Virtual Gourmet

  April 5, 2020                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


Bette Davis and Erroll Flynn in "The Sisters" (1938)


By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By Patricia Savoie



I'm happy to announce Ive joined an old high school buddy, John Coleman, who became a video producer in his new venture "Celebrating Act 2," as food, wine and travel commentator. The show is intended to show how those of us halfway through our lives are as excited as ever about the future and what to do with it.



By John Mariani

"Ratatouille"  (2011)

        Since the joy of eating out has been dashed by coronavirus quarantines, perhaps the best way to get in the spirit of sharing food is by curling up with a glass of wine and watching food-related movies. Many of the best are in fact set in restaurants, and you can watch again and again for what they tell us about the seductive interplay of food and wine, cooking and canoodling, elation and exhaustion.  Here are my faves.


Woman on Top (2000)—The breathtaking Penelope Cruz plays a brilliant Brazilian cook named Isabella—clearly the prototype for cleavage-popping TV chefs like Giada De Laurentiis—who cooks with such sensuality and abundant chilies that she trails an aroma that renders all men on two continents insensibly in love with her. This hilarious fantasy by director Fina Torres is one of the most joyous proofs that, as Isabella, says, “The secret ingredient in cooking is sharing it with someone you love.” The bossa nova music is a big part of the mix and the scenes of Bahia are gorgeous.

Mostly Martha
(2001)—A German film about a beautiful workaholic haute cuisine chef (Martina Gedeck) whose perfectionism is a shield against intimacy, until she is forced to take in and cope with her late sister’s angry daughter and to be forced to compete with the highly emotional, operatic charms of a new Italian cook (Sergio Castellitto). Admirably re-made as “No Reservations” with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart, which is almost as good.


Big Night (1996)—One of the sweetest films of brotherly love ever made, with Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci as the owners of a 1950s New Jersey restaurant on the brink of disaster because the demanding chef Shalhoub refuses to cook insipid Italian-American food for undiscerning customers.  The feast they prepare for no-show star Louis Prima is as overblown and sexy as a Fellini-esque orgy, complete with the voluptuous Minnie Driver and Isabella Rossellini at the table, and the last kitchen redemptive scene, played without words between the two brothers, is as beautiful as anything made in the Silent Era of film.


Like Water for Chocolate (1992)—Yet another Latin-American fantasy, this film tells a series of erotic stories built around recipes. The exquisite cooking of th heroine, Tita de la Garza (Lumi Gavazos), causes all sorts of passions and emotions to collide within a Mexican ranch family. The climax comes when Tita and her lover bring so much heat to the bedroom that a fire literally consumes them and the ranch house, leaving behind in the ashes only her cookbook. The double meaning of the title refers to sexual arousal, as when boiling water is poured onto chocolate.


Babette’s Feast (1987)—I have never entirely warmed to this Danish movie about two sisters who live in the harsh environment of Jutland, where pleasures of any kind are considered quite sinful. But the arrival of a French housekeeper and cook, at first held suspect for her foreign ways, brings an awakening of modest sensual pleasure to the townspeople. It’s pretty cold and austere throughout, but the preparation and enjoyment of the beautiful food is worth seeing. 


Chocolat (2000)—Though seemingly a French movie, this is actually an American film shot in Burgundy and directed by Swedish-born Lasse Hallström, starring Juliette Binoche as a mysterious unmarried mother and artisanal chocolatier arriving in a very conservative French village. Johnny Depp is a river gypsy, Judi Dench is an embittered old woman, and Alfred Molina is a rigorously religious mayor—all of whom are seduced and changed by the taste of Binoche’s remarkable chocolates. There’s also a mouthwatering scene of a bourgeois backyard roast chicken dinner, and of the debauchery of wallowing in chocolate bliss. 


Tortilla Soup (2001)—A small, completely beguiling film about a Latino L.A. family whose widowed father and master chef (Hector Alizondo) tries to prevent his three daughters from leaving him for husbands, while he himself tries as hard to keep love at bay and to avoid a brassy, pushy woman played with engaging vulgarity by Raquel Welch. The youngest daughter, Carmen (Jacqueline Obradors), cooks with her father in beautiful scenes of closeness and breaking away. The movie is a remake of Ang Lee’s “Eat Drink Man Woman,” but I find the Latino style much more affecting.


