s air of posh, yet comfortable exclusivity, they were as much a part of the spell Le Diane cast as its dramatic layout, chic décor, warm lighting, and world-class cuisine. For the duration of the meal, at least, we too were among “the happy few.”

[RP]    A trio of shrimp preparations: grilled, in a dumpling, and tartare were served with two glasses of seafood broth, for dipping and drinking, and individual squeeze-tubes of wasabi, all beautifully presented on a hammered stainless rack, and delicious. For chef Jean-Yves Leuranguer (named "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" in 1996), sourcing the best ingredients (where better than in France, where every region, and, even, many of the individual towns, boast their own, high-quality, often exceptional, products) and treating each in the manner best suited to bring out and enhance its inherent goodness is just the start.

    The arrangement of the plates must also  be creative and inspired: mini-tableaus as lovely as they are mouth-watering. My salmon that night was mi-cuit, that is, cooked at a very low temperature for a relatively long time, so it’s definitely not raw, but the proteins have not been allowed to toughen. The fish, a deep, ruby red rectangle, was laid diagonally, across a square field of green, lime-flavored sauce, all enclosed in a white, four-sided frame of coconut sauce.

    Precisely shaped, tiny pieces of red and yellow beets, were set into the frame like miniature jewels.

It certainly was the sweetest, and most tender salmon I’ve ever eaten, while the two sauces and the little nibbles of beet, added complementary flavors and textures. For the line-caught sea bass, bar de ligne, the presentation was simpler, almost home-style. The visual impact of the piece of perfectly grilled, beautifully fresh fish was enough. All it needed was a bed of coco paimpolais. What kind of coconut is that, you may well ask yourself, as I did when I saw it on the menu?

    Well, live and learn. This is France, after all, whose gastronomy has just been awarded World Heritage status. Coco paimpolais, as it turns out, are white beans with red pods, larger than navy beans, oval, but verging on the circular, grown in Paimpol, a township in Brittany, whose specialty now carries its own AOC, the first given to a fresh vegetable. Plump, inviting, with a slight nuttiness all their own, they certainly were delicious beans.

    A few small pieces of abalone, again from Brittany, atop the fish and a nage resembling sea-foam completed the tableau. Slices of milk-fed veal loin (veau de lait fermier), exactly medium rare, were simply laid out in a small puddle of delicious brown, demi-glace sauce, with a fondant potato “basket” filled with  cèpes and a few baby, root vegetables the only other thing on the plate, each element brought to perfect fruition.

    With dessert, the chef’s painterly whimsy was once again at the fore. Parfums de Thailande, turned out to be three prettily arranged scoops of gelato: lime, lemon verbena, and grapefruit, on a coconut wafer, with five dots of curry sauce flecked with gold leaf, and seven of lime finishing off the plate.

    Fortunately, the night we were there, one of the tables around the central settee was occupied by a well-dressed couple, the woman dressed to the nines in a very dramatic black dress, and long above-the elbow, black gloves. Her dress --very like the one that Bette Davis wore in "All about Eve" at the infamous party--had an haute couture flair that was unmistakably contemporary. Not only beautiful, it also suited her own particular beauty, her coiffure, and her beautiful shoulders, as well as the zeitgeist, to a tee. All that was needed were the spectacular jewels (each substantial, but not flashy, and all, one would imagine, gifts from the man, her husband more than likely, sitting across the table) on her fingers (large emerald and ruby rings), her wrist (a tennis bracelet of good-size diamonds) and her ears (more big diamonds). I found it very hard to take my eyes off her. She was just what the space was about: elegance, luxury, wealth, and easy, exquisite good taste.

Appetizers: 23 to 49 euros, main courses: 42 - 62, desserts/fromage: 18 euros.
Menu gourmand: 78 euros, menu dègustation: 98 euros, 125 with wines.




1899 at Les Manoirs de Tourgeville.


    Hidden up a forest lane a few miles from Deauville and Honfleur is Les Manoirs de Tourgeville (Chemin de l’Orgueil, Tourgeville, 02-31-14-48-68; doubles from 130 euros, suites from 220),  a rural, boutique hotel that brings a new standard of luxury to the countryside of Basse-Normandie. Sharing a lush, verdant tree-lined road with a dozen or so half-timbered manor houses, once farms, now carefully restored as country estates for gens de bien, Les Manoirs invite one to sit back, breath in the sweet country air, and stay a while, enjoying its superb accommodations and beautiful, peaceful surroundings. Only the setting is rustic; the elegance of its guestrooms is undeniable.

