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  April 13,  2013                                                                                                NEWSLETTER

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James Tissot "La Partie carrée"


                                                            NEW ORLEANS, PART TWO                                                                                                                                           By John Mariani

Arlington Club
by John Mariani

Notes from the Brewery
by Mort Hochstein 


                                                   NEW ORLEANS, PART TWO
                                                                           By John Mariani

The French Quarter, New Orleans

2900 Chartres Street

    The most exciting new restaurant in New Orleans, located just next to the French Quarter in a gentrifying neighborhood called Bywater, is Mariza, where Chef Ian Schnoebelen and Laurie Casebonne have fitted impeccably into a new apartment building carved out of an old rice plant by developers TJ Iarocci and Sean Cummings, retaining as much of the industrial look of concrete and cement walls, tall ceilings, and old woodwork as possible.  The dining room echoes that design both in the bar and dining room and smaller eating room off to the side.  However, way too many tables and chairs are counter height, more appropriate to a wine bar than a serious restaurant, and I hope someone just takes a handsaw to the legs and brings them down to dining level.
    Schnoebelen and his wife Laurie (right, seated at the right) fell in love with Venetian seafood, and the Crescent City is not unlike Venice in its curving waterways and access to the sea.  There's a raw bar here, and you see homage to Venetian cuisine in dishes like
squid ink linguine with crab, shrimp and mussels and seafood carpaccios, and since there is now a pizzeria on every block of Venice, there's no harm in serving a couple as good as those at Mariza.
    The pasta  dishes may be gussied up with slices of bread (starch on starch?) but they are truly delicious, not least the duck ragôut [sic] pappardelle with smoked duck breast and liver mousse, and the potato gnocchi with kale and ricotta.
    Goat's milk ricotta is also added to the standout bruschetta with kale and balsamico, and the pepperoni soup with salame and Gorgonzola is easily one of my favorite dishes of the year.  A simply grilled fish with a fennel salad and lemon vinaigrette could not have been more expertly cooked.  For dessert go with the chocolate terrine with sea salt and candied blood orange.

    The wine list might be a bit larger--just 40 selections now--but they are well priced, with plenty of bottlings under $40.

    Mariza adds measurably to a developing neighborhood and serves as a beacon for what's to follow.

Mariza is open for dinner Tues. Sat.
Starters run $6-$10, main courses $12-$20.

dominique's ON MAGAZINE
4213 Magazine Street

    The overnight demise in 2012 after only a few months in operation of  the first restaurant by this name caused many to wonder just what had happened to a place that seemed to do booming business.  Whatever the cause, Dominique Macquet, the Mauritius-born chef who first lent his name to a restaurant in New Orleans a decade ago and fled to Houston  after Hurricane Katrina, has returned to the river city he loves and, with new investors, opened a larger, 200-seat version of Dominique's in an old fire station on Magazine Street.  It's been a smash hit since opening this spring, and although it's a pricey cab ride out here, tourists have found it well worth the time and money.  
    Except for the high ceilings, there's not much more to remind you this was once a 1909 fire station. Indeed, it's just about the most modern, classiest place to open in town in years. Excellent lighting and soft colors, mixed with wall art and, to the rear, potted plants in the patio section, make it very. very comfortable, and the staff is well trained to attend to the rush that begins by seven o'clock.
    The 180-label wine list is substantial and globally mixed. Cocktails--always a requisite in New Orleans--are well wrought.
    Macquet's handling of tropical spicing has always been key to his cuisine, and it's good to see he has brought back many of the dishes that were hits on his former menus. Start off with sautéed sweetbreads with pommes puree and a dash of chimichurri--yes, it is an appetizer but the portion is just right. Seared shrimp remoulade--a dish everyone in town does--is given life here with the nuances of crispy kohlrabi and oven-dried tomatoes in the sauce, with a hint of mint oil in the background.  The lobster and celeriac salad with fennel, basil aïoli and lime oil is distinctively Macquet, as is the entree of seared wild conch with peas and rice, whitewater clams nage, coconut-tamarind chutney and green mango relish--a dish you only wish were made this well anywhere in the Caribbean.
    Among meat dishes the grilled lamb t-bone is amazing, with basil-mint pommes puree, cracklings and a hot harissa sauce. Grilled wagyu-style beef coulette (albeit from Nebraska) is a good choice, especially at only $26. It's stuffed with Creole cream cheese and accompanied by cream peas, watercress, carrot flan and red wine jus.  That same beef goes into Macquet's spaghetti and meatballs with over-dried tomatoes, veal jus and shaved piave cheese--good and substantial and a dish no one will allow him to take off the menu.
    There's no decrease in fine taste with dessert here, led by goat's cheese cake and honey, and a terrific almond nougatine.
    I'm glad Dominique's is back, bigger and better than ever, and trust he will be so for a long long time.

