Virtual Gourmet

August 29, 2010                                                                   NEWSLETTER

 "Corn, Northern Michigan" (2009) by Galina Stepanoff-Dargery


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GOOD NEWS! now has a new food section  called "Eat Like a Man," which will be featuring restaurant articles by John Mariani and others from around the USA.
 THIS WEEK:  The Hottest Burger You'll Ever Eat.


In This Issue

The Food Dude Diary by John Mariani

NEW YORK CORNER: Mario's by John A. Curtas

NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: The Fountain of Youth Bubbles with Bobal By Jacqueline Church





By John Mariani


    Yo, I was like waiting outside Shake Shack for like ninety @#$%^ minutes in 100-degree heat for their Shackburger, but, hey, I once waited two @#$%^ hours in the rain outside Torrisi’s for a sub sandwich.  Whatever. So I see my friend Donny, who says, “Dude, get outta line, man, we’re going over to this new place on the Lower East Side where they sell bangin’ bahn mi for like four bucks. Like nobody even knows the freakin’ place is even open yet.”

    We hopped in a cab and split the eleven dollar fare, and--@#$%^--when we got there, there’s like 60 freakin’ people waiting outside already because Eater already wrote it up that morning. I was pissed.  And hungry. So I said to Donny, “Yo, you know what? Why don’t we go over to Momofuku Ko and see if there’s like a cancellation? If there isn’t, we can see if we can score a pizza at Pulino’s and check out the hotties on line.”

    So, no @#$%, we get to Ko, (left) and the guy says, “This is your lucky night,  we just had a no-show for two people.” I said, “Dude, you have made our freakin’ day!” So Donny and I sit down on those stools without the backs and they’re playing Girls at Dawn—who I just saw at Brufar Falls like two nights ago!—and we’re chowing down on Chang’s awesome pork belly and this other great shit I don’t actually remember now, but, yo, it was worth the $125 bucks plus drinks. Like you pay what you gotta pay for awesome food, right?

     Next day I’m hungry again, and my man Donny says there’s a fried chicken and waffles place in Williamsburg we need to check out. Maybe we can be the first to twitter about it. So we take another taxi—this time $27—so we get there fast, and $%^&*! We can see a line forming outside, but we still get there just as it opens, so they let us in but say they haven’t got any chairs or tables or beer license yet.  I tell the guy no problem, man, we came for the freakin’ chicken.  Then we wait, like %^&* forty-five minutes, but it was worth it. Real crisp, real meaty, with this orange sauce—I don’t know what the @#$%% it was but it was awesome.  Fifty-two bucks for the two of us.

      I’m already twittering like mad, saying how the place wasn’t redecorated at all since this was a plumbing supply shop—funny thing was, the urinals didn’t work—like real industrial.  Smells funky too. And there’s two Mexican guys in the back cooking, you can smell they’re using real lard, man, and the waitress is a deadringer for that bangin’ spy on, what’s that show?  The music, I don’t know what the @#$$ it was, just loud, man, but it rocked.

     Then I get a message on my Blackberry, and s#$%&! It’s my friend Laurie and she's going to be on freakin’ TV, in the background of some Paraguyan chile joint in Astoria while that douchebag Adam Richman (above) shoots a segment of “Man v Food.”  I am like freakin’ pissed she didn’t tell me she was even going there.

     Like I didn’t take her to that taping of Guy Fieri (left) demolishing that Greek lasagna at the diner in the Bronx? That is messed up! I am done with this $%^&, man!


Text and photos by John A. Curtas



2342 Arthur Avenue

Bronx, New York



     For the uninitiated, Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is the only real “Little Italy” of New York left. The one in Manhattan is but a shell of its former self — having been overrun by bridge-and-tunnel folks long ago. Today, it is nothing (with a few exceptions) but multiple blocks of multiple tourist traps serving abysmal Italian food that would be right at home in Las Vegas.

     Arthur Avenue, just blocks from the Bronx Zoo and Botanical Gardens, is different. A real neighborhood of leafy, shaded streets containing businesses with a heavy Italian accent that still cater to customers who have been coming here since before WWII. This is a street of artisans. Of cheese and sausage makers. Of real butchers and handmade pasta. And of course, restaurants. Not dozens of paltry pasta parlors lined back to back, but family-owned restaurants like Mario’s, which has since 1919 catered to a clientele of  paisans and just plain folks who want Neapolitan food the way their Italian grandmas made it.

