Virtual Gourmet

  September 26,  2021                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


Emily Bett Ricards, Eileen O'Higgins, Julie Waters, Saoirse Ronan, Maeve McGrath in "Brooklyn" (2015)



By John Mariani


By John Mariani

Chapter 26
By John Mariani

By John Mariani


On the next episode of my WVOX Radio Show "Almost Golden," on Wed. September 29,  at 11AM EDT,I will be interviewing Fredric Logevall, biographer of JFK.  Go to: The episode will also be archived at: almostgolden.



By John Mariani

War Memorial, Como
Photo by Galina Dargery (2020)

      Funny thing about the city of Como in Northern Italy is that many travel guides recommend getting out of town and sailing around Lake Como, rather than staying put in a city I’ve come to love all on its own for its beauty, its size, its history and its food. Yes, you can hop a tour boat and visit all the wonders of Lake Como—the charming towns of Bellagio and Tremezzo, the funicular up to the mountain town of Brunate—but Como itself teems with things to do and see.
      Easily reached by train from Milan, Como has never been overrun with tourists (who use it as a base from which to explore the lake), and its manageable city center is laid out largely along rectangular lines, with impeccably clean streets and restored buildings that include modern monuments well out of the ordinary in large Italian cities. There is little of the baroque in Como, and its magnificent cathedral  (below) is the last of its kind in the Gothic style with Romanesque motifs, dating to the end of the 14th century.
      It is a very appealing walking city, lying flat on the lake’s edge, with a broad Piazza Cavour flanked with fine buildings, including the city’s best and most modern Vista Palazzo Lago di Como Hotel (left) and the old Metropole Suisse, though esthetically compromised by the grotesque banality of Hotel Barchetta Excelsior. Here is the obvious place to start, from the train station, or, if you come from the north through the city’s Porto Nuovo gate, which bears strong resemblance to one in a De Chirico painting.
     Como was home to Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), the inventor of the electric battery and someone who is widely held as a favorite native son in the city. You can tour on your own those places associated with the scientist, including the classical high school Liceo Volta near the gate; Volta’s house on Via Volta; the Volta Museum (left) on Viale Marconi, built in 1927, where you’ll find the first version of the electric battery; the avant-garde Monument designed by architect Daniel Liebeskind at the bottom of Diga Foranea; Volta’s tomb is within the Camnago Volta village; and the Volta Lighthouse up in Brunate, designed by Gabriele Giussani in 1927.
     The city was once center of the architectural style called Italian Rationalism, developed in the 1920s and 1930s based on principles of functionalism for which a building should clearly reflect the purpose for which it was created without much flourish. Such structures around town include the Futurist Camerlata Fountain by Cesare Cattaneo and Mario Radice (right) in 1936; the innovative and influential Sant’Elia Kindergarten (1937) by Giuseppe Terragni with its wall of glass bringing light into the classrooms; the War Memorial of reinforced concrete designed by Antonio Sant’Elia and constructed by Giuseppe Terragni; well worth visiting is the Minimalist Casa del Fascio, built in 1936 as the Fascist Party headquarters (now a law enforcement agency building) that epitomizes the restraint and balance of Italian Rationalism, which stands out amidst the rest of the old mundane buildings on the block.
     Something of this same sense of order and spatial dynamics is to be found in the shopping streets behind the main Piazza and the old extant medieval walls. There are wonderful food shops, bakeries and cafés, along with very special clothing stores devoted to local designers, including the darling Il Girotondo degli Angeli  (below) for infants and children on Via Cinque Giornato. Tessabit, with two stores, has moderately priced men’s and women’s fashions, and for higher end there is Franca Roncoroni on Via Varesina, while Wolford on Via Indipendenza sells exquisite lingerie; for housewares, and home décor, check out Dep on Via Carcano. There are, of course, the international fashion chain stores also in the city center.
      A while back I wrote about where to eat in Como, so let me just jot down some names here: The finest alta cucina in the loveliest spot on the lake is at the Vista Palazzo Lago di Como Hotel’s Sottovoce (below),where chef Stefano Mattara works wonders with local ingredients. Chef Carlo Molon makes a worthwhile visit to Kincho outside of town at the Sheraton Lake Como. My favorite trattoria is Osteria Gallo, tucked into Via Vitani, where the di Toma family has over 37 years perfected the traditional fare of Lombardy, like braised pork and sweet prunes and chestnuts.  And if you crave great pizza, stroll over to the pretty blue-and-white Napule Pizzerias (there are two), where “Papa” Umberto and his three children, Ciro, Antonio and Katiuscia, have a high reputation in town and rightly so.
       The lakes of Northern Italy all have their individual appeal, but for me the city of Como is expressive of the very best of classical Italian beauty and modernity, and for its quiet, its sparse tourist crowd and its sophisticated inhabitants, it is a place where you can avoid the frenzy elsewhere as Italy returns to normal.





