Virtual Gourmet

  December 29, 2013                                                                                             NEWSLETTER

HOME    |    BOOKS    |    ABOUT US    |    CONTACT

Myrna Loy and Cary Grant in "The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer" (1947)





by John Mariani

Barley & Grain
by John Mariani

The Best of 2013
by John Mariani


                             THE BEST AND WORST OF 2013
                                                                                     by John Mariani


Good taste, bad taste, no taste. Trends and trivia. Greatness and gimmickry.  All part of American gastronomy, and in 2013 there was plenty of everything. Here are my thoughts on the best and worst of food and drink over the past year. 


BEST NEW RESTAURANT: Betony (left), a sophisticated new two-tiered spot on West 57th Street, not far from Carnegie Hall. Chef Bryce Shuman, manager Eamon Rockey and sommelier Luke Wohlers are showing what it means to set a culinary standard in New York’s tradition of fine dining.


WORST NEW GOUGES: The return of the antiquated B&B charge at restaurants where you have to pay to get bread and butter. Next year maybe a G&S charge for glasses and silverware?. . . And dishes served “for Two Persons,” which used to be reserved for a few dishes like a whole chicken or bananas Foster.  Where once you could order a thick slab of Prime rib, now you have to order—at up to $150—a côte de boeuf, proving the old assumption that any dish with a French name will be more expensive.


BEST NEW BED AND BREAKFAST: The casually upscale Bespoke Inn (below) in Scottsdale, AZ, with just four idiosyncratic rooms, a spa, a lap pool, bicycles, and a lavish breakfast of freshly baked scones with crème fraiche, fruit crumbles, pancakes, eggs, and housemade granola. The excellent Virtú Honest Café is downstairs. And if you’re running late, owners Kate and Bob will drive you to the airport.


MOST RIDICULOUS OBSESSION: Cronuts—a combo of croissant and doughnut, originating in New York—are gaining traction everywhere, so current three-hour waits outside the Dominique Ansel Bakery should subside.


BEST NEW BREAKFAST ITEMS: The corned beef hash, made right, made fresh, and served in wonderful new American restaurants like Honey Salt in Las Vegas, where it comes with farmer's toast, breakfast potatoes, whole grain mustard and sunny-side up eggs for just fifteen bucks. . . .  and the Hotel Wilshire Los Angeles’ Pancake Lasagna (left), a triumph of American decadence to start the day off with a groan of many pure pleasures. Created by chef Eric Greenspan at the Roof restaurant, it is an amalgam of three layers of pancakes sandwiching eggs, bacon, ground sausage, with melted cheese on top and just enough maple syrup to remind you this is still breakfast.


:  The not-in-the-least-cute interest in child chefs, like the 12-year-old named Duke
Tsapalas in Léman Prep’s culinary camp whose mother says “The other night, he was massaging kale.” Leave it to Raging Gordon Ramsay and Creepy Joe Bastianich to come up with a TV show, "MasterChef Junior" (right)  about such kids who would be better off playing outside.  They might even lose some weight.



BEST EGG DISH: At NYC’s Louro, Chef David Santos combines a turkey egg with heirloom squash, arugula pistou, and tempura blossom.


WORST NEVER-ENDING LISTICLES: Best hamburgers in America, Best pizzas in New York, pho in Los Angeles.


WORST GAFFE BY A NEWS MAGAZINE: Time Magazine’s cover story on the “Gods of Food,” all of whom were men.


BEST NEW INDIAN RESTAURANT: Pippali, NYC, features the widest array of regional Indian dishes to be found on this continent, with nary a cliché among them.



BEST NEW ITALIAN RESTAURANT: MC Kitchen, Miami, brings the city its first modern Italian restaurant via Chef Dena Marino and partner Brandy Coletta, in a clean, stripped down décor befitting its Design District location. What distinguishes MC’s cooking is its elemental simplicity—the first rubric of Italian cuisine, adapted by Marino with all the gusto she can muster in a dish like her pappardelle of spring ramps and “forever braised” pork ragù, and her crisp, charred pizzas topped with broccoli di rabe, sausage, fontina and caramelized onions.  Her food and Coletta’s savvy coalesce in a sophisticated balance rare in a sunny city where glitz too often trumps good taste.   


