Virtual Gourmet

  September 3, 2023                                                                                            NEWSLETTER

Founded in 1996 


Dario Cecchini, Panzano, Italy,  Butcher, with lombata steaks for bistecca alla fiorentina




By John Mariani


By John Mariani

By John Mariani


By John Mariani



                                                                                253 Greenwich Avenue

                                                                        Greenwich, Connecticut


                                                                                By John Mariani       



         The enticing thing about recreating a Chinese nightclub from the 1930s is that nobody’s around any longer to contradict your fantasy. So the three-month old Mōli in Greenwich has a unique glamor that derives from the soaring, two-story décor of tiled arches by Rafael Guastavino, who’d done the same spectacular work at Ellis Island and the Grand Central Oyster Bar.
         At the time, 1915, the building was Putnam Trust Bank, meant to manifest the solidity of an institution where people would feel safe putting their money. Now, as Mōli, its size (2,500 square feet, with 110 seats), height and the addition of a crystal chandelier big enough for a production of “Phantom of the Opera,” give it the aura of a Shanghai speakeasy where Indiana Jones might show up in a white dinner jacket.
For owners K Dong and chef Steven Chen, who also have in their stable Kumo Sushi Lounge, Miku Sushi and Hinoki in Greenwich, this is their first Chinese venture, and on premises is Executive Chef Tin Huynh, of Chinese parentage, raised in New York City, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and veteran of large Asian nightclubs like Tao and Hutong in New York.
         Given that genre’s appeal to a bar and set-up crowd, speakers boom out bass and drums, making conversation very difficult, though not quite so much on the upper level that overlooks the lower, so ask for a table upstairs. Even when we left around ten o’clock and the bar was near empty, the noise was still relentlessly pounding away.
         Mōli has a large menu in various categories, starting with carefully composed, lustrous sushi, like yellowtail ($22) and a lovely array of heirloom beets marinated with a yuzu-soya marinade, watercress and almond purée ($19). There are five dim sum offerings, and I particularly enjoyed the “rainbow” soup “four flavors” of  pork, shrimp, squash and truffle mushroom ($20).
         Crispy eggplant glazed with caramelized fried garlic and scallions ($19) is tantalizing, and the Mandarin-style whole branzino with sweet-and-sour sauce ($42) is superbly juicy. You definitely should order a noodle dish, like the Taiwanese mélange of shrimp, scallops and yellow chives ($32), a good dish to share. A hefty, well-fatted lamb chop is scented by coriander ($39).
       Fried rice ($28) is riddled with morsels of duck. Bok choy Shanghai-style ($16) is first poached, then dressed with a miso butter sauce. Honey walnut shrimp ($20) is not as sweet as some versions, balancing salty, sweet and savory. As well, braised shortribs ($22) were rich with caramelized fat and coconut milk. Filet mignon was treated to an abundance of black pepper ($45).
         Of course, Chinese chefs pride themselves on their Peking duck ($125), which comes tableside and is lighted with a blue flame merely for dramatic effects, then sliced with both its crisp skin and meat wrapped in a nearly translucent Chinese pancake and served with hoisin sauce. It is designed to be shared by at least four people as a first course.
         Mōli goes further than most Chinese restaurants with desserts, including pleasing version of tiramisù, flavored with milk tea, but the addition of jasmine did little for a  mousse cake ($15).
      Sommelier Isaiah Levy stocks a wine list of considerably more depth and breadth than is usual in Chinese restaurants, and of course there are a slew of exotic cocktails.
         The menu at Mōli breaks little new ground, and it would be good to see some unusual dishes not found elsewhere, but this is fine classic Chinese cooking, and if you want to wear a white dinner jacket, you’ll feel quite swank amidst the theatrical surroundings.


Open daily for lunch and dinner.




