May 1, 2011

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This Week

New York Corner: Fiorini
by John Mariani

    Quick Bytes

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.
10 Great Destination Restaurants in the USA




by John Mariani

     In the days after Hurricane Katrina ripped into New Orleans on August 29, 2005, and shut down nearly every restaurant in the French Quarter,  Chef Scott Boswell knew that getting his diner named Stanley up and running was crucial to bringing the city back to life.
    “Two weeks after Katrina I got a military pass to get into the Quarter,” says Boswell. “My staff was scattered all over the country, I had no payroll records, and no cash flow. My mother came to help out and a sous-chef and his girlfriend came back. We went to a local grocery for provisions and started selling a hamburger, potato chips, pickle, and a drink for five bucks.  We put tables outside, my mom insisted we put flowers on the tables, and there were lines to get in.  We served 128 people that first day, and we got media attention from all over—newspapers, CNN, even Japanese TV. By week’s end we were serving 500 people a day.”
     Stanley was the first restaurant that managed to re-open in the Quarter. Now, five years later, New Orleans actually has more restaurants than before the hurricane. The good times are rolling again and, on the basis of two trips to the city in the last six months, I can attest that restaurants are packed every night, from old timers like Brennan’s and Galatoire’s to newcomers like Dominique’s and Domenica.
     Boswell (right) relocated Stanley (above) to Jackson Square, where in addition to those redemptive burgers, he serves terrific gumbos, eggs Benedict, and po’ boy sandwiches.  At the same time, after eight months of renovation, he re-opened his fine dining restaurant Stella! (both restaurants are named after characters in Tennessee Williams’ play “Streetcar Named Desire”), which is emblematic of just how vibrant and forward thinking the Crescent City’s food scene has become.

    For while most of the city’s restaurants are still devoted to beloved but entrenched Creole culinary tradition, Stella! (below) has moved into modern haute cuisine, but without the haughtiness.   
    Boswell calls his food “global,” based on his cooking stints at international restaurants in France, Italy, and Japan, all filtered through a generous New Orleans sensibility. And by New Orleans standards, Stella! is not cheap, with entrees ranging from $31-$43, and a separate “international caviar menu” that offers two ounces of paddlefish roe for $100 and fifty grams of “Royal Osetra” for $300.
    Stella’s décor, once quaintly casual, is now among the most elegant in New Orleans. You enter through a cobblestone courtyard into a dining room with beamed ceilings, gold and silver wallpaper, big, vanilla-colored tufted upholstered chairs, crystal chandeliers, and an antique, marble covered table set with a magnificent display of flowers. The place is as effusively romantic as any restaurant in the city, with plenty of guys popping the question over dessert, and both locals and tourists tend to dress up for the occasion.
    Boswell’s conceptions are complex yet beautifully conceived, and the many components both buoy and complement the main ingredients, evident in a dish like his roasted potato and parmesan gnocchi with fennel fronds, grilled corn, maitake mushrooms, duck prosciutto, broccoli florets, scallions and lemon zest ($18), which at first seems a betrayal of the simplicity of Italian pastas but emerges as a canny marriage of smoky, tangy and green flavors with crisp textures.
    Fat Louisiana Gulf shrimp are melded with risotto laced with hot andouille sausage, caramelized shiitake mushrooms, peas and scallions ($16), a wonderfully tasty dish despite the risotto being overcooked one night. An entrée called “duck five ways” ($37) is a tour de force of a duck breast dusted with Sichuan pepper, a lacquered leg and thigh, a mu-shu stir fry in a Chinese pancake, a duck miso broth, and crispy duck foie gras wontons with a currant cassis reduction (below).  The dish ups the ante on traditional Peking duck by multiplying the variations.
    Boswell, along with Chef de Cuisine Carlos Briceno, proudly use as many local ingredients and techniques as possible, as in their crisp meaty breast of Palmetto squab, served with Southern-style braised collard greens, skillet cornbread, oyster dressing and a Madeira jus ($36).
Two of the best desserts I’ve had all year are at Stella! An old-fashioned German chocolate cake is brought happily into the 21st century, rich with toasted coconut and pecan ganache and lavished with caramel sauce and a milk chocolate mousse made with freezing liquid nitrogen in seconds.
The other dessert is a masterpiece of sheer decadence—quite literally a grilled cheese sandwich made with a triple crème Délice de Bourgogne and a dark chocolate ganache within brioche bread fried in clarified butter and lashed with wild huckleberry sauce.
    The 500-label wine list, overseen by sommelier John Mitchell, is exceptionally well balanced with New and Old World selections and rare vintages, though I’d like to see more bottles under $50.
    It is a winning formula for a chef to be able to make great burgers and po’ boys while also serving up some of the most sophisticated cuisine, especially in a city where food is a religion, with the same restorative effects on the body and soul.

