Virtual Gourmet

February 22. 2009                                                                   NEWSLETTER

                                                        Luis Melendez, "Still Life with Figs" (c. 1760)


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In This Issue


NEW YORK CORNER: Le Cirque by John Mariani

NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: Is This Italy's Greatest Dessert Wine?  by John Mariani



Slow Going But Good Eats in Aspen
by John Mariani

     Flying in over Aspen’s Sardy Field Airport, I seemed to notice a lot less private jets on the tarmac. The streets of the town looked positively ghostly, with sale signs in every retailer’s window, and the slopes were not what I’d call overrun with skiers.
      Nor are the restaurants doing much land office business this season: Almost none is open for lunch (if you get hungry some of your options include Gusto trattoria, the Big Wrap for sandwiches, Brunelleschi’s Dome Pizza, and the vegan bistro upstairs from the Explore Booksellers).  At night tables are easy to come by just about anywhere, and by 9:30 all except the bars are pretty much done for the night.
      Nevertheless, there is an abundance of very fine restaurants in Aspen (and also nearby Carbondale and Basalt these days), from the very high-end Montagna to the always delectable Paradise Bakery, from the good Italian food at Campo di Fiori and D19 to the excellent sushi at Takasushi.

675 Durant Street

here hasn’t been much new restaurant action this year, but one of the most significant has been the re-opening of Ajax Tavern, attached to the Little Nell Hotel. The Ajax has always had a series of very good chefs, but its lease passed to the Little Nell, which revamped the small dining room right at the base of the ski lift and put executive chef Ryan Hardy, of their fine dining Montagna restaurant, in charge of the Ajax kitchen.
    Always packed at lunch when boot-heavy skiers clomp through Ajax to carbo-load, Ajax has yet to catch on for dinner. Which I, a non-skier, found all to my liking: I could snuggle into a comfortable banquette facing the bar, take my time perusing a winelist with plenty of bottles under $50, and have a leisurely meal from a menu that evokes the kind of food you’d find in the Italian Alps combined with a Rocky Mountain focus on hearty game dishes like wild boar goulash.
      I began with a refreshingly simple housemade ricotta with dried fruits, fines herbes, and grilled Italian bread ($10), and a silky smooth chicken liver pâté with a French baguette.  The “small plates” section of the menu not only offers value but heftiness, like the thick beef marrow bone with parsley, citrus, and grilled crostini ($10), and the crispy glazed pork belly with polenta, frisée salad, and, to gild the fatted lily, a poached egg ($13).
      Among the main courses there’s a deliciously crisp and juicy roasted organic chicken with ricotta gnocchi and a wild mushroom ragout ($28), and one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in a long time—pappardelle with a very rich bolognese sauce made from Colorado lamb—great comfort for a very fair $21. Sole meunière with green beans, lemon, and capers ($25) was all right but in no way special, needing more butter to deserve the name “meunière.”
      I doubt anyone eats at Ajax Tavern without ordering the truffled, Parmesan-dusted French fries ($16)—an impossibly addictive item that goes well with everything else on the menu or on its own at lunch with a glass of red wine.
      The selection of artisan cheeses was disappointingly predictable, and, except for the warm cookies and milk served with a Nutella chocolate-hazelnut milk shake ($8), desserts need some pumping up.
Dinner appetizers $10-$16, main courses $17-$38.

LULU wilson
316 East Hopkins Avenue

     One of the most popular restaurants for dinner in Aspen is the two-year-old Lulu Wilson, named after a woman who long ago made this rustic Victorian house her home. The building is now owned by local restaurateurs Craig and Samantha Cordts-Pearce, who also own Wild Fig in town and have just  opened Brexi, a French brasserie in the new Dancing Bear condo development. The couple is frequently at Lulu Wilson because they seem to know every one of their guests well. But Sergio Acampora is the real firefly here, as warm and ebulliently gracious as he is keyed into what his clientele want.
      At Lulu Wilson, the menu is built around “table plates” to share, “Appetizer” and “Small” plates which can be made into a full meal, and entrees. The first of these options contains a platter of four cheeses ($21), a salad of ahi tuna, scallops, and King crab ($28), and a tasty mushroom-and-parmesan flatbread with caramelized onions, grapes, and snippets of chives ($12).
       The kale and parmesan salad with currants and pine nuts ($12) is one of those rare salads I could make an entire meal of, and the tender potato gnocchi with mushrooms and caramelized onions ($18) made for a very satisfying starter.  Pasta with basil pesto, beans, and fingerling potatoes was good, but, like a couple of other dishes that night, came to the table tepid.
     My favorite main courses were a lightly smoked breast of duck with white beans, broccolini, and a tangy-sweet pomegranate sauce ($32) and a Colorado lamb shank in a well-reduced romesco sauce of almonds, garlic, and peppers ($34).  Seared black cod with cherry tomatoes, roasted fennel and currants tasted surprisingly fishy the night I dined there.
     The winelist, like the food prices, clearly cater to an affluent clientele, and I'd like to see many more bottles under $50.  But ask sommelier Pete Cheroske about the lesser priced wines, and he will happily point you in the right direction.
     By all means go for Mirta’s carrot cake ($12) for dessert—a fine, moist throwback to the 1960s that deserves revival, but tell them to leave off the dreadful curry ice cream.
      If you want to hobnob with the regulars in Aspen for the season or if you happen to be a regular, just about anyone you know will be dining at Lulu Wilson on any given night.

