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Eat ! Drink ! Italy ! with Vic Rallo

So how does the owner of two rather mediocre overpriced Italian restaurants (Basil T's and Undici) in Monmouth get his own TV show and free half hour commercial on local PBS ?

I mean, what were they thinking ? It's not like they don't have enough Italian cooking shows on local PBS already.

At last count this includes:

Lidia, who is now looking to Italian American eateries for inspiration (?) Guess we ran out of real Italian/Croatian ideas...

Nick Stellino, who has also run out of Italian recipes and is now ghost hosting for other chefs.

Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito, not sure if Ciao means hello or goodbye in this context.

Brindiamo with Ornella Fado, whom I can barely understand.

Christina Cooks, an Italian (oops Mediterranean) take on vegan.

Mike Colameco's Real Food, I have to confess this is my favorite and does not focus solely on Italian.

So what was the braintrust at WNET thinking when they greenlighted yet another Italian food show? And why this guy since his restaurants cater to the blue haired set in Red Bank and Rumson? (Check out the bar at Basil T's on a Wednesday evening if you don't believe me.) I think the board of WNET should have to eat there for a week before they make up their minds to renew.

Or, as usual in New Jersey, was the fix in on this one too?

How about a different cuisine for change, what could we do that would be local and interesting?

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  1. "Or, as usual in New Jersey, was the fix in on this one too?"

    Are you insinuating that there could be some level of corruption in the state of New Jersey. {{facial expression of shock}}

    Nooooooooo can't be!!!!!

    1. Do you have a show you would like to promote? Maybe just contact the station and see what happens? Nothing ventured nothing gained .
      Since i believe about 40 per cent of Nj has Italian ancestry there may be a built in market / Based on your name maybe you could promote Scandinavian cooking ? If no one proposes a show , no one will produce it .
      Oh and for bashing the blue haired set , you will be surprised how fast the time goes from now to when you are an elder of the tribe . Just wait .

      6 Replies
      1. re: saltylady

        Actually WNYC airs a show called "New Scandinavian Cooking". Thursday night at 9:30.
        I agree in principle, though, that WNET could vary it's cooking show line-up.

        1. re: bropaul

          Yeah but that guy is working with ingredients that you can't find in the average Norwegian grocery store, much less over here.

          Oh, and he is cooking outdoors on top of a glacier half of the time.

          Propane, anyone?

          1. re: vikingkaj

            I'm not going to disagree about the glacier- you can always see his breath! Not sure about the ingredients.

            1. re: bropaul

              I think he was making lamb tongues last week...

          2. re: bropaul

            I love "New Scandinavian Cooking" and find it inspirational. I may not be able to recreate his exact dishes, but that is not necessarily what I'm looking for in every cooking or travel show. I'm looking for inspiration and technique. And the locations are gorgeous. I just saw one in Iceland, a country I find fascinating and beautiful.

            It was cold and rainy here last night and I found myself snuggled in front of the tv when Eat! Drink! Italy aired for about two hours. I must admit I wondered the same thing as the OP, but as salty lady said, it is probably geared to the NJ/NY audience and was a cheap buy for local stations. I didn't find his dishes very appealing, but I did enjoy the wine segments and also getting a peek into some of the more out-of-the-way kitchens.

            There are a couple of Chinese/Asian shows on Cooking Channel that are OK. My favorite is Luke Nguyen's Mekong Delta series and now he has another one I can't recall the name of. Ming Tsai has a whole series on Singapore which I find especially delightful since I used to live there. How people cook in those teeny weeny kitchens is beyond me.

            I would love to see a show on contemporary German cooking (being from Wisconsin, ya know).

          3. re: saltylady

            Just for the record I have nothing against the blue hair set, since I am tending towards old and crotchety myself. Seniors are an important demographic. They eat out a lot and it would be difficult to survive in the rest business without them.

            However, in my experience, seniors just tend to be a little less adventurous in their choice of locales. Not all seniors, but most.

          4. It's all about marketing and there's no one more prominent in that regard in our area than Rallo.

            As for the blue haired commentary, maybe that was the deal on a Wednesday. I don't believe that it fits the demographic/clientele of either restaurant on a consistent basis.

            In closing, I don't watch the Food Channel anymore nor PBS for the most part (though I will from time to time). I'm tired of the competition, the dog eat dog bullspit that is the M.O. of most of tv these days.

            Dining isn't a competition, as is sex. It's to be savored, enjoyed and produce a wonderful outcome/experience. Not, "you've been chopped" or "is that all there is?" ;-)

            2 Replies
            1. re: JustJake

              All of this is an excellent reason to watch Mike Colameco. A couple weeks ago he did a great show on Cape May.

              1. re: JustJake

                "Dining isn't a competition, as is sex."

                I've been doing something all wrong.

