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Your Favorite Italian Cookbook and Why

I have more Italian cookbooks on my bookshelves than I could possibly ever hope to cook through. Yet, I feel compelled to collect more and more. Here is my list:

The Splendid Table
Cucina of Le Marche
The Tra Vigne Cookbook
Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking
Trattoria Cooking
The Flavor of Italy By the Chamberlains
The Il Fornaio Baking Book
Cucina Simpatica
The Little Dishes of Italy, Antipasti

Never Cooked Out of:
Trattoria Grappolo
Olives and Oranges
Italy The Beautiful Cookbook
Cucina Ebraica
James McNair's Pasta Cookbook
Harry's Bar

I have made many recipes out of a few of these books; a few recipes out of most of these books; and none out of the remainder. If I had to whittle down my collection, I would be hard pressed to say which ones I would keep and which I would toss.

I would love to know which Italian cookbooks in your collection are your favorites and why? What are your favorite recipes out of these books?

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  1. Here are a few of my favorite recipes:

    Splendid Table:
    Imola's Risotto of the Vigil p. 214
    Frozen hazelnut zabaione with chocolate Marsala sauce p. 436-37
    The entire Ragu section, p.33-57

    Casual Cooking:
    Entire homemade pantry section, p. 21-39
    Warm Peach Salad, p. 84
    Bitter Greens with Poached Eggs, p. 91
    Planked Salmon, p. 144
    Forever Roasted Pork, p. 161

    Tra Vigne:
    Whole Citrus Vinaigrette, p. 143
    Chicken with Roasted Lemon and Rosemary Sauce, p. 145
    Entire pantry section: p. 190-202

    Other Chiarello recipes off website:
    Basic risotto and polenta

    Potato and Artichoke Cake, p. 266-267
    Beet Greens and Zucchini Soup, p. 160-61

    Ivvoltini di Zucchine, p. 22
    Sieved Tomato Sauce, p. 134

    Cucina Simpatica:
    Crostata crust, p. 182

    La Marche:
    Cinghiale con le Pappardelle, p. 72-74
    Bucatini al Guanciale, p. 70-71

    Il Fornaio;
    Baci D'Alassio, p. 144-145
    Biscotti Da Te, p. 147-148

    If nothing else, starting this thread will give me a quick reference guide to my go to recipes from each book.

    5 Replies
    1. re: dkennedy

      My favorites:
      1. Jamie's Italy
      2. North End Italian
      3. Frankie's Spuntino
      4. Union Square/Second Helpiongs
      5. Maybe my most trusted: Sicilian Gentleman's Cookbook
      6. Bravo! The Sylish Man's Guide to Italian Cooking. Not a bad book at all. So far, everything has been great. nice, clear instructions

      1. re: Westy

        What an interesting list! I have never heard of 2, 3, 5, or 6. I will have to check them out.

        1. re: dkennedy

          Frankie's Sputiono came out last year and was nominated for a James Beard award this year.

        2. re: Westy

          I love Jamie's Italy, also. I am drawn to his casual conversational style of describing recipes steps (throw in a couple of handfuls of basil...).

          1. re: Westy

            Hi Westy, I was fortunate enough to find The Sicilian Gentleman's Cookbook at a thrift store this weekend and your recommendation immediately came to mind. If you see this, I'd love to hear which dishes are your favourites!

        3. Great thread dk! Thanks so much for sharing some of your favourites. Like you, I have more Italian Cookbooks on my shelves than any other cuisine. (114 according to EYB!)

          A lot of my recipe notes are in my books so it would definitely take a lot of time to do a thorough job w this question. That said, I thought I could do a quick scan in EYB and see some recent notes I've made. I figure I can post now and then add to this as I come across books & recipes down the road.

          Here are some books I've cooked recipes from recently that have produced great results:

          Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen

          - Rigatoni Woodman’s Style
          - Beef Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine

          Molto Italiano: Simple Italian Recipes for Cooking at Home

          - Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage and Fennel
          - Spicy Sicilian Chicken

          Mario Batali Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages

          - Barbecued swordfish with black olive-cucumber salad

          Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner

          - Leek Ragu Bruschetta
          - Ceci Bruschetta
          - Cauliflower w Olives

          In Nonna's Kitchen: Recipes and Traditions from Italy's Grandmothers by Carol Field

          - Spaghetti w Lamb Sauce

          Italian Easy: Recipes From The London River Cafe by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers

          - Penne, Sausage, Ricotta

          La Mia Cucina Toscana: A Tuscan Cooks in America by Pino Luongo

          - Roughly cut pasta with white bean sauce
          - Garganelli and chicken ragout with saffron

          Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition by Barbara Lynch

          - Butcher Shop Bolognese
          - Rigatoni with spicy sausage and cannellini beans
          - Pappardelle with tangy veal ragu

          Twelve: A Tuscan Cook Book by Tessa Kiros

          Tuscan Cookery by Elizabetta Piazzesi

          I'd also add that I have all of Giada's books and have cooked many recipes without ever being disappointed. I posted a list of some in CH recently and if I find that list, I'll link to it here.