        ELLA FUNT

                                                                                     78-80 East Fourth Street


                                                                                     By John Mariani

Photos by Seth Kaplan


         Ella Funt is a restaurant of winks and nudges, puns and poetry. Cocktails at the up-front bar have names like Sorry Sally, Drunk Man at the Cabaret and Picnic in a Garden (made with Supergay vodka). A mural in the dining room is a homage to Picasso, the tilted shelves to Dr. Caligari and the objets d’art to Dada. The rest rooms are splashed with paint or tiled in silver. The ceilings seem covered with big Post-Its. The menus come in marbled schoolbook covers.
         The name of the restaurant, one comes to realize, is a play on the word “elephant,” but also refers to a famous zaftig drag queen (below) of the 1950s admired by Salvador Dalí at a bar at this location called Club 82, run by the Genovese crime family.By the 1980s it had lost all its luster and, after a run as a gay bar, was shuttered as an artifact of New York queer history.
        Happily, then, entrepreneur Lounes Mazouz, along with architect Annabel Karim Kassar, have brought the space back to life as a serious restaurant and bar, with live music on weekends, and it has already attracted a crowd from beyond its East Village location.
         Koustefanou, 28, a Miami native, came to the Big Apple in 2017 to work at a vegetarian restaurant named Nix, as well as Le Cou Cou, Kissaki and Peak at Hudson Yards. Now, Nick brings his talents to Ella, along with sous chef Ziumana Meite, fashioning a Franco-Mediterranean menu of just the right size to come out of such a small open kitchen.
They serve very good bread and a good amount of butter, though it will cost you $8. For starters there is a silky tuna slice with a tangy dressing of grapefruit, pickled baby ginger, shiso and a sweetened fish sauce ($22). I see the word “croquettes” and I become Pavlovian, unable to resist ordering these pastry puffs full of pork, Comté cheese, a mayo mustard and cornichon ($15).
         There are also “petits plats” that include Sungold and heirloom tomatoes with a tomato jam, Japanese san balzu sauce and smoked trout with nori ($20), the last flavors of summer. It’s a better choice than the too-simple grilled squash with crabmeat, almond and chili sauce ($27). Best of all were the sweetbreads ($36), which I’m told sell very well, with the unexpected addition of lobster, chanterelle mushrooms and a sauce americaine. 
         Larger dishes begin with an excellent roast chicken with asparagus, stone fruit and grilled sucrine lettuce in a careful glossy reduction ($38). Also first rate was a whole fish ($65)—that night a meaty dorade—grilled to succulence, with a delicious green curry, pea leaves and wax beans (which I’d like to see more of on menus). It was also wonderful to find sauce estragon married with simple, perfectly grilled ten-ounce strip steak and little peas ($65).
        Desserts are also straightforward and very good, including a citron tart ($16), a deep dark chocolate mousse ($16) and a cheese sorbet with berries ($12).
         The charming and enthusiastic sommelier Juliete Dos Santos stocks some very out-of-the-ordinary wines on her list, so trust her to match them with your food choices. The service staff rushes about earnestly but could use the addition of another waiter.
         Ella Funt would certainly not be out of place in any outer arrondissement of Paris, where amidst tough competition it would rank among the best. Here in New York, where we have plenty of every kind of restaurant, Ella Funt stands out as something both traditional for its menu and uniquely a part of the East Village history it now adds to with such color and verve.  

Open nightly for dinner.


By  John Mariani


To read previous chapters of GOING AFTER HARRY LIME go to the archive


          “How many English language papers could there be in Bangkok?” David asked Katie.
         “I can’t imagine many,” she said. “I could ask Boyer or Spollen.”
         A quick phone call revealed that there were only two possible Bangkok newspapers Pogue might be writing for—the Nation and The Bangkok Post; the latter had by far the larger circulation with more widespread coverage of everything from business to books. Katie checked the time difference between Bangkok and London. London was seven hours behind. It was then two p.m. in London, so Katie thought it would be better to call the paper the next morning at about seven or eight.

    “What exactly do you think this guy Pogue can tell you?” asked David over dinner.
    "I hope more than we know about Toth," she said. “I’m hoping he’ll reveal something useful to us, something he might know about Philby that we don’t and will help me convince Alan to approve our going to Hungary.”
         “Don’t we already know all we need to know about Philby?” asked David, thinking that they should be preparing to track down Harold Neame.  Get a good night’s sleep. I’ll call the paper in the morning and let you know what, if anything, I find out.”