621 Amsterdam Avenue

By John Mariani

      Like the old joke about the three most important things in real estate being location, location and location, it is always worth repeating that, when it comes to cooking, the essentials are ingredients, ingredients and ingredients. Without good ones, a good cook cannot produce a good meal; without the finest, a great chef will never show his mettle. On the rare occasion when both are in harmony, you get a great meal, which is what I enjoyed, from antipasti to dolci, at the three-year-old Lucciola on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
      It was not the menu itself that was distinguished, for most of the dishes can already be found at many Italian restaurants in the city. Lucciola’s most exciting items are from Chef Michele Casadei Massari and partner Alberto Ghezzi’s native Emilia-Romagna, whose capital is Bologna. Certainly you’ll find tortellini and bolognese sauce everywhere, but not of this quality, and it all begins with the superb Italian charcuterie of buffalo milk mozzarella and truffled burrata DOP Fasano Pinsa.
       DOP (Denominazione d' Origine Protetta) is a strict labeling system that  preserves and protects regionally produced foods from lesser versions in the market, and it assures that the products meet the highest of standards of production from within very restricted regions. Largely, these are family-run operations designated by the DOP, which tests and tracks with serial numbers to understand the exact origins and processing. In fact, as brand ambassador for Parmigiano-Reggiano, Felicetti Pasta, and Urbani truffles,Massari is guaranteed to obtain the best of those lines in his kitchen.
     Lucciola takes its spirit from the charming 1985 film La Festea di Laurea (right), directed by Pupi Avati, about a lovelorn baker who mounts a graduation party for his inamorata’s daughter, which ends with a garden scene filled with lucciole (“fireflies”).
     Lucciola is a good-looking, well-designed ristorante with fine amenities: Soft lighting, good linens, exquisite wine glasses and Venetian blinds that reminded me of the art déco in Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1970 film The Conformist.
      I just left myself in Massari’s hands, asking him to stress the Bolognese dishes. Out came morsels of 48-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano with drops of Giusti aged balsamico dating back decades. Then came a platter ($49) of Salame Felino IGP, Mortadella Artigianale, Salame Gentile, Salame Fiorettino PAT, and cheeses (right) whose brands I’ve only seen in Italy, like Barolo Occelli, Castelmagno D'Alpeggio DOP, Taleggio Vero Sergio Arrigoni, Gran Pepe, Castelbelbo Pinsa al Pesto Modenese.
      To prepare us for richer food to come, Massari served yellow Cherokee Heirloom Cubarole with Cervia Sea Salt and a white condimento Bianco Giusti that had just the right sweetness and acid. You can tell from these citations just how individualized are the ingredients used.
      Then arrived the glorious pastas: Tender little tortellini with white truffles ($59) is a star turn, and when I asked the chef if it wasn’t a little early for white truffles, he said these came from the Apennines, rather from the better-known forests around Alba (right). They had wonderful aroma and good flavor this early in the season. Tortelloni ($49) were fat and the pasta (below) wrapping impeccable, tossed with very good Burro delle Vacche Rosse butter and sage (right). Passatelli ($32) is a very unusual pasta for which the dough—made from eggs, cheese, lemon peel, breadcrumbs and a touch of nutmeg—is formed into tiny dumplings, here lashed with a cream of Parmigiano Reggiano and Balsamico Giusti. The fourth pasta was the classic tagliatelle al ragù di bologna ($35), which Massari insists is “a meat-based sauce . . . Please be advised that it contains no garlic and no tomato sauce!!!” (Left)
      The city of Bologna (below) is called “Bologna Grasso”—“fat Bologna”—because of the hearty nature of its cookery, which is evident in Lucciola’s roasted free-range chicken with funghi porcini ($39), and in the robust beef stew called stracotto ($39) baked in a broth of Parmigiano Reggiano and served with potatoes.
      The dessert was a zabaglione with Amarena cherries.
      The basic wine list is short and, to my surprise, lacking in wines from Emilia-Romagna, though the waiter has some special wines he will gladly suggest. Happily, there is nothing on the main list costing more than $99.
     I should mention that for some reason Lucciola has a selection of caviars ($49-$299, depending on the ounces served), and their meats  come from Niman Ranch Prime Reserve ($79-$289) and A5 Mizazaki wagyu ($69-$299, the latter 29 ounces and topped with caviar.)
     If you paid attention to the prices for pastas, you might have knit your brows as to why they cost so much, aside from the white truffles. I can only say that, owing to the ingredients and expertise with which they are made, they are exceptional in every regard. I can easily see why the squid ink tagliolini with Colossal King crab runs $59, the lobster tagliatelle $49 and the spaghettone with bottarga, caviar and uni $49, but $49 for tortelloni with a simple pesto and $39 for spaghettone alla carbonara with egg yolk, guanciale bacon and pecorino romano are comparable only at Marea (where all pastas are $39), A Fiori ($37) and Il Gattopardo ($32-$37).  One does need to factor in the probability that most people who eat in Italian restaurants in New York rarely order antipasto, pasta and main course, so the splurge on a well-proportioned pasta is no longer as decadent as it once seemed.
      And if you thought you already knew all about Italian cuisine, you have a lot more to learn about ingredients in the hands of a master like Massari.  Rigorous authenticity only works when the cook’s respect for tradition is invigorated by his individual talents.