    Our suite spread over three floors, a large living room on the first floor, dressing room and marble bathroom on the 2nd, and spacious bedroom, with king-sized bed on the floor above. Everything was fresh and brand new. A deep bathtub and rainfall shower head, luxury toiletries, thick towels, towel heater, and fluffy bathrobes added to the amenities, while the lovely living room had a small dining area, and boasted a manor house-sized, working, fireplace. The fire was all ready to go when we checked in, obviously assembled by someone who knows how to build one. A single match did the trick. When our wood rack was empty, we called the front desk, and more logs and tinder were promptly delivered. (We even had a fire with breakfast.) Throw in a large, indoor, heated swimming pool, sauna, tennis court, rapid-fire room service --the quickest I’ve ever encountered--and a smiling, personable, and helpful staff, aux petits soins, as the French would say, and you’ve got everything needed to make your stay a memorable one.

    Plus, there’s Bernard, the soul of the place. Although he does help with the bags and fetch the firewood, to call him a bellboy would be ridiculous-- he looked to be in his fifties; factotum would be better, but majordomo would be the most accurate. He’s looked after guests at the property since long before its present incarnation. Called simply Club 13, then La Hostellerie de Tourgeville, it was a single building, 25-room, country gite, once owned by film director Claude Lelouch, of "Un homme et une femme" fame. Purchased by Groupe Floirat in 2009, it reopened as Les Manoirs in May, 2010, after nine months of major renovations including the addition of four new, round manor houses, all built, in a typically Norman style, for a total of 57 rooms. We were only there for two nights, but Bernard is, to say the least, a “quick study,”  and, once having gauged our preferences, did his best --which is very good indeed-- to stay one step ahead of our requests. I felt honored, somehow, to be the recipient of his ministrations.                                     [RP]

    Basse-Normandie is as famous for racetracks as for its apples and beaches, and one part of the Manoirs’ grounds borders on a racehorse paddock containing (quartering, holding) about a dozen or so horses --adults, colts, and a few yearlings as well. The colts seemed to know that we were taking their pictures, as four of them lined up neatly abreast, as close as they could get to the camera from the other side of a wire fence, and even appeared to nod to let us know when they were ready for their close-ups. 

    The name of the restaurant here, 1899,  is a tribute to the founder of Groupe Floirat, Sylvain Floirat, who was born in that year. Redesigned by local architect, Patrick Le Gosles, the dining room is a gorgeous, large, circular space, filled with light from panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the grounds and woods beyond. Inside, drama is provided by the massive beams of Normandy oak, used as “ribs” for a spectacular cathedral-high, timbered-framed roof, constructed like an umbrella’s canopy. Like the rest of the property, its architectural charm resides in the use of traditional, local building materials --wood, ashlar stone and slate-- and of structural elements verging on the primitive  --those large timbers could almost have been hewn with an axe, and the roof-pole and crown recall the yurts of nomadic shepherds-- but used in a new way, and with the addition of super-sophisticated details, all without sacrificing creature comforts. Tables are beautifully dressed, widely-spaced, and surrounded by comfortable chairs.

    The chefs here need not look far for inspiration, and dinner began with two local specialties:  foie gras de canard d’Auge, and poire Louise-Bonne, a winter pear from Avranches. The foie gras was served two ways, au torchon  and pan-seared, alongside slices of the pear, both fresh and confit, as well as a pear chutney, an excellent combination of sweet and savory, hot and cold, and rich, buttery flavors and clean, crisp ones.

    Next, presse de pot au feu de jarret de veau Normand, a delicious terrine made from a pot au feu of veal knuckle --with the meat and vegetables cut up, then layered under a weight (presse), so the result had the visual precision of a sand painting-- served with three thick drizzles of horseradish sauce, a mesclun salad, and a small pile of woodsy, autumn mushrooms that seemed to bring the surrounding woodlands inside. As did demi perdreau rouge de chasse, dorè en cocotte, an entrée of beautifully burnished wild partridge -- half a  bird, a tiny drumstick and thigh, and slices of the breast-- as well as toasted slices of baguette lavishly spread with a deep, dark, delicious paste made from the liver, along with a diamond of pumpkin flavored polenta and a verjus sauce. Just as good as the wild bird was the farm-raised saumon d’Isigny, with lemon-thyme and Romanesco.

    From a new aquaculture enterprise --the first fish were sold only in July of last year-- in Isigny-sur-mer in Calvados that uses no vegetable oil, artificial colorants, or antibiotics, this was definitely high quality, firm fleshed salmon (left), with a delicious flavor and a blush of pink color. A streak of lemon-thyme sauce ran around the periphery of the plate, studded with beautiful pale green flowerets of Romanesco (not Romesco, as I had first read), a type of broccoli (not a sauce), sometimes called Romanesco broccoli, sometimes R. cauliflower, that looks like some outer space or undersea mutant of a plant that’s a little bit of both vegetables. (For those interested, it’s a fractal.) Very tasty and very beautiful to look at, and with a much more pleasant and interesting taste than either broccoli or cauliflower.