         Katie got a direct contact number of an editor from Tom Spollen for the news desk at the Bangkok Post. Her first two attempts got her a recording, both in English and Thai. Third time, at about two o’clock Bangkok time, she reached an editor named Horn, who told her that Pogue was a writer for the paper but didn’t have a desk there.
         “He usually checks in a few times a week,” said Horn. “I can have him call you if you give me a number. Can I tell him what this is about?”
         Katie explained she was a journalist for McClure’s on a story Pogue might be able to help her with. Horn said he’d pass on the message.
         Katie hoped that Pogue could reach her cell phone anywhere but worried that the international connections might be iffy in Budapest. She’d much prefer to have more ammo for Alan Dobell.
         In the meantime, while David checked out flights and hotels in Budapest, Katie was trying to decide how she’d get her boss into paying for the trip.  She’d already gotten a message from him asking why she was still in London. When she got no word from Pogue by that evening Katie began thinking of packing and planning her next move.
         Then, the next morning her phone rang, a voice saying, “Hello, this is Jonathan Pogue. I’m trying to reach Katie Cavuto of McClure’s magazine.”
         With David in the room, Katie put her phone on speaker and responded, thanking Pogue for calling back and asked if he wanted her to call him back on her phone bill.
e said in British accent that seemed  dulled by years away from England. “Just tell me what this is all about. I’ve got to be on a plane in three hours.”
         Katie had told her story so many times by then that she had it down to a brief patter, edited for the specific person she was speaking to.  She told Pogue her own background and how David and she had been trying to research the Harry Lime story, got to interview the Philbys and were booted out of Moscow.
         “You got off bloody easy,” said Pogue. “That little caper cost me five years of my life in a fuckin’ freezing Soviet gulag. I never did try to connect Philby with Lime. Too farfetched. But before I answer any more of your questions, I have several for you."
         Pogue wanted to know how Katie and David had found out Philby was still alive and living in Moscow, how they got in to see him, and if they were sure the people in the apartment were really the Philbys.  Katie answered his questions—leaving out Lentov—and insisting that she was sure they’d seen the Philbys. She then described the circumstances of how she and David were escorted out of Russia, but she withheld the information about meeting the MI6 men in London.
   “And just how did you find me?” he asked. “After I got out of prison I thought I’d been pretty good keeping out of sight until the last few years here in Bangkok.”
        "I was able to get in touch with your ex-fiancée, Peggy.”
         There was a long silence on the line, Katie thinking the connection had broken up, then Pogue said, “How is Peggy, if you know?”
         “She’s fine. She got married, has two kids. She believes you are dead.”
         “And did you tell her otherwise?”
         “Not yet. I thought if you and I spoke, you’d tell me if you want me to or not.”
         “Peggy was a great girl, love of my life and all that. But even if I hadn’t been arrested by the Russians, I doubt it would have worked out, with me flying all over the world.  Typical of our profession, eh? You married, Cavuto?"
         “No, and I understand what you’re saying.”
         David chimed in on the speaker phone. “Mr. Pogue, this is David Greco. I’m helping Katie with her investigation. What I wanted to ask you was why you never went back to London when you got out of, I think it was Perm 36?”
         Pogue exploded. “How the bloody hell do you know all this about me? Where’d you get all your information? Did Philby tell you?”
         “No, Katie and I never heard of you until we got back to London.”
         Katie said, “I think you might know the two journalists I spoke with—Christopher Boyer at the Times and Thomas Spollen at The Guardian? They recalled you wrote for their papers on occasion.”
         “Boyer and Thomas, eh? I suppose they’re still sitting on their fat arses at their desks? So they knew about my going off to Moscow?”
         “No,” said Katie, “they just had some info in their files that you had disappeared without any more contact. Apparently Peggy’s phone number was in your file.”
         “Well, my Philby story would have blown the fuckin’ roof off both those papers, but they didn’t see fit to assign me. Said unless I had a source or two that confirmed my belief that Philby was still alive, then fuck me. I went off on my own.”
         “So you didn’t have a source to back up your hunch?”
         “No, but the announcement of Philby’s death seemed to me much too pat. The Soviets did it all the time. Someone no one had given a bloody thought to in a while suddenly shows up dead, thanks to the Soviets. In the case of Philby, after he’d written those phony memoirs, he was better off dead, at least to the world, so the Russians took their time announcing he had died, and that was that. I suspected otherwise. I used some contacts to get into Russia and went from there. The Philbys’ address was not a secret by then. Kim was said to be buried in a plot in the graveyard, but that meant nothing. Probably an empty grave or they tossed in some murdered dissident. There's a big marble slab with Philby's name on it. Ha, it’s the only part of the Philby-Lime stories that have anything in common.”
         David asked, “So you just knocked on their door and got in?”
         “I had a bigger set of balls back then,” said Pogue. “But the labor camp diet whittled them down a good deal. Now I just cover local news for the English-speaking readers in Bangkok. I’ve even managed to stay clear of writing about the royal family, which could get me fucking arrested just as easily as my snooping around Moscow.” 
“So you knocked on the door and . . .”
      “The landlady came down and tried to shoo me off, but then Philby’s wife appeared. The fact I was a Brit somehow softened her up. She said her husband would enjoy speaking to a fellow countryman after so many years. She took me upstairs, and there he was, big as life, and acting very, very British indeed.”
        “You say acting?” asked Katie.
        “Meaning he was trying to sound like the old Cambridge graduate he had once been. Slipped right into the sound of it."
         “So you don’t have any reason to believe you were actually interviewing two actors, then?”