          14 Replies
          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            I love Stir, got it when it first came out. I remember the first recipe I made out of it was Braised Lamb Shanks with Winter Root Vegetables (p.255). I had bought my first lamb shank and this recipe was delicious. Made two others (gotta make more more!!) - Taleggio-Stuffed Proscuitto-Wrapped Chicken with Tomato and Olive Salad (p. 210) - and Chicken Meatballs (p. 149) which I served with a homemade kind-of alfredo sauce. Really good and DH loved 'em. Going to keep this one off the shelf and in the kitchen for now. It would make a good COTM, too.

            1. re: bayoucook

              I've made note of your recipes from Stir bayoucook, thank-you. I just rec'd Stir at Christmas but it's become a fast favourite here. It's funny that you said you're keeping it in the kitchen because that's just where mine's ended up. . . and that's pretty "high end real estate" here at casa bc because I only keep 6-8 books in the kitchen!

              Speaking of lamb shanks, not sure if you happen to have The Stinking Rose cookbook, do try the "Silence of the Lamb Shanks" recipe. We first enjoyed this dish at their restaurant in San Fran and I bought the cookbook just for that recipe. It was worth it!! Best lamb shank dish we've ever had!

              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                Oh Lord, back to amazon to check it out. The cookbooks in my kitchen right now, besides Stir, are In The Kitchen With A Good Appetite (Melissa Clark), Real Cajun (Donald Link), Falling Off The Bone (Jean Anderson), and recently The Splendid Table. The books are in constant rotation but these may stay for a while. I'm still trying to gear myself up to try bread baking again and have those cookbooks set by, along with my new (Christmas gift) Artisan KA mixer with dough hook: Lord, give me strength!

                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                  Saw three versions on amazon, is this the one:
                  Looks good - we love garlic!

                  1. re: bayoucook

                    Hi bayoucook, Yes, that's the one. It's a great little book w lots of straightforward, tasty recipes. If you get it, let me know and I'll pull my book and share any recipe notes I've made. We love garlic as well and this book has it, in spades!!

                    Your kitchen bookshelf is VERY similar to mine! At the moment: AMFT, Stir, In the Kitchen w a Good Appetite (I'm really enjoying reading this one . . .love it!) The Splendid Table, The Antipasto Table (Scicolone), Italian Family Cooking (Giobbi) and Quinoa 365 and The Clinton St. Baking Co. Cookbook.

                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                      Wow. Going to check out the Giobbi book since people have been liking him. I forgot to mention I also have AMFT - meant to cook so much more than I have out of it. Stir - two I'm looking at for this week - Pasta with Turkish-Style Lamb, Eggplant, and Yogurt Sauce (201), and Sweet and Sour Salmon (308) (want that now!).

                      1. re: bayoucook

                        I have a tab on that Salmon dish as well bayoucook!!

                      2. re: Breadcrumbs

                        In the Kitchen with Good Appetite is a keeper, all the recipes I have tried so far have been great.

                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                          Breadcrumbs, have you cooked a lot from Quinoa 365? I have it too but have not made anything yet which is a shame. I was thinking about making something veg/quinoa for a sick friend - would love suggestions!

                          1. re: herby

                            Just made the Quinoa dried fruit and nut salad out of AMFT and it was wonderful. If you need the recipe let me know.

                            1. re: herby

                              Hi Herby, I've only made 3 dishes from this book so far but I'd recommend all of them as they were terrific. They were:

                              Mushroom and Herb Quinoa - p. 43 I also added some fresh thyme to this as I was serving it w a roast chicken. Delicious.

                              Pomegranate, Almond and Feta Salad - p. 50 - Quick & easy and the honey Dijon dressing was a perfect compliment.

                              Salmon and Red Quinoa on Asparagus w Lime Dill (Cilantro) Sauce - p. 97 - I subbed dill for the cilantro as I've been cursed w an allergy to cilantro. This is a really yummy dinner dish.

                              Like dk below, I've also made the Quinoa salad from AMFT and we loved it. Here's a link to my review (and photos in my post directly below):


                              I hope your friend is feeling better soon Herby, I'm sure they'll appreciate your kindness.

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Thank you for your suggestions, DK and BC! Do you think AMFT recipe (I have the book) will tast OK without the nuts? Her son has severe nut allegy, not sure about seed and will ask. I will get mushroom tomorrow and will try Mushroom and Herb Quinoa recipe. I do not know why the book does not inspire me to make anything:(

                                1. re: herby

                                  Herby the nuts aren't imperative but they do help balance the dish. If seed are ok, I'd add some toasted sunflower seeds and maybe a few toasted sesame seeds too. Let us know how you make out!

                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    I agree with BC. I have made the dish twice. Once, I did everything according to the recipe. I let the quinoa cool, I toasted the nuts, I let it sit for 1 hour before serving. It was perfectly balanced. Later in the week I threw it together a second time but this time in a hurry. I didn't measure the nuts and fruit ratio, nor did I let it cool before adding the fruit and nuts. Though it was still good, it was not a dish I would ever of made again. I think you should save the AMFT version for when you can use toasted nuts and a variety of dried fruits.

                  2. I actually only have three: Olive Oil From Tree to Table by Peggy Knickerbocker, The Four Seaons of Italian Cooking by A.J. Battifarano, and my favorite - Italia in Cucina by McRae books. It's my favorite because it has some of seemingly everything. It's permanently bookmarked at page 503 for the Salsicce e Fagioli all'Ucelletto (pork sausages and beans with garlic, sage, and tomato sauce). Peposo (black pepper stew) is on page 498. I combined some of the tomato sauces to come up with my own Bolognese sauce. Oh, then there's Cornetti di Salmone Affumicato con Insalata Russa (smoked salmon cones with potato salad).