BEST NEW SEAFOOD RESTAURANT: Spoon in Dallas, a beautifully designed, very comfortable restaurant where Chef/owner John Tesar proves himself a chef’s chef in the choosing, handling, cooking and service of the finest seafood.


 BEST NEW RETRO FOOD: Pot pies and carrot cake at Michael White’s Butterfly in NYC! Baked Alaska at The Grill Room in the Capella Hotel in DC!  Chicken soup with carrots and clam chowder with pork belly and Wellfleet oysters at Will Gilson’s Puritan & Company in Boston and fried fish sticks and chocolate peanut butter banana pie with butterfinger crumbles at Donald Link’s Pêche in New Orleans. . . . At A.Lure in Savannah, Charles Zeran is doing a contemporary Low Country boil teeming with Georgia shrimp, crab cake, smoked sausage, spiced collard greens, and a corn soufflé on the side. . . . At Rye KC, Leawood, KS,  you start off with deviled eggs with fresh horseradish, move on to chicken fried pork, and end off with coconut cream pie you might find at a church supper. . . . . And at Bob Carter’s Rutledge Cab Co. in Charleston, you’ll make a feast of his BBQ shrimp and a glazed smoked ham chop with peach relish, and a huge slice of red velvet cake.


BEST NEW HIPSTER RESTAURANT: Trois Mec in Los Angeles, despite a total lack of décor worth mentioning, no telephone number, and keeping the last tenant’s sign--Raffallo’s Pizza—is a small astonishment thanks to chef/owner Ludo Lefebvre, whose turned from doing very haute French cuisine to an evolved form of his own, based entirely on ingenuity married to experience.


WORST NEW DISH: Three thin fingers of stuffed pasta onto which the waiter pours strong black coffee, brewed in a Chemex filter at your table, served at The Pass & Provisions in Houston, TX.


WORST EXCESS:  NYC’s Bice restaurant  serving a $2,000 dish of tagliolini 
with lobster and black truffles, served on a gold-leaf platter 
designed by late  Gianni Versace.


BEST NEW STEAKHOUSES: Polo Steakhouse in Garden City, NY, brings posh together with beef as near to its competitor Peter Luger as you can find. . .  and Robert’s (left) in Atlantic City, which is now the best restaurant in Atlantic City.


MOST EXPENSIVE DISH THAT SHOULDN’T BE: Veal Parm--$50 at Carbone in NYC, served by waiters in burgundy tuxedos. It's good and it's big but it's no better than you'd find at dozens of other Italian restaurants in NYC, like Patsy's in the Theater District and Mario's in the Bronx and much cheaper.


: Brennan’s (below) in New Orleans, the storied Creole restaurant, after years of debt and interfamily squabbles, was shuttered and sold, unlikely ever to re-open under the Brennan’s banner.  The premises have been brought by another member of the Brennan family, but plans to re-open in 2014 will not include the Brennan name on the door.



Stella 34 (left), a $15 million restaurant on the sixth floor of Macy’s Herald Square store (itself undergoing a $400 million renovation). With its grand view of the Empire State Building and Chef Jarett Appell’s terrific traditional and modern Italian food, this is a destination for out-of-towners and New Yorkers alike.


The Lobby, Peninsula Hotel, Chicago, where Chef
Lee Wolen has overcome an awkwardly huge space to focus your senses on his exquisitely conceived cuisine.

MOST SUSPICIOUS CHEF'S RÉSUMÉ ITEM: Ever since Copenhagen's NOMA received such international hype three years ago, every cook everywhere is claiming to have once worked there. In the past year I've probably gotten press releases from at least 50 American cooks and chefs alone who somehow managed to sling ants and lichen onto a plate at NOMA, which would suggest that the restaurant is hiring hundreds of cooks from around the world several times a year. Not.


