Virtual Gourmet

  April 8, 2018                                                                                            NEWSLETTER


"Coffee, Puerto Vallarta" By Galina Dargery


By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani


By John Mariani

Clark Gable, Ted Healy and Jeannette McDonald in San Francisco (1936)


    There’s no question that San Francisco can claim a place right beside New York  and New Orleans as a seminal restaurant town.  At the same time that those other cities were building a restaurant culture—Delmonico’s opened in the Wall Street area in 1837 and Antoine’s in the French Quarter in 1840—by the time the Gold Rush was in full swing in Northern California in 1849 the city, then known as Yerba Buena, rushed to feed the newly rich entrepreneurs of the day with a Barbary Coast swagger.

Whenever I visit, then, I try to get to what’s old and new and some in between.  Here’s part one of my report on a visit last month.




333 Brannan Street



    The year-old ROOH is the first restaurant opened outside of Asia by the New Delhi-based Indian Good Times Restaurant group, whose stated goal is to “bring Indian cuisine onto the international map in a way that has never been presented before [by] blending modern cooking techniques applied to Indian cuisine with a tradition going back more than 2000 years.”

    While Indian restaurants have changed measurably in major cities across the U.S., ROOH and its sister restaurant Baar Baar in NYC (see my review below) have really done more than any others to alter perceptions of Indian cuisine, design and décor.  At ROOH, Sujan Sarkar,  Executive Chef at both restaurants, recently awarded Times Chef of the Year in India, is taking full advantage of the Northern California bounty of meat, seafood and provender to create wholly novel dishes always grounded in Indian flavors and cooking techniques.

    The restaurant itself, located in SoMa, sprawls over 3,548 square feet, done in vibrant Indian colors of indigo, Rani pink and turmeric yellow, with very tall ceilings hung with industrial ducts and crystal chandeliers. The rattan chairs and leather booths are very comfortable and the bar lounge is  stunningly lighted, like a set out of Bladerunner. 

    The cocktail program has quite a novel touch: You are presented with a circular graph whose center lists six flavors of  “ancient Ayurveic wisdom”—salty, sour, sweet, bitter, astringent and pungent; the next circle lists the ingredients in cocktails with names like Mustard Old Fashioned, Berry Shikanji and Hyderabad Tonic, all very unusual. So, you can match your cocktail to the flavors of the food you are tasting. With drinks this exotic, you’ll need some guidance.  Then, too, ROOH has an extensive wine list, and Vishvas Sidana knows best which ones go with which dishes.

    The panoply of dishes—many I’d never encountered—runs from small plates like dahi puri flatbread with luscious yogurt mousse, potato, avocado, tamarind gel and raspberry ($10) to paneer chili of crisp shredded kataifi, ginger chutney and lemony achaar pickle gel ($14), each relying on tradition but tasting brighter and more enticing than most versions I’ve had.   Pickled cauliflower comes with an onion uttapam pancake, sour cream and crunchy peanut chutney ($15).

    Tuna, not often seen in Indian cuisine, comes with California avocado, tamarind gel, green mango, togarashi chili powder and delightful puffed rice ($15), while a “gun powder scallop” gets its name from the hot curry oil drizzled on the mollusk with corn curry and a salsify crisp ($19).

    Among the large plates that wowed me were a monkfish done tandoori style with alleppey curry and a rice dumpling ($30) and hearty, nicely fatty beef short ribs curry (below) with baby turnips, rawa semolina and marrow-stuffed kofta and garlic mashed potatoes ( $32). Of course, there are wonderful Indian breads like garlic naan ($5).

    Desserts as well are Western with Eastern flavors added: a carrot halwa cake with cardamon and chocolate with yogurt sorbet, hazelnuts and puffed millet crisp (both $10).

    ROOH is a bellwether restaurant in a city that respects culinary tradition while always encouraging innovation.





8 Kenneth Rexroth Place



    As with ROOH, Asian cuisine is showing its myriad influences at Eight Tables, opened last fall, featuring Chinese shifan tsai, or private chateau cuisine,” referring to the experience of dining at a private home with a banquet prepared by a highly respected chef who uses the seasons as his guide to ingredients.