      Open Tues.-Sun. for dinner.




By John Mariani

To read all chapters of Capone's Gold beginning April 4, 2021 go to the archive



S.S. Rex


      Both Katie and David were looking at the ceiling in silence for answers.
      “Well, for starters,” David said after a while, “how would Capone get the gold to Italy?  Obviously, his using a rumrunner to connect with a German U-Boat didn’t work out as planned ”
      “Yeah, that didn’t go well,” said Katie. “But what if Mussolini approved a plan whereby Italian ocean liners could just pick up the gold with other shipments of goods?”
      “They had ocean liners in the 1930s?”
      “I’m pretty sure they did. Maybe it’s time to check in again with Edward Prus.”
      In fact, Italy had two of the grandest liners of the 1930s, the 880-foot Rex and the slightly smaller Conte di Savoia, which Mussolini ordered to be built as the new “Italian Line,” to compete with the transatlantic liners of several other countries.  As beautiful as they were to look at and sail in, they were also extremely fast, for Mussolini swore Italy would win the transatlantic speed record called the Blue Riband, which Germany had held for years. In August 1933, Rex (below) did take the record, in four days and 13 hours.
      Katie and David arranged a meeting for the next morning with Edward Prus, who was delighted to tell them all he knew about the Italian Line, bringing out sheaves of records, books, and photos.  He told them of how and why Mussolini had the ships built—the Conte di Savoia (below) had a revolutionary gyroscope system that improved stability measurably—and for their elegance, they were called the “Floating Riviera.”
      “They really were two of the most beautiful ocean liners ever built,” said Prus. “The Conte  had  a huge open-air swimming pool called the Lido, and a grand open-air promenade, a fully equipped gym, and even a Roman bath.”
      Prus went on to describe the vast interior public spaces, including the Grand Colonna Hall with a 24-foot ceiling, full of exquisite classical sculptures and a profusion of polished marble. There was even a motorcar garage below.
      Katie was fascinated by Prus’s effusive description of the ships, but David wanted to know more about the prospect of carrying Capone’s gold back to Italy. 
“Both boats were strictly for transatlantic crossings from Naples up to Gibraltar than on to New York,” said Prus. “They didn’t ply a southern route on the Atlantic.”
      “So, they would not have gone to ports like the Bahamas or Bimini?” asked David.
      “No, those were not that important or profitable as the Europe-to-New York route.  Mussolini built these ships for the glory of Italy, not just as cruise ships from port to port.”
      “And, if Capone’s people wanted to load the gold onto the ships?” asked Katie.
      “They’d have to do it New York. But, if it was approved by Mussolini himself, he would have had safeguards to allow such cargo on without it being inspected. Gold bullion weighs an enormous amount, so someone at the docks would have to have been paid off to ignore it.”
      “Of course, Capone certainly had enough connections in the dockyards to accomplish his end of that operation.”
      “One would assume so. A lot of what goes onboard ships doesn’t get inspected if the dockworkers are told to look the other way.”
      “And when were the Rex and the Conte di Savoia sailing?” asked Katie.
      “Let me see,” Prus said, flipping through pages in a document. “Rex was christened in August 1932 and started regular service a year later. It won the Blue Riband (right) that year.  The Conte di Savoia made her maiden voyage in 1932. Both ships continued sailing until the onset of the war and were then used for transport. Both were later bombed and sunk by Allied air strikes.”
      “So the time scheme works,” said Katie. “The ships were sailing at the time the heist was made, and it’s possible that the truck with the gold heading east was bound for New York, where the transfer onto the ship was done. And then the ship sailed back to Naples.”
      Katie and David thanked Edward Prus for his help and headed off for lunch.