Dominique's is open for dinner Tues.-Sat. and for Sunday brunch.  Prices for starters run $8-$10, entrees $22-$26.

310 Chartres Street

For three decades, restaurants run by the Brennan family, including Mr. B’s Bistro, The Bourbon House, Palace Café, and others, have regularly made Esquire’s list. This year, sisters Ti and Lally Brennan, who also run the revered Commander’s Palace and Café Adelaide, have returned to the post-Katrina French Quarter to open SoBou (South of Bourbon Street), where Chef Juan Carlos Gonzalez brings bar food to a taste level I just have never encountered  before, like jarred blue crab mousse with ghost pepper caviar; duck “debris” and butternut beignets napped with a foie gras fondue and chicory ganache; Cajun andouille sausage and tasso ham meatballs; and cherries jubilee bread pudding laced with brandy.  Add to all that, one great bar with one smart, sassy bartender, Abigail Gullo, serving rigorously classic and brashly innovative cocktails, and you have what the Brennans call a “Modern Creole Saloon.” Oh, hell, let Ti tell you about it:

“Katrina is something we tried to put behind us as quickly as possible and not dwell on it. But you do not forget times like that. Katrina did make us want to come back stronger and say, `let’s show the world that, contrary to popular myth, we are roaring back to life.’

“It took us two years to build SoBou. When you open up walls and floors in the French Quarter, huh, you find interesting things. There was one wall where a worker touched a pipe that literally crumbled in his bare hand.

“With SoBou we wanted to re-capture the atmosphere of the Old Absinthe House, the drinks place where we Brennans began in 1943, but with a modern edge. Y’know, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald are singing, there are only people you love at the bar, and there are no hangovers at the saloon in the sky? So for us, while the food will always be center stage, the cocktails are stage right and the wine is stage left.

“We serve Louisiana street food, inspired small plates, along with Juan Carlos’s Puerto Rican street food, but `Creolized’ for us.  Around here we all remember going fishing and stopping at a gas station where the guy had two ice-chests behind the counter. One with bait and one with the best boudin you ever ate. I don’t know how we didn’t all die. Well, I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you, and I need to go celebrate anyway!”

SoBou is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.  Small dishes $7-$12, large dishes $17-$20.

777 Bienville Street

   The partnering of The Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans with two of America's most notable chefs, John Folse and Rick Tramonto, was cause to rejoice in New Orleans for months before their restaurant R'evolution opened last June.  While Folse is one of the true authorities on Creole and Cajun cuisine and a restaurateur, food producer, and author, while Tramonto set sail on his own culinary career as one of Chicago's most innovative chefs, at Tru. The combination, together with loads of money poured into the huge premises, shows that grandeur is not dead and ambition on a large scale still flourishes.
    R'evolution is a series of rooms of different styles, from a dark traditional-looking oak  bar to a wide-open, brightly lit kitchen Market dining area (above), flanked with dining rooms like the Storyville Parlor (left) that might easily fit into the milieu of mid-19th century Louisiana.  There are slate floors,
slate floors,  gas lanterns, and cypress ceilings.  It might be argued that this mix of the historic with the traditional and the thoroughly modern makes for a disjunction of styles, so guests will have to figure out which ambiance they're in the mood for.
    The menu is equally large--scores and scores of dishes, from soups to sides, which, even with two master chefs overseeing things, leaves enormous room for error where consistency is needed to make every dish right.  And not every one I tasted was.  But there is more than enough on this menu to please everyone, starting with espresso-crusted venison carpaccio with black walnuts, shaved dark chocolate, and dried fruit There's also a lot to love about the beer-battered crab beignets with four rémoulades. All the steaks and chop items--ten of them, with eight sauces and 8 toppings--are dependable choices, and they are rightfully proud of their Triptych
of Kurobuta pork, which presents crispy belly, smoked tail, and crispy ear.
    If you can't find your favorite wine on the list here, it probably isn't imported. Ten thousand bottles lie back there with a "special emphasis on the seven nations that originally settled Louisiana and make up the backbone of Creole cuisine."