The Hundred Foot Journey (2014)—A clash of culinary and social cultures—Indian and French—begins when an expatriate Indian family buys a restaurant in a small French town and names it Maison Mumbai and eventually the son, Hassan, wins acclaim in Paris for his fusion cuisine. But the drama is the fierce competition between the family and a French restaurateur (played impeccably by Helen Mirren), who seeks to put the newcomers out of business. All is well by film’s end, united by a love of food as a bond between all people, including those who live across the street.


Ratatouille (2011)—One of Pixar and Walt Disney Picture’s finest and oddest animated features, Ratatouille tells the story of a rat named Remy who lives secretly in a Parisian restaurant and learns all the chef’s secrets, which he passes on to a young cook who thereupon helps the restaurant win the praise of the toughest food critic in France (voiced by Peter O’Toole). As much for its superb computer-generated imagery as for its attention to every detail of a restaurant kitchen, the characters are fully rounded (literally and figuratively), the rat is goofy-looking but adorable and the whole screwy idea works for both children and adults.


Tampopo (1985)—Marketed as a “ramen western,” Tampopo (the name means “dandelion”) is a comedy about the search for secret recipes for noodles, but there are so many more smaller stories that include two lovers whose erotic experiments center around food, a women’s etiquette class on how to slurp noodles and much more. It is fast paced, borrows from American movie stereotypes and shows the way noodles are as much an obsession to the Japanese as pasta is to Italians.


Eat Drink Man Woman
(1994)—Directed by Ang Lee and set in Taipei, Taiwan, is a tribute to the joys and frustrations of the family Sunday dinner, enforced by a stern widower with three independent daughters who try with respect to alter their father’s stringent views of how they should grow up, act and marry. The viewer will easily fall in love with all these characters for whom the dinner table is both a social necessity and a battlefield.


Vatel (2000)—Not really a great film by any means, but a view of  the decadence of the aristocratic courts in the time of France’s Louis XIV, when meals would extend over days and hosts tried to outdo each other through sheer extravagance. François Vatel, a real-life chef played by Gerard Depardieu, is a demanding perfectionist who would rather kill himself than work for Louis. Sumptuous in the extreme, it is also  fascinating in its kitchen detail.



By John Mariani

    Since, for the time being, I am unable to write about or review New York City restaurants, I have decided instead to print a serialized version of my (unpublished) novel Love and Pizza, which takes place in New York and Italy and  involves a young, beautiful Bronx woman named Nicola Santini from an Italian family impassioned about food.  As the story goes on, Nicola, who is a student at Columbia University, struggles to maintain her roots while seeing a future that could lead her far from them—a future that involves a career and a love affair that would change her life forever. So, while New York’s restaurants remain closed, I will run a chapter of the Love and Pizza each week until the crisis is over. Afterwards I shall be offering the entire book digitally.    I hope you like the idea and even more that you will love Nicola, her family and her friends. I’d love to know what you think. Contact me at
—John Mariani

To read previous chapters go to archive (beginning with March 29, 2020, issue.


By John Mariani

Cover art by Galina Dargery

©John Mariani 2020


        It was Teresa Santini who told her children of Michelangelo and Leonardo, of Dante and Manzini, and beyond that of the contributions the Romans had made to the world, followed by the extraordinary achievements of the Renaissance. 
    As happens with most children, Teresa’s attempts to impress her family with such a glorious legacy fell on dispassionate ears, for, after all, the children had spent their days in school learning about Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt, and they took for granted that Fiorello LaGuardia was one of their own, despite his mother being half-Jewish. 
    So, although Teresa had always favored her granddaughter Nicola because of her intelligence and beauty, she never deprived her other progeny of abundant affection, presents and individualized care, sitting for hours beside the bedside when one had the measles, going over their lessons for their First Holy Communion and telling them all the Italian fairy tales they loved, filled with princes and queens, witches and ogres, wolves and swans.


