Virtual Gourmet

November 21,  2010                                                                   NEWSLETTER



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GOOD NEWS! now has a new food section  called "Eat Like a Man," which will be featuring restaurant articles by John Mariani and others from around the USA.


In This Issue


by John Mariani

MAN ABOUT TOWN: Tiella by Christopher Mariani

NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: Barone Ricasoli says Arriverderci to Super Tuscans, Hello to the New Chianti

by John Mariani



by John Mariani

      I've gotten to know Rhode Island well over four decades because my brother and his family have lived there that long, currently in the beautiful and historic town of Bristol. Anyone considering a New England sojourn might drive straight through the little state (which takes about an hour), perhaps stopping off at Newport to visit the grand mansions along the water.  But Providence, once the gateway to Boston, has developed into a wonderfully vibrant city with its own style, architecture, and food scene.  And then there's the coastline, jagged and puckered with inlets, bays, rivers, and beaches. Here are some new places to eat along the way.


Ocean House

1 Bluff Avenue

Watch Hill, RI



     Set on the bluffs of Watch Hill overlooking the Atlantic, the Ocean House is a magnificent new addition to the region.  When I say new, some readers might recall that there'd long been an Ocean House on that same bluff, and they'd be right.  The old one, known for its yellow clapboard, was derelict, eaten away by sea salt and time, salvageable, incapable of being renovated, and closed down in 2003.

     One can exult, then, that Bluff Ave. LLC, a community investment group that owns the property, built the new resort from the ground up,  keeping as much of the historic interior as could be reclaimed--5,000 artifacts included--as well as replacing 247 windows in their original positions. The developers have fashioned a design for the new Ocean House that evokes all the architectural charms of the old one,  so that it looks like it has been here since 1868, when the original Victorian-style resort hotel opened.

     Once used only as a summer hotel, the Ocean House is now open year-round--and would be a capital place for families to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's. It now has 49 guest rooms and 23 private residences, a 2,000-square-foot  spa, and more than 10,000 square feet of event space. The spacious interiors, from the grand lobby to the restaurant, have a lightness buoyed by colors of yellow, blue, turquoise and cream, dotted with fine artwork, with hardwood floors  everywhere,  very comfortable, well-arranged and decorated rooms, with marble bathrooms, and all the most modern amenities, including HD  televisions, fully-stocked iPods and iPads available, with movies and other entertainment, and high-speed wired and wireless internet access. There is also a members-only  Club Room; Prices for residences start at $1.5 million.)

     You may also sail on the Ocean House's own restored lobster boat, The Gansett, that offers evening cocktail cruises thrice a week, weekly trips to Block Island/Sag Harbor, and daily coastal cruises between Watch Hill, Rhode Island and Stonington, CT. They also float the Dandy, a 32-foot wooden picnic boat as a private charter, as well as three other yachts from Vintage Yachting Club, and several yachts from the America’s Cup fleet of winners and competitors.  Obviously the resort is planning on a very affluent clientele, which in winter may be hard to find.
       The main dining room here (left), with every table in view of the sea,  is named Seasons, aptly enough for its commitment to using what is best at the moment.  Up front is a wrap-around bar and an open kitchen, and the enclosed veranda is an enchanting place to dine, as are the tables in front of the fireplace.

     Exec Chef Albert Cannito and Chef de Cuisine Eric Haugen have crafted a modern American menu, rich in seasonal specialties. When my wife and I dined there, the listings were under "Nearby Waters," "Local Pastures," and "Local Gardens," so we were anxious to try and enjoy dishes like English pea panna cotta with a lemon crème fraîche glaze, orange, radish, and pea shoots. Lobster tail is poached in butter, served with roasted cauliflower, a delightful salted almond streusel, and a white verjus-Madras emulsion, while duck foie gras comes in a terrine with caramelized white chocolate, spices, pistachio nougatine, and maraschino cherry gastrique.  There are, perhaps, a few too sweet elements added to ingredients that, like good English peas, have their own, but in most cases the dishes work well. There is an array of fine cheeses each night, which might act as a balm, but don't neglect the desserts here, which are lavish and just reward for a good day at sea or long walk on the beach.


