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  December 21, 2014                                                                                             NEWSLETTER

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By John Mariani

By John Mariani



By John Mariani


By John Mariani

Il Duomo (photo by John Mariani)

    Though Milan is usually a tick down from Rome, Venice and Florence on tourists’ list of must-see Italian cities,  it is in fact one of the grandest and possibly the most civilized city in Italy. I shall write about Milan’s rich history, elegant culture and wonderful trattorias at another time, so for the moment let me concentrate on where to stay in this wealthy Lombardian city, which now has a passel of the finest deluxe properties in Italy.
         In fact, what once passed for five-star hotels in Italy were never in a class with those in Paris, London, or Zurich.  Twenty years ago, the best Italian hotels clung to the idea that frayed antiques and dim post-war lighting held an alluring charm for visitors.  But the expansion of international business and of high-end hotel chains like The Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Dorchester Group, and others in Europe have forced Italian hotels radically to upgrade their premises, restaurants and service.
    It was in Milan that the opening of The Four Seasons back in 1993 in a 15th century convent (nuns not included) changed everything. Its contemporary Milanese décor, American-size bathrooms, pool, air-conditioning, and the cuisine at its Il Teatro were of such high quality and the hotel’s success so immediate that older, well established hotels had to modernize quickly and new ones to follow had to be at least as good.

Piazza della Repubblica, 17
39 02 62304007>

    One of the grandest of the old hotels in Milan is the Principe di Savoia on the broad Piazza della Repubblica.  I hadn’t been back in years, so I was enchanted to see how a hotel that had for decades lived on its historic reputation had been transformed in such a careful way as to maintain its original grandeur while adding 21st century glamour to the public and private rooms.  Restored and brightened by designer Thierry Despond, its lobby and hallways were polished and softly lighted, its rooms, like the Ambassador Suite in the photo above, not just freshened but wholly reconceived by marrying classic good taste with every amenity. There’s a gorgeously seductive swimming pool, a state-of-the-art spa and fitness center and a beautiful tea room.  There is also complimentary limo service to the city’s center. (Breakfast is not included in the room price.)
    The main dining room, Acanto (right), is now one of the most beautiful restaurants in Milan, with gleaming Murano glass chandeliers and expanses of mahogany and glass, so that everything, from stemware to silverware, glitters under the lights and the pink roses on every table glow. The kitchen is overseen by Chef Fabrizio Cadei, whose €85 menu (white truffles extra) is remarkable for five courses, beginning with a croquette of liquefied Parmigiano dotted with 25-year-old balsamico.  They serve a pinzimonio—an old tradition—of raw carrots, celery and radishes with an anchovy dipping sauce.  Next came a profiterole of zucchini and hazelnut crumble bathed in a Parmigiano fondue and a flan made with zbibbo wine.
    The aroma of a white truffle the size of a bocce ball (left) wafted across the room, and the captain was generous in shaving the tuber over tender rice from Grumolo delle Abbadesse, as well as over housemade tagliarini pasta.   Tournedos of veal cheeks with a gratin of pumpkin, Parmigiano foam and balsamico made for a perfect winter’s dish, as did maialino—baby pig—in three different cuts, with baked apples. A frozen soufflé ended off the dessert, with a coup de grace of  gooseberries, chocolates and petit-fours.

For the holidays, Acanto is offering a six-course dinner at €95 euros, with a glass of sparkling wine; seven course Christmas day lunch at €145; and eight-course New Year’s Eve dinner at €365 (tax and service included).