    First came the pizza. A simple margherita pizza. A good, blistered crust tasting of good bread, fresh tomatoes and a smattering of fresh mozz. That’s it, and that’s all it needed to be. Next, an antipasto platter that would feed a family of four for two days. Good crisp, lightly battered and fried calamari, eggplant “Siciliana” wrapped around fresh ricotta, clams oreganata fresh from the sea, and of course, roasted peppers. At that point my guest that evening was full, but host, owner and keeper of the flame Joe Migliucci--third generation here, and his son Mario is now chef--was just getting started. In  succession came a procession of pastas the likes of which you will not encounter west of the Hudson River. Cavatelli (above) in a fresh tomato sauce was a revelation, not the lumpy, thrown together watery stuff that passes for fresh tomato sauce by too many chefs but a smooth, simmered sauce that brought forth a tomato-y kapow! – elevating the hand-rolled, al dente cavatelli without overwhelming it.

     Before the food coma set in, we recall penne in a rich meat sauce, a definitive eggplant parm, pillow-light gnocchi in a spinach/Gorgonzola sauce, and spaghetti formaggio, made tableside by Signor Migliucci in a hollowed-out Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel (right)— so sharply flavored with cheese, then mellowed out by an cupful of flamed brandy, that we couldn’t stop gorging on it, even after the five preceding courses!

     What separates a meal like this from so many mediocre ones is that sharpness of flavor and the sense you get from the moment you walk into the place (a sense that’s confirmed by bite after bite), that your food is being made by hand, and with respect for the history behind it.

     A couple of fun facts about Mario’s: It was supposed to be included in a scene in "The Godfather," but the Miglucci family refused, thinking it might be bad publicity.

This article originally appeared in John A. Curtas's column Eating Las Vegas.





The Fountain of Youth Bubbles with Bobal

By Jacqueline Church


     Perhaps that’s overstating things a bit. But Bobal, a grape indigenous to Valencia Spain, has one of the highest concentrations of resveratrol in any grape. The micronutrients are touted to make us younger, slimmer, healthier. Let others repair to the lab to continue their studies. After my introduction to Bobal and other wines of Valencia, I am smitten. Why not do your own field research there, enjoying them in their natural environment? Whether or not you return younger or slimmer, you will certainly return happier.

    Bobal was only one of many discoveries  for me in Valencia and Utiel Requena DOs (Designation of Origin.) With its Mediterranean climate Valencia enjoys hot days and ocean breezes that for centuries have cooled the vineyards in an around this gorgeous city. Touring the region recently, I enjoyed terrific food--both traditional and modern--but the biggest surprise was the diversity and the quality of the wines.

   If most people think about Spanish wines, it’s likely they are thinking Rioja or maybe sparkling Cavas. The full spectrum of wines from Valencia has not yet enjoyed its rightful place at the US table. Importers are only too happy to fill orders for the now-popular Rioja wines--perhaps in this economy, it’s too easy. But this strategy underestimates the palate and the curiosity of American consumers. Luckily,  things are changing. A new group of entrepreneurial wine makers and export directors are on a mission to introduce the US to the wines of Valencia and Utiel Requena.

   Commercial winemaking in this region dates back to the 15th century, as evidenced by recently unearthed ruins along the Ruta Vino (Wine Route). Archeologists envision these ruins as a prime attraction for wine tourists and history buffs; in fact, all around the region one sees signs of an impending wine tourism boom. Forward-thinking wineries are adding function rooms, cabins, and B&Bs are popping up many in gorgeous old bodegas.  Sitting under a grape arbor overlooking vineyards planted with Bobal, Monastrell,  Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, one can imagine what California’s Napa Valley looked like before the advent of tour bus traffic.

   At Bodegas de Utiel (right), we sipped a Chardonnay that caused everyone at the table to join in translating “ABC” Anything But Chardonnay for our hosts. We proclaimed that the new “ABC” would be “A Better Chardonnay”  and urged her to use this phrase at the NY Fancy Food show she was soon to attend. These Chardonnays  were not fat, flabby wines suffering under a mask of oak. Here in Valencia and Utiel Requena, Chardonnay finds crisp expression of its true nature. Other revelations in white included crisp refreshing Macabeo and Merseguera, absolutely bargain-priced and perfect for summer sipping.

    The rosés of Valencia and Utiel Requena are poised to join this increasingly popular category. The Bobal and Monastrell grapes produce distinct rosés with amazing deep color and structure that helps them linger on the tongue.  These are food-friendly wines, exhibiting a light but persistent body and a bright acidity.  Cava of fine quality is produced in this region as well.