    Normandy’s endless bounty was again center stage with our assiette de fromages normande. Camembert, Livarot, and Pavé d’Auge, all served at the peak of ripeness, and with a small salad that was just what was needed to clean the palate between bites of cheese. The unpasteurized-milk  Camembert, had a much worse bark than its bite, its flavor milder than its intense odor would lead one to expect, and Pave d’Auge is an old variation of Pont l’Evêque.

    Dessert proper was coing et réglisse, a warm quince soufflé, with a licorice crème brûlée. I’ve never been partial to licorice, but I love quince, so I had to try it.  I’m glad to say that the licorice was very subtle, and the quince very intense, just as I’d hoped.

    We drank a delicious, reasonably priced red burgundy, a 2005 Château de Chamirey, Mercurey by Antonin Rodet, recommended by the sommelier. It was a classic expression of French pinot noir: a bright ruby red, with lovely cherry fruit without a hint of sweetness, a whiff of underbrush, a medium body, and a supple texture.

Starters:  15 to 20 euros, Main course: 19-29, Desserts/Fromages: 7-11.

Edward Brivio is a New York-based freelance writer.



by John Mariani

Photos by Geert Teuwen, Iwan Baan, and Evan Sung


Lincoln Center

142 West 65th Street

212- 359-6500

    Few restaurants in America--or anywhere for that matter--have the architectural sweep and beauty of Lincoln, the showpiece Italian dining spot at Lincoln Center. It is, in fact, the latest on a tiny list of grand NYC design marvels that include The Four Seasons,  Windows on the World (sadly destroyed on 9/11), and The Modern at the Museum of Modern Art. Lincoln was done by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, which also did the High Line trestle and NYC's Waterfront Park, always creating  designs that partake of and enhance the spaces they occupy. In the case of Lincoln, it is a sloping glass box with an actual NYC green park on its roof, just now attracting people for whom basking in the springtime sun, flanked by Lincoln Center, Juilliard, and the torrent of Broadway below is as much thrilling as soulful in a way that only NYC can convey.
    Right off the bat, here, I must tell you that my son is one of the managers at Lincoln, so I can hardly be objective  about the service except to say that it definitely has a NYC cast of genial hospitality.  Form your own conclusions.
    The wine list, under
  Aaron von Rock, is  all-Italian, with 350 selections of mostly small producers, with plenty of bottlings under $50.
      The appointment of master chef Jonathan Benno (right) by the Patina Group (which also runs Sea Grill, Brasserie, and Fonda del Sol in NYC) was one of the most talked-about of late 2010,  since Benno had for many years been chef at Thomas Keller's Per Se, having previously worked at Keller's French Laundry in Napa Valley, and along the way been on brigades at Aqua in San Francisco, Daniel,  Craft and Les Celebrités in NYC, and Auberge du Vieux Puits in France.  Since Per Se had won just about every high star rating in the world and since Benno was named in 2006 one of ten “Best New Chefs” in the United States by Food & Wine Magazine, expectations were very high upon his taking over at Lincoln.  As too often (always?) happens, NYC food critics leapt to judgment and found Lincoln something less than what they'd hoped for in terms of highly imaginative, highly personalized, Per Se-like cuisine, with an extensive tasting menu. The reviews were rarely effusive but at least some noted that Benno's strengths would prove themselves as the kitchen evolved.  This has certainly been the case in now illustrious restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Del Posto, Adour, and SD26, where within a few months of opening, they achieved a balance and focus that soon made them among the finest restaurants in NYC.
    So, too, over several visits I have seen Benno's cuisine evolve, not by becoming more complex or precious but by sheer refinement and reconfiguring, so that some dishes still on the menu from the fall are now stellar examples of cucina italiana. Newer dishes show his finesse and insistence on deep, rich flavors that come directly from ingredients that need no manipulation.

    At lunch you may well begin with a simple salad of chicory and pecorino cheese just to perk the appetite, the ingredients revelatory of Benno's mania for excellence.  Then there's a tartare of big-eye tuna with Castelvetrano olives, radish, cucumber, fennel and a shot of Calabrian chilies. One of the really terrific dishes that has found a welcome longevity here is Benno's terrine of octopus and pork belly, whose sweet, salty, fatty tastes and textures play off so well against the tangy pickled vegetables. The kitchen also makes its own lustrous salumi that goes so well with the  sheer sheets of Sicilian crackers called carta da musica.
     For pastas, the array is judicious in number, and you'll want to try them all, for all are special to Lincoln.  Fat tortelloni are stuffed with nettles, with a sweet-sour mostarda, walnuts, and salty ricotta salata.  If you've written off spaghetti with clams for a while, sample Lincoln's and be restored to an appreciation of  the honest goodness of this exquisitely simple dish of al dente spaghetti with Littleneck and razor clams, tomatoes, and a bite of peperoncino. A big hit--and one of those dishes that gets better and better here--is the black strozzapreti  ("priest stranglers") with an assertive dashing of bottarga roe, capers, and Taggiasca olives, while the heartiest pastas are the housemade rigatoni with spicy pork sausage, ricotta and basil, and orecchiette ear-shaped macaroni made from whole wheat, with a ragù of duck, pork, Savoy cabbage, and parsnip--a triumph of many flavors.