Via Tommaso Grossi 1
39 02 8821 1234

    I also had occasion to return to (though not to stay at) the Park Hyatt Milan, which opened ten years ago near the Financial District, and whose VUN ristorante (below) has been recently relocated and done over in a chiaroscuro of light and shadow, in muted colors of gray, red, and rich travertine marble, with widely separated tables, superb linens and glassware, and one of the city’s deepest wine lists—45 pages of well-selected gems, overseen by  the affable Sommelier Valentina Benedetti.
       Naples-born Chef Andrea Aprea’s motto is, “My contemporary cuisine looks to the future, but never forgets its origins,” amply backed by modernist techniques and traditional flavors, both Lombardian and Neapolitan, best appreciated through his tasting menus.  Thus, you find a deliciously simple pasta like paccheri with buffalo ricotta and ragù, while whole wheat linguine is entangled with Venus clams, turnip tops and candied lemon.
      But Aprea’s signature dish is an extraordinary tour de force called “Caprese Sweet and Salty” (left), his reinterpretation of a classic mozzarella-tomato-and-basil insalata di Caprese.  “Mainly, I wanted to reconstruct the spherical  shape of buffalo mozzarella cheese using isomalt sugar,” says Aprea, “a similar technique to blowing Murano glass. On the plate there is a tomato coulis, basil pesto emulsion, anchovies, croutons, buffalo mozzarella and mozzarella snow; the ball is filled with a buffalo mozzarella foam and on top basil cress.”
    A single seared scallop is decorated with pumpkin, salted meringue and wild mushrooms; potatoes are wrapped in foil and lavished with goat’s cheese, red chicory, and pepper;  quail comes with grape, foie gras and cool yogurt.  
      Monkfish is crafted as ossobuco, with parsnips, licorice, saffron and orange, while beautifully cooked, moist turbot shares the plate with marinated vegetables, puffed brown rice and mustard.  There is even a dish using dry ice, but not on the ingredients, only to add drama to the table: it’s called “lemon sensation” (left) made from lemon gelée, cream custard, shortbread, candied lemon, sorbet, meringue and zest. The table is set with a basket of lemons on dry ice, onto which an infusion of lemons is poured, sending boiling fumes scented with citrus into the air, so that all five senses are tantalized.

The tasting menus at VUN is €115-€150; a la carte, first courses €30-€45; pastas €25-30; main courses €42-€45.

Corso di Porta Nuova, 1
39 02 625-62555  

    The newest and certainly the most posh five-star hotel to open in Milan is the Palazzo Parigi Hotel & Grand Spa, which does in fact sit on the site of a 16th century palazzo but whose every square inch is brand new, done over by owner/architect Paola Giambelli and interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon to marry Milanese and Parisian elements,  starting with one of the most magnificent  entrance halls I’ve ever seen.  Bright white marble in great profusion surrounds a grand staircase; pink Baveno marble columns evoke the Scala Theatre, and the wood accents of the skylighted Caffé Parigi and the Lounge Bar are inspired by the drawing-room in Villa Reale.
    The 65 rooms and 33 suites, all different in décor, have an  aristocratic spaciousness, with large terraces and tall windows open to Milan’s soft sunlight (right).  The Ballroom is said to be the largest in the city. 
The Palazzo Parigi is also seriously committed to reducing the building’s environmental impact by using modern raw materials, recycling throughout, solar panels, and more.
       The day I ate at the Palazzo Parigi, the main dining room (below), with its tables surrounding a center platform where the chef adds his final touches to each dish, was closed.   But Manager Davide Galluccio was kind enough to have the kitchen treat me to items from the dinner menu at the sleek adjacent Caffé overlooking the garden.  
The meal was a marvelous array of inventive, delicate dishes, from antipasti like a Piedmontese beef tartare and porcini salad to a creamy foie gras terrine with caramelized figs and brioche.  Around the holidays no pasta is more welcome in Italy than pumpkin tortello with buffalo milk cheese and baby onions braised in wine.  Paccheri pasta came in a scorpionfish soup with caramelized tomato.
    Milan may be landlocked, but its chefs willingly pay for the best seafood, as shown in a dish of blue Breton lobster with crispy Parma ham and baccalà cooked with corn, onions and zucchini flowers.  An Asian influence is evident in a crisp duck breast with green tomatoes and tender bok choy.
    Sommelier Matteo Ghiringhelli, 27, loves nothing more than to match them with your meal.

 For Christmas Eve, the restaurant will serve an 8-course dinner with three wines at €120 per person (€45 for children)

Via dell'Orso, 8
39 02 87096812

or those who wish to stay at something less than the five-star level, I recommend the four-year-old, four-star Hotel Milano Scala, which proves how smaller boutique hotels have also upped their game with a higher level of style and service from a decade ago.  With 52 rooms and 10 suites, many with terraces, the Milano Scala, which is part of the Preferred Hotel Group, offers amenities and conveniences requisite to business travelers--complimentary WiFi, pillow menus, online international newspapers, and live soft music in the comfortable Foyer Library (right) downstairs—all making the nice, quiet small hotel on a narrow secluded street a very convenient, moderately priced place to stay in the Brera district, near the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II, La Scala, and the fashion district. 
Indeed, music is the stylistic theme in the décor, so walls and rooms (left) are done with motifs of musical clefs and historic scenes of the La Scala opera.
    I also found the young staff and concierge extremely helpful and wholly affable.  The restaurant was going through a transition when I stayed there, so I cannot report on the food, but the complimentary buffet breakfast in the morning was as lavish as to be found in higher class hotels.
Currently Hotel Milano Scala offers holiday promotions, with rooms for two people for three nights total of $739, $845, $1092, and $140