                    1. Oh my!! You DO have a library, don't you?! I also have many Italian cookbooks but find that I rely on the Giada DeLaurentis books (I have all of them) because I like fresh and simple and they fill the bill. I especially like her marinara sauce, although I admit that I add thyme, oregano and 4-5 cloves of fresh garlic (instead of the 1 her recipe calls for), double or triple the recipe and bag what I don't use for the current meal in 2-person bags with my FoodSaver.

                      I'm also a fan of Mario Battali and find that many of his recipies have an authentic (IMO) taste and, if you're organized, not all that difficult.

                      I would NEVER part with any of my cookbooks. I'd rather build (or harrass my husband into building) another bookshelf.

                      Buon Appetito!!

                      Oh Lord, I almost forgot Lidia Bastianich!! Her stuff is unstuffy, simple and GOOD!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: caiatransplant


                        Our tastes overlap.

                        Have you tried Giada's roast balsamic chicken? Pieces (bone-in skin-on thighs, breasts, a mix) are marinated overnight in Dijon, balsamic vinegar, garlic, a few other goodies and then roasted. AS you say -- fresh and simple. Tasty enough for guests, moist. Excellent chicken salad material.

                        I cooked Batali's hunter's style chicken aka chicken cacciatore with COTM a few years back and when I made it for a potluck at work this year, it won me my first paid catering job! Excellent recipe using his basic tomato sauce (with shredded carrot and fresh thyme) and building flavors with pancetta in addition to the usual suspects -- mushrooms, celery, rosemary, garlic, homemade broth, and chicken thighs of course.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Marcella Hazan's the one Italian book I dumped last year. After last month's COTM discussion, I checked it out of the library to see what I missed. It's funny how we all have such varied tastes.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I learned to cook out of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I think it's a very good choice for a beginner. The recipes are easy and Marcella instills a lot of cooking wisdom. Many recipes are absolute classics. But some recipes are too austere and bland for most American palates (including mine). So I cook less out of it these days.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Hazan's Classic Italian Cookbook taught me how to cook perfect basics - tomato sauce, manicotti, the best bolognese EVER and many more. This is the textbook for Italian cooking IMHO.

                              1. re: EM23

                                I am not sure if I ever cooked out of Hazan's when I had it on my shelf. As you can see, now I have a lot of others to replace it out. But back then I think I probably only had Hazan's book and The Flavor of Italy. I love The Flavor of Italy. It is out of print, but if you find a copy 2nd hand it would be a wise investment.

                                1. re: dkennedy

                                  And I got rid of The Flavour of Italy awhile back and replaced it with Hazan's books:)

                            2. Gennaro Contaldo's "Passione" - it's a reminder of a lovely meal at his now closed eponymous restaurant.

                              1. All the Marcella Hazan books
                                Rao's Cookbook for its Italian-American classics.
                                Naples at Table
                                We Called it Macaroni
                                Mario Batali's various tomes
                                The Splendid Table
                                The Italian Country Cookbook
                                The Southern Italian Table
                                The Heart of Sicily
                                Sicilian Home Cooking
                                Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey
                                My Calabria
                                and the grandma of them all:
                                Ada Boni's Italian Regional Cooking.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: roxlet

                                  I love that We Called it Macaroni, fascinating (not one cell of Italian in me...great to read about family traditions not my own).

                                  1. re: roxlet

                                    Ooops, I left out Bugialli on Pasta, as well as his Foods of Italy. Both great books!

                                  2. Here are some of my Italian cookbooks. I really can't say they're all my *favorites, but they're all very good reads. I have a few really old books that I don't even touch now...

                                    The Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Lo Pinto (1963)

                                    Brunetti's Cookbook by Roberta Pianaro

                                    Bugialli on Pasta, Revised and Enlarged by Giuliano Bugialli

                                    Celebrations Italian Style by Mary Ann Esposito

                                    Ciao Italia:Traditional Italian Recipes by Mary Ann Esposito

                                    Ciro's Provincetown Kitchen by Ciro Cozzi & Cirro Cozzi

                                    Da Silvano Cookbook by Silvano Marchetto

                                    *Eat Right, Eat Well:The Italian Way by E. Giobbi & R. Wolff

                                    *Italian Family Cooking by Edward Giobbi

                                    Flavors of Tuscany by Nancy H. Jenkins

                                    *Italian Easy by R. Gray & R. Rogers
                                    *Italian Two Easy by R. Gray & R. Rogers
                                    Italian Grill by Mario Batalli

                                    *Molto Italiano by Mario Batalli

                                    Molto Gusto by Mario Batalli

                                    Jamie's Italy by Jamie Oliver

                                    Lidia's Italian Table by Lidia Bastianich

                                    Marcella's Italian Kitchen by Marcella Hazan

                                    Naples at Table by Arthur Schwartz

                                    Rao's Cookbook by Frank Pelligrino

                                    Red, White, and Greens:The Italian Way w/Vegetables by Faith H. Willinger

                                    Renaissance of Italian Cooking by Lorenza De'Medici

                                    *Sicilian Home Cooking by Giovanna Tornabene & Wanda Tornabene

                                    Williams-Sonoma Rome: Authentic Recipes by Maureen B. Fant

                                    20 Replies
                                    1. re: Gio

                                      Don't know why there is a separation between lines in my post above...