Price: Main courses $31-$43.

This article originally appeared in Bloomberg News.

417 Royal Street

    For the last several years I have been privileged to give "Fireside Chats" at the renowned Tennessee Williams Festival, during which there is a dinner at Brennan's held for the speakers and actors who appear throughout the week. This year the stellar guests included actresses Caroll Baker,  Shirley Jackson, and journalist Rex Reed, each regaling the rest of us with reminiscences of the great American playwright, a Mississippian who made New Orleans his adopted home and the setting for so many of his plays. It was a grand and long evening with much laughter and high spirits and the food was nothing short of Brennan's best.
    Like Galatoire's (profiled here two weeks ago), Brennan's, here since 1946,  is one of the French Quarter's historic restaurants and year by year gets better and better.  The greeting has all the warmth of the South to it, and family scion Ted Brennan seems to know everyone or soon gets to know the new faces as they come through the door, famously for "Breakfast at Brennan's," which for $36 gives you an extensive three-course Creole breakfast that ends of with bananas Foster, the flaming dessert of bananas, rum, caramel, and vanilla ice cream, created here.  The wine cellar, built over decades by the late Jimmy Brennan, was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina but has been built up again over the last five years to be again one of the finest in the city.
    Everyone that night chose their own dinner, and while all the classic Brennan's dishes are here,  added to  each season by Chef Lazone Randolph (left), who began at Brennan's in 1965 and became Exec Chef in 2005.  The crawfish, like spring flowers, were just starting to come in that week,  not yet as fat as they would be by now, but still meaty and succulent.
    It is one of the hallmarks of Brennan's, carried on proudly by Randolph and his crew, to guarantee that the dishes you loved five years ago will be every bit as memorable today, altered only by the use of the best ingredients available. I find it very difficult not to order my old favorites but there are so many other dishes that pull me in, so let me just speak of some of those I've had in recent visits over the past year.
    The turtle soup, exceptionally rich and full of tender turtle meat, is perfectly seasoned in the Creole style, served piping hot with a shot of Sherry if you like. The trout almandine is smothered in buttery almond and lemon sauce, the trout pecan the same with pecans--two sensationally good dishes. Filet of redfish topped with lump crabmeat in a fresh mushroom and red wine sauce is another winner, and, since it was buster crab season when I was there, I was bound to gobble up the terrific soft shells in butter with a lavish Béarnaise sauce. If you're in the mood for meat, Brennan's tournedos Taylor, with Béarnaise and marchand de vins sauces, is a stand-out of flavorful filets. I am also a lover of that good old New Orleans dish grillades and grits, a big platter of sautéed strips of veal with buttered grits, a very downhome dish here ennobled just a little bit without getting too fancy.
    It would be hard for a first-timer, or an old-timer, not to have the famous bananas Foster (right), which were served at the Tennessee Williams dinner with the usual flame and  flair, but I cannot say enough about the crêpe desserts here, the decadent bread pudding Joan d'Arc, or the Creole chocolate suicide cake.  The cheesecake is pretty dreamy, too. And all of it served up with a Louisiana bonhomie by a dining room staff for whom no request is to large.
    Brennan's guests like to linger.  You don't go here for a quick bite, especially at breakfast, which always involves some Champagne, and at night there seems little reason to want to go anywhere else after a meal so splendid, so joyous, and so celebratory--especially when great actors aand raconteurs regale guests with stories of their friend Tennessee.