      “So what do you think?” asked Katie, obviously excited by the information they’d acquired.
      “I’m trying not to get overly hopeful,” said David, “but things do seem to line up. We know that Capone wanted the gold out of the U.S.,  where the feds couldn’t get at it. He failed in his attempt to get part of the gold to Germany. Italy was really the only other alternative, and, if  he had access to one or two Italian liners with Mussolini’s approval right at the time when he so desperately needed gold in his banks, it could have worked very smoothly.”
      Katie nodded.  “I think this might be our biggest clue.”
      “Yeah, well, remember what happened with our last one. It sank off Bimini.”
      “Yes, but we weren’t wrong about it,” she said. “We can’t prove to the feds that a gold shipment went down in the Caribbean, so we’re just going to have to work hard to prove the Italian connection.”
      David drew himself up in his chair and said, sternly, “Then we’re just going to follow our leads to . . . Italy!  But is your editor going to bankroll that?”
      “I don’t see why not, if I can give him solid reasons to do so. When you were a detective, wouldn’t the department send you to Italy to investigate a case?”
      “Well, you had to have a very good reason. It would have to be absolutely critical to the case, but yes, they not only would but they did on one occasion.  I went over to compare notes with the Italian authorities and Interpol.  I also used to work on the Gotti case with a detective named Joe Coffey (far left, arresting Joe Bonanno), who once got the okay to trail a low level mobster from Little Italy to Germany in a case that involved counterfeit securities. Coffey always liked the limelight—he took Son of Sam’s confession and loved to tell people how he once danced with Nancy Reagan.  Even called his bullshit memoirs One Cop’s War Against the Mob.”
      “So why’d he get to go to Germany?” asked Katie.
      David said that after Coffey became principal investigator for New York State’s Organized Crime Task Force he apparently listened to some wiretaps while he was investigating the mob’s attempt to take over the Playboy Club in Manhattan. Coffey overheard a hood named Vinnie Rizzo (below), who was involved in the famous Lufthansa heist, saying he was going to Munich—not a place lowlife Italian gangsters were likely to visit for fun.  Coffey got permission to fly over and got some Army intelligence officers to bug Rizzo’s hotel room in Munich.
      “What’d he find out?” asked Katie.
      “Rizzo was making plans with some Mafia guys to transfer counterfeit and stolen securities through the Vatican Bank.”
      “You’re kidding? The Vatican Bank?”
      “Oh, yeah. The Vatican Bank (below) is as good as a Swiss bank when it comes to not asking too many questions. They eventually charged an archbishop who was president of the Vatican Bank with money laundering. We might have to spend a little time looking into that angle on our own case.”
       “Hey, do you remember during the O.J. Simpson trial when the court sent two guys to Italy to see what they could find out about those—what did O.J. call them?. .”
      “‘Ugly ass Bruno Magli shoes,’” David laughed.
      “Right,” all the way to Italy just to find out how many pairs Bruno Magli sold with the same tread as the one they found at the murder scene.”
        “I doubt any New York City judge would okay that kind of idiocy,” said David.
  “See, there you go. We’ve got a great reason to go to Italy! I’m sure my editor will okay the trip for both of us.  We really haven’t spent all that much in expenses, maybe $3,000 total. So, how’s your Italian?”
      “Not great, how’s yours?”
      “Not bad. My father and mother tried to get my sister and me to speak it at home, and later I took it in high school and college. We’ll do all right.”
      Lo Spero. I hope so.”
      Bravo, andra bene, Signore Greco.”
      “I guess I’ll call some of my old contacts in the Italian police, and you can make the travel arrangements.”
 “Fine with me.”
      “How long you think we’ll be over there?”
      “Impossible to say,” said Katie. “As long as the expenses hold out. Better pack lightly.”