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        So Gio,

                                        If I was only going to add one Mario book to my collection, would you suggest Molto Italiano? If so, which are your go-to recipes from this book?

                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                          Oh gosh DK, I really liked everything we cooked from Molto Italiano. I'm away from the book now but there is a report thread in the COTM archives. I'll post later about my faves from this book, though.

                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                            DK here's a list of some dishes I've made and liked from Molto Italiano, in no particular order:

                                            Braised Pork Black Rooster, pg. 377

                                            Brocoli de Rape, 423

                                            Porcini and Arugula Salad, 61

                                            Pollo Avellino, 324

                                            Sausages with Polenta and Peppers, 371

                                            Penne with Onions and Cauliflower, 170

                                            Shrimp Fra Diavolo, 269

                                            Pan Roasted Turnips, 444

                                            Pasta e Fagioli, 124

                                            Sauteed Garlic, 428 (don't laugh)

                                            Basic Sauce, 71

                                            Minestra di Ceci e Pasta, 127

                                            There's more but you get the picture. I'm usually "all over the map" when it comes to planning meals. We like dishes that have strong flavors so I amp up herbs and spices, etc. to suit our individual tastes trying not to deviate too much from the written recipe. Mario's recipes are very well written and IIRC there aren't many vague instructions.

                                            But you know, everyone's tastes are different so one has to try and make any recipe one's own. It you've been cooking long enough you pretty much can tell whether or not you'll like a finished dish as you read through the recipe.

                                            Here's the archived COTM thread for Mario Batali's month.

                                            1. re: Gio

                                              Thanks Gio,

                                              I have been wanting to add a Mario book to my shelves for some time. Maybe this will be the one. I am impatiently waiting for Mozza to come out, though I think this is technically a Silverton book, not a Batali one.

                                              1. re: dkennedy

                                                You're welcome. Just know there are beef and other meat plus seafood and dessert recipes in the book.

                                                1. re: dkennedy

                                                  Oh, that book looks reallllyyy good - Mozza - can't have it till September!


                                            2. re: Gio

                                              Gio, there's a discussion on the "Site Talk" board about that problem -- it's being investigated--happened to me too a few days ago.

                                              It only happens sporadically, but when it does you can't edit out those spaces...

                                              1. re: rcallner

                                                Right... especially the revised edition.

                                              2. re: Gio

                                                Gio I recently re-visited this thread because a book came up in another discussion here and as I read through the old posts, I realized I forgot to mention that I purchased The Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Lo Pinto after reading your post. Would you mind sharing how you became acquainted w the book and, whether you've cooked from it. My copy (a novel-slized paperback) arrived with yellowed pages and lots of wonderful and unfortunately somewhat faded penciled notes. It was obviously very well-loved and I felt privileged to have "adopted" it.

                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                  Hi Breadcrumbs... I can't remember exactly how I came to know about The Art of Italian Cooking but I know I gave it to my mother as a Christmas present in the early '60s. She didn't use a cookbook very often and AFAIK only had an ancient Better Homes and a Betty Crockett. (which my daughter has now btw.) Every now and then she would want to replicate something her mother had made and would ask family members, most often her brothers two of whom were restaurant owning chefs.

                                                  I do remember browsing in bookstores from an early age and probably liked this book for both the menus presented for various Feast Days and holidays and simplicity of the recipes. My copy is a hard cover with a date of 1948. All the publisher's edition data that appears these days wasn't in use till the early '70s, I think it was. The dust jacket is holding up pretty well after having been taped together in a few places but it is brittle. And yes, the pages have yellowed considerably. It is in the EYB database but has not yet been indexed.

                                                  My mother did read the text and recipes, I know, but I think it was I who used it primarily as a reference. There are several folded pieces of paper on which I wrote menus of my own based on Lo Pinto's and I see I did make some notes on the Polpette, the Fritatta di Cipolla, Uova con Pepperoni, and various vegetable and bean recipes so I guess I did cook a fair amount of food from it.

                                                  With your cooking experience, BC, I'm sure you can imagine what the recipes will produce as you read them. I'm sure they're as authentic as can be and I'm fairly certain Lo Pinto didn't make many concessions to the then Modern American kitchen and pantry. I know my grandmothers, mother, and aunts didn't because of their access to local neighborhood Italian vendors.

                                                  Buon Appetito !

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    Thanks so much Gio, I really enjoyed reading your post. I don't suppose your Mother recorded any of her recipes did she? One of my best friends in grade school was Italian and I always remember her Mom and Nonna in the kitchen cooking up a storm. I ran into her about 10 yrs ago and asked whether she had any of her Nonna's recipes and sadly, she didn't.