Brennan's is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. A four-course dinner is set at $48, with à la carte available.

300 Gravier Street

    After a few switcharounds of management, the now locally owned Windsor Court Hotel is on a firm footing and more popular than ever from what I could see from my table in the splendid and handsome Grill Room, where Chef
Drew Dzejak has really risen to the highest tiers of New Orleans cookery. The winelist at the Grill Room, with 600 labels overseen by Sara Kavanaugh, continues to be one of the best selected in its range and breadth.
    The dining room is one of the loveliest in the city, with murals of Louisiana life by local artists
Auseklis Ozols.  The terrace is particularly popular for breakfast or a romantic dinner, while candlelight after six means any meal will have a romantic cast here, accompanied by a musical trio and singer of the Great American Songbook. The Polo Club Lounge is easily the most sophisticated watering hole in town.
    On my recent visit I dined alone,  something I occasionally crave after too much carousing.  I brought  a book with me but it went unread.  I sipped an impeccably made daiquiri, maybe two while listening to the beautiful girl singing "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans." 
     I began with the season's new warm white asparagus salad with watercress, hedgehog mushrooms, and a light truffled mignonette.   I also enjoyed the lagniappe of Gulf yellow fin tuna poke (Hawaiian style) with a yuzu gastrique and crispy moo shoo.  This prepared the way for a superb wild striped bass with crispy skin in a lobster-Marsala wine reduction, with spinach, leeks, and  risotto
(slightly mushy).  For dessert Dzejak sent out "nouveau bananas Foster," which came as three cylinders of rich banana mousse with vanilla ice cream.
    For a break from the hubbub outside on the streets of this always celebratory city, The Grill Room is an oasis of genteel Southern taste and charm.

The Grill Room is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. At dinner, appetizers run $10-$19, main courses $29-$37.



