Virtual Gourmet

January 23,  2011                                                                   NEWSLETTER

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                                                                                          "Night Waitress" (1936)

This Week

Dining Out in Chicago, Part Two
by John Mariani

New York Corner: Osteria Morini
by John Mariani

Man About Town: Hawkers
by Christopher Mariani

Wine: California Pinots Come of Age In Sonoma
by John Mariani

Quick Bytes

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:  How to Survive Dining Out with Your Kids

by John Mariani



The James Hotel

616 North Rush Street


David Burke made his mark in NYC many years back, but he's also long been a culinary presence in Chicago. His Prime House, in the new James Hotel, is his latest entry, and he's taken a gamble that it can beat some longstanding competition in this steak-manic town. If you're looking for the brash macho of Morton's or the old school style of Gene & Georgetti's, this is not the place. Instead it is a brightly decorated and highly convivial spot with a good deal more hospitality than is common in the genre; the cuts of meat are unassailably first rate, at Burke's adamant insistence. He even has his own stud bull, named Prime, in pasture to ensure the consistency of his beef.
    Burke has always been very serious about his food sources, and his meats are dry-aged in a Himalayan salt-lined aging room, which sounds pretty cool. With exec chef Rick Gresh, Burke has put together a menu that stresses these ingredients.  You'll taste it immediately in the scallop with a miso glaze, lobster fried rice and Thai peppers, and in the wagyu beef sashimi with mushrooms chips and truffled mayo. Smoked octopus was excellent, with pickled ramps and garbanzo beans. Even a less-than-fatty cut like filet mignon is full flavored, served with the bone, and you can choose among the "reserves," steaks of varying sizes and aging, from 35 to 75 days.  I went middle of the road with a terrific 40-day ribeye, the most marbled cut, which hits the plate at 20 ounces. It was a great steak in a city that takes these things seriously.
    Along with your steak you get a choice of everything from melted Gorgonzola cheese to seared foie gras, and the vegetables and potatoes are every bit as delicious as what they accompany, from a rich dish of corn with chipotle cream and coriander to tempura-fried beans with teriyaki sauce.
    For dessert go with the "Slice of Prime," a chocolate mousse layer cake with toasted marshmallows, and s'mores ice cream. This is Chicago, so lighten up and enjoy it with the gusto the locals do.

David Burke's Prime House is open for breakfast daily, lunch Mon.-Sat., Brunch Sun. and dinner nightly. Dinner appetizers run $4-$9, sandwiches and burgers $10-$12, and main courses $14-$67.

Shanghai Terrace

Peninsula Hotel

108 East Superior Street



    Most Americans know, and perhaps patronize, only dive-y looking Chinese take-out eateries or plasticized suburban Chinese restaurants with names like Hunan King Dragon Lotus Garden without ever learning how sophisticated Chinese restaurants can be or how finely tuned their service is when done according to principles of Asian civility.  These virtues, along with fine cuisine and a posh décor, are to be found at Shanghai Terrace, down a flight of stairs at the posh Peninsula Hotel.
    The décor has a fine polish to it, and you won't easily find a better service staff than here, not least the enchanting waitresses whose responsiveness is quiet and in no need of your asking for anything.  Porcelain and tablesettings are exquisite. There are flowers on the tables. The lighting gives a pastel glow to the room and the sunlight from the terrace makes the ambiance airy and fresh.
     Canton-born Ivan Yuen, Chef de Cuisine since last July, started here on the line after getting his MBA at Shenzhen University in China, leaving a degree in finance behind upon moving to the USA in 1989, where he trained at the Chefs Association of Chinese Cooking in NYC, with further studies at the Miramar Hotel in Hong Kong.  He offers many of the items people expect to be on a Chinese menu but does them with a finesse, color and presentation rare outside of Hong Kong itself.  Plates are set in pretty patterns, sauces look like calligraphy, colors brighten everything.
      Begin here with an assortment of always-available dim sum (left), from shrimp and pork buns to spicy beef gyoza and crab wonton. Half are fried, half steamed.  The foie gras dumpling is both unusual and blissfully flavorful. There is a fine assortment of rice noddles, some curried, others with tofu in soup,
golden shrimp come with walnuts and Chinese mustard mayonnaise, and then things get very interesting, expressive of Yuen's classic training.
      Abalone is slowly braised till very tender, served with dried scallop congee porridge in abalone jus, while Peking duck is mahogany colored, its skin impeccably crisp, the meat beneath it succulent.  There is also a duck salad with tangerines, toasted almonds, and a truffled peanut vinaigrette.
    The simplest of steamed fish perfumes the room with the aromas of ginger, scallions, and coriander soy, and the dong bo pork belly (left) has the wonderful flavor of star anise, with red miso and palm sugar to sweeten it. Veal cheek is twice-cooked, with garlic shoots, bell peppers, and chu hau sauce.
    Desserts are not overlooked here as they are so often ignored in Chinese restaurants, and Yuen takes a personal interest in conceiving them, including a pistachio parfait with pineapple and cilantro, and bird's nest soup with ginseng, red dates and goji berries.
    Shanghai Terrace's wine list is selected to go with this kind of food, with all its spices and sweet flavors, with a good array of white wines.  I particularly like Sancerres and pinot gris with this kind of  menu.
     The restaurant of course has a private dining room, and I would love to be part of an extensive formal dinner that Yuen makes for a party. There he must really shows off what distinguishes him from those Chinese chefs in Chicago's Chinatown whose menus only hint at what true Chinese cuisine can and should be.