    Located on the second floor of the $20 million China Live complex in Chinatown, Eight Tables is reached through a barely lighted back alley entrance, which seems to add to the mystery of what you will soon be experiencing. As you exit the elevator you are cordially greeted by a hostess in a room set with a wonderful 1950s style phonograph that plays old Shanghai jazz, then you enter into a series of eight rooms set for individual parties at beautifully polished tables with brass inlaid Lazy Susans.  Photos of owner and executive chef George Chen’s family are hung on the walls above you.  The service staff is dressed in beige Ralph Lauren suits. Even the chopsticks are embossed, one pair for right-handed guests, one for left-handed.   It’s swank, all right, and has a shadowy cinematic cast.

    Chen has always been in the forefront of authentic Chinese dining experiences in San Francisco, having started at Madame Cecilia Chang’s seminal restaurant, The Mandarin. On his own he opened Betelnut Peiju Wu, an innovative Asian beer house, which I deemed one of the Best New Restaurants of 1996.  Chen then launched the multi-unit Long Life Noodle Company, and turned his focus on Shanghai cuisine at Shanghai 1930. Other concepts followed.  So Eight Tables is a culmination of his career and his goal to give Chinese cuisine the same respect it has in China itself, adding a superb wine, sake and whiskey list to the mix, overseen by Anthony Kim.

Dinner here is a $225 fixed price for about ten courses, with accompanying wines at $125 more.

    I haven’t the space here to detail everything I had, so I will just say that the presentations are spectacular and Taiwanese chef Robin Lin’s ideas can be amazing without being extravagant.  You begin with nine small dishes set on one serving plate, each jewel-like, and you’ll probably forget what the waiter tells you they are. But the principal ingredient becomes apparent as you pop the item into your mouth, which follow a sweet-and-sour and hot pattern.

    Next come Four Seas dumplings filled with, respectively,  osetra caviar, bay scallop, trout roe and sea urchin.  Shao kao’ barbecued duck skin followed, with Iberico ham char sui and a siu yuk pork belly sandwich; black cod was steamed in a banana leaf with bamboo cannelloni, lotus root and eggplant; velvetized chicken (cooked with egg whites) was appointed with black truffles, a soya veal jus and scallion roll but didn’t add up to much flavor; the last savory course was a foie gras potsticker with rice porridge and black sesame dumpling. Then comes a fermented rice sorbet dashed with gogi vinegar and pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez’s chocolate bean cake with rose sorbet.

    I was a bit jetlagged the night I dined at Eight Tables but that didn’t diminish my pleasure over the course of a two-and-a-half-hour meal. I was so constantly surprised and amazed by the presentation, the refinement and the flavors of what I ate that I left feeling elated and wondering what the next menu will be in the next season.




By John Mariani

13 East First Street (near Bowery)

Photos by Liz Clayman



    As noted above about ROOH in San Francisco, new Indian restaurants are emerging as among the most exciting in major U.S. cities.  And since Baar Baar shares the same owner and executive chef-partner, Sujan Sakar, with ROOH, I might have expected a replication of the latter on the East Coast. But, although both share the same intentions and commitment to modern Indian cuisine, the styles are quite different, with Baar Baar (which means “again and again”) somewhat more rustic, specializing in enhanced street food from various cities on the subcontinent.  Some dishes overlap at both restaurants, most do not.

    It’s a big space with tall ceilings, roomy leather booths with marble tables, and mirrors on distressed concrete walls. The bar is backed with myriad bottles of colorful liquors on gleaming glass shelves, and hanging lamps provide ample light to appreciate the color and presentation of the dishes as well as to read the long menu. Also affecting is a sound level, despite some unnecessary piped in music, that is buoyant but not enough to be disruptive of conversation, and you can actually hear all the service staff explains to you.  And g-m Matthew Radalj is well worth listening to for backgrounds, history and recommendations.

    Sakar was that week at Baar Baar rather than ROOH, so I left it up to him to choose our meal, starting with an array of steamy, pliable sourdough kulcha breads ($9-$11) with different fillings and toppings like piquillo peppers and onions; Kashmiri duck and apricot and endive; and green pea and goat’s cheese—items unlikely to be found anywhere else around town.

    There are housemade chutneys, and most of the menu is composed of half/small plates ($9-$18) that include a dahi puri of avocado, tamarind, mint, cilantro and a yogurt mousse.  The cauliflower served with curd-rice mousse, peanut chutney and podi masala is similar to the one at ROOH, while glistening oysters are served on a guava and chuili granita with lemon foam.  Tandoori octopus, seared and tender, came with boiled pongal millet and peanut chutney, and minced lamb keema Hyerabadi comes with a luscious potato mousse, green peas and buttered pao, a savory mush.