John Mariani, 2015



By John Mariani


      Austrian wines have played a distant second to German wines in the world market, just as German wines have been decreasingly popular globally. Part of the quandary is that too often the wines of both countries have been regarded as too sweet for the contemporary palate, reminiscent of Blue Nun Liebfraumich. In fact, many of the finest German and Austrian wines are by design intensely sweet, like the great beerenauslesen and trockenbeerenauslesen Rieslings.
     But the trend for decades in Austria has been to make fine dry wines, both white and red, that compare with their counterparts in Germany, France (especially Alsace) and Italy, which, geographically, Austria borders and with which has had a long viticultural history.   To assay the current Austrian wine landscape, particularly with its commitment to going “green,” I spoke with Fred Loimer (below), owner of Weingut Fred Loimer,
who Rudolf Steiner, the father of biodynamic agriculture, called this ideal “farm individuality.” He is also the head of Respeckt,  a wine industry political organization. In 2002, he was named “Winemaker of the Year” by Austria's Falstaff wine magazine.


What does “Green Austria” mean?*

I’m not familiar with the term “Green Austria” but I would like to mention that Austria is “a little darker green” compared to most of our neighbors. The structure of our farmed land is small and the farms are mostly family businesses. Since 20 years now, there is a big run to organic and biodynamic farming and in the last 5 years also to sustainable farming, which can be seen as a first step in the right direction. Austria at the moment is No.1 in the world, it has the highest percentage of organic certified farm land.


* Green Austria is a promotional term used for the country’s wines.



Tell me about “orange, natural raw wines.”

It started in Austria with the “first wave” changing to biodynamic. Styrian growers like Sepp Muster, Werlitsch, Tscheppe, etc. started natural winemaking and the biggest change, was fermentation of whites on the skins. This was in the early 2000s. We, at our estate, started in 2003 with skin fermentation, changed to biodynamic 2 years later and started getting our experience in natural winemaking in 2006 with the move to biodynamic. So “orange,” “natural” and “raw” in Austria are very much related to biodynamic or organic (at least) farming, and it’s a reaction to a very technical, technological-driven boring mainstream of today’s majority in winemaking. These wines get more and more audience and also more and more a clean and clear profile.