Joseph JJ Johnson (below), The Cecil, NYC

Anthony Bucco, Ryland Inn, Whitehorse NJ

Robert Zack, Hotel Jerome, Aspen

Philip Rolf Krajeck, Rolfe & Daughters, Nashville

Charles Zeran, A.Lure, Savannah

Ian Schnoeblelen, Mariza, New Orleans

Kuniko Yagi (left), Hinoki & The Bird, Los Angeles

Manuel Berganza, Andanada, NYC

Michelle Weaver, Charleston Grill, Charleston SC 

Chefs Jeff Maxfield and Ivan Szilak, Selections Café, Seattle

Thai Dang, Embeya, Chicago

Jeremy McMillan, Bedford Post Inn, Bedford, NY

Mark Lambert, Musket Room, NYC, NY

Mark Steuer, Carriage House, Chicago

Ryan McIlwraith, Coqueta, San Francisco

Victor Albisu (left), Del Campo, Washington DC






by John Mariani

barley & grain
421 Amsterdam Avenue ( at 80th Street)

        Food hipsters who insist that Brooklyn is the new mecca for hot new restaurants ignorantly neglect what’s happening on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Fact is, the “UWS” has never been at a loss for terrific places to eat, and in the last five years the exciting dining options have soared, from Lincoln Ristorante at Lincoln Center to Daniel Boulez’s Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud, from Picholine to The Leopard, from Porter House to Ed’s Chowder House. 

   One of the newest to impress me are is run by young, energetic professionals whose menus are crafted to please, not challenge guests and whose service has a charming UWS tilt you won’t find across town or down in Soho.

        Barley & Grain could not be a better-named restaurant on the UWS, for its intense focus on barley- and grain-based spirits—100 of them-- (there’s no rum or tequila on the bar list). The bar is certainly center stage in this tiny storefront location.  Indeed, you could sit at the convivial bar and order some grub, but my guests and I preferred to sit at a cozy table on a packed Saturday night and to take our time enjoying the hearty food Chef Eric Acklowitz is turning out with considerable panache. 

         We began with some “Quick and Easy” small plates that included addictive beef short rib poppers lavished with white cheddar, bacon and garlic mayo. We battled over the hot shrimp hush puppies (below), made with buttermilk, and spiky flavors like jalapeño, cayenne and aïoli dipping sauce.

       How do you enrich an already decadent cured pork belly?  Slap it on French toast, with spicy maple butter emulsion and quail egg, which would probably cure a hangover in about ten seconds.   Make jicama salad into a confetti-colored salad (right).

         Smooth and velvety was roasted eggplant with tangy feta cheese, Kalamata olives, sesame tahini, red onions and pistachios, and the mac ‘n’ triple cheese with bacon can easily banish winter’s chill.  These items are smaller plates (sort of) and none runs more than $15. The larger main course plates run only $17 to $35—this last for a 16-ounce Delmonico steak with Cajun fries, onion rings and a bourbon demi-glaze.

         I really enjoyed the unusual house-cured lamb pastrami sliders with pickled red onion, Cajun fries and rye bun, fighting off calls to share them. Our waitress forcefully suggested we had to try the roast chicken; we shrugged and did. She was right: this was a boneless half chicken, impeccably roasted to golden, crispy crust, with a cilantro dip and black and white barley. In a city of great roast chickens, this one –at $11!--comes in near the top. 

Let me not fail to mention the wonderful turkey potpie, with a buttery crust and plenty of big chunks of turkey in a well-seasoned gravy.

         If you’ve room for dessert, do try the Guinness Stout ice cream for fun. But for sheer animal comfort food, the chocolate pudding should make you weep a little.