by John Mariani

209 East 56th Street
(near Third Avenue)

    A few years back there was a breed of Italian restaurateurs whose pride in their Old Country's food initiated a considerable number of restaurants that might be called "New York Italian," which drew on the best elements of Italian-American cooking in its rich tomato sauces, veal chops, and lusty pasta dishes along with new refinements based on the availability of the finest products then just begining to  arrive from Italy--virgin olive oil, cheeses, prosciutto di Parma, balsamic vinegar, even expensive white truffles. They stocked their restaurants with the best wines from Tuscany, Campania, and Piedmont, and their décor mimicked the refinement of ristoranti in Milan, Rome and Florence. 
    They also brought a new sense of Italian hospitality to NYC, a far cry from the older, entrenched Little Italy stereotype of hosts who hold up their fingers and ask, "So, how many you gonna be?"  Among these more sophisticated, uptown restaurateurs were men like Adi Giovanetti of Il Nido, Tony May of San Domenico (now SD26), Pino Luongo of Centolire, the Bruno Brothers of San Pietro and Sistina, and others too numerous to mention here.  One of the most respected, both for his food and his attention to clientele, was Lello Arpaia, whose restaurants, at various times, have included Lello, Scarpetta, Cellini, and Bellini, as well as partnerships with his charming daughter Donatella at Dona, Aqua Pazza, Mia Dona, and Anthos.
    Neapolitan by birth, Lello arrived in the U.S. when he was eighteen and within a decade opened his own restaurant.  With enormous pride he jokes that his two greatest "failures" are that his son and daughter wanted to go into the business. For reasons that seem clear as soon as you meet these restaurateurs, nothing can drive them into retirement because they clearly love what they do and cannot think of any other way to spend their lives than to serve their guests, many of whom go back decades at their restaurants.  Lello, now  with his son Dino (right)
mostly at Fiorini, which opened three and a half years ago, hasn't changed in years--still slender, handsome and impeccably dressed, ever attentive to every detail, a quiet man of calm exuberance. 
     And so Lello was there to greet us last week, as was Donatella, whose new downtown pizzeria I promised to visit next week.  The dining room is simply lovely, perfectly lighted, with rich varnished wood, comfortable chairs, and, of course, white tablecloths and good stemware.  To the rear is a glassed-in wine storage space. As soon as we sat down the waiter brought warm, puffy focaccia and Italian bread with  ample butter.  They unfolded our napkins for us and told us the evening's specials.  Lello offered to choose our wines and told us that his cuisine has never changed, meaning not that it is dated but that is is timeless--classic Italian specialties done with a New York panache throughout.
    After nibbling on some fried calamari and tender grilled octopus with capers and arugula, sipping our negronis, we readied ourselves for the pasta course--each dish made with verve and care to bring out the pasta itself, not to smother it.  I find it impossible to turn down gnocchi, especially when treated to a light Gorgonzola dolce cream sauce, and Chef Xavier Quispilema's is superb. I feel equally as ravenous about spaghetti alla carbonara  when made right, with guanciale and egg, and Fiorini does so with great flavor, again lighter than some overwrought examples I've had around town.  Freshly made pappardelle comes with lump crabmeat, peas, garlic, olive oil, and cherry tomatoes is a lush lobster broth.
    Much as I love it, I usually avoid swordfish because the raw product must be of intense freshness and so often is not. At Fiorini the  fish served was glorious, briny and delicious, grilled quickly, with olives, onions, capers and tomato sauce. There is, of course, the obligatory veal chop, and Fiorini's is excellent, tasting as rich as  the finest veal should, cooked tender and pink as desired, with the delightful addition of caramelized onions (above), while pollo belvedere is a grilled chicken paillard with arugula on top, balsamic tomato, avocado, pine nuts, and sliced pecorino cheese, every ingredient in perfect tandem, every texture sure.