R'evolution is open for lunch Mon.-Fri. and for dinner nightly. Appetizers run $10-$26, main courses $22-$48.



209 Bourbon Street


    Frankly, I was not always a fan of Galatoire’s, for there was a long period in its 108-year old history when the food was merely mediocre.
    For years 32 members of the Galatoire family had squabbled over their pieces of the pie, and in 2009
an investor group led by John Georges gained the majority interest in the restaurant, with the family's participation reduced to only four members and in a minority role.  This continuity of family participation was important to the new investor group that included local businessmen Todd Trosclair and Bill Kearney, who recognized that that the venerable Galatoire’s could be a movable feast through expansion. But first they had to improve everything about the venerable restaurant without seeming to change a thing.
    Galatoire’s décor and kitchen have been restored and the cooking upgraded so that now it is among the best in the Big Easy, as rendered by Chef Michael Sichel who shows both care and respect for all those cooks who preceded him for the past  century, keeping the religion of Galatoire’s alive.  They no longer have chipped ice in the water glasses, but otherwise the restaurant is exactly the same as ever, just so much better.
    If asked where you’re going for lunch in the French Quarter, say it the way they do in New Orleans: “GAL-a twahz.” Accent on the first syllable then slide into that big plummy finish.  If you’re speaking to a regular, he’ll answer back, “Excellent choice! Say hello to Mike. He’s been my waiter for twenty years.”
    Galatoire’s is not as old as Antoine’s (1840) nor does it have the culinary reputation of Commander’s Palace, but it is a mystical place in the hearts of New Orleanians whose families have been coming here since French immigrant Jean Galatoire opened up on Bourbon Street in 1905.  Since then, Friday lunch has been as requisite for New Orleanians as Mass on Sunday and every bit as restorative.
    Until Galatoire’s started taking reservations a few years ago for the handsome upstairs dining room, a well-behaved line of people would stretch down the block to the corner of Iberville Street to wait for a table downstairs, which is to Galatoire’s what the Sistine Chapel is to the Vatican.  Even in the sauna-like heat of summer, the women dress to the nines in pastels and men wear seersucker suits, bowties, and the white Panama hats they bought at Meyer the Hatter on Saint Charles Avenue.  Some people even hire stand-ins to get in line early in the morning just after Bourbon Street has been washed down.
    They still don’t take reservations for the downstairs dining room, but, once inside the polished mahogany doors, if your father and grandfather were regulars, you’ll ask for your usual waiter, who arrives in a pressed tuxedo and pleated shirt. He will acknowledge you with cordial deference, not as a faux-pal.  He will take your cocktail order—everyone orders a cocktail on Friday—then launch into the day’s specials, the ones he himself approves of:  “Got some beautiful redfish in this morning, and the soft shells came in big and fat. Fry ‘em up with some Bearnaise sauce for ya.”
    The busboy brings ice water and a glass pitcher and a table for two still gets eight pats of butter, refreshed after a while even if not used.  Hot French bread comes next as you peruse the menu, which, by and large, has not changed in decades and has never strayed from its Creole traditions of classics like gumbo, shrimp remoulade, oysters Rockefeller, and chicken Bonne-Femme.
    You look around the room and, with the soft Louisiana sunlight seeping through the lace window curtains, you see the familiar décor of deep green walls imprinted with gold fleurs-de-lys, cream-colored wainscoting, panels of mirrors, brass sconces, and ceiling fans doubling as chandeliers, giving the room a timeless cast in which the guests provide a booming joviality that is a mix of nine parts New Orleans swagger and one part Southern gentility. Life is always good within the walls of Galatoire’s, a relic that refreshes itself every day.
    By one o’clock things are in full swing, and voices rise with laughter as everyone digs into lunch—thick, ruddy red turtle soup, a gumbo rich with duck and andouille,  trout mounted high with lump crabmeat and almonds, and pompano—the fish Mark Twain said was as “delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.” The fish here begin their day in the Gulf but end up swimming in oceans of good butter.  The lyonnaise potatoes come hidden under a thatch of sweet onions.
    And then there’s that Galatoire’s curiosity: deep-fried sticks of zucchini, which you stick in a mix of Tabasco sauce and powdered sugar, as an appetizer.
    A bottle of Chablis is turned in an ice bucket, ready to be uncorked after you finish your sazerac cocktail.  Dishes arrive at a civilized pace.  The late-arriving ladies at the next table are on their second round of Sazeracs.  Life is always good within the walls of Galatoire’s, a relic that refreshes itself every day.
    Since 2005 there’s been a branch of Galatoire’s in Baton Rouge, and they’re opening a steakhouse next door. I have a queasy feeling there will be more to come.  But for now the New Orleans original is on a very short list of landmark restaurants that are an  indelible part of the soul of a city.  