        Nicola had a good deal of her grandmother in her and had long believed that she would find her own destiny outside of the neighborhood.  For however much she loved all her relatives and was proudly Italian-American, her dreams were of those places that her grandmother had always told her stories about.  One day, Nicola told herself, she would see Rome, Florence, Venice and Bologna—a kind of reverse emigration Teresa had encouraged in her granddaughter.
    Nicola’s mother and father, both born in the States after the First World War, were hard working and had done very well for the family.  Her father, Antonio Santini, called Nino by everyone, had picked up his father’s talent for tailoring and had worked his way up to a senior manager’s position at a prestigious women’s coat company named Originala in Manhattan.  Nicola’s mother, Anna, whose parents came from Naples, had completed high school and stenography classes and worked at some good secretarial jobs before her four children were born—Anthony Jr., Roseanne, Nicola, Natalie and Tommy.  It went without saying she would stay home and raise the children when they came. 
Nino had tried to enlist in the Navy but was turned down because of a bad back, so during the war he was put in charge of making military uniforms at his company’s factory.  He and his workers were very proud when they learned that many of the American sailors wore his company’s pea coats and WACs kept warm in Originala overcoats. 
The family had always lived in the Belmont neighborhood—made famous in the 1950s as the place where Dion and the Belmonts invented doo-wop music.  By 1980 the Santinis had moved into a two-story, four-bedroom house on Hughes Avenue, just a block from Teresa and Federico Santini.  
By then Anthony Jr., had gone to junior college at C.C.N.Y., but found he liked the local restaurant business and had moved up from waiter to cook to manager of an Arthur Avenue pizzeria-restaurant named Bella Napoli, which he hoped to buy someday from its aging owner. 
Roseanne married her high school sweetheart and had a baby within a year—Teresa’s first great-grandchild!—while Natalie and Tommy were both still in high school. Tommy, however, had shown extraordinary aptitude in math while in grammar school, skipped two grades and was accepted into the prestigious Bronx High School of Science in Bedford Park.  Tommy already spoke good Italian and, while at school, picked up passable Greek.  (All the Santini children had taken Latin in school.)
    Nicola, who everyone whispered was the most beautiful of the children, had never for a moment doubted she would go to college, and, buoyed by good grades and the anecdotal education she received from her grandmother, she won a partial scholarship to Columbia University, where she majored—as a star student—in art history, specializing, as might be expected, in the Italian Renaissance. 
    The Santinis were solidly middle class, nudging into the upper middle class, so Nino used to pretend exasperation by saying, “If I didn’t have all these damn kids, by now we’d be living in Westchester!”—the affluent county to the north—to which his wife would say, “Nino, what an awful thing to say!  We are the luckiest family we know.  Everybody’s healthy, we eat like kings, have nice clothes and everybody’s doing fine.”
    Nino would smile grandly, spread out his arms and say, “Hey, I’m kidding, I’m kidding! I’d rather live in the poorhouse with these kids than in a palace without them.” Then, still joking, “Well, maybe not with this one!” and he’d grab the cheek of the closest child, who’d pull away and growl, “Very funny.”
    Anna, whose own immigrant parents had come from poverty and had passed away after the war, would shake her head gravely and remind her husband that it was stupid even to joke about a poorhouse, and then she’d go off about her business.  But Nino never tired of the joke.


 Still, in the years they’d lived in Belmont, many of the neighborhoods around them, especially to the south, had begun to decay rapidly.  To a large extent that decay was set in motion when the building of the Cross Bronx Expressway, linking the George Washington Bridge on the Hudson River to the New England Thruway on Long Island Sound, disemboweled the borough, disrupting old ethnic neighborhoods of Italians, Jews, Irish, blacks and Puerto Ricans that had co-existed for decades. Many old timers who could afford to moved to north Westchester or Rockland counties or west to New Jersey.
        Maintenance of the old apartment buildings declined, crime grew rampant, gangs of teenagers roamed the streets, heroin use festered like a pox, and the quality of the public schools—once the glory of the New York City education system—dropped precipitously.  The remaining white residents yanked their kids out and sent them to private and parochial schools, with names like St. Helena, St. Raymond and All Hallows, all run by various orders of nuns, brothers or priests. All the Santini children had, in fact, gone to parochial schools. Tuition was low, but too much for the new immigrant minorities. 
    Walking the streets of most Bronx neighborhoods in the 1970s and early 1980s, even the once glorious Grand Concourse, had become dangerous. Teenage gangs had long been a part of the Bronx—the Golden Guineas and the Fordham Baldies were well known in the 1950s—but now the kids carried guns and used them against rival gangs with names like the
Savage Skulls, Ghetto Brothers, Black Spades and the Spanish Mafia.
    The Santinis were well aware of all the crime and poverty that swirled around Belmont. But, owing to the solidity of the Italian neighborhood, where everyone watched out for one another and where the restaurants and pizzerias threw light onto the streets till midnight, Belmont continued to have one of the lowest crime rates in the city.  The residents would say that you could leave your daughter alone in the back seat of a Cadillac convertible and neither she nor the car would ever be touched.