                                                    Reading about your bookstore visits reminded me how few cookbooks had photos years ago and I suppose that's why we learned to cook/taste from simply reading the recipes. In my case, my Mom was/is a horrible cook. Everything is cooked to a crisp and "seasoning" consists of salt and maybe, pepper if she want's to get "fancy" as she still says when she tastes pepper or garlic at my house! Growing up I was fortunate to live in an ethnically diverse neighbourhood I spent a lot of time in my Italian, Indian, German and Dutch friends parent's or grandparent's kitchens. It was the unfamiliar aromas that first enticed me and the use of ingredients that just weren't common at my house. I wanted to recreate those experiences at home (whether or not anyone else wanted to sample my "experiments"!!) Some of my fondest memories of cooking and flavours are from those Italian homes (while listening to my friends practice playing their accordions) so books like Maria Lo Pinto's really appeal to me as I find they typically reproduce the tastes I remember so vividly. I'd put Ada Boni's books in this category as well.

                                                    I feel very fortunate now to live very close by to a thriving Italian community so it's rare that I can't source authentic Italian ingredients. That said, bottarga continues to escape me!

                                                    Thanks again for your post Gio & Buon Appetito to you as well!

                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                      You're welcome, BC. I have a few hastily written index cards that mother wrote in her absolutely horrible penmanship.. (gorgeous voice, lousy handwriting) One such was for lentil soup, another for shrimp consomme which I used frequently when I was first married. She cooked mostly from memory or created on the spot and I don't know why she even bothered to write those, except perhaps they had come from someone else, or she made them up as an idea to try. And, it wasn't only Italian food. She was quite into French cuisine as well, although her Holy Grail was Marrons Glacés which she never thought she mastered. I was a very lucky little girl with an enormous variety of delicious, healthy, and gourmet food to eat.

                                                      Our house was rather isolated from the downtown area... a tall hill overlooking Boston and environs. Our neighbors were an assortment of French, Irish, Armenian, Mayflower Yankees, and Italian so I too was exposed to a multicultural atmosphere. It's a really special way to grow up. Especially when everyone gets along and revels in the diversity.

                                                      I do hope you enjoy the Lo Pinto book. And then I'll introduce you to The All Italian Cookbook by Wilma Reiva LaSasso. Published ten years later.... Macmillan & Co.

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        Reading your post made me wish I'd lived on that hill too Gio...it sounds like your Mom was a wonderful cook and inspiration.

                                                        Since that Lo Pinto book is a "pocket book" I'm going to read it during my commute this week and flag a couple of recipes to try. I've already tabbed an eggplant dish and the meatballs you mentioned earlier. I'd hoped to can some tomatoes this year however I've been travelling (w work) so my time at home has been reserved for the imperative vs the desirable.

                                                        I'll report back at the end of the week and anxiously await your introduction to the LaSasso book....which I just might order in the interim..... ; - )

                                                  2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                    i have a very old copy of this lo pinto book as well as her desserts book inherited from my italian grandmother. the only thing i remember her cooking out of it was the easter wreath. but they are wonderful cookbooks. i've made a few things. i'd love to hear what you like to make.

                                                    1. re: eLizard

                                                      Hi eLizard... it's been a long time since I cracked the Lo Pinto book but I'll take a look to see what I have made and report back, probably tomorrow. It's fun to read those old books.

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        i find it so fun, as well. i usually go through them at easter when i'm making the wreath.

                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          Here are some recipes I've made from The Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Lo Pinto (1948):

                                                          To begin with I see that I have consulted the menus starting with Fiesta di San Giuseppi for the St. Joseph's Day buffet, pg. 40; Easter menu, pg. 41; Springtime menu, pg. 41 (which I alternate with the Easter menu and use as references) ; Winter menu, pg. 43.

                                                          Zuppa di Lenticchi, pg. 55; Lasagne al Forno, pg. 63; Polpette, pg. 101; Costatelle di Maiake con Cavolo, pg. 107; Broccoli alla Siciliana, pg. 122; Funghi Imbottite, pg. 129; Pollo colla Marsala, pg. 151; Pollo con Funghi, pg. 152, No desserts. Not many recipes, not terribly exciting, but really authentic as can be for an Italian home cook/author in America in the '40s.

                                                  3. The ones I've really cooked out of are Marcella Hazan's THE CLASSIC ITALIAN COOKBOOK and MORE CLASSIC ITALIAN COOKING and Giuliano Bugialli's THE FINE ART OF ITALIAN COOKING, probably because I'm older than a lot of you. They were what was available in the '70s.

                                                    Marcella was who I learned about Bolognese from, and Giuliano, the one right way (for me) to make pasta.

                                                    I can't imagine editing Marcella out of any collection of Italian cookbooks, so our tastes may not coincide, but I have also enjoyed reading all of Giuliano Bugialli's cookboks, in particular the photo-and-recipe books in which he visits different parts of Italy.

                                                    I like watching Mary Ann Esposito on TV, and Lidia Bastianich, but by the time I discovered them, I'd already learned so much from Marcella and Giuliano, I didn't see the need to augment the watching experience with more cookbooks. This was in the '90s, IIRC.

                                                    I was ready for more cookbooks by the time the '00s rolled around, and bought more of Bugialli, Marcella, and Pellegrino Artusi.

                                                    About a year ago, I found Lynn Kasper Rossetto's How to Eat Supper, and I can honestly say I have seldom been as disappointed in a cookbook. Her idea of making something good is to add raw red onion to it. I was imagining her eating them like apples.