    Larger plates ($24-$32) may easily be shared, and, unlike so many Indian kitchens, Baar Baar does not overcook its fish, in this case a whole seabass with a deliciously assertive mustard cream. A straightforward beef short rib curry comes with baby turnip and carrot, green chili oil, and the butter chicken (right) with red pepper makhani is a lovely and a very rich dish that is good to finish with.

    Those who shy away from Indian desserts should take a leap of faith at Baar Baar, to be rewarded with a banana tarte Tatin with caramel, vanilla ice cream and sesame nougat; a wonderful carrot halwa cake scented with cardamom and sided with pistachio kulfi ice cream, raisin gel and milk skin crisp (both $10). There are, of course, an ample number of Indian teas.

    The wine list is certainly extensive for a place that calls itself an“Indian Gastro Pub,” and there are plenty of bottlings under $60. Rieslings work especially well with this food.

    Baar Baar is faring well since opening two months ago, not least with what appear to be a slew of affluent Indians who are coming to see what Sakar and his crew are proposing to do with tradition. The Bowery has seen a lot of restaurants come and go in the past year, but for its unique cuisine, Baar Baar is the only game in this part of town.




By John Mariani


LA CREMA SONOMA COAST CHARDONNAY 2016 ($23)—La Crema makes a lot of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, from California and Oregon vineyards, and this is their basic bottling from Sonoma, with 13.5% alcohol. It is a very creamy Chardonnay without the cloying caramel and bitter oakiness so many others have. La Crema makes others more site specific, but at $23 this one is at least as flavorful as Chards twice the price.


CHÂTEAU FONBADET PAUILLAC 2012 ($50)—Pauillac in Bordeaux’s Haut-Médoc region is justly famous for its Premier Crus like Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild and Latour, which sell for hundreds of dollars. But you’ll get an entry-level taste of what makes the region such a superb terroir in this charming blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and a touch of Malbec. It has a long life in it, too.


TRIVENTO GOLDEN RESERVE MALBEC 2015 ($21)—While it’s rare that I ever drink the same wine night after night, were I forced to live far from a wineshop, I’d happily repeatedly quaff this rich Malbec from Mendoza made by a young group of vignerons. Winemaker Gérman Di Cesare ages this Malbec for 12 months in French oak, then in bottles for another year. At 14.5% alcohol it has body, structure and plenty of complexity at a good piece. This I could drink many nights in a row.


UPSHOT RED WINE BLEND ($28)—Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld  explains on the label at some length and all caps: “UPSHOT (NOUN): THE FINAL OR EVENTUAL POSITIVE OUTCOME OR CONCLUSION OF A DISCUSSION, ACTION, OR SERIES OF EVENTS,” meaning this wine is the end result of a unique experimental blend from Sonoma County, with 44% Zinfandel for body and fruit, 29% Merlot for softness, 15% Malbec for complexity, 7% Petit Verdot for fruity intensity and, “for the fun,” 5% Riesling to provide a floral note.  It really works, and shows that California need not be bound by wholly traditional assemblages.



HILLOCK ESTATE DISTILLERY SOLERA AGED BOURBON  ($103)--- To be a stickler, many would insist that bourbon can be made only in Bourbon County, Kentucky, but as the makers of Hillock Estate indicate, New York State has been a barley and rye producer since the 1800s, so why not put some of it into a bottle of whiskey? Prohibition shut down the distilleries in the Hudson Valley, but Hillock has revived the industry and done so with an impressive and layered bourbon with a little bite but not the sweetness of some of its competitors’ to the South.


MAGNUS HIGHLAND PARK SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY ($39)—This Highland Park whisky’s label calls it “unapologetically bold” and “bears the soul of our Viking ancestors.” Perhaps, but to me it was simply a delicious, smoke-rich, very peaty sipping Scotch that for a single malt is amazingly well priced. Very good for these cool spring nights and baying at the moon.



1000 STORIES ZINFANDEL SMALL BATCH 42 1026 ($19)--At 15.5% alcohol this Zin is quite a mouthful, which made it a perfect match with an Asian-spiced braised lamb dish with aromatic rice.  It complements the chile heat and gives a tannic balance to the richness of such dishes, and at $19 this is an amazingly good example of a big California varietal that gets wonderful flavor notes from  being aged in a charred bourbon barrel.






