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January 9,  2011                                                                   NEWSLETTER

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   "Walter's Seltzer" (2008) by Galina Stepanoff-Dargery

This Week

Chicago Eats Large, Part One
by John Mariani

New York Corner: Pranna
by John Mariani

Man About Town: Cosmopolitan Las Vegas New Year's Eve
by Christopher Mariani

Wine: An Interview with Joe Bastianich
by John Mariani

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.


  by John Mariani

      Chicagoans have never been reticent about cheering their restaurants, and I have long insisted that the city of the broad shoulders is, after New York, America's best, not least for the largess of its restaurateurs, from Rich Melman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises to Larry Levy of Levy Restaurants.  Chicagoans love to eat with abandon and refuse to be gouged on the bill. So you almost always get a square meal for a square deal, now more than ever with the rise to eminence of the gastro-pubs, each with its own swagger and exalting of charcuterie culture.  Chi-town’s historic restaurants, like Gene & Georgetti’s steak house, are now few in number, but waves of conventioneers keep longstanding classics like Charlie Trotter’s, Spiaggia, and Tru, packed. There’s no better or more seminal Mexican restaurant anywhere than Topolobampo, and the city is America’s epicenter for avant-garde, molecular cuisine. Here are a few up-to-the-moment places  I'm always happy to get to when I fly to the Midwest.


2657 North Kedzie Avenue

     The gastro-pub craze has spread outward from the city center, and Longman & Eagle, which modestly calls itself a whiskey bar, takes the genre and just burns right through the clichés via Chef Jared Wentworth’s ingeniously gutsy cooking. Who else in town is doing Buffalo frog's legs with “aerated” blue cheese and a carrot-celery barigoule? Or grilled artisan al foie gras with strawberries, wild chamomile, and a black pepper funnel cake?   You don’t come out here just for a hamburger (though there’s a good one somewhere on the menu, with potatoes fried in beef fat), you come to try the fried duck cojones with peas, lettuce, pickled cherries and a rich-as-hell bordelaise sauce.   That sort of thing.
     And, unless you’re driving, you come for a flight or two of 30 plus whiskeys, sold at three dollars a shot, according to Longman & Eagle’s stated philosophy of “whiskey for your mouth, not for our shelves.”  That works.
     I assembled some local friends, including music biz promoter Rick Cooper and my former lifestyle editor at Playboy, David Stevens, and we sat down growling with hunger. Where to begin? With a fat pretzel with Welsh rarebit cheese sauce? Hmmm, hard to wave off the tête de cochon with a five-spice mustard or the quail and dumplings with gnocchi parisienne. And the roast chicken with pommes purée, Swiss chard, caramelized onion, pickled cherry and date jus would make any Parisian bistro chef envious.
     I have three words for dessert: warm Gruyère donuts, which are sensationally good on their own, but when  maple syrup, Parmesan, roasted hazelnuts and whipped citrus goat's cheese with Bailey's  enter the quotient, a fourth word, sublime, enters the description.

     Longman & Eagle might be content to be Chicago's best gastro-pub, but Wentworth takes it to a much higher level of interest and personal style, which is why it was one of my picks for Esquire's Best New Restaurants of 2010.

Longman & Eagle is open daily for lunch and dinner. Small plates run $4-$15, entrees $15-$23.