                                                    Most recently, and thanks to the CH Cookbook of the Month, I bought JAMIE'S ITALY, which is a lovely tour of Italy that includes some recipes I'm able to use. When I used to watch him on TV, I recognized that his cooking style was basically Italian, but it was during my "Who needs cookbooks?" phase, so I'd never bought one of his until this year. Now I'm collecting them, practically.

                                                    Check out Giuliano Bugialli is the main thing I'd tell you. http://www.bugialli.com/


                                                    P.S. As a result of reading this thread, I just ordered myself a copy of Ed Giobbi's EAT RIGHT, EAT WELL, THE ITALIAN WAY. I read about him in Judith Jones' THE PLEASURES OF COOKING FOR ONE last year, and y'all keep mentioning him, and I need to eat right, and want to eat well, so...

                                                    1. La Cucina (Accademia Italiana della Cucina)-now in English, simply THE best articulation of regional variations on recipes old and new...for the experienced cook only, little instruction, no pictures, few substitutions

                                                      In Nonna's Kitchen (Carol Field)-good insights and adaptations of traditional recipes, using North American ingredients, substitutions and great little personal stories

                                                      Diary of a Tuscan Chef (Cesare Casella)--good step-by-step introduction to a regional cuisine that often gets celebrated without being understood as the product of very specific ingredients...also the best ever recipe for Fritto Misto di Pesce

                                                      Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian-good choice for the cook that wants to learn how to cook autentico Italian food without any knowledge of the Italian language and without full access to a great source for Italian ingredients...lots of substitutions, lots of big pictures and hand-holding step-by-step recipes and intro to techniques.

                                                      1. I gotta ask--

                                                        What if you took out everything but *the recipes* from these books -- no history, no geography, no stories, no science, no celebrities, no pictures, no theory, etc.etc.

                                                        Leaving just ingredients and method,

                                                        would there be a lot of overlap? 20%? 50%? more?

                                                        I'm not knocking the beautiful full rich books! I think I'm trying to buy less, though.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                          Personally, then I would purchase only La Cucina...it is simply, totally comprehensive with every possible regional variation. I would be hard-pressed to name a single recipe in one of the others that is NOT in La Cucina.

                                                        2. I love Italian Country Table and cook from it all the time. There's not a recipe I've tried that didn't work and that wasn't smashing. Love the potato "gatto", a cassrole of garlic/Parmegiano seasoned mashed potatoes layered with peas, salame, mozzarella, and topped with coarse garlic bread crumbs and baked. The various rissoti are good too. And the primer on tomato sauce and pasta has made my life much easier. The crust for pizza is my go-to for homemade pizzas now, whether Italian or non-traditional (roasted bell pepper, chicken / apple sausage, and goat cheese, for example). Plus, Kasper can flat-out WRITE. The stories she tells are terrific, notably the prologue about all her family being in their ancestral Italian home for the wine harvest.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: jmckee

                                                            Wow, JMckee, that casserole sounds yummy!!

                                                            1. re: jmckee

                                                              I ordered Italian Country Table after discovering the Splendid Table podcast. It just arrived today and I can't wait to crack it open tonight.

                                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                                Keep a hankie with you when you read the aforementioned wine harvest story. It can make for weepy.

                                                            2. Another vote for Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I think that the title says it all, "Classic and Essential". It may not be the flashiest or sexiest of the Italian cuisine cookbooks, but, it will give you a base to make every dish this region is famous for.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: cookbookman

                                                                My copy of The Italian Country Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper came in the mail. I ripped off the packing and dove right in. Initially, I was a little disappointed. After all, I was expecting something along the lines of The Splendid Table. So I put it down for a while and the next time I picked it up I tabbed all the dishes that had been recommended to me by others, many of them were things I probably would have skipped over so I am really appreciative of the input everyone has given me. Then, I started paging through the recipes, cover to cover. While doing this, I slowly began to appreciate the book's appeal. Though it is nothing like The Splendid Table, the recipes are simpler, and once I had the right frame of mind, I found each one is a gem. I tabbed some of my own and then settled on the following menu as my first try cooking out of this book:

                                                                The Brescia Garlic Bread and Green Bean Salad, p. 45 to start the meal;
                                                                The Garlic Capers Grilled Pork Chops, p. 246 served with Sicilian Sauce, p. 248: and
                                                                The Roasted Red Onion Wedges, p. 290 (which had suggested)

                                                                The meal was homey and delicious. A little too much work for a weekday meal, but only because I hadn't planned ahead. If I had marinated the chops the night before and made the Sicilian sauce in advance, then all that would have been left would have been a bit of chopping, blanching and grilling. I was hoping to make The Chocolate Polenta Pudding Cake, p. 360 for dessert, but didn't get that far.

                                                                Since I was going to be in the kitchen all day anyway, I decided to also make a pot of Mother's Broth to have on hand for future recipes. It was brewing on the stove until a few minutes again (where it stayed overnight, as it is supposed to cook for 14 hours). I can tell by the beautiful, rich, brown color it is going to be magnificent.

                                                                Thanks again for bringing my attention to this wonderful book. I can't wait to try some of the other recipes suggested by other CHs.

                                                              2. At the risk of dating myself, Marcella Hazan's "Classic Italian Cookbook" and Giuliano Bugialli's first book- can't remember what he called it offhand.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: oldunc

                                                                  Bugialli's first book is The Fine Art of Italian Cooking. http://www.amazon.com/Fine-Italian-Co...