    The desserts are not meant to be fantasies, just sheer pleasure, as with the three chocolate-and-passion fruit zuccotto and a creamy cheese cake with a strawberry puree. Best of all was a golden, moist, exceeding light baba au rhum with powdered sugar and an accompanying glass of vin santo (right).
    Fiorini's wine list is not among the deepest in New York restaurants, but there will be plenty, at all price ranges, for you to enjoy with your meal.
At a time when much newer Italian restaurants are anything but civilized places to dine, with bombastic music, cheap furniture, and waiters who couldn't tell their Asti from their Elba,  Fiorini is clear testament to the best that New York Italian style has to offer.

Fiorini is open for lunch Mon.-Fri., for dinner Mon.-Sat. Antipasti at dinner $10-$14, pastas $18-$23, main courses $24-$45.



by Christopher Mariani

Willie Mae's
2401 Saint Ann Street

    Recently, a group of close friends heading down to New Orleans called upon me for some advice as to where to eat. One of them asked, “Where can we grab some good bbq?” I gave him a puzzled look and responded, “Why the hell would you go to New Orleans for bbq?” Not to say that the city doesn’t have good ‘que, but that’s definitely not what a first-timer should go to New Orleans for. I proceeded to offer them a list of personal favorites, including restaurants and eateries where they can taste some of the city’s best crawfish, soft shell crab, gumbo, turtle soup, fried chicken, red beans, oysters served every way possible, Louisiana Creole classics, po’ boy sandwiches and, of course, for dessert, beignets, pecan pie and bananas Foster. One place in particular came to mind, Willie Mae’s Scotch House, my introduction to city’s soul flavors.        
    Willie Mae’s, located just outside of the Quarter in the 6th Ward devastated by Hurricane Katrina,  is not exactly in the best of areas, but don’t let the run-down neighborhood dissuade you from walking in. Besides a hanging white sign that reads, “Willie Mae’s Restaurant” and a standing chalkboard menu that lists daily specials, you probably wouldn’t know there was a restaurant inside. Once within, you'll find there’s an extremely casual dining room filled with small wooden tables topped by bottles of Louisiana Hot Sauce, “One drop does it,” Tabasco sauce, ketchup, salt and pepper shakers and a sugar cannister. The walls are blanketed with newspaper reviews, murals of bluegrass bands and a piece of artwork that reads, “Be Nice or Leave!” surrounded by a colorful frame decorated with beer caps.
         The little place
was opened by Miss Willie Mae out of her own home, a true Fat City chicken shack, declared an "American Classic" by the James Beard Association. Put out of business by Katrina, the restaurant was re-opened through a coming together of volunteers and other restaurateurs who knew enough not to let such a link to the city's heritage, not to mention nonpareil fried chicken, go under for good. Today Willie Mae's great-granddaughter now runs things and she''ll shoo anyone out of the kitchen who wants to take a photo of what's going on back there.  Rightly so.
    Bolstered by an ice cold Abita beer, we shared an order of crispy fried chicken (above), a thinly pounded, fried pork chop, a big bowl of traditional Louisiana red beans and a mound of white rice (left) and two orders of buttery, golden brown corn bread. The food was rich, well-salted and left a trace of grease on our lips when finished. Not all food of the city’s fare is as heavy as found at Willie Mae’s, but as a whole, the food is hearty and filling. There’s not much in terms of service besides waitresses who rush your order and may be difficult to hail down when your Abita runs out, but the food is on point. I doubt the standard menu has changed in years, if ever, but why should it, since everything on it tastes damn good. So, if you are a virgin tourist to the city of New Orleans, save the barbeque for the next time you visit Texas or the Carolinas and stop by Willie Mae’s for some authentic “South of the south” New Orleans cooking. 