809 West Randolph Street

photos by Anthony Tahlier

Without doubt, this has been Girl & the Goat's year, impressing the foodies and media with its generosity of spirit and no-holds-barred conviviality, from the moment you walk in the door.  It's loud, though not as much as some other big Chicago restaurants these days, and its warehouse-farmhouse décor that has an unfinished scruffiness about it that feels unforced. The t-shirted waiters are of the "How you doin' tonight?" cast, and they'll tell you that the plates are small and there's a point at which you may have ordered way too much.  So it's best to go with a gang of four friends or more--we had a table for six--so you can eat your way through the menu, snatching goodies from each other's plates.
    Stephanie Izard, a local hero for having won a "Top Chef" competition, took her time opening the G&G, honing her 30-item menu down to categories of "V" for veggies, "F" for fish and seafood and "M" for meat, not exactly an earthshaking  concept but so well followed through that it's tough to choose what you really want to eat. A vegetarian could opt for the pan-fried shishito peppers with the surprise of their being dusted with parmesan cheese, sesame for crunch, and miso for more flavor.  Chickpea fritters with romesco, hazelnut hummus, sesame and goat's cheese feta is not likely to last long on any table, and Izard's sweet potato gratin with smoky blue cheese and crispy onions is prole food in excelsis.
    There's no sense in going light with the seafood or meats, for seared scallops come with a garlic-rich brandade of pumpkin, pecans, fried Brussels sprouts and a little tarragon and pomegranate--a pretty involved dish but one that comes off as a triumph.  The grilled baby octopus has been extremely popular, served with radicchio, celeriac, braised pistachios and red bliss potatoes. Everything has crunch, everything has  something unexpected on the plate. For meats, there's no fighting the urge to order the grilled pork ribs with a crispy pig's ear slaw and grilled scallion vinaigrette. And what's not to love about the wood-ovenroasted pig face (left)--call it tête de veau, if you prefer--with a sunny side up egg, coriander, the tanginess of tamarind and crisp potato sticks.  Roasted goat's breast come with a marble rye pita bread and Thousand Island dressing. I wasn't thrilled by the smoked goat pizza with black kale, ricotta and cipollini, which overdid the idea, and goat's liver mousseline with ham hock jus, apple mostarda and crumpets needs to be reeled back.
      I haven't even mentioned the breads, which will be gobbled up fast (they only cost $4 each), especially the loompa with carrot oil and raisin walnut butter and the tortone with onion butter and herbed oil.
     You might at this point go easy on desserts, which are good but maybe too much. Have the cooling orange sorbet, if you must. Still have room? Okay, go with the bourbon apples with cranberry, miso almonds and maple "fat" gelato. Then try to walk back to your room.
      The wine list at G&G is fitted impeccably to the food--good, gutsy wines, lots of them priced under $50 a bottle.
      G&G has really taken off since opening in the late summer, so reservations are tough to get--even getting through on the phone is--but dropping by and sitting at the bar is not a bad way to go in a place this gregarious. The people watching is just fine.

G&G is open for dinner nightly. Small plates menu, from $4-$15, larger plates up to $29.


500 North Michigan Avenue

312-464-1PIG (1744)

    T he Purple Pig is a collaboration of Chefs Scott Harris of Mia Francesca, Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia, Jimmy Bannos and Jimmy Bannos Jr., of Heaven on Seven, located down a narrow corridor in an office building off  the Magnificent Mile. Push through the door and you’re in one of Chicago’s true hot spots.
     The Purple Pig’s tagline is “Cheese, Swine & Wine,” but that only hints at the range of offerings from chef- Jimmy, Jr. (whose father and partner brought Cajun food to Chi-town with Heaven on Seven three decades ago).  You can sit in one of those uncomfortable high chairs at a tall table, but I prefer to slide onto the long red banquette under a ceiling of exposed industrial piping, order from an extensive beer and winelist, and shake my head over a menu rife with stuff I am very hungry for , like the “smears” of pork neck bone rillette with mostarda; pig’s ear with crispy kale, pickled cherry peppers and a fried egg; Jimmy’s Greek sausage with rapini and grapes; and this addictive thing called “Sicilian Iris” made by stuffing fried brioche with ricotta and chocolate chips.          While a lot of other Chicago gastropubs are just serving small plates, The Purple Pig just serves you good food and plenty of it. Nothing will cost you more than $17 and that’s for wagyu sirloin tips with asparagus and piquillo peppers.

The Purple Pig is open daily for lunch and dinner; Appetizers and small plates, $4-$9, main courses $8-$17.