    I've remarked recently about how some Italian kitchens in NYC go overboard with their main courses, when things should actually be tamed down after the flurry of spicy flavors that precede them.  Benno has got it just right, with plenty of flair but without the compounding of ingredients. So, flounder is impeccably cooked, enhanced only by red pearl onions, cauliflower, currants and pine nuts, a sweet-sour style Italians call in saor. Branzino is scented with grilled fennel and Meyer lemon with Cerignola olives.
    If you favor meat, the unassuming breast of chicken with spaetzle, watercress and baby onions is succulent and good, while the roast shank of braised lamb with Castelluccio lentils and rich sauce of lamb is a stand-out. The big veal chop (below), requisite in NYC Italian restaurants, is a fine one. Whatever you do, order a side dish of good old eggplant parmigiana: this one is anything but predictably good--it's one of the most delicious items on the menu.
    It may be difficult for you to pass up the splendid array of cheeses offered here daily, with fitting wines to accompany them, but you definitely don't want to miss Richard Capizzi's superb desserts, each one with an intensity of flavor in every component, from the warm chocolate cake with grapefruit cream and espresso gelato to gianduiotto with cream, chocolate gelato, and hazelnuts, and a marvelous crostata of pear and cranberry with a Muscovado sugar  and brown butter gelato.
    Early reviews remarked on Lincoln's prices being very high for some dishes that were then very small in portion size, and that was in fact true at the beginning. But those portions have now been amply expanded, so that Lincoln is no more expensive, and in many cases less so, than comparable NYC Italian restaurants.  For instance, at the new Villa Pacri  in the Meat Market District, pastas run $22-$36 and main courses $28-$55; 
at Marea, pastas are $25-$33, main courses, $38-$49. But at Lincoln,  pastas range from $18-$28 and main courses $30-$38, with a very well priced five-course tasting menu $85, with wines $55more. At Del Posto, a similar five-course menu is $115.
    Dining at Lincoln is a good deal more than the food and wine.  Sitting there in a swiveling chair in a low-lighted dining room with a civilized conversational level and a fine choice of unobtrusive jazz, you know you are at the heart of something uniquely New York, and that's a million dollar feeling all on its own.

Lincoln is open daily for lunch and dinner, on Sat. & Sun. for brunch.





by Christopher Mariani

Miami Style

ONE Bal Harbor Resort & Spa

10295 Collins Avenue



    Nowadays, high-end luxury hotels seem to be the norm in almost every city across the United States. Travelers can visit any metropolis, big or small, and will most likely have multiple hotel options, all with gorgeous rooms, top-notch amenities, first-class concierge services, and usually one or two really good restaurants. So what makes one luxury hotel stand out from the rest? After spending many nights at some of America’s best hotels, including The Ritz Carlton, The Four Seasons, The Mandarin Oriental and many of Las Vegas’ finest, including the new Cosmopolitan, I realized that there must be a wow factor to be considered an elite hotel in such a saturated market of otherwise very good deluxe hotels.
This past month I headed down to South Florida for a lovely change in climate from the relentless and bitter cold wintry mix of NYC. Most of the time, depending on the reasons for my stay in Miami, I will either check-in at the new JW Marriot Marquis Miami for business, where I can walk right downstairs and eat at Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Moderne, or if for a fun weekend with friends, the W South Beach. But this time I needed some R&R, so I drove north of Miami and checked into One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa. At first glance, the hotel is very modern, with a grand lobby dressed with murals and artwork, a very simple yet chic restaurant with an outside dining patio, and a very accommodating, friendly service staff. But it was not until I entered my ocean view suite that I became really impressed, realizing this hotel had a wow factor.

         The suites are enormous, on one side an elegantly decorated living room (above) with dark wood floors, yellow leather couches, a dining room table that can seat six, a fully functional kitchen centered around a magnificent marble bar, and a direct view of the beach that stretches as far as the eye can see. There's a massive bedroom that sits on the opposing side of the suite, where a second balcony hangs and looks out at the bay area through floor-to-ceiling sliding windows. The bathroom (below) is almost the same size of the bedroom, filled with a white bathtub placed directly next to the window offering a stellar view, a walk-in shower with four different optional shower heads, and even enough space to pull up a cot if need be. The rooms are divided into multiple towers, so each floor has only two rooms per tower. Beyond the beautifully elegant design of the suites, it is the private condominium feel that is unique and gratifying.