To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to



In Vienna, a baker iced cakes with Nazi swastika symbols,
later apologizing for causing offense, saying
he was only
making what a customer wanted.


7.5 per cent alcohol India Pale Ale called Royal Virility Performance, was last week created to mark the  Royal Wedding, containing  aphrodisiacs including "herbal Viagra," Horny Goat Weed and chocolate, with a label reading  'Arise Prince Willy' and 'Celebrate Big Willy Style.'  The makers sent bottles to Prince William for the wedding night. Forty bottles at £10 each will be produced initially, and went go on sale at, with all the proceeds going to the charity Centrepoint.  James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, said: "As the bottle says, this is about consummation, not commemoration."




Mariani's Quick Bytes

Check out our Quick Bytes section! Great deals, events, dinners, and much more!

Blue Caravan
Beginning May 2 in New York, NY, Blue Caravan will feature live world music (flamenco, Brazilian, African, and beyond) to accompany their extensive global menu (small and large plates).  This will continue every Monday afterwards, 7PM to 10PM.  No music charge.  Call 212-595-4300 or
Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
On May 3, Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco continues Seasons Swirl.  A Premier Wine Tasting Event, a monthly wine and food tasting at Seasons Bar and Lounge. This month's event will feature wines by Darioush and hors d'oeuvres created by Executive Chef Mark Richardson. The event will be held on from 5:30 p.m.7:30 p.m. and is $45 for wine flights and suggested pairings. Call 415-633-3000 or visit
Sullivan’s Steakhouse
From May 4th through May 28th, Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Houston, TX, will host a series of music talents on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in the Ringside Lounge (inside Sullivan’s). Music acts will include Grupo Kache, Radio London and many more. Call  713-961-0333 or visit  
Pecan on Franklin Street
On May 4-6, May 11-13, May 18-20, Bill Telepan brings a slightly unbuttoned version of Telepan downtown during a four-week-long cooking stint at Pecan on Franklin Street.   Each week at Telepan TriBeCa, Bill offers a different four-course tasting menu for $45pp. Five red and five white wines by-the-glass and a selection of beer are also offered.  No reservations accepted.  Telepan TriBeCa (at Pecan), 130 Franklin Street, New York.
MexiQ Kitchen & Draught
On May 5, MexiQ Kitchen & Draught in Astoria, NY will host a loca fiesta for Cinco de Mayo with a live mariachi band, piñatas and $10 margarita specials.  Tequila will be poured at a perfect 32 degrees from their temperature-controlled dispenser while Executive Chef Jonathan VanSleet prepares juicy Beef Short Rib Empanadas ($8) and luscious Fish Enchiladas with black bean salsa ($10). 718-626-0333 or
On May 5, NYIT will present its Professional Excellence Awards to elite leaders in the culinary and oenology community at the Gold Coast Classic in New York, NY. The event will support student scholarships. The honorees - Barbara Lynch, chef and CEO of Barbara Lynch Gruppo, and Michael Martini, master winemaker of Louis M. Martini Winery - will be celebrated at the gala. The evening will feature a cocktail reception, silent and live auctions, and a three-course dinner. $500 pp. Call 516-686-7644 or visit 
Virgil’s Real Barbecue
On May 5, Virgil’s Real Barbecue in New York, NY will offer a special Mexican-inspired feast in honor of Cinco de Mayo.  The meal starts off with a Muy Caliente Margarita ($11) with habanero pepper-infused tequila, then cools down with fresh Guacamole, Chips and Salsa ($9.95).  A panko-crusted and stuffed Shrimp Relleno ($10.95) and an Enchiladas de Pollo ($15.95) with homemade corn tortillas are washed down with a “Bucket of Mexico” - a combination of six Mexican beers ($30). 212-921-9494 or
Four Seasons Resort Maui
On Friday, May 6, Four Seasons Resort Maui joins with Opus One Winery to offer guests an exceptional viticulture evening, featuring the creative cuisine of Four Seasons Master Executive Chef Roger Stettler and the wines of Opus One's Winemaker Michael Silacci. It all takes place under the stars on Four Seasons Resort Maui's Oceanfront Lawn. Visit
$350 per person.  Reservations at 808-874-2201 or
Morgan’s in the desert
On May 6 in Palm Springs, CA, La Quinta Resort & Club’s signature restaurant Morgan’s in the desert will host the Chappellet Winery Dinner – a winery perched 1,200 feet above the Napa Valley floor with a winemaking program focused on extraordinary age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon. Price is $95pp Call 760-564-7600 or visit
Bon Appetit
On May 7, in Las Vegas, Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit will present Toques Off to Paul Bocuse at MGM Grand. This lavish dinner honoring the icon of modern French gastronomy will feature fine wines paired with course preparations by Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon, Roland Passot, Michael Mina, Hubert Keller, Shawn McClain, Jacques Torres, André Renard and others. Beneficiaries of the evening include Keep Memory Alive, which benefits the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health founded by Southern Wine & Spirits’ Larry Ruvo, and the Wirtz Beverage Group’s culinary scholarships and programs at the College of Southern Nevada. $395 per person. Call 877-884-8993 or purchase online at
Riverpark Tom Colicchio
On May 10 in New York, NY, at Riverpark Tom Colicchio will host the 15th Annual Toast to the Children food and wine tasting event to benefit Children of Bellevue. This tasting will feature 13 of NYC's best restaurants and 13 wineries chosen by Paul Greico. Gail Simmons is the gala's 2011 honoree. Tickets start at $250. For more information, visit
Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse
On May 12, Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse in Rosemont, IL, will host a Trinchero Napa Valley Wine Dinner. Trinchero's Mario Monticelli will lead guests through a selection of wine paired with five-course prepared by Executive Chef Marco DiBenedetto. $85pp. Call 847-928-9900 or visit 
Portland Indie Wine & Food Festival
On May 14 in Portland, OR, the Portland Indie Wine & Food Festival will bring together 37 festival alumni and 14 newly selected Oregon winemakers to pour alongside 14 of Portland’s top chefs and artisan producers. GA $75 pp, VIP $125 pp. Visit or call 503-595-0891
Comme Ca
On May 18, Chef David Myers’ Comme Ca in West Hollywood, CA, is hosting dinner to benefit relief efforts in the Japanese prefecture of Ibaraki. Guest chefs Michael Voltaggio, Roy Choi, Jordan Kahn, Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo will join Myers to cook a multi-course tasting menu. $110pp. Call 323-782-1104 or visit


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

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

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

"Equal parts history, sociology, 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 Espositio, hosty 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, Gotham Bar & Grill, The Modern, and Maialino.



FEATURED LINKS: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linked to four excellent travel sites:

Everett Potter's Travel  Report

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

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

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

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

Family Travel Forum

                                                                    ALL YOU NEED BEFORE YOU GO

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

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

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