79 Madison Avenue (at 28th St.)

I caught up with the two-year-old Pranna in the Flatiron District and found it a huge space, with a de rigueur bar scene, spread over two floors done in diaphanous materials and sandy, beige, brown colors, with tall windows on two sides of the streets.  Opened by Rajiv Sharma, whose family has owned restaurants in his native India for over fifty years, and Payal Sharma, whose background is in fashion and entertainment communications and marketing, it's been the site for plenty of show biz and media parties, and it certainly has the space for it.
    But it's also got a fine new chef consultant in Keith Kornfeld, New Orleans born but a world traveler, having worked in restaurants from Hawaii and Thailand to the Maldives and Fiji. Prompted to head back to the States with his wife after barely escaping the tsunami that hit Thailand two years ago, Kornfeld took over the stoves at Pranna not long ago to revitalize the cuisine,  featuring small plates from a variety of Asian food cultures and doing them with panache.
   When I visited, I pretty much just told Kornfeld to send out whatever he wished to our table, and we were rewarded with a slew of delectables, starting with  steamed, very juicy lobster dumplings with a black soy vinegar. Then there were  ten-spice roasted duck spring rolls, accompanied by a roasted shallot plum sauce and refreshing cucumber relish that cut the richness of the other ingredients.  Lamb tenderloin salad  was tangy with lime, mint and nutty with toasted rice, and baby Romaine lettuce for more texture.
    From the wok section of the menu Kornfeld prepared chicken that was flash seared with wonderfully aromatic Thai basil, jasmine rice, and the lovely addition of a fried egg. A whole sea bass was carefully fried so as to protect the succulence of its flesh, whose own flavor was enhanced, not obliterated, by hot chilies, pungent garlic, fried basil and tamarind sauce for sweetness.  A "Happy Hour Special"--and things get very happy here after workday's end--was a hanger steak, fried quickly in the wok, with an assertive garlic-pepper sauce determined to build up a powerful thirst and appetite for more food.  Fortunately for us, still to come was a "hand-pounded" curry of red prawns with pineapple, tomatoes, red grapes, and Thai basil.
        Few Thai or Asian restaurants put much thought into desserts, but at Pranna you will find that course every bit as thought through as what precedes it, from a curry-spiced Valrhona chocolate soufflé  with basil ice cream to a trio of kaffir lime crème brûlée, a banana sesame fritter, and palm sugar caramel ice cream.
       Manager Richard Hollocou, whose résumé at top French restaurants in NYC is long, brings a light sophistication to the well-trained service staff here and he has assembled a wine list way beyond the ordinary for an Asian restaurant.  The night we visited, however, it took forever--after food arrived--to get our bottle of wine opened and poured.
       Pranna, then, bears small resemblance to the fast-paced, poorly lighted Thai and Asian eateries downtown, in Brooklyn and Queens, with their menus of hundreds of same-sounding items. Kornfeld has assembled a menu that reflects his own persuasions and tastes, focusing them with the appropriate sauces and condiments rather than offering different meats and fish all with the same treatments.
    Pranna definitely does have the atmosphere of a nightclub and lounge up front--ideal for finger foods--but sit down in the dining room, take your time, and order plenty.

Pranna is open for lunch Mon.-Thurs, for dinner nightly. Small plates, soups and salads, $6-$16, main courses $14-$29.