ROOM RATES: Off-season rooms from $260.  Peak-season rooms from $485.

La Masseria
223 Main Street, East Greenwich, RI
401- 398-0693

       Readers may have read my high praise of La Masseria in NYC, owned by   Giuseppe "Peppe" Iuele and Enzo Ruggiero with chef-partner Giuseppe "Pino" Coladonato. So here I go again, this time in praise of its only branch, in a small town in Rhode Island named East Greenwich. When I asked why they went way up there, I was told that a favorite customer and investor coaxed them, and the result is that now Rhode Island has one of the best new Italian restaurants in New England.
      East Greenwich itself is good for a short stroll down Main Street, and  somewhere in the middle lies La Masseria ("the farmhouse"), done with a rustic trattoria look that in the daytime absorbs all sorts of sunny highlights that make this a wonderful place for lunch. Have a bottle of wine with friends--the list is very nicely priced. Put yourself in the hands of one of the three owners, who go back and forth to NYC, and definitely ask what's special that day.
      The day we went we were treated to an impeccably fried, greaseless fritto misto of calamari, shrimp, and sea scallops, along with some luscious zucchini blossoms, and burrata mozzarella with its creamy center and Speck bacon and tomato.  La Masseria was making great meatballs long before the current fad took hold, so have them here, with a fresh tomato and basil sauce.
      The namesake pasta, penne alla masseria, is a happy dish, chunky with pancetta, radicchio, smoked scamorza cheese, and creamy tomato sauce. Another of their signature items is the granotto (left),
a Pugliese grain cooked till tender like risotto, here mixed with white beans and seafood sauce. Of the main courses we tried, branzino was cooked in aqua pazza ("crazy water"), which indicates a good solution of tantalizing spices to go with the sweet flesh of the fish.  Rarely have I had more flavorful medallions of veal, here lavished with porcini mushrooms.
      For dessert the torta di mamma paola, a family recipe, is a rich, flourless Caprese-style cake with crushed almonds, topped with vanilla ice cream. The ricotta cheese cake is sublime, as is the
warm apple tart with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream.
      Providence has long been known for the hearty Italian-American fare as served up on Federal Hill, but La Masseria brings to the area a true, regional cucina all'italiana it has sorely needed and now has in an exemplary, amiable form. The owners and their staff could not be more grateful its customers come to eat at their place.  You sense it the moment you enter and long after you leave.

La Masseria is open for lunch and dinner Tues.-Sat. and for dinner on Sunday from 3 PM. Antipasti run $6.50-$16.50, full pastas $12.50-$21.50, and main courses $14.50-$32.50.


59 Hope Street, Providence


   The demise of the mom-and-pop restaurant is one of the sorrier effects of both the current recession and the rigors of running one of the easiest businesses to bankrupt even in good times.  So you’ve got to applaud the sheer effort of Chef Nemo Bolin and his wife Jenny in opening a modest little place without the slightest pretense that they want to do anything more than cook wonderful, highly personalized food at Cook & Brown in Providence.  Listen to them talk:

     “The root of both the joy and the agony come from the same place.  The complete and utter emotional, financial and physical dedication to our business is the reason we are able to relish when a guest raves or when we read a positive review.  We can say proudly that we deserve it because we work our asses off and we live to hear that unmistakable sigh when someone takes that first bite of their meal and they just melt into their chair preparing to enjoy every bite.  This brings us to our ultimate joy, which is that we have each other.  It is an immeasurable asset to have the strength that comes from a true partnership. We never divide and that keeps our business strong and our guests happy. Our son will grow up knowing where his food comes from, how it got to his plate, a greater appreciation for the intense labor involved in local farming, and, of course, the importance of obtaining meat from people who raise and slaughter their animals humanely.  We don't just care that our food tastes good, we care about the people, the animals and the plants that made it possible for us to have such beautiful food.”