         “Oh, that pile of horseshit! After I was arrested—it happened the next day as I was planning to get my arse out of Moscow—I was told I had stupidly interviewed two actors who were living in the Philbys’ flat. They said I’d fallen for their ruse. Of course, I knew it was bollocks.”
    "So they arrested you but didn’t extradite you back to London, as they did with David and me?”
     “No, Miss Cavuto, they did not. Remember, this was a year before the fuckin’ Soviet Union blew up in their faces. They probably knew it was coming, so they were already covering tracks in case glasnost really came to Old Mother Russia. They could hardly allow me to fly back to London and spill the Philby story to the world. So, they tried me in a Soviet court—the trial lasted one afternoon—and threw my arse in jail with the rest of their political prisoners.”
         “And the British embassy didn’t try to get you out?” asked David.
         “I have to assume the fuckers did their absolute least to do so. At first they probably didn’t know where the fuck I was, but after the Soviet Union disintegrated they must have known.”
        "Actually,” said David, “they did.”
         “Fuckers. And you ask me why I didn’t return to England after they left me to rot in that hellhole of a prison? Right now I wish I had been a spy and been turned by the Russians. But I had nothing to give them. They just wanted me out of sight and mind, and when I got out they asked me where I’d like a one-way ticket to.”
         “Where’d you go?” asked Katie.
        "I wanted somewhere there was no post-colonial British presence. So I chose Bangkok, and inside of a month, I started freelancing for the Post here.  Turned into steady work. I’m a man without a country and bloody happy to be one."
         “And you never tried to publish the Philby story?”
         “On the basis of what? A one-hour interview with two old fuckers in the Philbys’ flat? Who was going to pick up on that idea? No, I guess I’ll have to leave that scoop to you two Americans. Hope you blow the Brits’ bloody doors off. Create a big scandal! Roll some of their fuckin’ heads right down Downing Street.”
         “I don’t suppose you have any of your notes from the Philby interview?” asked Katie.
         “Christ, no. They took everything off me, even went up my arse. More than once.”
          Katie had pretty much run out of questions. She felt wholly emboldened by what Pogue had corroborated and asked if she could use his story in McClure’s.
        "Sure, and flash it under Boyer’s and Spollen’s noses. Tell them they could have had the story ten years ago.”
         “Last question,” said David. “Did Kim Philby ever mention the name Harold Neame to you?”
         Pogue thought for a moment, then said, “No, not Philby.  But I do recall hearing about a Brit named Neame who somehow became a big drug czar in, I think, Hungary.”
         Katie and David looked at each other, their mouths open.
         “Where did you hear about Neame and what did you hear?”
         “You hear a lotta horseshit in prison, but there was an English-speaking Hungarian prisoner—came in a year or two before I got there—who was apparently arrested for trying to expose or sue a guy he said was a partner in a drug company, a Brit named Neame, who had screwed him out of millions of dollars or whatever the fuck they use in Hungary. I recall him saying Neame dropped that name years ago and had taken on a Hungarian alias. That’s all I remember hearing.”
         “So this guy was put in a Soviet prison in connection with trying to sue Harold Neame?” asked David. “Do you know what happened to him?”
         “Yeah. He died in that cesspool of a prison. Pneumonia, I think. Medical care was almost non-existent in there. Barely had any penicillin.”
         “Before or after the USSR crumbled?”
        “Well, let’s see, I think it was just around the time the whole bloody thing cracked apart. But he died before they started releasing anyone like me from Perm 36. So how do you two know Neame and what’s the connection?”
         Katie told Pogue how Philby wanted to once and for all distance his name from Harry Lime’s and all that drug selling business, leaving Katie and David a clue as to who really inspired Greene to invent Lime.
         “We suspect it’s Harold Neame, now named Gorgo Toth, one of the biggest pharmaceutical magnates in Eastern Europe.”
         “Well, that is feasible, I suppose,” said Pogue. “Since I wasn’t hunting for Harry Lime the subject never came up when I met with Philby.  But good luck with your work, Cavuto.  Let me know how it comes out. I’ve got to catch a plane to Chiang Mai to do a story on fish farming. Quite a departure from interviewing Kim Philby.”
             Katie and David were thinking the same thing.
             “So, Pogue,” said Katie, sounding more familiar, “Do you want me to contact Peggy for you? What would you want me to tell her?”  
            Pogue said, “Nah, but you’ve made me think I do owe her a call, let her know I’m alive and happy for her."
             After hanging up, David asked, “Well, you think that’ll convince Dobell to send us to Budapest?”
             Katie shook her head. “I don’t know. I’ll make the strongest case for it. I think this interview with Pogue will fit nicely into our story, which will give me some leverage with Alan. I’ll call him soon as he gets into the office.”
             Dobell listened carefully to Katie’s update and said, “It sounds like you’ve gone on one wild goose chase after another on this story. Hell, I’m not even sure what the story is anymore. Philby alive. Harry Lime not found. Hungarian drug millionaire—who apparently has nothing to do with Philby—may be Harry Lime. This has become a crap shoot, Katie.”
          “Yeah, Alan, but so far the dice have rolled pretty much in our favor.”
         There was a pause on the line, then an audible sigh, then, “Ah, what the hell, go to Budapest, but on one condition: You have an interview with this Neame guy all set up, day and hour, before you going flying off to Hungary. Deal?”
         “Deal. And if I can’t get that, David and I will pay our own way, and if it works out to be a story, you can re-emburse us.”
         “Just get a confirmed appointment to see Neame, then call me. This is getting expensive.”
         “I understand, but just so I can move on this as quickly as possible, can you overnight a McClure’s letter of assignment requesting an interview with Toth to him and one to me? Just say McClure’s wants to interview him as a captain  of his industry for a special issue of the magazine about Eastern Europe. Make it vague.”
         Dobell agreed, and Katie gave him the address of Toth’s company.  She then changed the subject by talking about Boyer and Spollen sending their regards.  She didn’t mention the price of the lunch at Wilton’s.