         The resort also has its own private beach front with white beach chairs and umbrellas along with drink and food attendants walking with trays of Champagne and snacks. The pool area, which in the late hours of the day does not receive ample sunlight, has an attractive set up with a small bar along with a handful of personal cabanas fitted with individual hot tubs. There is one signature restaurant on property with two main dining rooms and a trendy outside terrace, wonderful for pre-dinner cocktails. There may be many hotels in the surrounding area with the same level of service of this one and an equal caliber of restaurants and amenities, but there’s definitely not a hotel that comes close to the sophistication in suite design that is found at One Bal Harbour.  



130 Northeast 40th Street



    About two months back I met Michael Schwartz (below) for the first time at the Cayman Cookout event on the sunny island of Grand Cayman. I did have a chance to stop by Michael’s Genuine in Cayman, but it was only for after dinner drinks from his grand selection of top shelf añejo tequilas. My first taste of Michael’s food was at a beach party the following evening, where he served sweet and spicy chunks of savory fried pork belly. Granted, I have a weakness for pork belly, but this was by far one of the best preparations I had ever tasted. So, it was without question that the next time I visited Miami I would have to stop by Michael’s Genuine and eat an entire meal.

         Let me start by saying Michael’s Genuine in Miami is easily one of the hottest spots in the city. The restaurant was booming with activity as guests huddled around the bar waiting for a table. The casual outside patio was packed, as was the main dining room. Reservations are a must. The atmosphere was vibrant and roaring with energy. Outside, diners sit around wooden tables covered by large black umbrellas and enjoy a chic atmosphere while servers bustle back and forth somehow maintaining a very civilized service where drinks and food all come out in a timely manner. Inside, the bar is filled as customers drink and chat while waiting for a table. The main dining room faces Schwartz’s open kitchen and is filled with dark tables and chairs, black leather banquets and red water glasses that match the red spiral staircase and  hanging art. Because the floors are concrete and the ceilings high, the restaurant can get noisy, but I guess that’s part of the appeal when running one of the hottest restaurants in Miami.

         Beyond the lively atmosphere the food is why Michael’s has generated such a buzz. Schwartz’s dishes are full of gusto and the type food you want eat again and again. Flavors are bold and the ingredients taste the way they were intended too, no manipulation here. Appetizers are great for sharing and include a crispy pig's ear salad with red onions and orange slices; a terrific onion soup filled with chunks of tender beef cheek, crostini and topped with an aged Gruyère cheese. From the “medium” section of the menu, the crispy sweet and spicy pork belly is a true reflection of Schwartz’s cooking, served with a small portion of kimchi mixed with crushed peanuts and pea shoots. The menu goes on to offer an array of wood oven-roasted proteins that include a whole chicken, local snapper, Niman Ranch leg of lamb, and a well-fatted bone-in ribeye, all elegantly presented. Schwartz doesn’t stop impressing, with all desserts made in house, including a tangerine Creamsicle pot de crème; local passion fruit meringue tart; and a decadent banana toffee panino served with mint chocolate caramel ice cream

         It’s too often I hear from chefs that on their rare nights off from working in the kitchen they head out for a good burger or comfort food as opposed to the type of cuisine they serve nightly. It is evident that Schwartz is cooking food he  loves to cook, the type of food I can safely assume he himself would enjoy even on a night off from the stoves.




Inside the Townhouse Miami

150 20th Street, Miami Beach


Located below the main floor of the Townhouse Miami hotel is the Bond St. Lounge, a very hip Japanese sushi restaurant and bar filled with young trendy guests taking shots of sake while enjoying house specialty rolls, hot and cold appetizers and some tasty teriyaki skewers prepared by executive chef Mike Hiraga. The dining room has a low ceiling and is dimly lit creating a lounge-type ambiance. Many tables are communal and diners sit together on tall chairs under low-hanging lamps. The atmosphere personifies Miami’s posh lifestyle, where young men are dressed in light-colored blazers and V-neck t-shirts while many of the city's most beautiful Cuban women are dressed in swanky dresses and high heels. The attractive décor and clientele are a good match to the beautifully presented food.

         All items are reasonably priced, especially the appetizers, which include a beef tataki served over arugula and a crunchy wasabi chimichurri. Yellowtail sashimi is drizzled with a subtle Szechuan pepper ponzu sauce. Hiraga goes on to offer specialty rolls; one of the best, a simple eel tempura, is wrapped in seaweed and rice, coated with Japanese spices and sprinkled with sea salt. The smoked salmon roll is spiced up with a hint of jalapeño and balanced with a creamy dill sauce. Bond St. also features its famous premium bluefin tuna toro served in three different styles, the negiri by far the best. Generous portions of Chilean sea bass, tender beef, succulent chicken and shrimp come to table on hot skewers and can be cooked in  either a teriyaki or a sweet miso glaze.