Barley & Grain is open for dinner Mon.-Sat. and for brunch Sun. Starters run $4-$14, main courses $15-$35.





by John Mariani

    Joseph Santo, a dentist who became one of the most extraordinary and inventive restaurateurs in America has died at the age of 84.

    His name may not be recalled by people who only became impassioned about food and restaurants in the past decade, but the name of his most illustrious restaurant—Sign of the Dove on the Upper East Side—still is.  Except for a copyrighted photo of Santo in the NY Times, there is none I could find to put into this remembrance; almost no photos exist.   Yet at one time he was one of a handful of restaurateurs who, in the 1960s radically changed the way we dine out and helped set in motion the so-called “foodie revolution” of the lat 1970s.

    Santo never set out to be a restaurateur; he was a young dentist in 1962  when he took over a lease on an old rooming house at Third Avenue and 65th Street for $6,000, which he turned into a restaurant called Sign of the Dove, named after the story that patriot Nathan Hale was said to have been executed nearby at a place called the Dove Tavern. Within 18 months the restaurant had paid off his entire $240,000 debt, and Sign of the Dove was among the first restaurants in that area of Manhattan—opposite Bloomingdale’s—to attract the enormous crowd of baby boomers with money in their pockets to spend on fine food while avoiding the entrenched snobbism of the city’s elitist French dining salons.

    Sign of the Dove, painted bright yellow,  was effusively glamorous, festooned with flowers, greenery, wrought iron filigree and candlelight,  set within arched brick walls under a skylight ceiling.  Early reports from the conservative food media, not least the Times, were impressed with the décor but trashed the food and service, but by the 1980s the restaurant was no longer considered just a place for a celebration but as a culinary destination, eventually earning three stars from the Times and 16 out of 20 points from the then influential Gault-Millau Guide, which praised its innovative New American cooking under young chef Andy D’Amico.
    In fact, the food at Sign of the Dove was  among the most exciting of the second half of the 20th century, including some of the earliest evocations of la nouvelle cuisine this side of Paris along with many Italian novelties like beet-filled ravioli and braised beef with vermicelli of zucchini.

    Joseph Batholomew Santo  was born in Winchester, MA, son of an Italian immigrant.   He  graduated from Boston U., served in the Army and got his degree in dentistry at Saint Louis U. before opening his practice in NYC. After his success with Sign of the Dove, Santo was equally successful opening more modest restaurants like Yellowfingers (with a disco upstairs) that were part of the singles’ bar phenomenon of the era, then the first Southwestern restaurant in NYC, Arizona 206, as well as one of the city’s finest bakeries, Ecce Panis.

``In each restaurant, I`ve done what I wanted to please myself,`` he told the Chicago Tribune in 1987. “I like sensual, simple food, complex but not complicated. No bull. I feel the same way about people.  But in the long run,  it`s not the food or the décor or the service that makes a restaurant. It`s the total experience.”

    Few restaurateurs realized the importance of that total  experience for his guests, especially 50 years ago when a restaurant was primarily known for either its food or its ambiance, its clubbishness or its tourist crowd.  Santo made all those things count and did so with a flamboyance that won everyone over, even if at a very high price.  Sign of the Dove was for so many people just cutting their teeth on upscale cuisine an educational experience in both food and service, even when at times the latter was a formulaic recitation.  Young people who would have been intimidated dining at Le Pavillon or La Côte Basque felt entirely welcome at Sign of the Dove.  In 1991 New York Magazine critic Gael Greene wrote “for cuisinary snobs and postgraduate sensualists, the Sign of the Dove is suddenly home.”

 The restaurant lasted eight more years,  an astoundingly long run—four decades—in a town where hot spots come and go within a year and even classic restaurants peter out after twenty.  That Sign of the Dove endured, even as culinary styles changed, was entirely due to Joe Santos and his family’s alertness to those changes without sacrificing the grand design that so awed so many people for so long.
    To dine at Sign of the Dove was once a rite of passage for young people coming to NYC, like skating at Rockefeller Center, riding the horse carriages in Central Park, visiting FAO Schwarz and having frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3.  Uniquely beautiful, ever memorable, Sign of the Dove was testament to one man’s ebullient vision for something that had not existed before in such a typically New York kind of way.






by John Mariani

The real news about the world of wine and spirits is that quality really has become a worldwide phenomenon, with excellent  bottlings coming from sometimes unexpected places, as well as consistent favorites from established ones.  Here are my favorites I sipped this year.