by Christopher Mariani



         Besides curling up with Beyoncé, Jessica Szohr, or Gwyneth Paltrow in front of the fireplace sipping a bottle of cold Champagne and watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, there’s no better place to celebrate than at Sin City’s newest and swankiest hotel yet, the Cosmopolitan. Oh, yeah! Beyoncé, Jessica, and Gwyneth were all in attendance. Along with Alex Rodriguez and Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Rihanna, Mark Wahlberg,  Kirsten Dunst, Blake Lively,  Brandy, Sugar Ray Leonard, Busta Rhymes,  Lisa Ling, and dozens of other celebs.
        This past New Year’s Eve I welcomed the birth of 2011 in style, attending the hottest hotel opening Las Vegas has ever hosted, at the ritzy Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, where Jay-Z, Coldplay, Kanye West and Beyoncé all performed with flair to help bring in the new year.
         I arrived in Vegas a day before New Year’s Eve and after eating around, partying through the night at the grand opening of the Cosmo’s new nightclub, Marquee (left), and drinking Champagne till, well, I think it was seven in the morning inside the glamorous, sparkling Chandelier Bar (below), I felt I needed a little rest before the real party began, so I finally slept, but only for a few hours.  Upon waking up, my good friend Michael and I drank a few bloody Marys and ate a hearty burger from The Henry, the perfect fuel to recharge and get us ready for the big night’s festivities.
         After tossing on my tuxedo and taking one last look in the mirror, it was off to the Gracia Ballroom for cocktails and Champagne, where I had the pleasure of meeting the extremely humble actor Forest Whitaker and his stunning wife Keisha, along with many other famous faces. During dinner, I sat one table over from the shockingly beautiful Whitney Port as all eyes were on the legendary boxer, Sugar Ray Leonard, who walked with swagger through the dining room. Throughout the evening, which was easily driven more by Champagne and wine than food, Ben Folds performed his comedic songs on stage while playing the piano, followed by a breath-taking performance by the elegant Florence Welch, who sang for over an hour as most party-goers huddled around the small stage while their food remained untouched.
    Before dessert hit, we were all off to the Cosmopolitan’s Chelsea ballroom, where trays of Champagne seemed to hover above the 2,500-person crowd as Coldplay kicked off the night with a 12-song set in anticipation for midnight.  Suddenly the music cut out and the room became darker as huge screens began the countdown to the new year while everyone held up their Champagne glasses and screamed out, “Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! …” and finally “Happy New Year!” as the lights began to flash while everyone was kissing and hugging each other with giant smiles as they realized they were all part of one of the greatest New Year’s celebrations ever to take place.

    After a final song from Coldplay, Jay-Z hit the stage in his black tuxedo and shades and the crowd went crazy as he began his three-hour performance, singing his hits “99 Problems,” “On to the Next One,” and of course his tribute to New York, “Empire State of Mind,” preceded by Sinatra’s “New York New York.”  Mid-way through the night Kanye West made his surprise appearance on stage with Chris Martin, as the piano and bass started bumping the instrumentals to “Homecoming” as the crowd quickly gained a surge of energy that blew the ballroom ceiling off. The concert continued with Kanye’s “Runaway," then around three in the morning the stunning Beyoncé Knowles graced the audience with her presence to sing “Forever Young" alongside husband, Jay-Z.   The concert was as magical as it gets and the party didn’t stop there.  It was off to the Marquee nightclub for after-party drinks and toasts straight through the late morning.
    Somehow I got back to my room, and four hours later woke up with the concert still fresh in my mind, humming the songs of that amazing concert, and headed to lunch hours later, pretty sure I was at the greatest party of the  21st century so far.


  In an upcoming issue I will be reporting about the many terrific restaurants in the  new Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to


A Bottle of Wine a Day Keeps
Joe Bastianich in Tip Top Shape

 by John Mariani


    At 6’ 1” and 200 pounds, Joe Bastianich, looks little like the image of a grocer, wine merchant and producer, and owner of 20 restaurants, including Babbo and Del Posto in New York, Carnevino Steakhouse in Las Vegas, and Mozza in Los Angeles, all with partner Mario Batali. Two years ago, he did.
Bastianich was born into the restaurant family of his mother Lidia and father Felice, who opened New York’s Felidia in 1981, but dutifully went to Wall Street. “I barely made it through the MBA program at Merrill Lynch, and very quickly realized that the culture of the office was not for me.”
His passion and knowledge of both were the subjects of an interview I did with Bastianich at his Italian food store, Tarry Market, in Port Chester, on the debut of his new book, Grandi Vini: An Opinionated Tour of Italy’s 89 Finest Wines (Potter,  $24.99).