      That’s all very sweet, but the proof is still in the pudding. Do this: Order a side of peas to go with Nemo’s roasted bone marrow with pickled shallots and country bread.  You’ll never taste better. And that goes for everything else on the Bolins’ menu.
      Nemo has worked at some of Boston's top restaurants, including No. 9 Park and Craigie Street Bistro, and his devotion to simple cooking without gimmicky fanfare is part of that New England heritage. The chicken liver pâté isn't very pretty but it is marvelously tasty, in buttery brioche bread.  Crisp tempura-style softshell crabs are served in season with sweet cherry tomatoes, wild watercress, pancetta and a rich aïoli, while striped bass, cooked perfectly, is accompanied by chickpeas, fava beans and a shaved fennel salad. Roasted duck breast comes with green farro grain, Scarlet Queen turnips, and rainbow chard, and local sirloin tip steak is dressed up with onions, fava pod puree and baby beets.
     When I mention fava bean pods, it is to indicate Nemo's refusal to waste anything that has its own flavor, so the beans show up on one dish, the pods on another.
     The small corner dining room has its own simple grace, matched by the graciousness of Jenny's hospitality and that of a well-trained young staff. In contrast to all those cheap-o bistros that have taken the cloths off their tables, Cook & Brown has them, starched and white, with good stemware atop, and pretty flowers, too.
     Cook & Brown exemplifies what talent, hard work, and a commitment to personal taste can do, especially when you have a family enterprise.  You'll feel part of it after one visit.

Cook & Brown is open Tues.-Sun.;    Appetizers run $4-$12, main courses $13-$26.




39 E. 58th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues)

     It would be easy enough to open an assessment of the new Lavo by asking just what does it want to be--a restaurant with a nightclub or vice-versa.  But I'm very sure that the Tao Group (which also owns the immensely popular Asian restaurant/club by that name across the street) know exactly what they are doing by combining both. Lavo is an offshoot of a Las Vegas original, in the Palazzo, and here on East 58th Street it has the size and dimensions you'd associate with that city's casino-based restaurant/clubs.
     Upon entering you will find a bar as crowded as a mosh pit by 7 PM, and a huge 180-seat dining room with
antique mirrors, reclaimed subway tiles and old factory bricks, all intended to remind you of what its press release calls a "nineteenth century bistro" of a kind that never really existed; instead the premises resemble an imaginary Little Italy eatery  as envisioned by the late Bob Guccioni.
     Even on a recent Monday night the place was jumping, every table in the dining room taken or being turned over, with what seems an equal balance of guys with their jackets off after work, women who have obviously changed clothes after work, and couples, all of them having a devilish time of hearing anything their friends have to say. Lavo is blastingly, achingly loud, especially when they turn up the throbbing of music whose bass and drums are the only things you can possibly discern.  There are no soft surfaces to absorb sound, and you know that is by design. Beneath it all is the nightclub, which adds its own noise.
      I have to admit that I am not one of the thousands of people, most younger than I, who apparently couldn't care less about the noise, but it makes dining with any degree of civilized conversation literally impossible.  I think my ears are still ringing.
      But I have also to admit that the food is by and large good. Eggplant Parmigiano, lavish with melted mozzarella and a fine marinara, was delicious for an appetizer, and meatballs have their own section of the menu: They're made from ground Kobe beef and you can have them with a tomato ragù whipped ricotta, or--but why bother?--salad and garlic croutons. The ragù is the way to go;  you get a good sized meatball, juicy and flavorful. A brick-oven baked pizza alla margherita is of the very flat, thin style, not one to  compete with the best in Bronx or Brooklyn.
     Sorry to say that a lot of
Chef Ralph Scamardella with Executive Chef Manuel Trevino's cooking here is marked by an off-putting saltiness, which can make more than a few bites more than enough.  Portions, by the way, are gargantuan and you might well take some home.  The pastas especially are very generous in size and could easily serve two as an appetizer.  I particularly enjoyed the nicely al dente spaghetti all carbonara, although egg, which is a defining aspect of the dish is not mentioned in the description and would be preferable to a "light cream sauce."  "Rigatoni melenzana" [sic] had a good heftiness to it, and there were plenty of tender clams in the linguine with clam sauce to go around.
     Lavo is really an Italian steakhouse, and the beef is high quality USDA Prime, aged for 21 days. Go for the 14-ounce strip or the rack of lamb, but superior.   Although I usually prefer my lobsters simply steamed, I have to say the lobster arrabiata had all the necessary spice to delight any palate in the mood for such a dish, yet it did not overpower the taste of the lobster itself. Next time I'm going to try the Chicken Dominic, which is advertised as crispy and sounds very tempting.
     We were going to pass on desserts but the kitchen sent out some to try--a decent tiramisù, a pleasant cheesecake, and some so-so gelati. The dessert not to pass on--but do share--are the fried Oreo fritters (left) that you dip into a creamy pudding-like custard.  Devastatingly good.
     Lava's winelist goes on page after page, predominantly Italian but with a lot of American and French offerings as well, their prices about average for mark-ups in New York.
     Downstairs lies the disco nightclub, which I was not eager to visit, lest my eardrums really pop.  So, I guess the owners know what they're doing and definitely know their crowd.  If I'm unlikely to become a regular, I 'd  still like to drop by really early on a weeknight if only to have a good plate of pasta and a juicy steak.