Angel’s Envy
($47). A new bourbon from Lincoln Henderson, a pillar of the Bourbon Hall of Fame, who   created  Gentleman Jack, Early Times Premium, Woodford Reserve and Forrester1870, among the many products that bear his imprint.  In 2011, joining with his son,  Wes, he reentered the spirits industry  to fashion  one of today’s most sought after labels, Angel’s Envy, a name derived from the industry  term, angel’s  share, ascribed to the spirits  lost to evaporation as the whiskey ages. Henderson matures  his bourbon in traditional new American oak barrels for four to six years,  then  finishes in port  barrels for three to six months.  “We’re the only Kentucky distillery doing this and it pays off with  an exceptionally smooth and nuanced bourbon, “ Henderson declares proudly. He makes just 600 bottles of Angel’s Envy  bourbon each year (he is also releasing a rye this year) and it has become one of the most sought after of bourbons, largely found in fine restaurants.   

Woody Creek Distillers Vodka ($40)--“It takes 13 pounds of fresh potatoes to make a bottle of our vodka,” says Mark Kleckner, a former DC-based mergers and acquisitions expert in the defense business, now CFO and COO of Woody Creek Distillers in Basalt, Colorado. “Most of the other American distillers making potato-based vodka use the kind you find in the bin with wrinkles and sprouts. The ones you throw away.”  Woody Creek Distillers, which only began production last October, gets all its spuds from the  nearby 30-acre Scanlon Farm, owned by Kleckner’s partners, Mary Scanlon, CEO, and her husband Pat, President. She is a small business owner, overseeing design and marketing the distillery; Pat was a missile and space network engineer for Lockheed Martin and IBM; the distillery’s manager, David Matthews, WCD’s manager, had been a Wall Street trader before sailing around the world studying distilling and spirits production. They must know something: this is a helluva flavorful vodka in a world of flavorless examples.

Michter’s 10-Year-Old ($70)—Michter’s US 1 Straight Rye is impressive enough for its depth and layers of true rye flavors, but the 10-Year-Old shows just how strikingly American whiskey can compete with the finest Scotches and Cognacs out there. You want complexity, a nip of oak and smoke, this is well worth seeking out and worth every penny it costs.

Privateer Rum ($36) is produced in Essex County, MA, which in colonial times had a thriving rum trade. Privateer is an amber rum, not so dark as a Pusser's and without that kind of power; instead, it has a delicious sweet component that dwells beneath the complexities and layers of other flavors of oak and acid. It ages in ages in 53 gallon barrels, slowly, then cask-finish in used whiskey and brandy barrels.

Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2010 ($105)—Marchesi Mario Incisa della Rocchetta had been making this cabernet sauvignon for his family since 1948 but brought the 1968 vintage to market in 1971. Today it is considered as fine a cabernet as the best in Bordeaux.  It can be a tannic wine in its youth, so I’d give the current 2010 vintage, which shows good, silky fruit, another five years for it to blossom. 

Vega Sicilia. Spain's greatest wine label and an enduring standard. These wines can take a long, long time to mature, but the exception to this is their lighter, leaner Valbuena 5°, produced from somewhat younger vineyards and composed of tempranillo, merlot, and cabernet. The 2008 vintage I tasted was amazing for its depth and brightness, benefiting from a year of aging in new oak barrels, 3 months in older barrels, and 6 months in large oak vats.  It is just being released and should retail for $160 a bottle.