John Mariani, 2016



By John Mariani




         Whether or not inflation has been curbed, in the world of wine there are more well priced bottlings than ever, thanks to both a global glut and the fierce competition to get a foothold in the market. For me, a moderately priced wine that gives a good run for the money when compared with far better known, much more expensive wines of its genre is always a true find. Way too many wineries have priced their wines out of reach for so many wine drinkers that they become special occasion wines. But wines that can be thoroughly enjoyed at a fraction of the price at a greater frequency is what most people want.  Here are some that fit that criterion.  

KELLEREI KURTATSCH  MÜLLER THURGAU ($21)—Müller Thurgau is a cross between Riesling and Madeleine Royal, developed in 1882, grown on steep, high slopes where they can experience wide temperature swings from morning through night. Kellerei Kurtatsch, founded in 1900, is composed of 190 families in Italy’s Alto Adige, where the wines, though similar to those of Austria and Switzerland, have a more fruit and acid and go very well with pasta dishes with wild mushrooms or risottos.

COMTESSE DE MALET ROQUEFORT BORDEAUX ROUGE 2022 ($14)—The family of de Malet Roquefort dates back to 1705 in Saint Émilion, and their labels include the Premier Cru Château La Gaffelière. Typical of Saint Émilion, this remarkably priced Bordeaux is largely Merlot, with 20% Cabernet Franc from a Right Bank vineyard. Vinified by parcel, it is aged in stainless steel tanks, so tannins are tame.

CHARLES KRUG SAUVIGNON BLANC 2022 ($23)—The acidity of this particular Sauvignon Blanc, sourced primarily from Krug’s St. Helena estate, comes from grapes hand-picked in the cool of night. You get just enough of the ripe, grapefruit-like flavors without too much sweetness, making this very good for an aperitif, tomatoes and corn, as well as with shrimp and shellfish.


NORTICO ALVARHINO ($18)—A Portuguese winner from Olé & Obrigado, sourced from small farmers in northern regions of Monção and Melgaço on the Spanish border, which provide cold, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Winemaker Alberto Orte aims to retain the faint saline flavor from the sea and granite from the soil, and the Alvarhino (Albariño in Galicia) are given a long fermentation, racking, primary filtration and cold stabilization, then four months in stainless steel. In Portugal it’s a wine to drink simply with bread and butter, but it’s very versatile with many appetizers.


