Virtual Gourmet

September 9,  2007                                                       NEWSLETTER


                                          "Artichokes, Istanbul" (2005) Photo by Galina Stepanoff-Dargery

Readers may now access an Archive of all past newsletters--each annotated--dating back to July, 2003, by simply clicking on

SUBSCRIBE AND UN-SUBSCRIBE: You may subscribe anyone you wish to this newsletter--free of charge--by clicking

In This Issue

WHAT'S NEW IN CHICAGO? by John Mariani

: OVELIA by John Mariani

NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLARDrier American Rieslings Earn New Respect by John Mariani


by John Mariani
      []]]]]Chicago may well have come to a saturation point for fine dining rooms simply because there are so many restaurants of that stripe right now, from the great Italian restaurant Spiaggia to the  seminal Charlie Trotter's (this year celebrating its 20th birthday), from  innovators like Tru to crusading places like Topolobampo.  In the last couple of years the city has acquired fewer luxe restaurants, which is the case everywhere, but some of the second-tier entries  with wonderful food  fall into the trap of being so trendy in design and ambiance that it's difficult to take them very seriously.  Outside of Las Vegas, no city has more restaurants with ear-shattering noise levels that are somehow supposed to attract a "young crowd" that seemingly adores being unable to speak to their friends at a four-top table. Here, however, are three new entries worth serious consideration.


800 North Michigan Avenue

      The antithesis of such assaults on the senses is the serenity of NoMI, which actually opened a few years backu but has acquired a new  chef, Christophe David (below), who is proving himself one of the most talented in Chicago right now.  The expansive, large dining room, with plenty of civilized space between well-set tables and 120 seats, overlooks the Magnificent Mile and Water Tower from the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel,  among the first Hyatts to swing into the deluxe category. NoMI is glamorously decked out with modern artwork and Italian marble sculpture, and the room is very airy and light in feeling, especially during the day when it gets the sun off the Lake. It is, in a word, a civilized but wholly unstuffy place to dine.
     You arrive in the swank lounge, then enter the dining room (right), confronted by the sushi bar, which offers a remarkable array of traditional and modern sushi, which may also be ordered at the dining tables.  The staff here is among the finest in Chicago, and the winelist is one of the best in the city, especially for French and regional wines that go well with David's food.
     I first became familiar with David's cooking at the Grill (now called Pur.Grill) in Paris' Park Hyatt Place Vendôme, which gave to that city a style of American grill fare difficult to find elsewhere.  Here in Chicago he has reversed course, bringing a very sure sense of French culinary style to a city with about ten too many grills and steakhouses.  So you might begin with fresh pea soup with a goat's cheese foam and a chiffonade of mint, or perhaps white asparagus and morels layered with smoky Virginia ham and parmesan cheese--both first-rate, lightweight appetizers for lunch.  Richer and more decadent is David's answer to the city council's imbecile prohibition against foie gras: He uses "foie blond"--chicken livers--whipped into a luscious crème brûlée with truffles and hazelnuts; its approximation to duck or goose foie gras is good enough not to fool anyone but delicious enough to enjoy wholly on its own.
     =For main courses seafood is well represented by caramelized scallops with crispy sweetbreads and a pea puree, and David (left) does a fine risotto with a good amount of langoustine, braised hearts of palm, and corn.  If you prefer meat, I recommend the almond-crusted squab breast with a tangy-sweet ratatouille and tarrgon-scented beurre blanc.
     Suzanne Imaz's dessert show all the same degree of finesse in the French way--apricot clafoutis with almond ice cream and sorbet and  violet gelée, and a lovely cherry mascarpone cannelloni with chocolate crèmeux and sour cherry sorbet.
      The imagination in NoMI's food is not daunting to other Chicago chefs but shows how the execution of certain techniques with real precision can make a great difference in subtlety, texture, and refinement.  David  now ranks among the best in Chicago, and I hope he stays put forever.