Shanghai Terrace is open for lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. NB: The restaurant is closed for vacation and re-opens January 21. Appetizers run $10-$19, main courses $24-$45. Fixed price 5-course menu $82.





by John Mariani

218 Lafayette Street (near Kenmare St.)

    After triumphs at Convivio, Alto and Marea, Chef-restaurateur Michael White has opened a Emilia-Romagna osteria that takes its name from White’s inspirational mentor, Gianliuigi Morini. White is serving some of the heartiest, most luscious home-style food since Mario Batali opened Babbo, a decade ago.

    Morini is the Italian banker who in 1970 opened the great deluxe ristorante San Domenico in Imola, Italy, whose sumptuous cucina moderna is  a far cry from the osteria style of Morini, which is every bit as rustic as Marea and Alto are luxurious; its brick walls, wooden tables and green chairs with wicker seats, its tile floors, copper utensils, and old black-and-white photos would not be out of place in Bologna or most other Italian towns with trattorias this size (about 75 seats).  The place is  very busy and bustling, and getting in and out of your chairs is not at all easy, as it is not for the waiters wedging their way through to bring you your plates of food. Ask them to set the wine bottle on the table and serve yourself; it will save time and bumps. The noise level is high, but, depending on where you're seated, generally allows for conversation across a table.
Executive chef Bill Dorrler's sauce on  braised ravioli comes from the pan drippings; Italian corn dogs are made from mortadella salami; polenta is chock full of stracchino cheese and sausage; and tortellini come in a ridiculously good sauce of duck livers and cream.   If you  a take guilty pleasure in mozzarella sticks (left), by all means indulge it here.  An antipasto of meatballs is stuffed with prosciutto and mortadella, baked in tomato sauce, but I found them too solid and a bit dry one evening.  Do not miss the sformato of Parmigiano and truffles in a cheese custard with a wild mushroom sauce, then abandon any and all thoughts of eating for the next few days after a meal at Morini.
    There's no real let-up in richness with main courses: a crispy veal Petroniana with cooked Prosciutto, buttered spinach, parmigiano, and, just for good measure, truffle cream.  Stracotto is a massive beef short rib braised in red wine, with a potato puree and caramelized root vegetables. You'll see the ribeyes and 36-ounce porterhouses displayed in the kitchen window, and they are hard to resist when you notice the spider web of fat marbling.  Our table really loved the porchetta, spit-roasted suckling pig perfumed with rosemary and sage.
     If you've room for dessert, go ahead.  Maybe share a selection of gelati or the torta of chocolate peanut butter, ganache and buttermilk gelato.  The affogato of espresso, zabaglione and gelato was a bit out of balance.

     The wine list offers selections by the glass, quartino or liter, and there are scores of bottles under $50
      Like so many new Italian restaurants in NYC right now--Locanda Verde, A Voce, Maialino, and others--the emphasis at Morini is on a heartiness of dishes that are very traditional, with just a little New York spin.

Osteria Morini is open for lunch Mon.-Fri., for dinner nightly, for brunch on Sun.  Antipasti $5-$14, pastas (full portions) $17-$19, main courses $24-$39.