     Dessert wines have been historically produced in the region and much of the currently exported wine goes to countries like Russia that favor sweeter wines and Sangria-style reds. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum are dessert wines that are true artisanal products. I had the opportunity to meet a fourth-generation dessert winemaker making internationally recognized wines.     Noting the astrological signs chalked on the barrel butts, I asked if he was using  biodynamic methods, with Demeter certification. “No,” he nodded, adding, “I don’t believe it’s necessary to kill cows to make wine.” (Biodynamic wines infuse the soil with natural compounds to heal and balance the soil, using cow horns buried in the vineyards to achieve their results.) His Dagón winery is the third winery in Europe to achieve Rainforest Alliance certification.

    But Dagón is not alone in its allegiance to the environment. Coviñas collects so much solar energy from panels above their barrel room roof, they sell energy back to the grid. At Aranleón the winery is working with the university in Valencia to support their use of organic vinification, sustainable water use, and solar energy. Their award-winning Solo is certified organic and even has a snail motif on the Braille-adapted label.

     Each local specialty has a wine that is traditionally paired with it. Many of our meals started with the light, crisp whites of Cherubino or Merlot of Villar. Many Cabernets are being produced in French styles and stand up well in comparison. Over a large platter of fideua (left) the local pasta and seafood dish, one winemaker leaned toward me and whispered conspiratorially that he “only drinks Rosé with this dish.” At that moment, a selection of reds and whites were on the table.

     We learned of the ongoing agricultural research that is part of the region’s dedication to quality. There, by experimenting with different rootstocks, pruning techniques, watering levels, and so on, the wine makers in the region constantly test different varietals (as well as olives and fruits like persimmon) to assess optimal conditions for high quality agricultural output.

      It probably doesn’t help the export situation that some clarity in label designations was lost in the transition to European Union standards. For example, two terms  wine drinkers may be familiar with, especially on their Riojas, include “Crianza” and “Reserva.” The standards for Valencian wines require six months in oak cask, followed by 12 months in bottle for Crianza; 12 and 24 respectively for Reserva. In other wines, these terms may appear on labels without designating the same barrel and bottle aging times. To an unsuspecting consumer comparing two bottles of wine, the labels appear similar. In fact, one may be vastly inferior tank wine with very little barrel aging and the other may be a Valencian wine with significant barrel and bottle aging. For the consumer this can mean hidden value under the Valencian label.


Jacqueline Church is a contributing editor for Citysearch Boston, a writer for Good Eater Collaborative, Nourish Network, and writes the Gourmet Food column for  She’s currently at work on Pig Tales: a Love Story about our love for heritage breed pigs, the farmers, chefs and artisans bringing them from farm-to-table. She is the founder of sustainable seafood workshops for chefs called Teach a Chef to Fish.





by Christopher Mariani

Dolce Vita—Singapore                 



            On a recent trip to Singapore, I found the city’s demand for really terrific restaurants higher than ever. Even at local bars where guests primarily drank Singapore’s Tiger beer, the food was first-rate.  One of my best meals was at Dolce Vita, inside the Mandarin Oriental, a very upscale Italian restaurant.

    Italian-born chef Marco Pedrelli does an outstanding job of combining flavors from regions of both northern and southern Italy.   Pedrelli started his career 17 years ago working at  La Grotta in Montepulciano, Italy, later had an opportunity to work beside chef Heinz Winkler in Germany, and in October of 2008 joined Dolce Vita.

     Prior to dinner I sat outside by the hotel’s chic new pool (above) bordered by white cloth cabanas as the sky showcased its last hints of blue before transforming into darkness. It seemed a good time to indulge in some Perrier-Jouët Champagne Brut, and some freshly sliced prosciutto and mozzarella.  Despite the thick humidity in the city that evening, the outside lounge is restfully beautiful and offers a spectacular view of the city’s impressive skyline.

      For dinner, I ate inside the dining room,  decorated with soft salmon red walls, wheat-colored wooden chairs, and very elegant simplicity.  I started my meal with a carpaccio of Maine lobster (below) served with a light lemon sauce and topped with sweet pineapples, fresh asparagus, and a touch of sevruga caviar.  Next I had the raw marinated Hokkaido scallops that were light, naturally sweet, and barely altered, a preparation I wish more chefs would replicate when using such fresh ingredients. With the appetizers I selected a bottle of Vincent Girardin, 2005, Puligny-Montrachet from Dolce Vita’s extensive wine list.
     Pedrelli also prepares some delicious pasta dishes, like beef cheek ragù ravioli, gnocchi with mascarpone-basil pesto sauce, and homemade tagliatelle with fresh seafood, cherry tomatoes and olive oil.   For my pesce course, I had a wonderful grilled sea bass with sautéed baby spinach and crispy potatoes, covered with a natural jus.  I ended with the olive-crusted Welsch lamb, cooked perfectly, accompanied by a fabulous 2001 Corino Barolo. For dessert, do not ask for the menu, simply order the apple tarte Tatin with Tahitian vanilla sauce.