by John Mariani

1032 Lexington Avenue
(at 74th Street)

    For reasons not difficult to discern in the NYC food media, restaurants on the Upper East Side get pounded more for their clientele than their food.  Critics seem to love nothing more than to shower praise on cramped, inhospitable eateries in Red Hook and on the Lower East Side while raining down scorn on UES restaurants with a sure degree of posh and a guest list teeming with the kind of people for whom a $10 million condo is merely a pied-à-terre. So, what did Arlington Club expect when it tacked "Club" onto its name, suggesting that it seeks only a exclusive breed of affluents for whom steak and a baked potato is more than enough choice and where pricey Martinis are ordered by the round?
    Then, Arlington is owned by the people who run the monster Asian lounge/restaurant Tao in NYC and Vegas, so dropping several hundred dollars per person is almost de rigueur in such places.  What the Tao Group did do in the kitchen was to install star chef Laurent Tourondel, formerly of the BLT steakhouse chain.  Tourondel has a lot of cred in NYC, so the assumption was that he could draw more than the fleeting UES crowd it got right out of the chute.  For the time being, that crowd is still jammed tight at the bar, well dressed, loud, and given to barking things like, "Well, hell, that's why you're such a good lawyer!' and "We're opening the Hamptons house early this year."  This creates, of course, a pecking order that the front desk of lovely young women is hardly able to handle, so waits even for a reserved table can go on and on and on.
    Still, when you sit down you will be well treated by a hospitable staff and begin to peruse a menu that is largely steakhouse fare with some sushi thrown in.  Cordial hospitality has rarely been a hallmark of most NYC steakhouses, which play a much brasher form of favoritism than can be sensed at Arlington Club. We were first shown upstairs to the mezzanine, which is very beautiful and comfortable, then, when Tourondel spotted me, he insisted we have a big booth downstairs-- The noise, however, was fearful when we got there, already tamped down from Day One. Surprise, surprise! At the next booth were food writers from Vogue, New York Magazine, and the restaurant's meat supplier; across the room were the food critics from GQ and Time Out--talk about pressure on a chef and kitchen!
    And then there are Tourondel's popovers (left): if any food item has ever been perfected by man, these huge, puffed-up, crispy, riddled with three kinds of cheese are one.  They are irresistible, wholly decadent, and one is never enough. For a Frenchman who probably never saw a popover till he got to NYC, he has certainly trumped all others in this Anglo-American classic.
    Steak and sushi is hardly a novel idea, but the surf-and-turf  go well enough together. It's not the best sushi in town, but it's well done and abundantly proportioned. The yellowtail with jalapeno is particularly good. The beefsteak tomatoes--if in season--will make a good salad, lavished with Stilton cheese, and the jumbo crab cakes live up to their billing.
    The roasted chicken is everything you could want in that ubiquitous dish, accompanied by good shoestring potatoes.  Colorado lamb chops are big, full-flavored and braised with a parmesan crust, while the Dover sole is as fat and sweet as that fish can possibly be, swimming in butter with preserved lemon.
    When it comes to the beef, there’s no sense debating the provenance or aging, since Tourondel has never served any but the best.  
The steaks are slipped under a 1,200-degree broiler, allowed to rest, then quickly re-seared.  Given the quality here, these steaks are certainly not out of line price-wise with competitors around town, though the 34 ounce côte de boeuf—a massive, beautiful cut—is up there at $130. The quirk is, it’s listed as serving two people, but believe me,  three will easily be sated on this dish and you might even take some home.  (For the record, the much-ballyhooed côte de bouef at Minetta Tavern is $140.)
    What about apps and sides? They are sumptuous, from Gouda-rich mac-and-cheese to luscious truffled gnocchi (think butter, cream, cheese).  The house fries have been perfected and they come out hot and stay that way, and the creamed spinach is excellent.