                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                    They need to come up with some zippier names for these things.

                                                                2. I like Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The recipes are for simple dishes with classic ingredients prepared using classic techniques. The dishes, while austere, are distinctive, and memorable. For example, the pure aromas and flavors of a sauce consisting of simmered tomatoes, onion, and butter--nothing else--will always be etched in my mind. I'm sure many a modern cook would call for lots more things--fresh basil, garlic, black pepper, a smidgeon of chopped red pepper, grated parmesan. And such a dish could be perfectly tasty. It just wouldn't be distinctive or memorable, or nearly as good as Hazan's dish.

                                                                  The book is one of the only cookbooks I treat like a Bible. I rarely stray far from the recipes.

                                                                  1. Patricia Wells Trattoria. I use it most for her tomato basil pesto, but very often grab it first.
                                                                    Frankie's Spuntinos....love the sauce.

                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                    1. re: angelsmom

                                                                      Hey! I just got Frankie's. What do you like (other than the sauce)?

                                                                      1. re: Westy

                                                                        The shaved raw Brussels sprout salad on page 74, but cannot find that cheese. And the pork bracciole is to die for!

                                                                        1. re: angelsmom

                                                                          This sounds fantastic! I found a link online:


                                                                          Putting on my must try list. Thank you.

                                                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                                                            I could not find the cheese even in NY....hope you have luck.

                                                                            1. re: angelsmom

                                                                              Amazon has the cheese if you are interested. I found this out as I'd been looking for it too...for another recipe.


                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                Here's a link for the pork recipe. May have to buy this book. Grrrrrr!


                                                                                1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                  It is a beautiful book! All the pages trimmed in hold,

                                                                                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                  OMG 25.00 shipping for.8 ounces, but thanks. I appreciate it so much.

                                                                                3. re: angelsmom

                                                                                  I was able to find the cheese at my local cheese shop. I will make the salad tomorrow and report back.

                                                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                    Wow, if you live close to PA perhaps I could coerce you to send me some?

                                                                                    1. re: angelsmom

                                                                                      I live in L.A. so I think you would be better off ordering it from someplace that could ship 1 day. It is one of those cheeses that is chalky at the center, softer near the rind and very pungent. It wouldn't travel well once cut, I suspect.

                                                                                      1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                        Just found it at a store in NY,,,,,shipping 10.00. Do you like it?

                                                                                        1. re: angelsmom

                                                                                          I haven't had it on the salad yet. Will be eating in about an hour. I'll let you know if it is worth it then.

                                                                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                            On it's own it is a very nice cheese. I would liken it to a Boucheron if you are familiar with that. It's weird, because when I tried to find a substitute online, it said there is nothing similar. I think there is!

                                                                                            1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                              Castelrosso is sometimes likened to Castelmagno--a superior cheese, but rarer and more expensive. Both have a whitish interior that tends to crumble/flake when cut and a particular tang that is hard to describe to someone who hasn't tasted either one. Personally, I don't see the comparison to Bucheron, other than the tanginess and whiteness of the paste. Bucheron is a semi-soft goat's milk cheese that has a bloomy (white mold) rind and a cakey/clayey interior. Castelrosso/Castelmagno are firm cow's milk cheeses that have a natural rind and, as noted above, a crumbly/flaky interior.

                                                                                              Castelrosso looks to be available now at two NYC shops that also sell by mail order: Murray's and the Ideal Cheese Shop. From a condition standpoint, I would choose Murray's over Ideal, even though Murray's per pound price is higher. Castelmagno can be ordered from igourmet.com, a mail-order-only operation in Pennsylvania.

                                                                                              I don't see anything in the ingredients for this salad that would discourage me from substituting other cheeses. One that might work well here is Mahon from Spain.

                                                                                    2. re: dkennedy

                                                                                      Anxiously awaiting your report on the salad!

                                                                                      1. re: angelsmom

                                                                                        Sorry for the delay in reporting back. I loved the salad, it reminded me of a shaved raw artichoke salad I used to eat (it was trendy for a while out in LA and was on everyone's menus). The brussels sprouts were a snap to prepare using the mandolin. In terms of the cheese, I will defer to cheesemaestro above, but I do think another cheese like a Bucheron could be substituted and I would probably use a good quality shaved Parm if I couldn't get my hands on a Castelrosso.

                                                                                        Bottom line: the salad is worth making. Let me know what you think of it.

                                                                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                          My cheese arrives tomorrow, then a hunt for some Brussels sprouts! Many sincere thanks

                                                                          2. All the choices I have seen, these are all good books. I have no idea why this book has not been listed? For old school, real off the boat food, take a look at Leone's Italian Cookbook. Yes, some of the items can no longer be found. Whale meat and blubber for one. This book is not only a cook book. It tells a story. I love that. Todays home cooks in general do not want to spend the time to do things the right way. Please take a gander. I love everything in this book.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: josephlapusata

                                                                              Sounds like a great book joseph, thanks for bringing it to our attention. Is Leone the author? How did you come to know of the book? Is it an American book? I'd love to hear more.

                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                Here it is, BC...
                                                                                Gene Leone was one of Mama Leone's sons... Mama Leone's was a world famous NYC restaurant in operation almost 100 years.