A Tokyo restaurant chain named Stamina Taro Next is making an eating challenge in the form of the “Meaty Mega-sized Stamina Taro Napolitan Spaghetti” (left)--a 4.4-pound bowl of spaghetti topped with a one -pound hamburger patty topped with four thick strips of bacon, and s four pork cutlets on top, weighing in at 8.15 pounds. Anyone who can manage to eat it in 30 minutes or less will get it for free, and will also get a 50,000 yen, or $455, gift certificate.



A French waiter named Guillaume Rey has filed a discrimination complaint with Canada’s Human Rights Tribunal after being fired by the casual dining chain Milestones Grill and Bar for allegedly being “aggressive, rude, and disrespectful” to customers. Guillaume Rey insists he was fired for "being French," which means he "tends to be more direct and expressive" than some servers." The Tribunal denied Rey's request.



Wine Column Sponsored by Banfi Vintners


   Wine is a joy year-round but in cooler weather one grape varietal has really taken center stage in my daily activities – that most Italian of grapes, Sangiovese, and its ultimate expression – Brunello di Montalcino.
    From mid-September through mid-October, the Sangiovese grown for our various styles of red wines are be harvested, culminating with the top selection for Brunello di Montalcino.
    Second, cooler weather here means it is time to start enjoying more red wines and especially Sangiovese based wines.  That includes Banfi’s cru of Brunello, Poggio alle Mura, literally the cream of the crop of our Sangiovese vineyards. Alongside our Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino, this year we introduced two more wines from the cru Poggio alle Mura – a Rosso di Montalcino and a Riserva of Brunello.  Rosso is sort of like the younger brother of Brunello, also made from 100% Sangiovese grapes but usually a selection from younger vines and the wine is aged only two years compared to the four required for Brunello.  The Riserva, on the other hand, is an even more selective harvest of Sangiovese, and ages for an additional year before release.
    What is so special about this cru Poggio alle Mura?  Well, it is the result our over 30 years of ongoing research at my family’s vineyard estate, Castello Banfi.  When we first began planting our vines there in the late 1970s studies from the University of Bordeaux indicated which strains of many varietals we should plant, based on the soil type and microclimate of each vineyard.  But when it came to the region’s native Sangiovese, there was only local lore, no scientific research.  So we took it upon ourselves to figure out this vine, and set off on three decades of incredibly detailed research.
    We started with 600 apparent variations on Sangiovese, because it is so susceptible to variations in weather and soil, and narrowed that down to 160 truly genetically different clones.  We planted a vineyard with two rows of each type, made wine from each of them, and charted the differences – remember, you only get one chance a year to make wine, so this took time.
    It took about ten years to get some concrete results, though we continue to experiment today and always will – you never stop learning in science and nature!  Once we determined which were the best, complementary clones that could be planted together to make the best Brunello, we chose to plant them in what we determined to be the optimal vineyard sites.  Coincidentally, the best soils and climate conditions are in the slopes surrounding the medieval fortress today known as Castello Banfi, known since Etruscan times as Poggio alle Mura – the walled hilltop.  Hence the name of our most special “cru” of Brunello, representing a synthesis between tradition and innovation.
    Though the focus of this study was our Brunello, all of our Sangiovese-based wines, including the super Tuscans SummuS, Cum Laude, and Centine, benefited from this work.  And that’s the third reason for celebrating Sangiovese this month, for the range of wonderful reds that usher us into autumn!  One wine in particular was inspired by our research – the BelnerO, a Sangiovese dominant blend with what I like to call a kiss of Cabernet and a whisper of Merlot.  We grow the grapes a little differently for BelnerO than for Brunello, make the wine with less oak aging and released it earlier from the winery, providing a counterpoint to Brunello and a lovely terroir-driven wine in its own right.
     If you know Italians, you know that by nature we are multi-faceted, varying in mood, and always passionate.  As a nation, we span from the hot sunny beaches of Sicily near the African coast to the rugged mountains and Alpine ski slopes of Trentino-Alto Adige in the north.  Sangiovese is grown in almost all of Italy’s regions and reflects the unique nature of each; it is most famous (rightfully so) in Tuscany, yet even there it reflects the nuances of each hilltop, valley and subzone.  It has something a little different to say in Brunello than Chianti, Morellino than Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montalcino than Super Tuscan blends.
    Here is a smattering of Sangiovese-based wines that you may wish to get to know better, reflecting a spectrum that appeals to every occasion, every taste, and every budget.  We can assure you that the conversation will never become boring.