         Hiraga’s menu is straightforward and to the point. He doesn’t pedal around and offer every dish under the sun as so many Japanese restaurants sometimes do. Chef knows his strong points and offers extremely high-end sushi at a respectable price. After dining at Bond St., I was not surprised to see the dining room still packed at 11 pm as late night guests were still arriving for a few drinks and a quick bite.


 To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to




An Excellent 2009 Vintage Buoys Beaujolais Sales

By John Mariani



     The 1970s fad for holding Beaujolais Nouveau parties upon the November release of the new harvest’s wine started to fade fast in the next decade and really fizzled in the next. Ever since, Beaujolais’s reputation has been so linked with those unfinished, unaged wines that even wine lovers give relatively little thought to well-made, well-aged non-Nouveau Beaujolais.

     Indeed, after the 2001 vintage, more than 1.1 million cases of Beaujolais (mostly Nouveau) were destroyed or distilled into alcohol because of poor sales, and since then, there have been almost yearly scandals about Beaujolais being adulterated with other wines or sugar.

     All of which is really too bad, because in a good year, a carefully aged Beaujolais can be sheer delight. Made from the deep purple gamay noir grape, Beaujolais is produced on hundreds of small to medium-sized properties over 50,000 acres in southern Burgundy. Most of it is sold through distributors called negoçiants.  The best Beaujolais come ten village crus, whose wines are a couple of degrees higher in alcohol (13 percent and a little higher) than basic Beaujolais or Beaujolais Supérieur.

     These are Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliènas, Moulin-à-Vent, Morgon, Saint-Amour, and Régnié—-none of which is made as Nouveau Beaujolais. All represent very good value, usually costing between $10-$15 a bottle.

     The largest negoçiant, sometimes called the “King of Beaujolais” for his marketing efforts in the 1970s and 1980s, is Georges DuBouef, 77 (with his son Franck, below), who still ships 2.5 million cases annually. He himself has not escaped scandal, as when he was charged in 2005 with mixing low-grade wines into the weak 2004 harvest. Since then some U.S. wine stores have been tentative about buying Beaujolais, and one retailer I spoke with said he was offered a special deal on DuBoeuf wines but turned it down for a general lack of interest in Beaujolais on the part of his customers.

     Nevertheless, a recent tasting of the well-regarded 2009 DuBoeuf crus showed me that Beaujolais can still be among the most charming wines at the dinner table. The six I sampled were purchased from New York’s Sherry-Lehmann, which, according to the labels, were “specially selected by Georges DuBoeuf” for the wine store. All had been blind tasted when in barrel by the Concours des Vins du Maconnais et du Beaujolais and awarded the Medaille d’Or.

      “The ’09 vintage was so good that even the sale of Nouveau was a great success,” said Chris Adams, CEO of Sherry-Lehmann, in a phone interview. “Now, with some age, the ‘09s are so food friendly and offered at such a good price that we’re seeing interest in Beaujolais growing again.”

     There were definite distinctions among the crus I tasted that showcased why these village wines generally rise above the rest. If I may be allowed a Gallic metaphor, the Saint-Amour ($13.49) and the Chénas ($12.49) were very feminine compared to the heft of a Chiroubles ($12.49) and Juliénas ($12.95).  I scribbled “gamine” on the Saint-Amour label, the very well-fruited cherry-like soul of Gamay at its best, a wine that could be served with anything from pork to roast chicken, which was stuffed under the skin with herb butter. The Chénas—supposedly Louis XIII's  favorite wine--was more complex than one might think about Beaujolais, with plenty of the village’s ripe fruit atop spicy, green flavors.

     Another night my dinner was seared and roasted veal chops, cooked pink, and with this the Morgon ($11.95) stood out for its bold Beaujolais spirit and its ability to age well, still with soft tannins and creamy fruit flavors.  A Chiroubles was the driest of my sampling, showing the minerality of its 400-meter hillside altitude and granite soil and the richness of even some mightier Burgundian pinot noirs.

     I wasn’t very fond of the Juliénas, whose unimpressive, flat bouquet was followed by a one-dimensional metallic flavor I don’t think would be a match for many foods above the hamburger level.  Brouilly ($12.95) is almost always a crowd pleaser, with good body, plenty of flower scents in the nose, and an earthy vibrancy of fruit that knits it all into good balance.  I think it’s an ideal wine to go with grilled salmon—much better than most white wines would be—as well as terrine of foie gras on toasted country bread.


John Mariani's wine column appears in Bloomberg Muse News, from which this story was adapted. Bloomberg News covers Culture from art, books, and theater to wine, travel, and food on a daily basis.


Wow, we always thought "Nazd'rov n'yeh!" meant

"How about a nice piece of smoked fish?

Russia is attempting to have beer declared an alcoholic drink rather than

its previous designation as a food.  This would allow it to be taxed by the government.