Above Fordham Road, where  Fordham University, a Jesuit school, began its stretch northward, the Bronx was still green with parklands that dwarfed even Manhattan’s Central Park.  To the east was Orchard Beach, with its majestic though decaying art déco bathhouses. A little south of that was a maritime community called City Island, which jutted out into the rough Long Island Sound and looked exactly as it had since before the war. Its one-mile Main Street was flanked with sea captains’ 19th century houses, seafood restaurants, marinas and shipyards where a dozen 12-meter yachts were built for the America’s Cup races.                                               ORCHARD BEACH

    So, while Anthony Santini harbored a dream to someday move his family away from the blight around him, he and his family were very happy living exactly where they did in Belmont, where everything seemed—for the time being—safe and sound.  In fact, Anthony worried more about his daughter Nicky traveling south to Harlem to attend her classes at Columbia, so that if their schedules coincided, he would always pick her up in his car on the way home from Manhattan, meeting her at the school’s majestic Delacorte Gates on 116th Street and Broadway with its plaque that read "May All Who Enter Find Peace And Welcome." 
    And if Nicky was coming home late after classes, or hanging out with friends, Nino would lie awake, waiting for the sound of her key in the lock, remembering a time when no one in Belmont locked their doors.  Then he’d sigh to Anna, “She’s home. She’s safe and sound,” then drop off to sleep.




By Patricia Savoie

Montefalco, Umbria

[Note: This visit took place just before coronavirus began to sweep through Italy.]

    Located in the center of Italy, north of Rome and east of Tuscany, Umbria is one of Italy’s landlocked regions. But water is about the only thing it is missing. In fact, it rivals Tuscany in almost all aspects. Its medieval hill towns—like Orvieto (outstanding white wines), Assisi (of Saint Francis fame), Spoleto (the opera) and Perugia (chocolates)—rolling green hills, olive groves and acres of vineyards, and its excellent food and wine, compete easily with its western neighbor. And Umbria is the site of the largest lake in Italy: Lake Trasimeno. And another thing missing is crowds of tourists.
    Umbria is home to several excellent grape varieties; the top three in plantings are the red Sangiovese (22%) and the whites Trebbiano (17%) and Grechetto (13%). But it also is the home of the native grape Sagrantino. Grown mainly in Montefalco, this red grape produces a powerful and tannic wine, Montefalco Sagrantino, which is 100% Sagrantino. Its quality is evidenced by its DOCG designation. The wine often shows great complexity and ages very well (20+ years, though some winemakers say up to 50 years).
    I traveled to Montefalco for the Anteprima of Sagrantino in February, when the 2016 vintage was officially presented. The Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco, a trade association, recently started assigning a star rating to vintages. Both 2016 and 2015 achieved the top: five stars.

    Grape growing and winemaking around Montefalco dates to pre-Roman times. Today, the region produces two Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) classed wines, 13 Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and six Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT), which are often made with international grape varieties like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.
    Sagrantino is grown only in the Montefalco region. but the grape almost became a victim of Italy’s industrialization and urbanization in the 1960s-70s. By the early 1970s, there were only 25 acres of Sagrantino in existence and a handful of small producers. But a few families believed in the grape and began to re-plant the grapevines. The Arnaldo Caprai, Antonelli, Adanti and Benincasa families were responsible for its survival. The grape makes rich, full wines with aggressive tannins. To help tame these tannins, there is a minimum, mandatory aging of 37 months (including one year in oak barrels) before the wine can be released. The best vintages can age for decades. It also tends to be high in alcohol, with 15% or 15.5% not unusual.
    The second DOCG wine from Sagrantino is Sagrantino Passito, a sweet wine made from 100% Sagrantino grapes, which are  dried in air for at least two months to concentrate the juice. The  sweetness of the wine is offset by its high level of tannins.
The second most important wine in the Montefalco region is  Montefalco Rosso DOC, made mainly from the Sangiovese grape, like the Chianti and Montalcino of neighboring Tuscany. It is produced from 60–80% Sangiovese, 10–25% Sagrantino and at most 30% other red grapes. Aging of 18 months is standard. A few Riservas are made and must age for at least 30 months, with 12 months in oak.
    The Rossos are lighter and easier to drink than the Sagrantinos. In addition to the Montefalco area, a small amount of Rosso is made in the Torgiano region. Rosso di Torgiano is made with 50–100% Sangiovese grapes. Its best known producer is the Lungarotti family, who produce Rubesco, a premium wine.
    There are two Umbrian whites that are important: Grechetto and Trebbiano Spoletino. Grechetto is the primary grape in the wines from Orvieto, along with Trebbiano and other local grapes. It is crisp, with citrus and green apple notes. The second is Trebbiano Spoletino, which is not related to Trebbiano Toscano. There is very little Spolentino grown, and winemakers are working with it to determine how best to handle it.
    Food in Umbria is a delight. Salumi and cured meats made from pork and wild boar are excellent. Black truffles are found in abundance in its forests and are liberally grated over lovely pasta dishes or incorporated with cheeses. Lentils from the Castelluccio valley are sought out by chefs. Pigeon and porchetta are perhaps the best in Italy. Olive trees are everywhere, and there are five separate DOP-classified olive oils.
    Here are some of the best wines I tasted at the Anteprima event and on visits to a number of wineries. 