                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                  Thanks Gio...what success Mama Leone enjoyed. Thank-you for sharing the article. The only Mama Leone I knew of was Billy Joel's (Movin' Out)!

                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                    Checking out an old thread and saw this reference to Mama Leone's...we spent a magical evening there with our daughter, 4 years old at the time, back in the early '80's. It was total kitsch (my husband was 'arrested' by the waiter for putting cheese on a fish dish and our daughter had to bail him out with a breadstick), but the food was really good.

                                                                                    I never knew there was a linked cookbook and am going to go hunting for it!

                                                                              2. This a Devil's Advocate-type question for Italy cookbook fans out there.

                                                                                Is there a lot of overlap of actual recipes in these books? Count ONLY what gets put on the table.

                                                                                Remove the photos and illustrations, stories, atmosphere and ambience, history, hype, celebrity, TV prestige -- leave just what gets put on the table after following the ingredient list and cooking instructions. Much overlap? TIA

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: BangorDin

                                                                                  Absolutely BD, in my case there's TONS of overlap and IMHO, that's the joy of collecting cookbooks. If I want to try a particular dish I can consult multiple books and cobble together what, in my view, is the best of all worlds...taking a bit of inspiration from one, ditching an ingredient or cooking method from another and adding in my own experience (or inexperience) until I feel I've found a recipe that will work for our tastes. While the glossy photos attract me, it's the words in the books that keep me coming back. Words that whisk me up and take me to places I may never have the privilege of visiting...like a tiny town in Southern Italy that prepares their freshly caught "whatever" just so and serve it after a pasta I'll never find in a box on my supermarket shelf so maybe, just maybe I might even consider making, just this once, to pretend like I'm actually there...

                                                                                  Great question, I'll be interested to see what others have to say here.

                                                                                  1. re: BangorDin

                                                                                    Yes BangorDin there is overlap. Italy is a vast regional culinary melting pot. One recipe and 60,626,442 (2011 Italian population) versions. There's overlap in families so there's certain to be overlap in cookbooks. It's just that each cookbook author will publish his or her own version. That's the fun of cooking from different Italian cookbooks.

                                                                                  2. Would you believe I just have Culinaria Italy. It has pretty simple recipes with little fuss. I just never thought of picking up another.

                                                                                    1. Would you like a suggestion from Olives and Oranges? Chicken with Escarole, Apples and Potatoes, on p. 263, with a lovely picture on the preceding page. It's a wonderful combination of fall-ish flavors.

                                                                                        1. I too, have uncountable Italian cookbooks in both Italian and English.

                                                                                          However, here are some of the titles and some of the ones you had mentioned in above thread.

                                                                                          The Splendid Table
                                                                                          The Silver Spoon Series
                                                                                          Cracco ( Chef with Michelin Stars)
                                                                                          Harry´s Bar
                                                                                          The Renaissance of Italian Cooking - Lorenza d´ Medici
                                                                                          Trattoria Cooking
                                                                                          Italy The Beautiful Cookbook
                                                                                          Chef Mario Batali´s Cookbooks
                                                                                          Risotrante Gambero Rossi Dishes

                                                                                          Have lovely Labor Day.
                                                                                          Margaux Cintrano.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: foodeditormargaux

                                                                                            You're the first in this thread to mention The Silver Spoon, which seems to get mixed reviews here on CH. I enjoyed skimming through it when I was first given it by an Italian friend a few years ago, but I haven't consulted it much other than for risotto. I think the problem is me rather the book. Could you suggest some recipes you especially like in it?

                                                                                          2. "The Romagnoli's Table" by Margaret and Franco Romagnoli 1974. A follow-up book to the PBS series of the same name is an old favorite. Straight forward, easy to follow, and uses common ingredients to create simple delicious meals. Spezzatino Di Vitello Con Piselli (veal stew with peas) is one of my favorites and the Gnocchi Verdi (spinach, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, with a little nutmeg) is way better than than the boring potato variety. It can still be had from Amazon and a bargain if you will settle for used. Highly recommended! Here's the Amazon link. http://www.amazon.com/The-Romagnolis-...

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: grampart

                                                                                              I lovedthe show and i love that book.

                                                                                              1. re: grampart

                                                                                                You just reminded me I have the "New Romagnoli's Table." I never saw the show, but my dad loved it--and once asked me if I had their cookbook. I didn't, but went out and bought it and cooked a Father's Day meal for him. I'd long forgotten that. Thanks for the memory.

                                                                                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                  Nice. The cookies with almond paste and pignoli in it are fab,

                                                                                              2. My favorite Italian American cookbook is definitely the Rao's Cookbook. It is a must have for the meatball recipe alone. Their lemon chicken and lemon sole are to die for as well. Very clear, concise, simple, and beautiful photos and anecdotal writing. I can't recommend it enough

                                                                                                As for mainland Italian/Sicilian, tough one. Batali's cookbooks are good because he hits a wide range of regions and their various cooking styles - Molto Italiano is a very good one.

                                                                                                For equally authentic/legit Italian, you really can't beat Lidia Bastianich. all of her books are excellent but lacking pictures and denser text. Can be a bit intimidating.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Samurai Sam

                                                                                                  Jamie's Italy is also good. Reminds me (a bit) of Lydia.