Recommendations for Celebrating Sangiovese 

BelnerO Proprietor’s Reserve Sangiovese – A refined cuvée of noble red grapes perfected by our pioneering clonal research. This dark beauty, BelnerO, is produced at our innovative winery, chosen 11 consecutive years as Italy’s Premier Vineyard Estate. Fermented in our patented temperature controlled French oak and aged approximately 2 additional years. Unfiltered, and Nitrogen bottled to minimize sulfites. 


Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino – Rich, round, velvety and intensely aromatic, with flavor hints of licorice, cherry, and spices. Brunello di Montalcino possesses an intense ruby-red color, and a depth, complexity and opulence that is softened by an elegant, lingering aftertaste. Unfiltered after 1998 vintage. 

Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino – Brunello's "younger brother," produced from select Sangiovese grapes and aged in barrique for 10 to 12 months. Deep ruby-red, elegant, vibrant, well-balanced and stylish with a dry velvety finish. 

Poggio all’Oro Brunello di Montalcino Riserva – A single vineyard selection of our most historically outstanding Sangiovese, aged five years before release, the additional year more than that required of Brunello including 6 months in barrel and 6 months more in bottle to grant its “Riserva” designation.  Incredible elegance and harmony. Intense with lots of fruit and subtle wood influence. Round, complete, well balanced with hints of chocolate and berries. Unfiltered after 1998.

Poggio alle Mura – The first tangible result of years of intensive clonal research on Montalcino’s native Sangiovese grape.  Estate bottled from the splendidly sun drenched vineyards surrounding the medieval Castello from which it takes its name.  The Brunello di Montalcino is seductive, silky and smoky.  Deep ruby in color with an expressive bouquet of violets, fruits and berries as well as cigar box, cedar and exotic spices. The Rosso di Montalcino is also intense ruby red.  The bouquet is fresh and fruity with typical varietal notes of cherry and blackberry, enriched by more complex hints of licorice, tobacco and hazelnut.  It is full bodied, yet with a soft structure, and a surprisingly long finish. The Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is deep ruby red with garnet reflections and a rich, ample bouquet that hints of prune jam, coffee, cacao and a light balsamic note.  It is full and powerful, with ripe and gentle tannins that make it velvety and harmonious; this wine is supported by a pleasing minerality that to me speaks soundly of that special hillside in southern Montalcino.

SummuS – A wine of towering elegance, SummuS is an extraordinary blend of Sangiovese which contributes body; Cabernet Sauvignon for fruit and structure; and Syrah for elegance, character and a fruity bouquet.  An elegant, complex and harmonious red wine. 

Cum Laude – A complex and elegant red which graduated “With Honors,” characterized by aromas of juicy berries and fresh spices.

Centine – A Cuvee that is more than half Sangiovese, the balanced consisting of equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Vinified in a firm, round style that easily accompanies a wide range of dishes, this is a smooth and fragrantly satisfying wine with international character, and a perennial favorite at my own dinner table. 

Banfi Chianti Superiore – The “Superiore” designation signifies stricter government regulations regarding production and aging requirements, as compared to regular Chianti.  An intense ruby red wine with fruit forward aromas and floral notes.  This is a round wine with well-balanced acidity and fruit.

Banfi Chianti Classico – An enduring classic: alluring bouquet of black fruit and violets; rich flavors of cherry and leather; supple tannins and good acidity for dining. 

Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva – Produced from select grapes grown in the "Classico" region of Chianti, this dry, fruity and well-balanced red has a full bouquet reminiscent of violets.

Fonte alla Selva Chianti Classico – This is our newest entry into the Chianti arena, coming from a 99 acre estate in Castellina, the heart of the Chianti Classico region.  The wine is a captivating mauve red that smells of cherry, plum and blackberry with hints of spice.  It is round, full and balanced with very good acidity.  

Col di Sasso – Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Luscious, complex and soft with persistent notes of fruit and great Italian style structure.



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

   The Hound in Heaven (21st Century Lion Books) is a  novella, and for anyone who loves dogs, Christmas, romance, inspiration, even the supernatural, I hope you'll find this to be a treasured  favorite. The  story concerns how, after a New England teacher, his wife and their two daughters adopt a stray puppy found in their barn in northern Maine, their lives seem full of promise. But when tragedy strikes, their wonderful dog Lazarus and the spirit of Christmas are the only things that may bring his master back from the edge of despair. 