Antonelli: This is one of the oldest wine estates in Umbria. The family has owned it since 1881, and it is managed by Filippo Antonelli. Its 120 acres of vines have been certified organic since 2012. The 2018 Grechetto is fresh and crisp and the Trebbiano Spoletino is one of the best of this variety ($13/$18). The Montefalco Rosso 2016 and 2017 ($18) have good fruit and acid balance. The Sagrantino 2016 (2015 and several earlier vintages in U.S.  $34-43) is a fine example of the grape. Antonelli has the only single-vineyard Sagrantino—Chiusa di Pannone Sagrantino, The 2012 shows its 30 months in oak but is elegant. The 2008 is more refined ($48/$60).

Lungarotti: This is the oldest winery in Umbria, having been established in 1862. It is also one of the larger, with 620 acres. The 2016 Rubesco Rosso Torgiano ($14) is a remarkable wine, with notes of black cherry and pepper. Crisp acidity balances the fruit. 

 Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG (current vintage 2009 -$60) that is worth finding.  The 2016 Montefalco Rosso has a big fruit nose and soft tannins (2015 in U.S. $22). Their Sagrantino 2016 explodes with garrigue and cocoa (2015 U.S. $45).

DiFilippo: Three generations of the family farm 75 acres of land, some of it biodynamically, where horses are used to work the land, and geese roam the vineyards. The 2019 Grechettto ($20) is deep in color with some salinity. The 2015 Sagrantino is full bodied with notes of resin ($42). They make a lovely Sagrantino Passito 2015 that achieves a perfect sweet/acid balance ($50 half bottle).

Arnaldo-Caprai: The 2018 Grechetto (above)  is crisp and refreshing ($13). The 2016 Montefalco Sagrantino has lots of sweet fruit and tannins. (The 2013 is currently available in U.S. $37.) The 2016 Montefalco Rosso (2015 in U.S.$15) is easy to drink. 

Montioni : A small family-owned winery. The 2018 Umbria Grechetto ($19) has nice acidity and minerality. The 2015 Sagrantino is dry with good fruit ($35). The 2017 Montefalco Rosso ($24) shows notes of prune and coffee.  Needs more time. Goretti 2015 Montefalco Sagrantino ($36): full-bodied with cherry and licorice notes.


“I had already eaten lunch by the time we pulled into
 El Ruso, a tiny taco truck nestled in a tiny parking lot in L.A.’s Boyle Heights neighborhood. Was I hungry? Not at all. Was I, perhaps, not in the best mood because just hours ago I had taken a 5 a.m. flight from New York City to Los Angeles? Ask my husband and my mom. These delicate situations—combined with me forcing them, just as stuffed and lethargic as I am, to eat a second lunch, hobbit style—seemed perfectly primed for a game of passive-aggressive complaining. (This is what conflict looks like for my family!) And that might have very well happened, if the tacos at El Ruso weren’t so incredible.”—Elyse Inamine, “I Will Always Have Room for El Ruso’s Extremely Dialed-In Tacos,” Bon Appetit (Feb 27. 2020)



"As rides go, the last 20 years have pretty much had it all. Thrills, spills, twists, turns, all at blinding speed—never mind those few flips upside down they didn’t warn you about—and here we are, just talking about the food. You can get off rides, but this one doesn’t seem to want to end, with city after city across the United States growing their respective restaurant cultures so quickly, it’s almost dizzying, even if we’re still terribly excited for what’s next."—David Landsel, " The Best Classic Restaurants in Everey State," Food & Wine (1/14/20)




 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.


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


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