Small Is Beautiful: Two for Midtown
By John Mariani

151 West 51st Street (near Fifth Avenue)

    “I wanted this to be a real European wine bar,” says Aldo Sohm (below), best known—until now—as sommelier at NYC’s illustrious French seafood restaurant Le Bernardin. “I didn’t want to just serve a few wines by the glass and some sausage and cheese.  I wanted very good food and an elegant but friendly atmosphere.”
    From the looks of the crowd at his new namesake wine bar he’s achieved what he and his partner, Eric Ripert, chef-owner of Le Bernardin, set out to do at the four-month-old establishment, right across the way from Le Bernardin in what was once the downstairs bar of the posh Italian restaurant Palio.   I was certainly not the first to ask Mr. Sohm what happened to the room’s spectacular and very beautiful Sandro Chia murals of the Palio race in Siena, Italy; everybody who remembers them does. The murals were removed by the building owner for restoration work, but it appears they will never return to what is now Aldo Sohm Wine Bar.
    Thus, while the place lacks a masterpiece of modern Italian art, its décor, with its counters and living room-like couches, sports enough cartoon colors and graphic artwork to be engagingly modern, with enough swank to imply that this is not a place to knock back a couple of brewskies or to watch a game while wearing a Knicks jersey.  So far, the crowd has gotten the message, with a mix of an equal number of women and men who seem to have come from well-paying midtown jobs.
    The menu is all small plate offerings, along with 40 wines by the glass (sensibly priced at $8-$90—this last for Château d’Yquem Sauternes 2003) and 200 by the bottle. Early in the evening Mr. Sohm pours wines, before changing into a suit and darting across the way to become the sommelier at Le Bernardin.  And what he pours the wines into are as amazing as the wines themselves—stemware so thin and light, I at first thought they were plastic.  On the contrary,  they are very expensive glasses made specially for the wine bar and are said to be exceptionally strong rather than woefully fragile.
    The menu isn’t long, but, although the charcuterie is excellent and varied, the rest of the offerings would be rare to find in a wine bar outside of Paris: silky, seared foie gras on a stick set on Spanish tomato-soaked bread; potted duck rillette; roasted carrots spiced with harissa and pooled in a minted chicken broth; cauliflower cooked in chicken fat, with a crisp chicken skin crumbled on top; truffled pasta with grated Himalayan yak cheese; and shortribs with onions and wine reduction on richly buttered mashed potatoes; and an irresistible warm goat’s cheese potato parfait with arugula.
    There is also a tasting section for up to eight people.
    Aldo Sohm Wine Bar really does add a new dimension to the genre in NYC and will probably be copied by others before long. It is not just all about the wine—it is about good food, comfort,  and civilized conversation.  

Aldo Sohm Wine Bar is open Mon.-Fri. for lunch and dinner; Sat. for dinner.
Charcuterie $6.50-$12; small plates $4-$12;


485 5th Avenue (at 41st Street)

      Although more of a traditional restaurant than Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, The Shop, located just across from the NY Public Library, is about the same size and has something of the same ambiance, via a strong use of wood panels, overhead lighting, sofas, and strong colors.  And it does seem like a place to come by before theater or for a light meal on the run or if you’re staying in the hotel upstairs.
    But I would encourage you to linger and have a full dinner at The Shop, because executive chef Michael Santoro, previously of The Mildred in Philadelphia and Blue Duck Tavern in DC and trained at fine kitchens like The Fat Duck outside of London, Mugaritz in Spain, and Gilt in NYC, brings a very rigorous technique to modern American fare with a highly seasonal flair.  And the food is backed up by an attractive, young staff that greets and treats you very well.  (There’s also a retail food shop on the premises.)
    There are small plate offerings here, too ($9-$20), including 
organic heirloom tomatoes, burrata,  vinegar, and opal basil blossoms.  Good grilled country bread comes with Purple Haze goat’s cheese, stone fruit, crushed hazelnuts and a dash of balsamic.