    You won't need dessert but go ahead and order the crêpe soufflé for the table. Everyone will happy you did.
    So, if you don’t wish to make the ride for a 3 PM reservation at Luger’s in Brooklyn or endure the embarrassment of being snubbed at Spark’s, Arlington Club is one of the best steakhouses in the city right now. And if the crowd somehow makes you antsy, sit upstairs and just enjoy yourselves.

Arlington Club is open for dinner nightly, for brunch Sat. & Sun.  Appetizers $14-$26, main courses $26-$59. 

Savvy public gets crafty about beer
by Mort Hochstein

  On the first day of February, thousands of beer lovers camped out on  the streets of downtown Santa Rosa, CA, waiting to plunk down $4.50 for a 10-ounce pour of Pliny the Younger, a triple IPA (India Pale Ale) available for only two weeks each year. Some stood in line as long as six hours to sample the coveted quaff from a pub operated by  Russian River Brewing, producer of Pliny the Younger, Pliny the Elder and a dozen other capriciously christened beers. For three days this October,  about 50,000 enthusiasts  will jam the Convention Center in Denver  for the 32nd  annual Great American Beer Festival.  The event, which has sold out for the past five years, is expected to attract 50,000 beer fans who will have their choice of 2,000 offerings  from some 500 breweries.
      In Virginia Beach recently,  Green Flash Brewing of San Diego announced it would build a $20 million dollar East Coast plant, replicating  its California facility. It is one of several West coast breweries building  plants  along the Atlantic to target the Eastern market, avoid heavy shipping costs and  to facilitate exports  to Europe. Dale’s Pale Ale of Lyons, CO,  now has a facility in Brevard, . NC, New Belgium of Fort Collins, CO, is coming to Asheville, and Sierra Nevada of Chico, CA., will soon be in Mills River, NC.

    Craft beer, which has had its ups and downs since the so-called beer revolution began half a century ago, is on a roll. At its recent conference, the Brewers Association proudly announced a 15% growth in volume in 2012,  against 1% for imported beers and no gain for domestic non-craft beer. More than 400 craft breweries opened in 2012, making a total of 2,347, with 1,253 in the planning stage.  Anheuser-Busch, Coors and  Miller , the big boys of the business, while actually relinquishing only a fraction of their enormous volume,  have recognized the  revolution and fielded their own craft beers. Miller-Coors is pushing  Blue Moon and Leinenkugel, while Anheuser-Busch, papa of Budweiser, has launched siblings Shock Top Belgian White, Hop Hound Amber Wheat and Skipjack Amber, among others.
         And  in Manhattan on a recent March  evening, the Irish pub Rattle N Hum (belowroiled with  an overflow crowd thirsting for cask-drawn pours of  Loose Cannon  and a half  dozen  distinctive brews from Clipper City Brewing of  Baltimore, MD. Owner-founder Hugh Sisson’s  Loose  Cannon could be called  the East Coast equivalent of   Pliny the Younger.  Its   followers  on  that  cold night were just as   eager to be among the first to sample  that flagship beer in its 2013 New York  debut   as   their counterparts  who  pined for Pliny on that warm day in Sonoma.
Hugh Sisson is the  founder of  Heavy Seas  Beer, based in Baltimore. As a college student he did not like beer, and he had no plans for tarrying in his native Baltimore where his father ran a tavern. In 1980, with a master’s degree in theater, he was headed for NYC but changed plans when his father urged him to stay home and help out in  the family business. “I’d been back in Baltimore for 20 minutes and I’m in the bar. My father looks up, throws me the keys and as I catch them, he says, `OK, don’t foul up,’ and he walks out the door.”
   Taverns in   those days “carried the same booze and the same beer,   Bud, Old Milwaukee and Pabst Blue Ribbon,” said Sisson. “We didn’t have a kitchen and the only thing to focus on was beer.”  While teaching himself accounting to bolster the bar’s financial standing and learning marketing  as he went, he   transformed Sisson’s into the city’s busiest beer bar  “simply because that niche was available.” Within two  years, Sisson’s was posting   120 imported beers   and was among the first two bars in Maryland to offer Guinness on draft.
   In 1984 he began home brewing. “It’s what you do, you’re supposed to be knowledgeable,” he observes.  Unlike winemakers with advanced degrees in viticulture and enology, most brewers today began as hobbyists..  Sam Adams, a pioneer among craft beers, now almost a giant on its own, began  in that same year, when Jim Koch toyed with a lager recipe he found in his father’s attic.  Sam Calagione of  the very popular Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware,  started off with a  sour  cherry ale he created in a Manhattan kitchen. And in a practice relatively uncommon among winemakers,  craft brewers work together, share recipes and facilities and often produce joint ventures.
   As a home brewer, Sisson said,  “I was adequate at best. I’m not a terribly patient person and making beer with kitchen utensils was not very appealing to me.” He took giant steps in the mid- and late eighties, buying professional gear, transforming the bar into a brewpub and successfully lobbying for the law  that legalized  brewpubs in Maryland. The beers he made then, Sisson reminisced, would not have impressed today’s more savvy consumers.
In 1995, he launched Clipper City Brewing, later adopting  today’s more familiar name, Heavy Seas Beer. Over the years he developed a pirate theme, with beers named Cutlass, Powder Monkey, Peg Leg and his most popular offering, Loose Cannon. He also is one of the leading advocates of cask-conditioned real ale, special beers transferred into special casks. In those casks,  known as firkins, they finish fermenting, naturally carbonating (conditioning)  and are then  dispensed from those casks at participating outlets. Cask conditioning, Sisson says, “yields a fresher beer,  draft brew at its finest.”
        On the evening in Manhattan, Sisson poured his flagship Loose Cannon, in three formats,  as well as Siren Noire, an imperial chocolate stout aged in bourbon barrels;  Big Dipa, a double IPA aged on oak and topping out at a high 10.5% alcohol;  and Cutlass Amber Lager, slightly sweet from a combination of crystal, Vienna and Munich malt. Cutlass is the firm’s second best seller and its most award winning brew.  I also sampled Below Decks Barleywine,  a unique  beer,   aged in cabernet barrels and Plank II Dopplebock, which uses toasted eucalyptus and poplar to import tangy vegetal notes.
    Unlike winemakers who must wait years to see what their vineyard produces, craft brewer can have a fantasy and   realize those ideas almost overnight. Most do, and they never seem  to run out of odd names.