A police investigation was launched into a possible hazing incident at the University of Virginia after a 
19-year-old first-year student, who was pledging at Zeta Psi fraternity, was rushed to the hospital after eating dog food, matzo balls, gefilte fish and soy sauce. He was hospitalized for four days.  An investigator said that a Zeta Psi member said the meal is a tradition for pledges.


Quick Bytes

Guidelines for submissions:  QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public. When submitting please send the most pertinent info, include telephone # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below.  Thanks.  John Mariani

From now, at  Le Cirque in New York, ideeli members can enjoy a four-course, seasonal prix-fixe menu-available at Sirio Maccioni's iconic French restaurant in Midtown for $60, a savings of 34%, OR a four course prix-fixed with wine pairing for $88, also a savings of 34%. Visit

Starting March 28th at Morrell & Company in New York, NY, ideeli members can enjoy $49 for admission to "it’s all about Napa wines" class on Apr. 20th, 2011 or Apr. 26th, 2011—A savings of 30% off. Visit
On Apr. 4 – 8 Michel in McLean, VA presents a special $21 three course 'model friendly' prix fixe luncheon in celebration of the Fashion for Paws runway show on Apr. 9, 2011.  Healthy menu items are available to models and Michel guests alike, with a percentage of the profits benefiting The Washington Humane Society.    Michel Richard will also be contributing his original artwork to the silent auction taking place during the Fashion for Paws runway show at the National Building Museum.  Call 703-744-3999 or visit

L'Auberge Chez Francois
On April 5 L’Auberge Chez Francois restaurant in Great Falls, VA, will host an Alsatian Wine Tasting Dinner. Owner and wine maker, Catherine Fallar, of Domain Weinbach, one of the top wineries in Alsace, will be presenting new wines and answering questions. Chef Jacques Haeringer will pair wines with a five-course meal.  Price $125 per person all inclusive.  To reserve spaces go to or call the restaurant at 703-759-3800.
On April 5, Koi in Evanston, IL, will host an 8-course chef's table led by sushi chef Guosheng Yu. The menu will be paired with featured wines and sake. $35pp. Call 847-866-6969 or visit
On April 5 in New York, Chef Hemant Mathur of Tulsi restaurant will host India’s celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, for a collaborative 5-course dinner featuring 2 recipes from Kapoor’s first cookbook for U.S. audiences, How to Cook Indian, as well as 3 courses from Tulsi’s menu. Attendees receive a copy of Kapoor’s cookbook and have a chance to meet him. $85 pp; $120 with wines. 212-888-0820 or visit