Viñedos Valderiz Ribera del Duero ($34)—Bodegas y Valderiz’s Esteban family prides itself on its commitment to ecological and biodynamics processes. Their Juegabolos vineyard, said to have a complex soil structure with a limestone bottom, gives their Barricas Seleccionad 2006 estate wine a rich minerality, made from 100 percent tempranillo (also called tinto fino). Today you can easily find it for $34, where just a couple of years ago it hit $75 a bottle. For something bolder, though with a little less finesse, the 2004 Valderiz Ribera del Duero is a real delight, so good with pork and beef, and a good buy for so well-balanced a red wine of this age.


Jean-Marie Haag 2011 ($20)--A London sommelier at Social Eating House served me this luscious, pear-like, highly aromatic Alsatian pinot blanc from , with a modest 12.5 percent alcohol, to go with a salt cod fishcake with lemon butter and chive cream, and a dish of Colchester crab with a roasted tomato vinaigrette, ending with a very sweet honey-almond sponge cake with goat’s curd ice cream and orange, which the wine still had the body to complement.


Ornellaia 2010 ($220)—Piero Antinori’s brother Ludovico made the first vintage of Ornellaia in 1985, and today the estate is owned by another aristocrat, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi. Since 2005 Axel Heinz (below) has given Ornellaia a softer edge, with a riper fruit component. The tannic power of 53 percent cabernet sauvignon is softened by a generous 39 percent merlot, as well as 4 percent cabernet franc and 4 percent petit verdot. 

Stinson Vineyards Meritage 2011 ($35), made in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia,  is a Bordeaux blend at just 13.4 percent alcohol, aged 14 months. It had everything I look for in a red wine: a  balance of pronounced fruit, softened tannins, and enough acid to give it spark. That's their tasting room at the right.


Foris Rogue Valley 2011 ($13.50) If you love a good, crisp, tangy apple, you might be forgiven for thinking this bottling was full of apple juice. It is absolutely delicious, a very deft balance of pale sweetness with edgy acids. Foris, which started producing under its own label in 1986, is the southernmost winery in Oregon, and its bottlings are clear expressions of the high elevation, cool Pacific terroir, allowing the wine’s components to knit together without complications from too much sun. They also sell a 2008 sweet late-harvest dessert riesling at $12 for a half-bottle.

 2008 Luis Canas Rioja Crianza ($15) is a steal. Red crianzas are wines that may not be sold till their third year and have spent a minimum of six months in oak barrels (in Rioja twelve), and Luis Canas is one of the pioneers of modern Spanish viniculture.  This wine is 95 percent tempranillo, with ideal acid and fruit and the flavors of a true terroir.

2007 Cerequio Barolo ($79), from a First Category Cru vineyard, was magnificent, reaching every taste bud on the palate and revealing velvety tannins and the scent of truffles in the nose. Here you find the explosive power of barolo, along with a finish of great elegance, all at 13.5 percent alcohol.


Inman Family Wines 2010 Pinot Noir
Owner Kathleen Inman likes to say, “I operate as a one-woman show since I manage the vineyard, make the wines and answer the phones.” She adds: “I call myself a groper. I touch and taste in the vineyard and don’t go by numbers. Pinot noir is the most feminine of wines, and I want that delicacy, perfume and elegance in my wine.”
 The 2010 was light on the palate at first, then revealed its young fruitiness, not the cloying jamminess of other California examples. It reminded me of an Aloxe-Corton, one of my favorite middle-range Burgundies, though at $68 the Inman has raised a few eyebrows. With just 12.5 percent alcohol and 23 months in French oak, this wine proves that elegance and aromatics are better achieved with restraint, rather than by pushing the grapes.


Livio Felluga Terre Alte 2006 ($85)—Proof positive that Italian white wines cannot only age gracefully but retain their freshness while gaining complexity. Very round, voluptuous showing remarkable longevity, suggesting all Felluga whites should be saved for a year or two for true maturity. 