: This week Michael White announced he was no longer a partner at Convivio and Alto, but remains partner at Marea and now Morini and a new restaurant Ai Fiori, to be written about here in the upcoming weeks.


by Christopher Mariani


225 East 14th Street, NYC



    New York is preëminent in its array of ethnic food cultures in America, offering an enormous range of diverse cuisines from every obscure corner of the earth.  Queens and Brooklyn are easily the two best boroughs to find ethnic eating, packed on every street with excellent storefront Indian, Greek, Thai, Brazilian, and Guatemalan restaurants, just to name a few.  The third  borough influenced by an increased demand for authentic ethnic food is Manhattan, where one finds Hawkers, one of the newer ethnic restaurants in the  city,  run by Malaysian-born Chef Meng, serving Southeast Asian dishes within an extremely casual, hip setting located in the East Village.
The interior is blanketed in bright red, stamped with the restaurant’s name written in graffiti towards the back,  with three chandeliers, and the medium-to-loud presence of hip-hop music that adds to the trendy atmosphere.  The space is tiny yet maximized by a rectangular bar where guests sit side by side
on bar stools and eat along its narrow perimeter  while facing in, watching only one server hustle back and forth, while taking orders, serving steaming plates of pad Thai, and popping bottles of Singha and Tiger beer, along with bottles of cold sake--for just five bucks!  The setting is vibrant, fun and filled with energy, a perfect location for some well-needed mid-week cocktails and flavorful, spicy food.
Chef Meng  focuses his menu around traditional Southeast Asian favorites like beef
satay, sided by a thick chili peanut sauce, pork spare ribs glazed by a tamarind-hoisin sauce, and crispy shrimp rolls served with a sweet chili lime dip, all terrific starters, not one exceeding $6.75.  Take your time, order a lot, and tell the server to stagger your appetizers, otherwise too many dishes will come out at once,  overwhelming the available eating space. 
    For entrees, the pad Thai with chicken (one order is big enough for two) is one of the best I've had  in the city, proportioned with the right amount of sauce,  not smothered as at so many competing Thai restaurants, turning the dish into a soup, rather than a noodle dish.  Also try the green curry-coconut beef, a giant bowl of hot soup that has an aroma as good as the flavors in each mouthful, sided by a pyramid-shaped tower of white rice.  The spicy flavors and bold ingredients fill the entire restaurant with appetizing whiffs that tease the palate throughout the night.
    As of last week, Hawkers did not have any dessert items,  so if that is still the case when you eat there, just order a few more shots of sake, sit back and enjoy.  The prices for everything are very reasonable for the quality and quantity of the food you get, and the atmosphere extremely relaxed, with an overwhelmingly young crowd.  Whether you go for a few starters and beers or a full meal, Hawkers is the kind of addition that lets Manhattan compete with the Outer Boroughs across ethnic lines.

Open for dinner every night;
Starters range from $3.75-$7.25, Rice and noodle dishes with meat $10.50-$12.75, and burgers $7.75-$9.75.


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by John Mariani

        I’m not sure what stood out more: was it the exceptionally complex, refined flavor of the wine, or was it that it came from a California pinot noir with an alcohol level of 14.5 percent? The wine tasted more Burgundian than Californian. Still more puzzling was that I’d never even heard of the winery—Windsor Sonoma—and riffling through recent books on California and pinot noir wines turned up nothing at all.

         Windsor Sonoma’s website revealed that the winery is owned by Pat Roney (below), a longtime marketer and executive at numerous California wineries as well once being CEO of the Dean & Deluca gourmet grocery chain. He bought the property for the winery only in 2007, but buys grapes from other vineyards as well.

“We try hard to achieve a Burgundy style, using 100 percent pinot noir,” said Roney, 54, in a phone interview. “We use a lot of skin contact and extended maceration, but winemaker Anthony Austin, who’s been making pinot for 32 years, focuses on the quality of the fruit, and we don’t typically filter our wines.”

         So often called finicky, fickle, and capricious, pinot noir needs a cool climate and specific soil composition and is prone to mildew and rot. The greatest pinot noirs are made in Burgundy—where the grand crus can sell for $2000 and more--but even there, lesser examples may need chaptalization, a process of adding sugar to boost the alcohol to 13 percent.

         Napa Valley pinots have lacked consistency, with many so high in alcohol as to make them unrecognizable as pinots. But for a decade now, Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, with its cooling fog rolling in from the Pacific, has shown enviable promise for making consistently fine pinots.  A few, like William Selyem’s well-balanced pinots, costing between $49 and $90,are sold only by subscription.

I tasted a few other modern Sonoma County pinots from recent vintages and various price spreads, and found a wide range of flavors, body weight, fruit, acids, and alcohol.