“What a huge surprise turn this story took! I was completely stunned! I truly enjoyed this book and its message.” – Actress Ali MacGraw

“He had me at Page One. The amount of heart, human insight, soul searching, and deft literary strength that John Mariani pours into this airtight novella is vertigo-inducing. Perhaps ‘wow’ would be the best comment.” – James Dalessandro, author of Bohemian Heart and 1906.

“John Mariani’s Hound in Heaven starts with a well-painted portrayal of an American family, along with the requisite dog. A surprise event flips the action of the novel and captures us for a voyage leading to a hopeful and heart-warming message. A page turning, one sitting read, it’s the perfect antidote for the winter and promotion of holiday celebration.” – Ann Pearlman, author of The Christmas Cookie Club and A Gift for my Sister.

“John Mariani’s concise, achingly beautiful novella pulls a literary rabbit out of a hat – a mash-up of the cosmic and the intimate, the tragic and the heart-warming – a Christmas tale for all ages, and all faiths. Read it to your children, read it to yourself… but read it. Early and often. Highly recommended.” – Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of Pinkerton’s War, The Sinking of The Eastland, and The Walking Dead: The Road To Woodbury.

“Amazing things happen when you open your heart to an animal. The Hound in Heaven delivers a powerful story of healing that is forged in the spiritual relationship between a man and his best friend. The book brings a message of hope that can enrich our images of family, love, and loss.” – Dr. Barbara Royal, author of The Royal Treatment.


The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink by John F. Mariani (Bloomsbury USA, $35)

Modesty forbids me to praise my own new book, but let me proudly say that it is an extensive revision of the 4th edition that appeared more than a decade ago, before locavores, molecular cuisine, modernist cuisine, the Food Network and so much more, now included. Word origins have been completely updated, as have per capita consumption and production stats. Most important, for the first time since publication in the 1980s, the book includes more than 100 biographies of Americans who have changed the way we cook, eat and drink -- from Fannie Farmer and Julia Child to Robert Mondavi and Thomas Keller.

"This book is amazing! It has entries for everything from `abalone' to `zwieback,' plus more than 500 recipes for classic American dishes and drinks."--Devra First, The Boston Globe.

"Much needed in any kitchen library."--Bon Appetit.

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

"Eating Italian will never be the same after reading John Mariani's entertaining and savory gastronomical history of the cuisine of Italy and how it won over appetites worldwide. . . . This book is such a tasteful narrative that it will literally make you hungry for Italian food and arouse your appetite for gastronomical history."--Don Oldenburg, USA Today. 

"Italian restaurants--some good, some glitzy--far outnumber their French rivals.  Many of these establishments are zestfully described in How Italian Food Conquered the World, an entertaining and fact-filled chronicle by food-and-wine correspondent John F. Mariani."--Aram Bakshian Jr., Wall Street Journal.

"Mariani admirably dishes out the story of Italy’s remarkable global ascent to virtual culinary hegemony....Like a chef gladly divulging a cherished family recipe, Mariani’s book reveals the secret sauce about how Italy’s cuisine put gusto in gusto!"--David Lincoln Ross,

"Equal parts history, sociology, gastronomy, and just plain fun, How Italian Food Conquered the World tells the captivating and delicious story of the (let's face it) everybody's favorite cuisine with clarity, verve and more than one surprise."--Colman Andrews, editorial director of The Daily

"A fantastic and fascinating read, covering everything from the influence of Venice's spice trade to the impact of Italian immigrants in America and the evolution of alta cucina. This book will serve as a terrific resource to anyone interested in the real story of Italian food."--Mary Ann Esposito, host of PBS-TV's Ciao Italia.

"John Mariani has written the definitive history of how Italians won their way into our hearts, minds, and stomachs.  It's a story of pleasure over pomp and taste over technique."--Danny Meyer, owner of NYC restaurants Union Square Cafe,  The Modern, and Maialino.



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

Everett Potter's Travel  Report

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

Eating Las Vegas JOHN CURTAS has been covering the Las Vegas food and restaurant scene since 1995. He is the co-author of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants (as well as the author of the Eating Las Vegas web site: www.eatinglasvegas. He can also be seen every Friday morning as the “resident foodie” for Wake Up With the Wagners on KSNV TV (NBC) Channel 3  in Las Vegas.


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

MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani,  Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Geoff Kalish, Mort Hochstein, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographer: Galina Dargery. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.


If you wish to subscribe to this newsletter, please click here:

© copyright John Mariani 2017