Mariani: Why pick just 89 Italian wines

Bastianich: Well, I started out with 100 but the publisher said I’d have to cut 20,000 words, so I settled on 89. It sounded Fellini-esque.

Mariani: Throughout the book it seems you know most of the winemakers personally, which adds a great deal of color to the book. Are you friends with them all?

Bastianich: I know maybe 75 percent of the winemakers in the book and had assistants who conducted many of the interviews. These winemakers are very expressive about their vineyards and their region, and I hope that comes through in the interviews.

Mariani: Tell me about your own family vineyards (below).
: My grandparents in Istria have a frasca, which is about the most basic kind of grocery/restaurant, and they sold wine from their own vineyard. I was fascinated and took control of the vineyard (below), hired a local winemaker, and bought another winery in 1996 and had our first commercial vintage in 1998.  Now, my family and I spend every summer, from June to September in Friuli at the vineyards.

Mariani: What is the relationship between food and wine at your restaurants?

Bastianich: When I opened Becco, we were the first Italian restaurant to really emphasize food and wine together, with an all-Italian list. That became true at all our restaurants, and at Babbo we truly wanted to create a wine-and-food experience for our customers. So we have four sommeliers to interact and educate them. As a result, 50 percent of our profits come from wine, which is significant.  Even at our pizzeria, Otto, in Greenwich Village, we started out with 200 labels, now we’re up to 800.


Mariani: What are you trying to educate them about?

Bastianich: About the magic of regional pairings and the terroir of the wine, why it tastes the way it does and why it goes with the food of the same region. We’re selling them a piece of culture, not just a wine.

 Mariani: How and when did Italian wines gain real stature in the global market?

 Bastianich: You have to understand that after World War II, a lot of people moved to the cities for work and abandoned the old vineyards. Then in the 1950s and 1960s wineries were paid to produce volume at a cheap price, not quality. That’s when the Lambruscos and bad Chianti were popular. By the 1970s young winemakers like Angelo Gaja, Angelo  and Antonio Mastroberardino, and Piero Antinori began experimenting and going against entrenched traditions in order to make better wines. But I think 1990 was the benchmark year, not only in terms of a good vintage but because the younger generation came back to the family vineyards and said, let’s make really good wine that expresses our territory.

 Mariani: Do you think Italian wines are still underrated compared to French and California wines?


Bastianich: Yes, but in the last few years Italian winemakers have crossed the bridge and steered away from what I call “fabricated wines” that tasted like so many others in the world. They are now more localized and, I think, the standard bearers for food-friendly wines. I think that, by comparison with $2000 bottles of grand cru Burgundies, first-rate barolos, which sell for under $100, are undervalued ten-fold.

Mariani: Have too many Italians priced their wine out of the market?

Bastianich: In some regions like Tuscany, especially brunello di montalcino, the wine regulators have expanded the appellation to parcels of land  where you couldn’t even grow potatoes. Yet the producers try to charge the same high prices the established brunello makers do.  It’s ridiculous.

Mariani: Given your diet and exercise regimen these days, just how much wine do you drink?
: In January I’m going to start training for the Iron Man competition in Kona and will have to drop more weight. But right now, I usually have lunch a restaurant—never my own—and have a glass of wine, then at night two or three glasses, so it comes to about a bottle a day.

 John Mariani's 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.


In Santa Ana, CA,
38-year-old convicted drug dealer Malcolm Alarmo Kingan told prison authorities he disliked salami and demanded kosher meals after his attorney cited the "Seinfeld" holiday "Festivus" as his religious belief. A Sheriff's spokesman says King got salami-free meals for two months before the county court got the order thrown out.



"Diners are different, as are certain coffee shops and bars which have a somewhat flexible relationship with legal and temporal dynamics. There are expectations, in any civilized quarter of the world, that those with broken internal wristwatches might still score bourbon, pancakes, or a scorched, tarry drip without too much difficulty in hours when only cats, killers, and working girls are supposed to be up."--Jason Sheehan,
"Vampire Week at The Night Kitchen," Seattle Weekly.