Open for dinner only. Appetizers $9-$18, main courses $32-$49.



One Beacon Court

151 East 58th Street (near Third Avenue)
      For thirty-five years now Le Cirque has seen the American landscape shake, shimmy, rock, roll, slide, soar, and come back to the need for a sense of refinement the restaurant has always represented under the Maccioni family, which includes paterfamilias Sirio, his wife Egi, and their three sons, Mario, Marco, and Mauro, whom I have literally watched grow up and become various reflections of their parents while having each his own style and degree of savoir-faire. 
   A remarkable film documentary, "Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven," about the family appeared last month on TV that showed them to share all the idiosyncrasies of any family, Italian style, of course, along with a deep and abiding respect and love for what they do and for each other.
      The documentary was shot at a queasy time for Le Cirque, as it waited to find out if the restaurant would get at least three stars from the New York Times after the appointment of a new chef, Christophe Bellanca, came aboard in January of 2007.  Those three stars were awarded, the family exultant, then they went back to work, which, within 18 months required hiring yet another new chef in the tradition of several superlative ones over the decades, including Alain Sailhac, Daniel Boulud, and Sottha Kuhn among others.  Each time Le Cirque was re-judged, not just by the Times and other media critics but by the old regulars and the newcomers, which now include bloggers by the score, most of whom wouldn't know a bread roll from a Tootsie Roll.

  Mario, Sirio, Mauro, and Marco Maccioni, circa 1986
hile there was every reason to believe that Le Cirque's brightest days are behind it, as indicated by the closing of similar haute cuisine French restaurants like Lutèce, La Côte Basque, and La Caravelle along with a slew of much newer restaurants in the high-priced field, the fact is that Le Cirque has never lagged behind any other restaurant in terms of style and cuisine.  If it clung to certain ideas of classicism, there were always new ideas other restaurateurs would envy to have thought of. Indeed, the radical make-overs of Le Cirque from an old-fashioned, ornate dining salon on East 65th Street into a more democratically laid-out configuration in the landmark Villard Houses in the Palace Hotel, and, for the last four years, into a very modern, curving Adam Tihany-designed dining room in the Bloomberg Building on East 58th Street, have shown the Maccionis always thinking ahead, not behind, and now, the hiring of an Australian-born chef,  Craig Hopson (below), proves that the master in the kitchen does not have to speak French or knuckle under to outmoded ideas. The choice of Hopson was, I think, a triumph of good taste, and the cooking at Le Cirque is as good as its best over 25 years.
      Hopson's résumé is thick with illustrious names--stints at
the Hôtel d'Angleterre in Geneva,  Troigros in Roanne, Guy Savoy and Lucas Carton in Paris, Circa in Brisbane, and, most recently,  as chef de cuisine at Picholine  and executive chef at One If by Land, Two If by Sea in NYC, where I first applauded his work.  But since that last location had its own French-American style firmly in place (it opened four year before Le Cirque), Hopson had to toe a certain line; I'm sure he has to at Le Cirque, too, for the Maccionis are always hovering over their chefs, insisting they may express themselves any way they wish as long as it is still in the Le Cirque style.
     Thus, on my latest dinner at Le Cirque, when the place was buzzing with a crowd that now seems equally split between old faithful and newcomers, my wife and I began with a classic terrine of foie gras, rabbit, and bacon--as flavorful as any in NYC.  But the addition of a Granny Smith apple gelée and tempura-fried squash showed how Hopson can diverge to show off his own individuality.  As the evening wore on--and we'd put ourselves in his hands to do a tasting menu--his special talents emerged in dish after dish, with none exhibiting the kind of daredevil attitude some of his young colleagues might try to slip by.
      So, red snapper came with a roasted
grape salad and celery-scented yogurt. Sautéed Gulf Shrimp had a tangy-sweet component of kaffir lime, hearts of palm, and carrot confit--the elements in these dishes  tasting like a breeze from the Middle and Far East.
      Brandade of cod reverted to classic, hearty French form, with generous black truffles and a soft-cooked egg to moisten it.  The meat courses included some very finely grained venison with a delightful
chestnut-caraway cake, pear, and Stilton cheese; a saddle of Lamb with North African flavors of eggplant pastille, goat's cheese, red pepper purée; and a wagyu ribeye steak with Treviso radicchio playing a bitter contrast to a dried cherry tapenade and a crispy beignet filled with lush bone marrow.
     Desserts were not fanciful in the way they were years ago when the restaurant's circus theme was more manifest. But they could hardly have been more delectable, including a beauty of a deep-chocolate soufflé, an apple confit and sorbet with calvados-soaked baba cake, and poached pineapple in Sauternes with coconut and passion fruit, barely scented with coriander. A small surprise came in the form of quince sorbet with shaved Mimolette cheese--such a lovely ending to a grand but not overly rich meal.
     Le Cirque sold off some of its vast cache of wine recently, but with hundreds of selections in every global category, it is still one of NYC's finest lists, not least for pricing at least 20 percent of them under $50, some as low as $28, which is very much part of the Maccionis' plan to make Le Cirque far more approachable than people think it might be.  Beyond the bar is a cafe and enoteca for lighter meals and wine tastings, and their $28 lunch is one of the best bargains in town.
     You can also always be sure there will be a Maccioni greeting you, and maître d' Mario is one of the great gentleman of the restaurant business, blending genuine respect with his own Italian gentility.
    If you have never been to Le Cirque or not in quite a while, you will find all of its best virtues still gloriously intact while Hopson's wonderful cuisine adds measurably to the idea that this may well be a timeless place that only exists in New York.