     It is obvious that Dolce Vita is upholding the fine dining reputation that the Mandarin Oriental Hotels' have  developed in the last few years,  and chef Pedrelli proves himself to be in the same class as some of the other great chefs in other Mandarin locations like Pierre Gagnaire, Daniel Boulud and Thierry Marx. Pedrelli may not yet have those chefs' name recognition, but I'm predicting he soon will.

Prices: in Singapore Dollars: Antipasti 14-32, Pastas 28-34, Entrees 34-38.  3 course meal 65.  5 course meal 95, with wine pairings 138

To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to


A Baltimore man, Andrew Palmer, 43,  was sent to jail for 18 months for faking seizures to get out of paying restaurant bills. Prosecutors said Palmer ate and drank at several restaurants between April and July, and  then pretended to have a seizure rather than pay his bill.


"Afterward, we collected what seemed like a small treasure chest of take-home boxes, coughed up the booty required to leave without walking the plank, and exited Smuggler's Cove thinking, arrrr, Matey, we'd had enough good grub to tame any self-respecting buccaneer."--John Phipps, "Smuggler's Cove," The Grand Rapids Press.



Guidelines for submissions:  QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes.  When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below.  Thanks.  John Mariani

* From Aug. 30 through October in Atlanta, Spice Market will offer guests a “Going, Going, Gone” wine promotion featuring wines  no longer on the restaurant’s  list for low prices.   Two different wines will be featured each week, e.g., wine selections for week of Aug. 30 are Duckhorn Merlot, Napa Valley ($12/glass, $44/bottle) and Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Chardonnay, Columbia Valley ($5/glass, $19/bottle).   Call 404-724-2550.

* In Sept. in Guerneville,  CA, the "Sublime Russian River Appellation Fine Wine & Dine Package" at Applewood Inn, Restaurant & Spa, starting at $495, incl. a one-night stay in a Suite (Tues.-Fri.) and a five-course exclusively Russian River Wine Appellation food and wine pairing dinner for two. Call 707-869-9093.

* In Sept. 2010 in Laguna Beach, CA, the "Sip, Sand and Save Package" at La Casa del Camino, starting at $269 per night, incl. a suite from the Casa Surf Project and a California wine-themed dinner for two incl. California Wines paired with entrees from Chef Craig at the hotel’s K’ya Bistro. Call 888-367-5232.

* On Sept. 2 in Oakland, CA, Ozumo will host a Sake & Small Plates Dinner with 5  courses prepared by Chef Yo Matsuzaki., $55 pp, 510-286-9866;

*From Sept. 4 –  12, in Atlanta, GA, diners can experience the 5th annual Atlanta Midtown Restaurant Week. More than 30 of the neighborhood’s  restaurants will offer a dining promo to incl. a $25 3-course dinner menu. Visit or call 404-888-9348.

* From Sept. 7 – Oct. 31, in Paso Robles, CA, Forever Resorts offers “Wine Down at the Lake” package: Enjoy 3 days/2 nights on a 59’ Forever Houseboat at Lake San Antonio for 4 adults. Price ($1,300) incl. fuel and visit to Starr-Ranch winery, picnic lunch and bottle of wine for each couple. Visit  or call 805-472-2313.

* On Sept. 8 in Atlanta, Shaun’s is hosting a Southern Beer Dinner that incl.  passed hors d’oeuvre paired with a Sweetwater beer and scuppernong cocktail and a four-course menu paired with the South’s finest brews.   $55 pp (or $40 pp for food only).   Call 404-577-4358.

* From Sept. 11 to Dec. 11, The Buccaneer and Queen Anne’s Revenge restaurants in Charleston, SC are offering a 15% discount to teachers, soldiers, police, EMT’s, healthcare professionals, and port authority.  Call 843- 805-5065 or 843-216-6868.

* From Sept 14 – 20 in Sonoma, CA, The 5th annual Attack of the Killer Tomatoes returns to Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar where they highlight Heirloom tomatoes with a special menu available à la carte or as a 3 or 5 course dinner with optional wine pairings. The “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” movie will be projected in the dining room throughout the week. $45 for 3 course dinner; $65 for 5 course dinner; optional wine pairing $15/$25. 707-931-2042.
* From On Sept. 14 – 18 in Sausalito, CA, Poggio is holding their second annual Festa del Pesce offering a seafood menu featuring: Crudo (raw/marinated/cured) and Cotto (cooked) antipasti, and whole-fish preparations inspired by summers in Italy. Prices begin at $7 for antipasti. 415-332-7771.