    Large plates range from "peaches and cream" sweet corn risotto, Pernod, tarragon and mascarpone ($23) to a terrific crispy pig’s ear salad. Spaghetti cacio e pepe—pure Roman comfort food—is so simple that it is extremely easy to screw up, but Mr. Santoro’s is textbook perfect, not soupy, not dry, impeccably al dente with just enough cheese and black pepper to give it zing.
    There’s also a delicious, crispy chicken schnitzel with greens and a tangy dash of lemon ($25), and a very generous casserole of short ribs (left) with sweet polenta and baby onions that snuggled up to roast chicken and sausages.  The winter menu now also includes dishes (I have not tried) like chestnut Soup with walnut crumble and cider cream; pork ragoût with tagliatelle and Parmesan, and a venison burger with braised shortrib, cheddar cheese and onion on a poppyseed brioche.
    There are better known restaurants in NYC—though few in midtown—doing this kind of food as well as Mr. Santoro, but it really shows when the chef is doing the kind of menu on which just about everything is so tempting.  Small, focused, intensely flavorful, his cuisine aims at pleasure, not show-off dishes.  And, with most main courses costing $22-$28 (with three in the mid-$30s range), The Shop is worth more than a casual visit.








By John Mariani

     I’m asked often enough what wines I’d want to have if stranded on a desert island--which are the same wines I'd love to serve for Christmas and New Year's dinners. I always have my answer ready:  Just my favorites. I don’t want trophy wines or antiques. I want wines I can thoroughly enjoy right now and for several years to come. I want them to go well with food.  With those parameters in mind, here’s my dream list of six wonderful wines to be stranded with from appetizers through dessert. 

Edoardo Valentini Trebbiano d’Abruzzo—Trebbiano is a workhorse grape in Italy and not much in favor these days.  But that’s because only a rare, even eccentric, winemaker like Valentini knows how to produce a great wine from this over-planted varietal.  I remember the first time I tasted his Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, at a seafood restaurant on the Adriatic. The waiter brought a ten-year-old vintage I tried to refuse. But he insisted, and I was astonished how this usually negligible white varietal had such marvelous fruit and acid in perfect tandem. It just exploded in my mouth. And age—usually the killer for Italian whites—had given it complexity and character.  With fish it is a nonpareil white wine. A vintage like 2007 should cost about $90-$100.

La Tâche—If choosing a pricey red Burgundy, why not the more prestigious Romanée-Conti? Sentiment, perhaps. Years and years ago I grew to prefer La Tâche, a Grand Cru owned by the same Domaine de la Romanée-Conti that owns Romanée-Conti, as well as Richebourg and Romanée-St. Vivant.  Any of these will do nicely, but for me La Tâche has more of the taste of what I like about Vosne-Romanée vineyards—a silkiness of texture, a refinement of tannins and fruit, and enormous finesse at every point on the palate. The 1990 is drinking beautifully now and will for years to come. Expect to pay at least $4,500 for a bottle.  

BV Georges de la Tour Private Reserve—If only more California wineries emulate this glorious red wine from Beaulieu Vineyard, founded by Frenchman George de la Tour in 1900!  It has long set the standard by which to judge the character of the finest cabernet sauvignons of any region in the world. It is always big but never massive, full of California sun but never grapey, complex throughout with a long, walnut-and-dried cherry finish. And it is always in balance and, unlike so many Napa Valley cabs, it can go on forever. I’ll take a case of 1982.  Much to my amazement, prices for BV, even for the 1982 and wines of the 1990s, stay steady at about $80-$100.

Warre's Vintage Port—To me Port is dessert, although I think it’s also the best cheese wine in the world.  Attempts by other countries at capturing the beauty, richness, nutty sweetness, and magnificence of a vintage Port have been futile.  They lack the depth and fineness of the Portuguese original from the Douro River vineyards. I’ll gladly drink a Tawny or even a lightweight Ruby any evening, but if I want to settle in for the night, an old Vintage from Warre's, say 1955 or 1977, would be all I could ask for. Anything younger wouldn’t be ready or right. The ’77 might still be found for about $90-$100.



A New Jersey group calling itself the "McMass Project" has launched a fund-raising campaign to help open a McDonald's franchise inside a church, in order to help "revitalize churches as centers for conversation and cultural engagement." One of the group's founders, Paul Di é, contended it is a valid response to the fact that "Christianity is unable to capture modern audiences.  McDonald's restaurants serve 70 million people each day." 
Di Lucca also admitted to NBC that "we are aware a lot of people will think this is an insane idea." 