Give me some of the basics that distinguish integrated, organic and biodynamic viticulture.

Integrated. This is today more or less the basic law of farming in Austria, nothing special. This was new and there were some regulations like the need of green cover and herbicide use and insecticide regulations. This is today the basic for sustainable winegrowing which only measures the way of working, and if you reach a certain level you get certified “sustainable.”

Organic—Farming is very regulated. No artificial fertilizers (especially nitrogen), no herbicides, no synthetic and systemic fungicides are allowed in the field. Also regulations in the cellar (SO2 on lower levels), short list of fining products, no additives.

Biodynamic—Organic with a holistic approach. Farm individuality is the concept. That means, you have to use your own resources instead of buying need for production. Two examples: no fertilizer allowed, ONLY own compost. No yeast, enzymes, or bacteria allowed; you have to create your own microflora in your cellar. The basic law is European organic growing, biodynamic guidelines are coming from associations like Demeter, Respekt, Biodyvin, etc.


When was Austria Bio Garantie GmbH founded and how extensive is its inspections? Every vineyard? Each estate’s wines? How does it differ from Demeter: Respekt-BIODYN: and Sustainable Austria? These seem to be doing much the same work, so it’s very confusing.  

ABG (Austria Bio Garantie) is like Lacon and others—a company which has permission to control farms. I have no idea when it was founded. It’s not a label or trade mark. ABG controls, like Lacon, organic certifications (EU BIO—the green flag), Bio Austria (organic), Demeter and Respekt (both biodynamic) and also Sustainable Austria, which is a trade mark run by the “Weinbauverband Austria,” a political association.

Organic and Biodynamic farms get controlled every year by appointment and one time in 5 years by dropping in. Sustainable Austria is a kind of “self control” and get certified and controlled every 3 years.

Sustainable and organic/biodynamic are by far not the same.

 How do Austrian winemakers try to differentiate themselves from the Germans and Alsatians?

By language.

 Is there still a lingering fall-out from the long-ago glycol scandal?

No! This is a history which was useful and happens in almost every wine country in their histories. I think this is related to winemaking since thousands of years. Jesus made water to wine


How available are Austrian wines in the global marketplace?

We are niche, but if you search you will find. We (Loimer) is available in 55 markets in the world. So, not that bad but we have a lot to do in the future.


How do they keep prices at a workable level?

With passion for winemaking. We love wine and were born as farmers. Marketing is something we are learning step by step.


How has global warming affected Austrian vineyards?

Harvest is almost a month earlier today compared to 40 years ago. But we are fine at the moment because Austria is after all a cool climate wine growing country. But the problem is serious and we take it seriously. It’s one of the reasons so many growers are changing to organic or biodynamic.


What will the industry be in 5 years?

Hopefully, successful. No kidding! I hope much greener and I do hope that between “story telling” and real quality is “Veritas!” – In Vino Veritas!


Berlin students will now have different vegetarian and vegan options, designed to reduce environmental impact. The initiative was welcomed by more than thirty Berlin canteens and cafés whose regular clientele is students, and  start in  October with  68% of the weekly menu will be vegan, 28% vegetarian and only 2% fish-based, plus a single meat option offered four days a week.


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

   The Hound in Heaven (21st Century Lion Books) is a  novella, and for anyone who loves dogs, Christmas, romance, inspiration, even the supernatural, I hope you'll find this to be a treasured  favorite. The  story concerns how, after a New England teacher, his wife and their two daughters adopt a stray puppy found in their barn in northern Maine, their lives seem full of promise. But when tragedy strikes, their wonderful dog Lazarus and the spirit of Christmas are the only things that may bring his master back from the edge of despair. 