According to a review of Congressional spending, many of our elected officials are living quite high on the hog of taxpayers’ money.  House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy spent nearly $10,000 on food and beverage during the last quarter of 2012  and more than $2,500 at a Tex-Mex restaurant on one day alone.  House Speaker John Boehner spent even more:  $11,225 in food-and-beverage expenses, including $2,000 on coffee alone. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor  blew $3,000. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s food bill was $3,510 and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s was $1,795.


"Eric Chavot is the genuine article. He kisses ladies' hands like it's not an absurd thing to do. He rolls his eyes and babbles in an accent so thick it piles up in drifts around the chair legs. Mind you, Chavot has been doing this in the capital for years. I've long fantasised that it's a put-on job. Behind the kitchen door he probably speaks like Ray Winstone in a bad east London gangland thriller. `Awright then, let's be 'avin' that farkin' gigot and don't be givin' me none of your lip…' "--Jay Rayner. "Brasserie Chavot: restaurant review," The London Observer (March 2013).

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

My latest book, which just won the prize for best book from International Gourmand, written with Jim Heimann and Steven Heller,  Menu Design in America,  1850-1985 (Taschen Books), has just appeared, with nearly 1,000 beautiful, historic, hilarious, sometimes shocking menus dating back to before the Civil War and going through the Gilded Age, the Jazz Age, the Depression, the nightclub era of the 1930s and 1940s, the Space Age era, and the age when menus were a form of advertising in innovative explosions of color and modern design.  The book is a chronicle of changing tastes and mores and says as much about America as about its food and drink.


“Luxuriating vicariously in the pleasures of this book. . . you can’t help but become hungry. . .for the food of course, but also for something more: the bygone days of our country’s splendidly rich and complex past.  Epicureans of both good food and artful design will do well to make it their coffee table’s main course.”—Chip Kidd, Wall Street Journal.


“[The menus] reflect the amazing craftsmanship that many restaurants applied to their bills of fare, and suggest that today’s restaurateurs could learn a lot from their predecessors.”—Rebecca Marx, The Village Voice.

My new book--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, 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: DOWNTOWN NYC.

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. 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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© copyright John Mariani 2013