Dinner at Le Cirque is fixed priced at $98 for three courses, or $120 for a four-course tasting menu (with wines $170). A two-course fixed price lunch costs $45, while in the Cafe, dinner is $48, also available à la carte ; at lunch the Cafe menu is $28.  The restaurant is open for lunch Mon.-Fri, and for dinner Mon.-Sat.




by John Mariani

      Italy was once famous for its dessert wines, not least Marsala, though their style and reputation has faded over the past century so that even Marsala is not much appreciated nowadays, not even in Sicily.  Small production sweet wines like Picolit from Friuli have garnered praise, as has Recioto di Soave from Veneto, while the modernization of the southern wineries has turned attention to wines like Malvasia di Lipari.
      But the most interesting Italian dessert wines are coming from the island of Pantelleria, far off the Sicilian coast and just 40 miles from Tunisia.  In ancient legend the goddess Tanit, Daughter of the Wind, sought to lure Apollo to Pantelleria, asking Venus how to go about it. The goddess of love suggested Tanit scale Mount Olympus and pretend to be a cupbearer bringing ambrosia to Apollo. Instead, she brought the wine of her island, and,
after tasting it, Apollo fell head over heels in love with her.
        The principal grape grown on Pantelleria is the Moscato,
also called Muscat d'Alexandre and in Sicily, Zibibbo. It grows in black volcanic sand, intense heat, and a fierce wind, which is said to blow 321 days a year, a landscape about which designer Giorgio Armani has said, "My advice to anyone visiting Pantelleria is to get down to the shore and swim in the waters that throw up small pieces of black volcanic rock called obsidian, an alkaline rock with  high levels of potassium and sodium."
      Another famous personage has found a home in Pantelleria, and she is making what I think is now the finest dessert wine it Italy--actress Carole Bouquet, whose namesake wine is Sangue d'Oro Passito de Pantelleria. Bouquet, who lives most of the year in Paris when she is not tending to her vines, is known for her  roles in European films like "That Obscure Object of Desire," "Too Beautiful for You," and the series "The Red and the Black." 
She is currently filming in Brussels, then prepares for a play in Paris, followed by several months of viticulture in her beloved Pantelleria.
       In 1981 she was cast as the crossbow-armed Greek heroine Melina Havelock opposite Roger Moore in the James Bond film ``For Your Eyes Only" (above)--the same year she took her first  sip of wine, which just happened to be Château Haut-Brion `61.  ``Before that moment my husband [film producer Jean-Pierre Rassam] gave me a glass, I never had any interest in wine,'' says Bouquet, who  still looks much like the flawless "Face of Chanel" she represented for several years in the 1990s. ``I admit that was quite a wine to begin with, but it was so delicious that I became fascinated immediately and absolutely by everything to do with wine.''
    Rassam's cellar allowed her to drink freely, and after his death in 1985, Bouquet maintained both the cellar and a passion that eventually led her to purchase six abandoned hectares  of vineyard land in 1994 on Pantelleria (left), where she focused her attention on producing a more modern version of Passito. ``It is very difficult to grow vines there,'' she says, "and the viticultural traditions are so old there that having an outsider and foreigner--and a  woman--ask questions about how to improve the wine was very, very difficult. The people there can be quite stubborn, and it was very tough to get them to change their ways of making wines, which is why most Passitos have a slightly oxidized taste the Sicilians insist is part of the wine's character. But I knew it was just outdated winemaking.''