NoMI is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
Dinner appetizers run $14-$25, main courses $34-$54.

aigredoux n
230 West Kinzie

     This River North newcomer near the Merchandise Mart counts two veterans--now a married couple--from the Chicago Ritz-Carlton and Hollywood's Chateau Marmont:  Mohammad Islam and Malika Ameen (below), who also run the attached Bakery here. Aigredoux is one of the instant hits for reasons that have to do as much with good food and sheer buzz, a place on everyone's lips as the hot new place to go.  When I visited the restaurant was thronged with a fairly young crowd, and the vibes in the dining room were indeed shaking.
      Let me get to Islam and Ameen's food first, for it is very good, in a more-or-less Mediterranean mode, starting off with a delicious garlic soup based on a good strong broth that tames the herb down.  Having a bakery next door means the bread is not only fresh but artisanal and diverse. Nearing the last days of softshell crabs for the summer, I had to have them here, and they were excellent--fat, snowy white meat beneath a parchment crisp shell, gone in two gobbles.
Sweet white asparagus were graced with truffled poached egg, bacon, and a light herb vinaigrette, while the stand-out was risotto al salto, which means "jumping risotto," a kind of crispy pancake with prosciutto and a tangy aïoli.  The  tomato-mozzarella pizza was pleasing but not particularly special, in a town still lacking in great pizza.
      dfMain courses fared very well within the Mediterranean swing of things, including as fine a piece of swordfish as I've had all year, juicy to the core and full of clean, sweet flavor.  Prices across the menu here are extremely reasonable, with the most expensive item a terrific Colorado rack of lamb, beautifully fatted, with truffled grits, fennel, apple, and a fava bean salad.
      Desserts, by Ameen, sin in all the best ways, from a truly gooey and irresistible sticky toffee pudding to a delicate panna cotta, and an astonishingly good "chocolate malted" that was actually a malt-infused custard and a hazelnut version of a Kit-Kat bar. very American and marvelous for it.
       The winelist is solidly connected to the style of food here, with plenty of good bottles under $50.
       Turning to the 80-seat restaurant itself, aside from a low level of lighting from bare bulbs on wires, it's a very handsome room, with a wall of slatted Brazilian rosewood and floors of large cut travertine.  But the lack of any soft surfaces and the imposition of blaring, throbbing music makes the atmosphere so intense that despite its wonderful food, Aigredoux is not a wonderful place to be.  Having scanned some other local reports of the restaurant, I read that I am not alone in criticizing the noise level here.  There was simply no way for me to hear what the waitress or wine director was trying to tell me, and the little conversation I managed with my friends was at shouting level.  Believe me, no one has ever asked for a restaurant to be louder, but many complain, both during and after their visits, when restaurants are too loud, so it's something restaurateurs should pay more attention to.

AigreDoux is open for lunch Mon.-Fri., for dinner nightly, and brunch on Sat. & Sun.
Appetizers run $9-$14, entrees $14-$34.

1625 Hinman
Evanston, IL
(847) 570-5800

       Those who recall with fondness the original Trio, and before that the Cafe Provençal, in a space within The Homestead Hotel out in Evanston will probably be delighted by the way the newest incarnation, Quince, is styled.  It's now a softer, more comfortable spot, lighted with candles and a fireplace and a configuration that seems quite a bit like someone's dining room.  The slatted wood walls remain for old times' sake.
        I love the simplicity of everything at Quince, the restrained style of plate presentation, the effort not to overwhelm you with service or chattiness.  Printing the menu on gray paper with gray ink in a candlelit room is not such a hot idea, however, unless your guests all  have super-vision.
Chef Mark Hannon (second from left above) comes from a restaurant family: His father ran a seafood restaurant in NYC. His résumé now includes a stint at the highly acclaimed Azul in Miami, and he shows a real flair for food that is built around a few impeccable ingredients, as shown by a dish like lavender-and-honey glazed pork tenderloin with goat's cheese pasta and broccolini, which all comes together in equal parts sweet and savory.
      llCold starters are mainly greens, aside from a salmon tartare, while hot appetizers tend to be somewhat heavy, but no less delicious for that.  I like the "liver and onions," actually foie gras seared and lavished with roasted shallots, blackberry, and a toasted crostini with bleu cheese. (Evanston, unlike Chicago, has not as yet banned foie gras on menus).  Ricotta gnocchi with a cheese crust was pretty tasty, but it certainly didn't need soft grilled bread on the side. Hawaiian sea bass was very good, cuddled against "forbidden black rice," hearts of palm, and a lush basil cream.
      By all means consider cheeses for there is a selection of six, in fine condition. Jeffrey Sills did pastry at Trio and has stayed on to do them at Quince with good reason. His desserts include jelly doughnuts, a warm white chocolate bread pudding, and carrot cake with Crackerjack and a cream cheese frosting, with brown sugar ice cream.  Time to bring this relic of the Sixties back to the table! It's a great dessert.
     Wine directors Joe Ziomek, also a Trio grad and a former sommelier at Alinea, has come back to oversee a winelist of about 200+ labels.
       When I visited, Quince was empty by ten P.M., maybe because people had to drive back home to Chicago.  And be aware that
if you are visiting Quince, it is a $40 taxi ride each way from downtown.  Then again, for this quality of food you'd pay a great deal more in Chicago, so you can suck up the difference that way.