Lavo is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner till 1 AM.  Appetizers run $14-$28, full-course pastas $19-$38, main courses $26-$48.




by Christopher Mariani


1109 First Avenue (between 60th and 61st)



      Having just returning from Rome and Firenze, I was still ravenous for a good Italian meal here in NYC to help mask the sorrow of leaving such a beautiful country, so I dined at Tiella, located on the upper eastside.  Tiella is an extremely small restaurant, very simple in design, surrounded by brick walls, and filled with dark wood tables.  Upon entering the restaurant, one sees a small host's stand to the left, a handful of tables, none exceeding four guests (at least that was the case the night I dined), and in the near distance, a small kitchen focused around a wood burning oven, and that’s about it.    
     Chef Peppe Castellano, previously at San Domenico, serves pastas with terrific flavors and ingredients, wonderful Neapolitan pizzas topped with imported Italian cheeses, and simply prepared, tasteful cuts of meat and fish.  The food, a factor too many NYC restaurateurs seem to forget, should be and is the focus at Tiella.  
The staff is extremely welcoming, making you feel like a guest, not a customer, a quality many servers attempt but few actually achieve.  General manager Mario Coppola is everywhere, offering insight into Tiella’s expansive Italian-dominated wine list and making suggestions for pairings at any price you like.

         Many Neapolitan restaurants strive to offer way more than just great pizza, which Tiella certainly does, but do not miss out on one of their thin pies, especially the stracciatella e tartufo (right), topped with soft stracciatella cheese, thinly sliced prosciutto, shaved black truffles, and a drizzle of truffle oil, a perfect antipasto to start with; ask Mario to pair it with a nice prosecco sparkling wine.  Next came the sformatino, a light spinach flan served over a sweet gorgonzola sauce, and an order of the oven-roasted calamari served with mushrooms, olive oil, and lemon.  Tiella’s pastas are an affirmation that chef Castellano worked under San Domenico's Master Chef Odette Fada and owner Tony May in years prior. Two of the best pastas on the menu are the nera,  cuttlefish ink-colored and flavored fettucine with sweet seared scallops and chanterelle mushrooms, and the sciatatielli (left), mixed with smoked mozzarella cheese and eggplant served inside a thin Parmigiano crust.  If you can handle more food, the roasted lamb with rosemary is top-notch, and the grilled whole branzino, one of the specials that evening, was prepared with olive oil and lemon, just the way it would be in Italy.   The desserts are not worth skipping a pasta course for, but quite good, especially the Roman sheep's milk cheesecake.

     I am constantly asked by friends what are some of the best restaurants in NYC,  and I must say, Tiella has made its way onto my list of personal favorites and recommendations.   This tiny trattoria captures the rustic feel of a restaurant in Italy, and will now be my choice for dinner anytime I begin to miss Italy.


Pizzas $12, antipasti $11-$14, pastas $18-$22, and entrees $22-$28.

To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to




Barone Ricasoli says Arriverderci to Super Tuscans,
Hello to the new Chianti

by John Mariani


     Swirling a glass of his just-released 100 percent sangiovese 2007 Colledila, Barone Francesco Ricasoli shrugged and told New York wine media, “Super Tuscans were wines of the 1990s. Now they are no longer very important.” As the family tree to the right shows, the barone is of the 32nd generation of a family that dates back to the days when St. Francis of Assisi was preaching to animals, is great grandson of Bettino Ricasoli, the “Iron Baron” who created the original blend for Chianti Classico. 