“A very long time ago, when I was hustling tarot-card readings before a Grateful Dead show in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., one of my patrons — a big, bearded biker — handed me a wad of crumpled dollar bills and a map. `If you’re going to the next show in Rochester,' he said, `you can camp at this guy’s house.'  The next afternoon, my friend and I arrived at the house, pulled our backpacks out of the trunk of the car and rang the doorbell. The guy in Rochester, it turned out, had no idea that some biker at a Dead show in Saratoga had been handing out maps to his house. But sure, he said, we could pitch our tent. He made us coffee. More strangers — all with the same map — filed in throughout the afternoon. By evening, a small shantytown had materialized in his backyard.”—Rosie Schaap, “Holy Smoke,” NY Times (Dec. 14, 2014)

Wine Column Sponsored by Banfi Vintners
Reliable Old Friends

by Cristina Mariani-May         
co-CEO of Banfi Vintners America's leading wine importer

     Earlier this month I dedicated this entire space to the top ten reasons to enjoy Rosa Regale for the holiday season.  But if man must live on more than bread alone, there is plenty of room for other wines this time of year.

         Fizz the Season – no other time of year lends itself to bubbly more than this.  In Italy, which long ago mastered the art of comforting hospitality, Prosecco is the ultimate hospitalian wine.  Many restaurants offer a glass of Prosecco to arriving guests.  I like to point out that prosecco is like Champagne in that it is named for the unique part of the world it hails from and has bubbles, but most of the time the similarities end there.  Prosecco is not typically complex, austere or the drink of millionaires; it is the light-hearted bourgeois bubbly, to borrow a French term. 

    Maschio is one of the leading producers of Prosecco.  They offer two types on the US market: Maschio Brut: a straightforwardly dry, crisp, clean wine that is very reasonably priced and also available in 187ml “stocking stuffer” sizes.  But Maschio’s masterpiece is Maschio dei Cavalieri, or the knights/cavaliers/gentlemenly Prosecco.  It is the ne plus ultra of prosecco – a Superiore from the heartland Valdobiaddene and within that from the prestigious Rive di Colbertaldo subzone.  A smooth and silky bubbly that just exudes elegance.  And is still a bargain!

If you are a Champagne lover, then consider what Italy can do with wine fermented in the bottle as our French cousins do.  Banfi Brut is a blend of the classic champenoise grapes – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, fermented in the bottle with some additional bottle aging before release.  It yields the yeasty, toasty flavors of its French counterpart.

       Prefer a little color? Consider Cuvee Aurora Rose, a 100% Pinot Noir that takes its blush from brief contact with the grape skins during fermentation (don’t we all blush from a little skin contact?). It is pale pink and subtle, dry and round.   

     Want to keep even closer to Italian traditions in sparkling wine? Then try some dry Lambrusco.  I can suggest two to start, depending on your mood. 

    Feeling dark, moody and deep? Try some OttocentoNero from Albinea Canali.  This opaque, bone dry, austere Lambrusco will not only help you ponder the true meaning of the season, but cut through rich holiday foods like a laser.

Feeling bright and perky?  Then opt for FB Lambrusco, which creatively stands for ”Fermented in the Bottle.”   This is made from the Sorbara varietal of Lambrusco, which has low color and high acid, making it a bright light.  While it is, as the name more than subtly suggests, fermented in the bottle, the sediment is not removed – making it less like Champagne and more like a Weiss Bier.  Each glass will be slightly cloudier than the last but more intensely flavored.  This is a nod to the “Metodo Ancestrale” or ancestral method that the farmers used to make their wines – bottled in the cool of early winter when some natural sugars remain in the wine, only to ferment fully dry as spring temperatures warmed the cellar and re-started fermentation.  The ultimate Vino Naturale!!!

       Whatever form of bubbles you choose, my family and I wish you the most sparkling of holidays!


Cristina Mariani is not related by family or through business with John Mariani, publisher of this newsletter



I'm proud and happy to announce that my new book, The Hound in Heaven (21st Century Lion Books), has just been published through Amazon and Kindle.  It is a Christmas 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 back 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.

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

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."  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).

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. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani,  Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Andrew Chalk,  Dotty Griffith and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Dargery,  Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

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© copyright John Mariani 2014