    Failla Hirsch Vineyard Sonoma Coast 2007 ($75)—This twelve-year-old winery makes an array of pinot noirs from its own grapes and those of other vineyards, including the well-regarded Hirsch, which amounted to 475 cases. Light in color and bouquet, with 13.9 percent alcohol, the wine is medium bodied, with a pretty strawberry note. Tasted twice 18 hours apart (re-stoppered), it loosened up the next day, supple up front, though the finish is neither lingering nor full-flavored. It should absolutely be matched with tomato-based foods, like the minestrone vegetable soup I enjoyed with it for lunch.

    Freeman Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007 ($44)—As in Burgundy, Freeman’s wines are blends from various vineyards, in the case of the 2007, from four from the Sebastopol Hills and Petaluma Gap, with 1,804 cases made. I find it the closest to the Burgundy style of all Sonoma pinots I’ve tasted, with a velvety richness very close to wines from the Cote d’Or. If you’d never tasted a pinot noir in your life, this is what it’s supposed to taste like. It’s a steal at $44.
    Morlet Family en Famille 2006 ($110)—If you are looking for the boldness of California-style pinots married to Burgundian finesse, this should make you very happy.  Not surprising then, that the Morlet family has been making pinot noir in Burgundy for generations. The family’s California scions, Luc and Jodie Morlet, while keeping the alcohol at 14.5 percent, have managed to balance dark, sweet fruit with impeccable acids. Still, $110 is a lot of money for a Sonoma pinot.

Martinelli Vineyards Moonshine Ranch 2007
    Tuscany-born \Giuseppe Martinelli and Luisa Vellutini planted grapes in the Russian River Valley as of 1887 and began making wines, mostly zinfandel and muscat Alexandria, a few years later. Grandson Lee Martinelli took over in 1973, first as a grape grower, then, with his wife Carolyn, as a wine producer, working with renowned wine maker Helen Turley, known for producing big-bodied, plummy wines. The Moonshine Ranch, one mile from the Russian River, is made from hand-picked clusters, and the wine is neither stabilized or filtered, with just 464 cases made. At 14.6 percent alcohol the wine is nudging into the “hot” zone, with a strong nose and dried fruit flavors that make it a fine choice for spicy foods.

    Incidentally, as I’ve learned over the past few years, California pinot noirs tend to blossom after decanting, and are even better the next 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.

Map View


The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism studied the DNA of violent criminals in Finland whose crimes were both "spontaneous and purposeless"  and found that many were carriers of a variant of the HTR2B gene and that those with this gene variant were more likely to engage in violent impulsive behavior if they are male and have been drinking.



"The combination of fat and crushed nuts, while repulsive in a human being, make this one of Queens' most desirable dishes."--Robert Sietsema, "Sohna Punjab," Village Voice.



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

* Throughout 2011, home chefs can learn the secrets of making pizza from chef Craig DiFonzo at Cantinetta Piero in Yountville, CA. Hands-on classes scheduled for Feb. 8, March 8, April 5, May 10, June 7, July 12, Aug. 9, Sept. 13, Oct. 11, Nov.15, Dec. 6. $45 pp. . . Also, learn the simple “labor-of-love” techniques of making handmade pasta from chef Craig DiFonzo's “Pasta Secrets Classes” for Jan. 25, Feb. 22, March 22, April 19, May 24, June 21, July 26, Aug. 23, Sept. 27, Oct. 25, Nov. 29, Dec. 20. $55 pp. Call 707-299-5015 or visit

* On Jan. 29, in Scottsdale, AZ, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sassi Executive Chef Christopher Nicosia will hold an interactive Valentine's cooking class comprised of three courses including how to create handmade ravioli nudi with gorgonzola and walnuts. Lunch, Italian wines and recipes included. $65 pp; call 480-502-9095 or

* From Feb. 1 - 28, at Sel et Poivre in NYC, Owner/Chef Christian Schienle will launch a Game Festival.  The 4-Course Game Tasting Menu every day during lunch and dinner.  $50 pp.  Call 212-517-5780 or visit

* On Feb. 1 in Wheeling, IL, Tuscany Restaurant will host a four-course DaVinci wine dinner. Vice President and General Manager of DaVinci Winery, Giovanni Nencini, will lead guests through each selection of wine paired with seasonal dishes. $65 pp. Call 630-990-1993 or visit