COLUMBIA CREST H3 HEAVEN HILLS MERLOT 2019 ($15)—Merlots have been getting more and more expensive, gaining favor for their lush, velvety properties. This one is a blend of 86% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, with a 14.5% alcohol, aged for 20 months in a combination of new and older French and American oak barrels. Grapes were crushed and then fermented 7-14 days on the skins to extract optimum fruit and structural components. With autumn coming on, this works wonders with turkey and game dishes.


BENANTI ETNA D.O.C. BIANCO 2022 ($30)—Sicily is getting better and better known for its wines, though mostly for its reds. The white wine Etna D.O.C. comes, obviously, from volcanic soils around the eastern slopes of Mount Etna, made from Carricante (60-100%), Catarratto Bianco Commune or Catarratto Lucido (max. 40%), with the addition of Trebbiano and/or Minella Bianca (0-15%). The climate is humid and rainy, with a cool season, preserving the lovely pearl-like fruit, so it goes well with grilled or broiled seafood, and spaghetti with vongole clams. The retail price is about $30, but I’m seeing it for considerably less, $22-$25.


SYMINGTON FAMILY ESTATES QUINTA DE FONTE SOUTO ALICANTE BOUSCHET 2018 ($14)—Produced at Symington’s 511-acre Quinta da Fonte Souto in Portalegre, a sub-region of the Alentejo, the name “souto" means grove—the family’s first property outside the Douro region. The composition is Alicante Bouschet (also called Garnacha Tintotera in Spain) with Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Alfrocheiro that tame the rustic red flavors of the primary variety



Audarya Camminera Vermentino di Sardegna 2020 : (3 stars). Sardinia, Italy, $24. "The overall impression is texture, as if the evening breeze off the Mediterranean caressed your cheek with its breath of salt and limestone, whispering a memory of the peach you ate earlier in the day, ripe and juicy with summer’s warmth."—Dave McIntyre, "Perspective," WAPO (7/23/23)


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

   The Hound in Heaven (21st Century Lion Books) is a  novella, and for anyone who loves dogs, Christmas, romance, inspiration, even the supernatural, I hope you'll find this to be a treasured  favorite. The  story concerns how, after a New England teacher, his wife and their two daughters adopt a stray puppy found in their barn in northern Maine, their lives seem full of promise. But when tragedy strikes, their wonderful dog Lazarus and the spirit of Christmas are the only things that may bring his master back from the edge of despair. 


“What a huge surprise turn this story took! I was completely stunned! I truly enjoyed this book and its message.” – Actress Ali MacGraw

“He had me at Page One. The amount of heart, human insight, soul searching, and deft literary strength that John Mariani pours into this airtight novella is vertigo-inducing. Perhaps ‘wow’ would be the best comment.” – James Dalessandro, author of Bohemian Heart and 1906.

“John Mariani’s Hound in Heaven starts with a well-painted portrayal of an American family, along with the requisite dog. A surprise event flips the action of the novel and captures us for a voyage leading to a hopeful and heart-warming message. A page turning, one sitting read, it’s the perfect antidote for the winter and promotion of holiday celebration.” – Ann Pearlman, author of The Christmas Cookie Club and A Gift for my Sister.

“John Mariani’s concise, achingly beautiful novella pulls a literary rabbit out of a hat – a mash-up of the cosmic and the intimate, the tragic and the heart-warming – a Christmas tale for all ages, and all faiths. Read it to your children, read it to yourself… but read it. Early and often. Highly recommended.” – Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of Pinkerton’s War, The Sinking of The Eastland, and The Walking Dead: The Road To Woodbury.

“Amazing things happen when you open your heart to an animal. The Hound in Heaven delivers a powerful story of healing that is forged in the spiritual relationship between a man and his best friend. The book brings a message of hope that can enrich our images of family, love, and loss.” – Dr. Barbara Royal, author of The Royal Treatment.


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.

"This book is amazing! It has entries for everything from `abalone' to `zwieback,' plus more than 500 recipes for classic American dishes and drinks."--Devra First, The Boston Globe.

"Much needed in any kitchen library."--Bon Appetit.

Now in Paperback, too--How Italian Food Conquered the World (Palgrave Macmillan)  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.--John Mariani

"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,  The Modern, and Maialino.



MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly.  Publisher: John Mariani. Editor: Walter Bagley. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani,  Misha Mariani, John A. Curtas, Gerry Dawes, Geoff Kalish. Contributing Photographer: Galina Dargery. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.


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© copyright John Mariani 2023