Quince is open for dinner Tues.-Sun. and for brunch on Sun. Starters run $6-$18, entrees $16-$24.


by John Mariani


34-01 30th Avenue-

      The Greek community of Astoria, Queens, is thriving with more vitality than ever--bakeries, wineshops, cafes, butchers, and plenty of Greek restaurants, most, more or less, of the same stripe with, more or less, the same menu. Ovelia, which opened last year, is quite a bit different in many respects, and for good reason draws a young crowd from the neighborhood and the other boroughs who come for a slightly more modern take on Greek cooking and style.
      Happily Ovelia is set on a corner, allowing for two sides of the street to be used for outdoor tables with bright red umbrellas, and on a twilighted midweek evening, I sat there blissfully entertained by the passing parade of Greeks and non-Greeks, all speaking their own languages along with English. The interior dining area seats about 55, a long, streamlined, silvery room with a good bar where they make good, innovative cocktails and carry a very good screed of modern Greek wines.
     The restaurant's name refers to a spit on which lamb is roasted, and owners
Chris Giannakas and Elias Mandilaras do their personal best to imbue the place with their own gregarious spirit.   Giannakas' father John and mother Litsa for years ran a restaurant in Athens called To Pikantiko, then came to the U.S. to work at several traditional Greek restaurants in Manhattan.  Chris himself had been active in NYC politics but got the restaurant bug, seeking to recreate in Astoria the kind of food his father cook in Greece, joining with George Mandilaras, who also owned restaurants in the Old Country, to do the construction, and his son Elias, who had worked with the B.R. Guest restaurant group, came onboard as partner.  John and Litsa agreed to do their homestyle cooking at Ovelia, so this is quite a family affair.
      As in most Greek restaurants the mezes are the most tantalizing part of the menu, and they are extensive here. We began with a creamy
kafteri, a spicy feta spread, and tarama cod roe, and roasted eggplant, all scooped up with hot pita bread that kept coming fresh from the kitchen every few minutes.  The Ovelia salad contains Romaine lettuce, cucumber, tomato and a dressing of olive oil, lemon and roasted, chilled vegetables that had a good crisp crunch to them.   Kontosouvli are piping hot marinated and seasoned pork morsels, shaved from the spit, juicy and delicious, with more pitas.
     --==Next came tender octopus braised in red wine vinegar then given a char on the grill. along with housemade sausages.
Bifteki Monastiraki came on skewers--ground, seasoned lamb and beef. The moussaka here, layered with
ground beef, eggplant, zucchini, potato, and topped with béchamel was good but far from the creamiest I've had.
       Now well into the main courses, we had two plump chicken breasts
stuffed with more of the kafteri and splashed with a delightful, creamy ouzo and tomato sauce. A generous platter of six jumbo shrimp, sautéed and then wrapped in roasted eggplant and topped with a hearty tomato sauce and crumbled feta, finished under the broiler to give it a wonderful glaze of feta and slight crisp skin. None of us was mad about the red snapper, which, while hefty at one-and-a-half pounds, was disappointingly fishy tasting that evening.
      I always give in when Greek lemon-doused oven-baked sliced potatoes arrive, and Ovelia's are excellent, as was a side of white rice and orzo, and some lovely green
broccoli rabe, sautéed with olive oil and garlic.
      What wonderful, rich yogurt they serve here--with equally wonderful honey and nuts, served in a fried crêpe shell that only gilded the lily. It was also hard to resist the loukoumades, a form of Greek fried fritters tossed in a not-too-sweet honey syrup. What we did not finish we took home for morning coffee.
      The Greek wines we sampled were a sturdy 2005 merlot from
Nikos Lazaridis, and a truly remarkable white wine with enormous body yet a delicate floral and fruit flavor, 2004 Vatistas, Petroulianos.
     By the time we left Ovelia the street was still teeming with happy people and the music still playing inside. Couples came by for wine and coffee and a late bite to eat. For anyone seeking the soul of the Greek community, a corner table at Ovelia is the best spot I can think of to find it. So if you're in Manhattan or getting off a plane from LGA or JFK, hop on the N Train and you'll be there in a jiff.