Tasting Brooklyn

On April 5 in Brooklyn, NY, Tasting Brooklyn, a showcase for the culinary diversity of Brooklyn and a celebration of the first anniversary of Brooklyn Exposed, takes place at Dumbo Loft. 25 Brooklyn restaurants, including Barrio Foods, Bati Kitchen, Clover Club, Loreley Williamsburg, Purple Yam, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Stone Park Café, Tanoreen, Tchoup Shop, The Chocolate Room and Thistle Hill Tavern, will serve food alongside wines from Brooklyn Oenology and Bouke, as well as Pool Vodka, BAO Kombucha and Ayala's Herbal Water. Proceeds benefit Brooklyn Food Coalition, a grassroots partnership dedicated to creating a sustainable system for delicious, healthy and affordable food. Tickets $45 p.p. at
On April 6 in Larkspur, CA, Left Bank Brasserie hosts a “Head-To-Tail” Suckling Pig Dinner featuring whole roasted pig with sausage and potato stuffing, glazed spring onions, baby carrots, and sweet peas served family style. $49.00 pp. Call 415-927-3331or visit
On April 7, Carlucci Restaurant in Downers Grove, IL, will host a winemaker reception led by Winemaker Mike Westrick of Sterling Wineries. The wines will be paired with small bites by Executive Chef Kevin Provenzano including Mozzarella con Prosciutto, Crispy Galamod and more. $25pp. Call 630-512-0990 or visit
On April 9, in San Diego, CA, Rhythm & Vine, A benefit for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego will feature world class wineries, sprits, and breweries; North County's best restaurants & gourmet foods; and live musical performances. $75 pp/ $100 pp at the door. Call 858-866-0591 or visit
On April 9, Dallis Bros. Coffee will host the NYC Coffee People Party, a headline barista throwdown event for the North East Regional Barista Competition, in conjunction with Café Grumpy, Joe the Art of Coffee, Gimme! Coffee, Third Rail Coffee, and Brooklyn Brewery. A celebrity panel of judges including TV personality Kelly Choi and three-time Brazilian barista champion Silvia Magalhaes will oversee the latte art competition; beer, coffee, snacks, entertainment and entry are all free of charge and open to the public. Visit
On April 12, Chens Chinese and Sushi in Chicago, IL, will celebrate its 17th anniversary with a benefit for Japan. Guests will enjoy an assortment of Chinese and sushi dishes and be entered into a raffle for prizes like gift certificates, hotel stays and theater tickets. All proceeds will benefit disaster relief in Japan. $50pp. Call 773-549-9100 or visit
On April 12, Eleven at the Loews Hotel in Atlanta, GA will host a "Corks of Burgundy" wine dinner with a focus on the wines from the house of Louis Latour. Guests will enjoy a five-course tasting menu paired with two burgundy wines for each course. The five-course dinner is $95 per person exclusive of tax and gratuity. Call 404-745-5745 or visit
On April 13, San Francisco, CA, there's a rare opportunity to be a part of a collaboration dinner involving one of the wine world’s most renowned master sommeliers and the chef leading the soulful American cuisine movement. Sample Emmanuel Kemiji’s public and private wine library collections featuring Miura and Tejada Vineyards – featuring wines that have been out of circulation for over 10 years or never seen anywhere else - paired with Chef David Lawrence’s creative influence with the soul of southern cuisine. Wednesday, April 13, 6 pm reception, 7 pm dinner. $95 plus tax and gratuity for the reception and five-course wine pairing dinner. For reservations call 415-771-7100 or visit
On April 13 in Denver, CO The Ritz-Carlton's signature restaurant, ELWAY'S Downtown will host a Johnnie Walker five-course pairing dinner featuring a seasonal menu by ELWAY'S Chef Robert Bogart. Attendees will get to meet the House of Walker's Whiskey Master, Robert Sickler. Selected Scotch blends include Johnnie Walker Red Label, Green Label, Blue Label, Black Label and Gold Label. $75 pp plus tax and gratuity. Call 303-312-3107 or visit
On April 13, Grotto Italian Steakhouse in Oak Brook, IL, will host a Wine and Cheese Tasting featuring Estancia Pinot Noir and Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. The wines will be paired with an array of hand cut cheeses selected by Executive Chef Abraham Aguirre. Complimentary. Call 630-571-5700 or visit
On April 14, Chef Tony Mantuano will host Chef Jonathan Waxman for a seated dinner at Terzo Piano in Chicago in honor of Waxman's new cookbook, "Italian, My Way." Antipasti and cocktails followed by a family-style dinner with wine. Books will be available for purchase and signing with proceeds from all sales benefiting The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Illinois. $75 pp plus tax and gratuity. Call 312-443-8650 for reservations or visit

 Any of John Mariani's books below may be ordered from

My new book, How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan) is a rollicking history of the food culture of Italy and its ravenous embrace in the 21st century by the entire world. From ancient Rome to la dolce vita of post-war Italy, from Italian immigrant cooks to celebrity chefs, from pizzerias to high-class ristoranti, this chronicle of a culinary diaspora is as much about the world's changing tastes, prejudices,  and dietary fads as about our obsessions with culinary fashion and style.--John Mariani

" A fact-filled, entertaining history [that] substantiates its title with hundreds of facts in this meaty history of the rise of Italian food culture around the globe. From Charles Dickens's journey through Italy in 1844 to 20th-century immigrants to America selling ice cream on the streets of New Orleans, Mariani constantly surprises the reader with little-known culinary anecdotes about Italy and its people, who have made pasta and pizza household dishes in the U.S. and beyond."--Publishers Weekly

"Equal parts history, sociology, gastornomy, and just plain fun, How Italian Food Conquered the World tells the captivating and delicious story of the (let's face it) everybody's favorite cuisine with clarity, verve and more than one surprise."--Colman Andrews, editorial director of The Daily

"A fantastic and fascinating read, covering everything from the influence of Venice's spice trade to the imnpact of Italian immigrants in America and the evolution of alta cucina. This book will serve as a terrific resource to anyone iunterested in the real story of Italian food."--Mary Ann Espositio, hosty of PBS-TV's Ciao Italia.

"John Mariani has written the definitive history of how Italians won their way into our hearts, min ds, and stomachs.  It's a story of pleasure over pomp and taste over technique."--Danny Meyer, owner of NYC restaurants Union Square Cafe, Gotham Bar & Grill, The Modern, and Maialino.


FEATURED LINKS: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linked to 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:  IDAHO WHITE WATER RAFTING


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).


The Family Travel Forum  - A community for those who "Have Kids, Still Travel" and want to make family vacations more fun, less work and better value. FTF's travel and parenting features, including reviews of tropical and ski resorts, reunion destinations, attractions, holiday weekends, family festivals, cruises, and all kinds of vacation ideas should be the first port of call for family vacation planners. THIS WEEK:  TEN GREAT THEME PARKS

Family Travel Forum

                                                                    ALL YOU NEED 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, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery,  Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

Click Here to return to John Mariani's Homepage

© copyright John Mariani 2011