    To bolster her argument that Passito would benefit from more modern viticultural methods, she brought in French enologist Claude Boudamani, who found the wines had both good sugar and acidity, despite the amount of burning sun the grapes receive on Pantelleria. The grapes are hand-picked, then selected and laid on the soil to warm in the sun, a raisining process called "passerillage." After two or three weeks the grapes are added to a fermentation wine in order to increase sugar content, some of which turns into alcohol.   The first result, vintage 2001, was  a beautiful wine the color of old gold, with a fragrance of ripe pears, the flavor of apricots and caramel and a firm backbone of the island's minerals in the finish.
     The residual sugar of Carole Bouquet Sangue d'Oro is 150 grams, with 14.5 percent alcohol.  The first vintages produced about 8,000 bottles, but now production is up to 14,000 bottles, and they are all sold out throughout France, Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium, where it sells for about 40 euros per 50 cl bottle, though Bouquet hopes to re-introduce the wine to the U.S. soon.
      What I find so remarkable about the wine is that, without any botrytis, it has all those layers of character--fruit, spice, caramel, and an ideal buoyancy of acid--that you find in the finest Sauternes and German Trockenbeerenauslese wines. Yet it is easier to drink, brighter, and truly a wonderful wine either to sip with toasted chestnuts or to have with just about any dessert that is not itself too sweet. This definitely tastes like a wine from the Mediterranean in its sun-rich elegance and voluptuous viscosity, a wine whose spirit might be captured by a painter like Van Gogh in bolts of gold and orange or itself capture the heart of a god.
       I am only hoping the wine comes to the U.S. again--the 2007 is now available in Europe and many of the deluxe restaurants in Italy. It is a wine of unique beauty very much like its maker.

Photo: Wine Bottle by Galina Stepanoff-Dargery; Carole Bouquet at Pantelleria by André Rau.


"An article last Wednesday about the Bocuse d’Or cooking competition (left) in France referred incorrectly to the frequency of the event.  It is held biennial (every two years), not biannual (twice a year).  The article also misidentified Jerome Bocuse, the son of the contest’s founder, the chef Paul Bocuse.  He is the vice president for operations of the Chefs de France restaurant at the Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World; he is not the restaurant’s chef. And it incorrectly referred to a contest preceding the Bocuse d/Or.  The event recognized the best cheesemonger; not the best cheese."--Correction notice in the NY Times (Feb. 4. 2009).


In Normal, Illinois, Paul and Caragh Brooks (right) took their wedding vows at the local Taco Bell as other customers looked on. "It's appropriate," said Paul Brooks. "It's an offbeat relationship.
We have the same brain, just in two bodies. We think alike in virtually every manner. We have the same interests, viewpoints."  Employees wore hot sauce packets labeled with the words "Will you marry me?" The bride wore a $15 pink dress. Ryan Green of Normal, recently ordained a  minister on-line, administered the vows while wearing a T-shirt.


*  On March 3 in Chicago, a special benefit evening for Henry Alfred Bishop III, founding sommelier of Spiaggia now battling cancer, will be held at Spiaggia’s Private Dining Rooms, hosted by Spiaggia's Executive Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano with Rick Bayless Chef/Owner Frontera Grill & Topolobampo, Erwin Drechsler  Chef/Owner  erwin café, Paul Kahan  Chef/Owner  Blackbird Avec & Publican and Priscilla Satkoff   Chef/Owner Salpicon, and winemaker Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyards. Ben Ferdinand of the Hart Davis Hart will wield the gavel at a Live Auction of Fine & Rare Wines. Suggested Donation Per Person:  $100. All proceeds will go to The Henry Bishop Trust to help defray Henry's medical expenses.  Visit or by phone at 708-386-5994.