Ovelia is open daily for lunch and dinnerDinner appetizers: $6-$21; Entrees:$11.50-$22.

by John Mariani

Drier American Rieslings Earn New Respect

      gAmerican wineries have not made it easy to love their rieslings because it’s so hard to know exactly what you’re buying. Labels read “white riesling,” “Johannesburg riesling,” “dry riesling,” “semi-dry riesling,” “Late Harvest riesling,” and “eiswein riesling.”  In Europe it just gets more confusing, with “Franken riesling,” “gray riesling, “emerald riesling,” “riesling renano,” and “welschriesling.”
      Nevertheless, the rieslings of Germany and Alsace are considered among the world’s greatest wines.  Such respect has not yet accrued to American rieslings for several reasons: first, because the labels are so confusing; second, the American palate prefers the flavor of wood aging and high alcohol in their wines, neither of which are virtues in riesling; and third, rieslings are too often still lumped together with cheap, cloying sweet wines like white zinfandel and Blue Nun. Still, interest in the varietal is growing: U.S. sales of rieslings from all over in this country grew 72 percent between 2003 and 2006.
      A good riesling is a beautiful wine, with bright tartaric acid levels that keep the wine sharp, and it picks up the specific minerality of its terroir. Riesling vines are very hard and resist frost well but cannot bear intense heat, which make the wines flat-tasting and one-dimensional.
      Aldo Sohm, wine director at New York’s Le Bernardin restaurant, told me in a phone interview, “I love German and Alsatian rieslings but find American rieslings don’t yet have the complex minerality of the Europeans. I do think it’s remarkable how the Finger Lakes wines of New York State have achieved such quality in so short a time, when Germany and Alsace have had hundreds of years’ experience with riesling.”
       I agree completely with Sohm about the rieslings of New York State’s Finger Lakes district, which I find get better every year, not least the pioneering wines of Dr. Konstantin Frank, whose 2006 Dry Riesling ($18) has tantalizing fruit aromas and the levels of acid to keep them bright and long lasting. They are terrific sushi, even spicy Chinese food.e
      I also recommend other Finger Lakes examples like Ravines Dry Riesling 2006 ($16) and Fox Run Vineyards Reserve 2005 ($30). From Long Island’s North Fork I like Paumonok Riesling 2005 ($17) and Martha Clara Vineyards Riesling 2004 ($18)—all very well priced.
     Riesling flourished on the west coast when 19th century German vintners like Beringer and Charles Krug planted the varietal in
California. But the heat in that climate produced flabby, very sweet wines that fell out of favor in the last century.  There has been a recent uptick in California riesling production, with about 2,300 acres now propagated, mostly in Monterey and the cooler climate of Mendocino’s Anderson Valley.  Kendall-Jackson’s award-winning Vintner’s Reserve 2005 ($12), made from grapes from several regions, including Monterey and Mendocino, is 76 percent riesling, the rest gewürztraminer, viognier, and other varietals that add gingery spice to the firm riesling florals and flintiness. Jekel Vineyards 2005 ($14) from Monterey has about 8 percent Muscat in it that adds subtle hints of orange and tropical fruit, while the riesling provides the backbone of citrus.
       Possibly the best-known West Coast rieslings are those from Château Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington, which last June held a "Riesling Rendezvous" international conference to discuss the latest techniques of riesling viniculture and the distinctions of terroir. The winery’s own rieslings have gotten even better since German vintner Dr. Ernst Loosen joined with Ste. Michelle in 1999 to produce “Eroica” in the coolest terroir of the Yakima Valley vineyards. It is a wine rightly praised for the delicate balance of peach, lime, and mineral flavors.  The 2006 vintage runs about $25.
      ppBonny Doon’s Pacific Rim Dry Riesling 2005 ($11)is an oddity made from a blend of grapes from Washington State and Germany's Middle Mosel. But then everything Bonny Doon’s owner, Randall Graham, does is a little odd (check out his psychedelic-looking website: He describes himself as “champion of the strange and the heterodox, of the ugly duckling grape varietals.” He adds 25 percent Mosel riesling to give the Washington wine a boost of “haunting floral perfume and crushing acidity” that makes this a very powerful riesling, though still only 12 percent alcohol. Graham says it is “quite tasty with hot links.”
      Oregon is known more for its pinot noirs, but there are some delightful rieslings now to be found, like A to Z Oregon Riesling 2006 ($13), whose label reads “Aristocratic wines at Democratic Prices.”  One of A to Z’s owners is a poet, Bill Hatcher, who also developed the great pinot noir property Domaine Drouhin. The 2006 is their first release and shows excellent promise for the varietal, revealing flinty slate mineral flavors of “wet stones,” along with an enchanting, true riesling floral aroma. It will certainly mature for the next several years.
      Dry and semi-dry rieslings are increasingly versatile with Pacific Rim food, especially salmon teriyaki, Japanese glazed eel, and spicy Indian food. The elixir-like sweet dessert rieslings are another story for when the weather gets cool, the fireplace is lighted, and chestnuts pop in the pan.