Japanese Whiskys
--I will soon be writing in more depth about the remarkable quality of Japanese-made whiskys (they use the Scottish spelling but have the grace not to call them Scotch). Look for Hakushu 12-Year-Old Single Malt (left) and Hibiki 12-Year-Old.



A rabbi of an ultra-orthodox Hasidic sect in Israel banned his yeshiva
students  from eating soy products, contending soy turns boys gay.




“Nominative determinism is the serendipity of having your name choose your job for you. As in the oft-quoted article from the Magazine of the Institute of Urologists written by Messrs Splatt and Weedon. Nobody remembers what they wrote about; it was never going to be as interesting as their names. Jung pondered telltale names in his paper on synchronicity, noting the totemic augury of naming. He pointed out that it applied to psychiatrists.”—A A Gill (left), “Table Talk,” The Sunday Times (10/20/13)



 Any of John Mariani's books below may be ordered from

The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink by John F. Mariani (Bloomsbury USA, $35)

Modesty forbids me to praise my own new book, but let me proudly say that it is an extensive revision of the 4th edition that appeared more than a decade ago, before locavores, molecular cuisine, modernist cuisine, the Food Network and so much more, now included. Word origins have been completely updated, as have per capita consumption and production stats. Most important, for the first time since publication in the 1980s, the book includes more than 100 biographies of Americans who have changed the way we cook, eat and drink -- from Fannie Farmer and Julia Child to Robert Mondavi and Thomas Keller.

Now in Paperback, too--How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan) by John F. Mariani has won top prize  from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.  It is a rollicking history of the food culture of Italy and its ravenous embrace in the 21st century by the entire world. From ancient Rome to la dolce vita of post-war Italy, from Italian immigrant cooks to celebrity chefs, from pizzerias to high-class ristoranti, this chronicle of a culinary diaspora is as much about the world's changing tastes, prejudices,  and dietary fads as about our obsessions with culinary fashion and style.

"Eating Italian will never be the same after reading John Mariani's entertaining and savory gastronomical history of the cuisine of Italy and how it won over appetites worldwide. . . . This book is such a tasteful narrative that it will literally make you hungry for Italian food and arouse your appetite for gastronomical history."--Don Oldenburg, USA Today. 

"Italian restaurants--some good, some glitzy--far outnumber their French rivals.  Many of these establishments are zestfully described in How Italian Food Conquered the World, an entertaining and fact-filled chronicle by food-and-wine correspondent John F. Mariani."--Aram Bakshian Jr., Wall Street Journal.

"Mariani admirably dishes out the story of Italy’s remarkable global ascent to virtual culinary hegemony....Like a chef gladly divulging a cherished family recipe, Mariani’s book reveals the secret sauce about how Italy’s cuisine put gusto in gusto!"--David Lincoln Ross,

"Equal parts history, sociology, gastronomy, and just plain fun, How Italian Food Conquered the World tells the captivating and delicious story of the (let's face it) everybody's favorite cuisine with clarity, verve and more than one surprise."--Colman Andrews, editorial director of The Daily

"A fantastic and fascinating read, covering everything from the influence of Venice's spice trade to the impact of Italian immigrants in America and the evolution of alta cucina. This book will serve as a terrific resource to anyone interested in the real story of Italian food."--Mary Ann Esposito, host of PBS-TV's Ciao Italia.

"John Mariani has written the definitive history of how Italians won their way into our hearts, minds, and stomachs.  It's a story of pleasure over pomp and taste over technique."--Danny Meyer, owner of NYC restaurants Union Square Cafe, Gotham Bar & Grill, The Modern, and Maialino.



FEATURED LINKS: I am happy to  report that the Virtual Gourmet is  linked to four excellent travel sites:

Everett Potter's Travel  Report

I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the  web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury  Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and  a frequent contributor to National  Geographic Traveler,  and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their  travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special  places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of  staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star  places as five-star experiences."  THIS WEEK:

Eating Las Vegas 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).

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.

To un-subscribe from this newsletter,click here.

© copyright John Mariani 2013