* Beginning March 6 the Maison Dupuy Hotel in New Orleans presents the 3rd annual French Quarter Wine Festival dinners, hosted by either the winemaker or proprietor to showcase wines from California, Oregon and Italy.  Room Packages begin at $79. Call  504-648-6119; visit

* In NYC Chef Sandro Fioriti of Sandro’s has started the Dow Jones Pasta Index Special: Mon.-Fri.  from 4:30pm to 6:30pm, Sandro’s pastas are priced at the first 3 digits of the day’s closing of the Dow Jones Index’s while the Dow is below 10,000. So if the Dow closes today between 7,500-7,600 the price of any pasta will be between $7.50-$7.60, or about a third of the regular prices of $19-21. Call 212-288-7374.

* On March 9 in Boston, BiNA osteria is inviting guests to enjoy dinner – otherwise it’s on them. If, for any reason, your expectation are unmet, your meal is on the house. Dinner includes the entire dinner menu but does not include alcohol or any alimentari purchases. Call 617-956-0888.

* In Chicago, N9NE Steakhouse launches  weekly Monday night W9NE AND D9NE AT N9NE,  9 white and 9 red wines at half-price, to complement the cuisine of Executive Chef Michael Shrader. Call  312-575-9900 . Visit

* On March 10 a "Napa Valley Wine Dinner" will be held  at Tribeca Grill, NYC featuring  Miner Family, Honig, Larkin and Xtant.    Barrel samples of the great 2007 vintage will be served during the reception and Cabernets from 2004-2006 will be featured during the dinner.  $125 pp. Call 212-941-3900 for reservations.

* From March 9-12, more than 100 Napa Valley vintners will visit NYC to showcase  “Taste Napa Valley: New York" sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV). The events wine-and-cheese classes at Artisanal Premium Cheese; a Master Wine class hosted by Kevin Zraly and Sherry-Lehmann at Maloney & Porcelli; a festive fundraiser for the Elevator Repair Service Theater Ensemble at Lucky Strike Lanes bowling alley; among other. To see details about all of the events, visit

* On March 11 in NYC, Streets International is hosting its annual benefit event, to help disadvantaged youth in Southeast Asia by providing them with the opportunity to achieve independent, productive lives through culinary education, training and employment.  The event will feature street foods  from around the world, incl. Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, India, Italy, Mexico and the U.S.  Participating chefs and restaurants incl.:  Floyd Cardoz of Tabla,  Michael “Bao” Huynh of BarBao and Baoguette,  Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa of Cendrillon,  Kenny Callaghan of Blue Smoke, Pichet Ong of P*ONG and Batch,  Gabe Thompson and Joe Campanale of dell’anima and L’Artusi, and Susana Trilling of Rosa Mexicano. $150 pp. Visit

* The Study at Yale in New Haven, CT, is the first of what is planned to be a chain of "collegiate chic" hotels on the Ivy League's towns and campuses across the East Coast. The Yale restaurant Heirloom will  be involved in "Flavors of Connecticut," a benefit for the American Liver Foundation showcasing Connecticut's premier chefs, taking place March 31, 2009. Heirloom will also take part in Market New Haven's "See, Sip, and Savor" promotion for theater goers catching a show, "See, Sip, and Savor" that  offers a 3-course $29 menu. Call 203-503-3900; visit

* Executive Chef Keith Luce at The Herbfarm in Woodinville, WA, unveils a new set of late winter and spring dining themes incl. A Taste of Trees (Feb.19 - March 19); Kobe Beef – Super Cattle in Seattle (March 20 - April 11); Chambers of the Sea, Spring Forager’s Dinner and A Menu for a Copper King await. Visit

*  In Dorchester, MA, Tavolo holds  Regional Pasta Tour on Wed. nights, for $18. Half flights and full flights of wine can be matched to the Regional Pasta Call.  617-822-1918;


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

Everett Potter's Travel  Report

I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the  web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury  Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and  a frequent contributor to National  Geographic Traveler,  and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their  travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special  places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of  staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star  places as five-star experiences."  To go to his blog click on the logo below: THIS WEEK:


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). THIS WEEK: Stratton Partners With Drysdale Tennis

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

Family Travel Forum

All You Need to Know Before You Go


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

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

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

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

© copyright John Mariani 2009