“What a huge surprise turn this story took! I was completely stunned! I truly enjoyed this book and its message.” – Actress Ali MacGraw

“He had me at Page One. The amount of heart, human insight, soul searching, and deft literary strength that John Mariani pours into this airtight novella is vertigo-inducing. Perhaps ‘wow’ would be the best comment.” – James Dalessandro, author of Bohemian Heart and 1906.

“John Mariani’s Hound in Heaven starts with a well-painted portrayal of an American family, along with the requisite dog. A surprise event flips the action of the novel and captures us for a voyage leading to a hopeful and heart-warming message. A page turning, one sitting read, it’s the perfect antidote for the winter and promotion of holiday celebration.” – Ann Pearlman, author of The Christmas Cookie Club and A Gift for my Sister.

“John Mariani’s concise, achingly beautiful novella pulls a literary rabbit out of a hat – a mash-up of the cosmic and the intimate, the tragic and the heart-warming – a Christmas tale for all ages, and all faiths. Read it to your children, read it to yourself… but read it. Early and often. Highly recommended.” – Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of Pinkerton’s War, The Sinking of The Eastland, and The Walking Dead: The Road To Woodbury.

“Amazing things happen when you open your heart to an animal. The Hound in Heaven delivers a powerful story of healing that is forged in the spiritual relationship between a man and his best friend. The book brings a message of hope that can enrich our images of family, love, and loss.” – Dr. Barbara Royal, author of The Royal Treatment.


The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink by John F. Mariani (Bloomsbury USA, $35)

Modesty forbids me to praise my own new book, but let me proudly say that it is an extensive revision of the 4th edition that appeared more than a decade ago, before locavores, molecular cuisine, modernist cuisine, the Food Network and so much more, now included. Word origins have been completely updated, as have per capita consumption and production stats. Most important, for the first time since publication in the 1980s, the book includes more than 100 biographies of Americans who have changed the way we cook, eat and drink -- from Fannie Farmer and Julia Child to Robert Mondavi and Thomas Keller.

"This book is amazing! It has entries for everything from `abalone' to `zwieback,' plus more than 500 recipes for classic American dishes and drinks."--Devra First, The Boston Globe.

"Much needed in any kitchen library."--Bon Appetit.

Now in Paperback, too--How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan)  has won top prize  from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.  It 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

"Eating Italian will never be the same after reading John Mariani's entertaining and savory gastronomical history of the cuisine of Italy and how it won over appetites worldwide. . . . This book is such a tasteful narrative that it will literally make you hungry for Italian food and arouse your appetite for gastronomical history."--Don Oldenburg, USA Today. 

"Italian restaurants--some good, some glitzy--far outnumber their French rivals.  Many of these establishments are zestfully described in How Italian Food Conquered the World, an entertaining and fact-filled chronicle by food-and-wine correspondent John F. Mariani."--Aram Bakshian Jr., Wall Street Journal.

"Mariani admirably dishes out the story of Italy’s remarkable global ascent to virtual culinary hegemony....Like a chef gladly divulging a cherished family recipe, Mariani’s book reveals the secret sauce about how Italy’s cuisine put gusto in gusto!"--David Lincoln Ross,

"Equal parts history, sociology, gastronomy, 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 impact of Italian immigrants in America and the evolution of alta cucina. This book will serve as a terrific resource to anyone interested in the real story of Italian food."--Mary Ann Esposito, host of PBS-TV's Ciao Italia.

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

Eating Las Vegas JOHN CURTAS has been covering the Las Vegas food and restaurant scene since 1995. He is the co-author of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants (as well as the author of the Eating Las Vegas web site: www.eatinglasvegas. He can also be seen every Friday morning as the “resident foodie” for Wake Up With the Wagners on KSNV TV (NBC) Channel 3  in Las Vegas.


MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Publisher: John Mariani. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani,  Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Gerry Dawes, Geoff Kalish. Contributing Photographer: Galina Dargery. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.


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