HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


If you could only own one Italian Cookbook which one would it be?

I love Italian food and I have a few good cookbooks: Classic Italian and More Classice Italian by Hazan; Italian Classics by Cooks Illustrated; Rao's Cookbook. Can anyone suggest the very best Italian Cookbook? I was in a library yesterday and saw the Silver Spoon which claims to be the "Bible" of Italian cooking, any opinions on this book?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I really love my Ada Boni's Italian Regional Cooking. Been using it for more than 30 years and never get bored. It has everything I need to eat. All regions covered.

    1. I own the Silver Spoon, and it is extremely comprehensive, an Italian version of Larousse Gastronomique. I use mine the same way I do Larousse, mostly as a reference--but I have about 40 Italian cookbooks in my collection. However, if someone could only have one cookbook, I'd probably choose that one because it covers everything, and the recipes are accessible and delicious. In fact, I have given this as a gift to more than a few beginning cookbook collectors.

      I smiled at CocoDan's post. Ada Boni's IRC was my very first Italian cookbook. My mother gave it to me as I was leaving home. I initially was quite daunted by that big cookbook, but in later years, I cooked out of it with more ease. It was one of the ones I lost it in Katrina and definitely the saddest of my cookbook losses. So it's a sentimental favorite.

      You have the Hazan classics, cornerstones in a good Italian library, imo. But I might suggest one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Lynne Rosetto Kasper's The Splendid Table (she has an NPR cooking show by the same name), which is about the cooking of the Emilia-Romagna region, where BTW, we ate the best food, by far, in all of Italy (where one can eat well anywhere). TST has lovely and unusual recipes as well as excellent anecdotes and commentary. It would be a great Northern Italian counterpoint to your Rao.

      3 Replies
      1. re: nomadchowwoman

        the splendid table would be one of my first picks too.

        1. re: nomadchowwoman

          Oh good! I just ordered The Splendid Table for my husband for Christmas. Or did I order it maybe for me???

          1. re: Cachetes

            The gift that gives back to the giver! Isn't that karma or something ; )

        2. You can still get copies of Boni's Regional Italian Cooling (used) on amazon.com. It's one of my heirloom cookbooks. I'd also suggest at least one by Giuliano Bugialli, and some authoritative regional cookbooks, including Naples at Table by Arthur Schwartz; Fred Plotkin's Recipes from Paradise (Liguria/Riviera); and Nancy Harmon Jenkins's Cucina del Sole for all southern regions I love Rao's, but it's really a guide to Italian-American food of a specific era and style. In this vein, try Nancy Verde Barr's We Called it Macaroni, one of the first serious Italian-American cookbooks (with memoir). For her spirit of discovery and her style alone, Elizabeth David's early Italian Food is a reader's joy.

          1. Classic Italian by Hazan is my all-time favorite. Lacks pics but is irreplaceable when it comes to mastering staple Italian dishes. Hands-down, I consider this this the best choice. More recently I have been making dishes from Urban Italian -- the recipes are practical- which is key - well-written, and has a great bunch of photos.

            Also, Lidia Bastianich has some amazing recipes both online and in her cookbooks.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cpeterson729

              I love nearly everything in Lidia's books.

            2. Heres another vote for Ada Boni's Italian Regional, had it for over 30yrs. Haven't used it in a while but I drag it down once a year and look at the pictures. Someday I want to try Zamponi, that's my favorite picture in the book.

              1. I would not be without Silver Spoon.

                What I particularly like is that it is not only a book of Italian cooking but it is also a book for Italian cooks - so a number of recipes have their origins in other European countries.

                1. The one I use most is an HH 'picture book', "Italy's 500 best-ever recipes"


                  1. "The Encyclopedia of Sauces for Your Pasta" by Charles Bellisino

                    It is as plain as can be, has no pictures and is totally unsophisticated, but I use it more than any cookbook I own. This book is a veritable bonanza of terrific pasta sauces, and I love pasta.

                    1. I only have one Italian cookbook. The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian. It has been indespensible in my kitchen.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: KristieB

                        Shhhh, don't tell anyone, I don't buy many cookbooks, but I own this one and it's good, AAMOF I own most of the Frugal Gourmet books.

                        As a added bonus you can buy it for one cent + shipping on Amazon.

                        It's not the absolute best, but for the money it can't be beat.

                      2. Leaf through The Silver Spoon. When I was contemplating its purchase, I checked the recipe for Green Sauce and decided not to buy it. As I recall, the only green ingredient listed was a pickle and there was also a potato in the sauce. This is nothing like the herb-y fresh green sauces I remember from my time in Italy.

                        The Splended Table would be a very good addition to your library.

                        1. Lynne Rosetto Kasper's "The Italian Country Table." I have several Italian and Italian-American cookbooks, but this is the one to which I turn again and again.