John Mariani's weekly wine column appears in Bloomberg Muse News, from which this story was adapted. Bloomberg News covers Culture from art, books, and theater to wine, travel, and food on a daily basis, and some of its articles play of the Saturday Bloomberg Radio and TV.


The Xinhua News Agency reported that a news reporter in
Beijing named Zi Beijiia faked a story about how a restaurateur frustrated with the growing price of pork decided to use flavored cardboard instead, thereby saving him about $130 a day. The filling was said to be prepared by soaking cardboard in water and caustic soda to make it look like pork, then adding pork flavor and fat. (A recipe was provided by a website named Weird Asia News.) Zi purchased the materials and hired a migrant workers to make the buns as he recorded them on video. Beijing Municipal Food Safety Office spokesman stated further that even a small part of the product being cardboard would be easily noticeable and hard to chew to anyone who ate them, and that “The Beijing Public Security Bureau has taken the criminal suspect, Zi, into custody and he will be severely dealt with according to law.”


“Are there no suitable rocks in all of New York State? What about New England?  If I have my trivia correct, New Hampshire is called the Granite State.  That sounds pretty flinty to me, and it’s a whole lot closer to Manhattan than South America is.”—Frank Bruni, in a review of Rayuela, NY Times (8/22/07).


* The Center for Wine Origins announces the second annual "Celebrate the Grape" Sweepstakes, as part of its continuing education efforts to protect wine place names and demand accurate and fair labeling. To enter, contestants must correctly answer 3 wine-related questions. Three grand prize winners will each receive a getaway for two to one of the famous wine regions the Center represents: Champagne, France, Porto, Portugal or Jerez, Spain. The Sweepstakes ends Oct.  29. To enter and view the official rules, please complete and submit the online entry form at

* On Sept. 12 & 13 in North One 10 on Miami Beach will serve a Rosh Hashanah menu at $48 pp.  Call 305-893-4211.