      “The idea that a single vineyard will produce an estate’s best wine flies in the face of modern viticulture,” he said. “Since I became head of the winery [in 1993], I have worked very hard both to identify the best clones of the sangiovese grape and, with the help of chemists at the University of Siena, studying each parcel of vines on our property, which now number 250 out of 1,200 hectares. In 2009 we made 180 different vinifications of grapes to come up with what we feel is the finest cru for each of our wines.”

       Though reserved and mild-mannered, looking more like a technologist than a grand aristocrat like his neighbor Marchese Piero Antinori of Antinori wines, Ricasoli has a subdued revolutionary spirit.  The fact that he even referred to the French term cru for a wine blend and held his seminar over lunch at New York’s very French Restaurant Daniel seemed to send a signal that his wines were not his great grandfather’s chiantis. (Then again, the family crest’s motto is in French, “Rien sans peine”—nothing without pain.)

      Indeed, the fact that his 2007 Colledila (which means “the hill on the other side”) was a blend of 100 percent sangiovese diverges from the once-mandated blend of sangiovese with malvasia and trebbiano grapes for chianti classico. “Chianti classico was always there sitting on the shelves,” Ricasoli recalls, “and always sold within a specific price range."

      Ricasoli’s own Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico, long the estate’s workhorse label, has been completely reconfigured for the 21st century, since Italian wine laws in the 1990s allowed a percentage of “foreign grapes” to be added to the blend. Castello di Brolio now comes from an array of replanted vineyards, with a predominance of sangiovese and equal parts cabernet sauvignon and merlot.

      Ricasoli is hardly alone in Tuscany in using 100 percent sangiovese and configuring new blends for chianti classico, but the baron’s remark about the fading of the Super Tuscans, which in the 1990s were the showpiece sangiovese blends, shows a shift back to historical roots and an intensified study of Tuscan terroir. “We find great variation in the different vineyards,” he says. “What is more, we’re finding that the so-called foreign varietals like merlot are becoming `Chianti-cized,’ each year developing flavors that are very different from what people expect from merlot.”

      My tasting of three of Ricasoli’s 2007 vintages revealed the thrust of what he contended. In the case of a wine called Casalferro ($65), once promoted as a Super Tuscan blend, I would never have pegged it as 100 percent merlot. It was much richer and far more complex than any Italian merlot I’ve tasted (only about 4 percent of Italy’s total wine acreage), and, while its fullness and body recall French merlot of St. Emilion and Pomerol, Casalferro 2007 is far more open and ready to enjoy.

      The 100 percent sangiovese Colledila ($65), had a typically lovely bouquet, herbaceousness and tightness upon first sip. After a morsel of bread and butter, it quickly loosened up and indicated the evolutionary taste of chianti classico that Ricasoli is aiming for—bigger, brighter, with good acidity.

      The Castello di Brolio ($65) had a deep color, with almost tropical notes in the nose, beneath which was the complexity added by the tannins of cabernet and the smoothing action of merlot.

      Given the richness of the wines, I asked Ricasoli what the alcohol in them was, thinking he might be deliberately edging them into the range of California voluptuary wines. “They are 13.5 to 14 percent,” he said, “but we’re working to get that down.” Alcohol, he feels, can work against the balance of fruit and acid that gives his wines elegance. Which in the global wine market full of blockbuster wines, is very good to hear.


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.



"Stealthy like a ninja, discreet like a geisha, and eviscerating like a samurai — he will be, is, what the fillet requires. This sushi chef is Mr. Miyagi, trapping flies with chopsticks. I can't abide the silence."--Michael Nagrant, "Arami," Newcity.



In New Haven, CT, 25-year-old Miguel Soto was shot twice after buying a sandwich at a deli, then went home and ate his lunch before going to the hospital. Police said his injuries were not life-threatening.