* On Feb. 2, Carlucci in Downers Grove, IL, will host a wine dinner and fundraiser featuring Wente Family Estates wines.  Bridget Epp will lead guests through each selection of wine paired with a 4-course dinner.  Proceeds from the dinner will benefit "Engineers Without Borders" Canchias, Honduras Bridge Project. $55pp. Call 630-512-0990 or visit

* On Feb 2 and 3, Red Light, Chicago’s West Loop Pan-Asian restaurant, will celebrates Chinese New Year – the Year of the Rabbit – with a menu of savory specials  by their new Executive Chef Ryan Fowler.  Call 312.733.8880 or visit

On Feb. 3, in Atlanta, Spice Market is hosting a Chinese New Year celebration with symbolic food and drink,  New Year-inspired cocktails, a special Bento Box for $30 pp, and prizes to complete the meal.  At the bar, Tsing Tao beer will be available for $5 and there will be three different types of complimentary dumplings prepared by Chef Shaun Suter and served all evening long. Call 404-724-2550.

* From Feb. 3-17, the Hong Kong Tourism Board will be celebrating Chinese New Year and welcoming in the “Year of the Rabbit” with a spectacular annual night parade and other grand festivities throughout Hong Kong. Incredible travel packages are available for U.S. travelers from Gala Holidays  and GloboTours.  Call 212-620-7100 for David Kleinman or Megan Vibert for more information, or visit

* On Feb. 3-19,  E&O Trading Co. in San Francisco, CA, will celebrate Asian New Year with a decadent tasting menu by Chef Arnold Eric Wong, kicking off the event with henna artists and finishing with a traditional lion dancer. $57 pp. . . .On Feb 5, E&O Trading Co.  will host a New Zealand Wine Dinner pairing the best of New Zealand Grown Wines with a modern Asian menu crafted by Chef  Wong.  $65 pp (incl. wine). Call 415-693-0303 or visit

 * On February 3 in Oakland, CA, Ozumo hosts a Sokol Blosser wine paired dinner with a five-course prix fixe menu prepared by Chef Yo Matsuzaki. $65 pp. Call 510-286-9866;

* On Feb. 4, The Moyer Foundation is joining together with The Mario Batali Foundation to present the “Spaghetti Western” at Love Shack in Fort Worth, TX.  The event will be hosted by Jamie Moyer, and world-renowned chefs Mario Batali and Tim Love.  $500 pp. Call  206-298-1217 or visit

* On Feb. 5, Chens in Chicago and Koi in Evanston will celebrate the Chinese New Year with traditional Lion Dancer performances. A "Good Luck" specials menu will be available Feb. 2 - 13 featuring Seafood Pan Fried Noodles, Lychee Chicken and more. Call 773-549-9100 or visit  Call 847-866-6969 or visit

* On Feb. 6, Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Chicago, IL, will offer “Super Bowl To-Go” carry-out service featuring their famous prime rib dinners, prime rib chili by the quart and racks of BBQ baby back ribs. Prices vary. Call  312-787-5000 or visit

  * On Feb. 6, popular family-owned restaurant Georgia’s Eastside BBQ in NYC will offer special Pigskin Pigout Packages to celebrate Superbowl XLV.  The Lower East Side eatery is presenting four different catering menus designed to keep hungry football fans satisfied from kickoff through the ticker tape celebration.  Full catering menus vailable at   Or call 212-253-6280.

* On Feb 6, Chicago Cut Steakhouse will host a  4-course Superbowl prix-fixe menu including Shrimp Cocktail, Crab Cakes, Chicago Cut Bone-In Filet Mignon, Chilean Sea Bass and more paired with a bottle of Conn Creek "Herrick Red" Napa Valley or Terlato Chardonnay Russian River Valley wines while featuring the game on an 8 foot screen.  $90 pp.  Call 312- 329-1800 or visit

* On Feb. 9, El Chorro Lodge in Paradise Valley, AZ will host 30 winemakers from Paso Robles, CA, for a Grand Tasting featuring over 100 wines and gourmet bites from the El Chorro kitchen. Eberle, Robert Hall, JUSTIN, and Victor Hugo are some of the greats planning to pour. $55pp. Wine dinners and late-night tastings take place throughout the week as well. Call 800-549-WINE or visit

* Through March 31, Chicago Mart Plaza will offer exclusive “Blues Package” with Chicago’s House of Blues Back Porch Stage for “Late Night Blues,” “Best of Blues” CD, deluxe accommodations for two at the LEED Certified River North hotel and free parking.  Starts at $115.  Call 312-836-5000 or visit



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: QUEBEC WINTER CARNIVAL


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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