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 Jan. 11, Zink. American Kitchen in Charlotte, NC, will host a Founders Brewing Company Dinner, featuring select beers and an innovative four-course menu by Executive Chef Scott Wallen.  $55pp.  Call 704-909.-500 or visit

* On Jan. 17 and Feb. 7, Cityscape Bar in Chicago,  will host a Dewar's Decision Tasting featuring a complimentary scotch "blind-tasting". Featured scotch will include Dewar's 12 and "White Label".  Complimentary. Call 312-836-5000 or visit .

On Jan. 17, Bella Bacinos in La Grange, IL, is offering an "Up-close and Personal" Wine Tasting with  vintner Laura Catena of Argentina's Catena Zapata Winery. Traverse the lands of Argentina while enjoying a comprehensive tasting of Catena Zapata wines and the best complimenting fare of Bella Bacinos.  $55 pp. Call 708-352-8882 or visit

* On Jan 19, Carnivale in Chicago will host a Mojitos 101 Class hosted by the Latino restaurant’s Master Mixologist Daryl Freeman.  Participants will learn the history of the classic Cuban cocktail while creating and sampling mojitos paired with appetizers prepared by Executive Chef David Dworshak.  $25 pp.  Call (312) 850-5005 or visit

* On Jan. 20, RBC NYC will host the first-ever Manual Brew Down competition for baristas and coffee enthusiasts. Participants can register free, bring their own beans and tools, and present their signature recipes for a panel of esteemed coffee authorities. Contestants can sample RBC’s high-tech tools , like the German-made Uber boiler; the American-made Luminaire LB-1. Prizes  will be available for the winners courtesy of Barismo, Coava, Counter Culture, Madcap and Ritual coffee roasters. Free. 212-226-1111 or visit

* On January 20 in Berkeley, CA, Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto hosts a Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. beer-paired dinner with a five-course prix fixe menu prepared by Chef Devon Boisen. $40 pp. Call 510-845-7771;

* From Jan. 24-Feb. 6, Tourism Vancouver presents Dine Out Vancouver featuring three-course menus at over 200 restaurants at either $18, $28 or $38. The dining festival also includes a roster of exciting culinary tours and events. Special hotel rates available in $68, $98 and $138 price points. Visit

* On Feb 2 in Denver, CO, Rioja chef/owner Jennifer Jasinski will prepare The Cookbook Dinner, a five course dinner ripped from the pages of her new cookbook, The Perfect Bite.  Wine maven Beth Gruitch will pick some of her favorite wines to pair with each course. 150 pp. Call 303-820-2282.

* On Feb. 15-16, The Little Nell, Aspen, CO, and Daniel Johnnes, Wine Director for Daniel Boulud's Dinex Group/producer of La Paulée de New York, will host La Paulée des Neiges. Pairing some of Burgundy’s most sought-after winemakers w/ 4 celebrated chefs. Seating limited. $3,250 pp for Collectors Dinner Feb. 15/ $500 pp for La Paulee des Neiges Feb. 16. Reservations, call 212-625-2519/ 970-920-6320. For those attending, special 25% off the rack rate being offered at The Little Nell. Room reservations: please call The Little Nell @ 888-843-6355/ 970-920-4600 & reference code “Paulée 2011.”  or

FEATURED LINKS: 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: NEVIS ON 2 WHEELS;  LA DOLCE VITA ON THE SLOPES OF ITALY


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).

The Family Travel Forum  - A community for those who "Have Kids, Still Travel" and want to make family vacations more fun, less work and better value. FTF's travel and parenting features, including reviews of tropical and ski resorts, reunion destinations, attractions, holiday weekends, family festivals, cruises, and all kinds of vacation ideas should be the first port of call for family vacation planners.

Family Travel Forum

                                                                                ALL YOU NEED 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

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