Guidelines for submissions:  QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes.  When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below.  Thanks.  John Mariani


* On Nov. 25 Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar in Bellevue, Washington will host a record 600 needy guests for Thanksgiving dinner with an all volunteer crew, the 8th year Chef/owner John Howie has held the meal. After all of the guests have departed and the last dish is cleared, volunteers join John and his family for a Thanksgiving dinner together.  Call 425-456-0010 for information.

* From Now till Jan. 15  gourmet Restaurant "De Pisis," at the BAUERs L'Hotel in Venice (Italy), will serve a special à la carte white and black truffle menu.  Call +39 041 520-7022 / +39 041 240-6992 or

* On Nov. 29, the annual Winter’s Eve in NYC,  the city’s largest outdoor holiday festival, will offer tastings for $1-$5 from over 30 top restaurants, from Atlantic Grill, Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental, Bar Masa and Bouchon to Café Fiorello, Telepan, ‘wichcraft, A Voc, Rosa Mexicano and more. Portion of sales benefits City Harvest. Visit or call 212-581-7762.

* On Dec. 4 in Los Angeles, CA, the Taste of Mexico celebrates the country’s bicentennial with the “200 Years of Mexico’s Cuisine” event at the former Vibiana Cathedral space. LA’s top Mexican eateries—incl.  Frida, La Casita Mexicana, Guelaguetza, and La Monarca Bakery—will be serving authentic dishes, in addition to tequila, beer, and mescal tastings, live mariachi, Oaxacan dancing, art exhibitions, and more. $75 pp pre-purchase, $100 pp at the door. Visit 

*On Dec. 6, Henry's in NYC will host a special edition of "Sing for Your Supper,"  hosted by  pianist Steven Blier (New York Festival of Song),  "A Goyische Christmas to You" will present classics of the holiday season written,by Jewish composers, complemented by Chef Mark Barrett’s 3-course, Italian-American dinner for $19 and all Italian-varietal American wines half price.  Call 212- 866-0600 or visit the website at

* On Dec 10-12, the American Truffle Co. will launch the inaugural Napa Truffle Festival, presented by Lexus, in Napa, CA, featuring  a  truffle cultivation experts and scientists, and chefs led by Ken Frank/La Toque, and special guests from the food and wine world. Prices from $15 pp/Epicurean Marketplace - $1,325 pp/inclusive 3-day pass (incl Truffle Fest Dinner). Visit or call 707-256-3200.

* On Dec. 11, La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, CA will host “Preparing Winter Salad & Root Vegetables” Interactive Demo. Participants will sip La Quinta Nectar and be given tastes as well as recipes to take home. Class limited to 25 people. $12 pp ($5 for resort members, complimentary for resort guests). Call 760-564-4111 x 7259.

* On Dec. 11 in NYC Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises present their 2010 Santa Cruise. Bring a toy donation for Toys for Tots, take a free pic with Santa, enjoy milk & cookies, and cruise to the Statue of Liberty. $3.00 pp. Visit or call 212-563-3200.

* On Dec. 10-12, Lexus at the Westin Verasa Hotel in Napa, CA, introduces the inaugural Napa Truffle Festival  featuring leading truffle cultivation experts and scientists, along with internationally renowned Michelin Star chefs, and special guests from the food and wine world. Keynote by Doug Duda, truffle seminars, cooking demos, truffle orchard tour, 13-Michelin Star Truffle Dinner and Epicurean Marketplace. Prices vary. Info:; call  707-256-3200.


NEW FEATURE: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linking up with 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: In Pursuit of Polar Bears


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


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

Family Travel Forum: The Family Travel Forum (FTF), whose motto is "Have Kids, Still Travel!", is dedicated to the ideals, promotion and support of travel with children. Founded by business professionals John Manton and Kyle McCarthy with first class travel industry credentials and global family travel experience, the independent, family-supported FTF will provide its members with honest, unbiased information, informed advice and practical tips; all designed to make traveling a rewarding, healthy, safe, better value and hassle-free experience for adults and children who journey together. Membership in FTF will lead you to new worlds of adventure, fun and learning. Join the movement.

Family Travel Forum

All You Need to Know Before You Go

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


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

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

My 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

© copyright John Mariani 2010