* From Sept. 14-18 in Atlanta, Star Provisions cheesemonger Tim Gaddis will host Cheese Week featuring tastings and demos from cheesemakers incl. Gabe Goodlett of Sweetgrass Dairy in Thomasville, GA.; David Gremmels of Rogue Creamery in Central Point, OR; Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, VT; and Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese Co. in Dodgeville, WI; among others. Free admission. Call 404-365-0410 ext. 132 or visit

* On Sept. 16-18 in Denver, CO, The 29th edition of the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) will be held. The premier U.S. beer festival will serve more than 2,200 different beers, in one-ounce tasting portions, from an estimated 462 U.S. breweries to the   event’s 49,000-plus attendees. Ticket prices vary, Call 303-447-0816.

* From Sept. 17 - 26, Chefs Nancy Silverton and Suzanne Tracht will lead a culinary tour through 4 cities in Argentina.  Argentina 444 is a 10-day, first class trip offering discerning travelers an insider's view, from behind-the-scenes tours of top kitchens, to  glacier hikes in Patagonia and private wine tastings at Mendoza's premier properties.  Space is limited to 16 guests, Visit Call 310-717-4809.


* From Sept. 17 -19,  The Telluride Blues & Brews Festival takes place in Telluride, CO.  Stay at the Inn at Lost Creek from $235 a night, and receive 50% off your Mon. night rate. Call 970-728-5678 or visit


* From Sept. 17 – 26 in York, England, the annual York Festival of Food and Drink will showcase Yorkshire growers and retailers, an extravaganza of specialist markets, chef demonstrations, themed dinners, tutored Slow Food tastings, cooking classes, restaurant meal deals and other special events.  Ticket prices vary based on event, but many are free.  Call +44-0190-446-6687.
* On September 17-19, in New Paltz, NY, Mohonk Mountain House’s Hudson Valley Harvest theme program celebrates the Slow Food Movement and the regional harvest through cooking demonstrations and tastings. Savor farm-to-table cuisine with guest Chef Ric Orlando, author and recent Food Network “Chopped” champion. Rates start at $217 pp. per night Call 800-772-6646 or


* On Sept. 17 in Louisville, KY, Morton’s The Steakhouse will host a tasting event with a cocktail reception featuring four cocktails made with Dumante Verdenoce Pistachio Liqueur, with hors d’oeuvres prepared by chef Nick Butler. Howard Sturm, founder of Dumante Verdenoce, will  discuss the specialty liqueur.  $45 pp. Call 502-584-0421.

* On Sept. 17 in Temecula, CA, the Temecula Valley Winegrowers will host its first Winemakers Roundtable event, comprising a live webcast Q&A with the area's leading winemakers on the appellation’s past, present and future; following, awalk-around tasting showcasing wines from 30+ wineries and SoCal cuisine from wine country's top chefs. $65 pp. Call 800-801-9463 or visit

* From Sept. 17-19, Halekulani in Oahu, HI will host “The Art of the Cocktail” Summit, with seminars taught by mixologists including Dale DeGroff, Julie Reiner and Tony Abou-Ganim on “The Evolution of the Cocktail,” Gin, Tequila and Island influences.  A 5-seminar package is available for $160 pp ; a la-carte basis with rates from $40 to $125 pp.  Ocean View room accommodations at $460 per night incl. breakfast for two.  Visit

* On Sept. 18 & 19 in Abergavenny, Wales, UK , The Abergavenny Food Festival celebrates its 12th year. Call (+ 44) (0) 1873851643.

*On Sept. 18th in Millington, MD, 208 Talbot and Homestead Farms, Inc., will host the 4th Annual "Field to Fork" Dinner.  Luke and Alison Howard, for Homestead Farms, Inc. will provide Executive Chef Brendan Keegan for a 4-course al fresco farm-side dining experience paired with local wines.  $55 pp.  Visit

* On Sept. 19 in Paradise Valley, AZ, the C-CAP Heavy Medal Culinary Competition will be held between Chef Francesco Roccato, InterContinental Montelucia Resort and Chef Charles Kassels of El Chorro Lodge.  Guests enjoy a four-course dinner.  $175 pp  Call 623.594.0117 or


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

Everett Potter's Travel  Report

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


Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio.  He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.


Tennis Resorts OnlineA Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored  two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to  Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991).

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

Family Travel Forum

All You Need to Know Before You Go

nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist,;;


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

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

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

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

© copyright John Mariani 2010