* From Sept. 14-16, Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT, hosts the 2nd Annual Foxwoods Food & Wine Festival, featuring cooking demos, wine seminars, poker tournaments and gala events, incl. the Food & Wine Festival Mardi Gras Masquerade on Sat., with chefs David Burke of davidburke & donatella, NYC;  Andy Husbands of Tremont 647, Jay Murray of Grill 23 & Bar in Boston, Jean-Peirre Vuillermet of the Union League Café in New Haven,  and Foxwoods' own chefs Joe Ferris, Scott Mickelson, Eric Post and Philippe Soulat.  $150 pp. Visit

* On Sept. 18 in Charlotte, NC, M5 Modern Mediterranean will present its first wine dinner, “Under the Tuscan Sun,” 7 courses, incl. wines at $65 pp, by Chef Tom Condron. Call 704-909-5500;

* On Sept. 21 Hemingway's  in Killington, Vermont, will hold a dinner around Vermont's finest cheeses, with Ellen Ogden, author of The Vermont Cheese Book. The dinner is held in conjunction with The American Institute of Wine and Food, Vermont Chapter. Call 802-422-3886 or visit

* On Sept. 22 the second annual Charleston Music & Heritage Festival—ChazzFest--presented by Digital Lifestyle Outfitters will be held at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island, featuring a Shrimp & Grits Cook-Off, with local chefs and a culinary stage  highlighting Lowcountry food and its influences. Also,  16 musical acts on four stages, incl. Branford Marsalis, funk/R&B legends Kool & The Gang, New Orleans jazz/funk rockers Galactic, reggae pioneer Toots & The Maytals, gospel star Dottie Peoples, and others. Tix on sale at select TicketMaster locations, on-line at, by phone at 843-554-6060. Visit

* On Sept. 27 Fertile  Hope will host its 5th annual benefit gala at San Francisco’s Pres A  Vi, with live Latin jazz music by Luz, and a  tasting of  wines paired with food by Chef Kelly Degala.  The evening begins with a VIP reception raw seafood bar ($150), sparkling wines, and Flamenco. Also,  open bar and silent auction. $95 pp. Visit or call (888)  994-HOPE.

* On Sept. 27 in Lombard, IL,  Sequel will celebrate Oktoberfest. Chef Mark Downing, Chef de Cuisine Scott Staples, and Pastry Chef Matthew Sayers will prepare food for the evening. Call 630-629-6560; visit

* From Oct. 1-Nov. 15 the Greater Fort Lauderdale Visitors and Conventions Bureau launches Dine Out Lauderdale, with participating restaurants, incl. Aizia at the Westin Diplomat, Blue Moon Fish Co., Cero at the St. Regis, Coco Restaurant, Council Oak, 15th Street Fisheries, Galanga Thai Kitchen, Grill Room at the Riverside Hotel, Himmarshee Bar & Grille, Le Bistro, Mark's Las Olas, Mai Kai, Michael's Kitchen, Primavera, Shula's, Sugar Reef, Tatiana Restaurant and Trina at the Atlantic, and others, creating a special 3-course dinner menu at a $35 fixed price, Sun.-Thurs.  Visit
* The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission of 1,800 growers and more than 300 wineries will celebrate 150 years of winemaking with a Harvest Celebration in NYC October 3-5. Grower Jim Murphy (Murphy Vineyards), winemaker Joel Peterson (Ravenswood Winery), and wine country chef Bruce Riezenman (Park Avenue Catering) will host a series of events for consumers, wine and food industry professionals, and the media.  Visit

NEW FEATURE: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linking up with two 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."  To go to his blog click on the logo below:


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). Click on the logo below to go to the site.



MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Robert Mariani,  Naomi  Kooker, Kirsten Skogerson,  Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery,  Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.

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

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

6y6My newest book, written with my brother Robert Mariani, is a memoir of our years growing up in the North Bronx. It's called Almost Golden because it re-visits an idyllic place and time in our lives when so many wonderful things seemed possible.
    For those of you who don't think of the Bronx as “idyllic,” this book will be a revelation. It’s about a place called the Country Club area, on the shores of Pelham Bay. It was a beautiful neighborhood filled with great friends and wonderful adventures that helped shape our lives. It's about a culture, still vibrant, and a place that is still almost the same as when we grew up there.
Robert and I think you'll enjoy this very personal look at our
Bronx childhood. It is not yet available in bookstores, so to purchase a copy, go to or click on  Almost Golden.
--John Mariani

yyy u7o9o ee
rer rr ryh

copyright John Mariani 2007