              2. Lidia has a homey way with the food she presents and I have copied a recipe of hers from time to time.
                Stellino is kind of goofball but he respects food but I will change the channel when he gets too, you know, Stellino.
                Ciao Italy makes me cringe but she has been on FOREVER so I give her props just for longevity.
                Brindiamo has not aired in my area yet... have to hit the internet.
                Christina Cooks is as Italian (ahem Mediterranean) as Christina herself (not much since she is half Irish and pushes macrobiotics).
                Real Food is another that hasn't aired in my area... internet again!
                What about Taste This! with Joe Ciminera? Although his show is about as Italian as Christina Cooks... His show is the only one I just can't watch!
                Nick Rallo's show just began airing in FL (my market) so I know nothing of him or his restaurants. I was determined to not like him only based on the slightest resemblance to Ciminera! However this weekend on CreateTV (a PBS channel) they ran a marathon of Eat! Drink! Italy with Nick Rallo and I found that he is kind of sincere about his connection to good ingredients and creating nourishing food... although the Jersey kind of oozes out in his presentations!
                As for Andres Viestad and his magnum opus New Scandinavian Cooking... you can't deny the scenery is AWESOME!!! What I take away from his show is to not faithfully recreate his dishes but to search my own area for local ingredients and try a different was of preparing food... plus, if he can roast venison on a glacier I can be more adventurous too... with a little help from Steven Raichlen!

                1. I've made recipes from Stellino and Esposito's shows that have come out fabulous and received plenty of praise. I enjoy watching them both.

                  Sometimes I find Lidia interesting to watch, but not her more recent shows focused on "Italian American" food. I do like Vic Rallo's show, actually, the few shows I've seen.

                  Personally I'd enjoy a Jersey-themed cooking or food show focusing on some of our great wineries in state; perhaps local chefs doing meals to pair well with or use these wines.

                  1. I love food and travel shows.

                    I GUARANTEE you will like any place that Mike Colameco recommends!

                    I find the Scandanavian cooking show transfixing based on their locations.

                    Jacques Pepin is a genius and very talented. I will watch his shows from any decade.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: scarlet knight

                      Second that on Jacques Pepin. I adore him. He posts the most endearing photos of himself and his daughter, Claudine, and others, on Facebook and it always makes me smile. He's such a great and patient teacher.

                      1. re: sandiasingh

                        Any self professed fan of Jacques Pepin owes it to themselves to read his book "The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen"

                        A truly good read that goes in depth into the life & times of the culinary genius behind Howard Johnson's!

                        1. re: equal_Mark

                          As it happens, I have it on order right now. Looking forward to reading it. I recently saw his "Chefography" on Cooking Channel and did not know about the life-changing car accident he had many years ago.

                      2. re: scarlet knight

                        Pepin is always interesting, he has so many little tricks that you can't help but learn something from his shows.

                        I always remember the way he cut up olives so that they looked like little rabbits... Amazing...

                      3. Ok so I actually watched about 5 minutes of the Rallo show on PBS over the weekend.

                        Cooking consisted of him making something he called a "Rustica" sauce, which was basically roughly chopped seeded tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil.

                        He then proceeded to show how you could make three dishes from one sauce: 1) mix it with blanched green beans and you had a "contorni"; 2) mix it with chicken stock, stale bread and parmesan and you had authentic "tuscan" bread soup; or 3) you could just have the sauce over pasta.

                        I found this very illuminating since making three dishes from one sauce could explain a lot about why the food at Undici and Basil T's tastes the way it does.

                        I will leave you to form your own conclusions...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: vikingkaj

                          "Ok so I actually watched about 5 minutes of the Rallo show on PBS over the weekend."

                          I'll draw some conclusions based on that as well...

                          1. re: sockii

                            5 minutes was about all I could stomach.

                        2. We should try to get a NJ Chowhoundin' show.

                          1. Second season will air on Create starting July 22. It will be the first time a show airs on Create before its PBS run.

                            I've never dined at his places or seen this show, but those caps he always wears smack of trying-too-hard.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: yarncake

                              he doesn't own Undici. he is a manager there. Anthony Diaca Owns it. and I have seen victors show. I actually watch Victor himself watch his own show, by himself. That is the only time I saw it.

                              1. re: NJDolfan

                                If you watched Victor himself watch his own show, by himself, then ha wasn't by himself, was he? Oy...

                                1. re: NJDolfan

                                  Dolfan....How is Jessica doing nowadays?

                                  1. re: corvette johnny

                                    I was at a party and saw him do this. No one was with him. and I don't know who Jessica is.

                              2. I have no idea about this but like most other cooking shows, is entertainment. use the remote

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: angelopat

                                  Thank you for that idea Angelo! I never knew I was able to do that before you mentioned it! Have you thought about patenting your idea? Thanks for that excellent contribution to this discussion dude. Out of 28 posts, yours was the most useful...

                                2. I have to laugh & agree with the Viking. I grew up right outside Red Bank, NJ and remember eating at Basile T's a few times with my family as a kid when it first opened. I believe it was the first restaurant we gave a "goodbye kiss" and never ate there again after a couple mediocre dinners.

                                  We could never understand how this restaurant stayed in business for sooooo long.

                                  1. "Lidia, who is now looking to Italian American eateries for inspiration (?) Guess we ran out of real Italian/Croatian ideas..."

                                    The first restaurant Lidia worked in and then eventually opened after coming to this country was an Italian/American restaurant. She has always credited that cuisine as being essential to her success as a chef. Her cookbooks and shows dedicated to this cuisine are a paean to it; is is not a way to compensate for "running out of ideas."

                                    But I agr

                                    1. THE GALLOPING GOURMET.......Now there was a wierdo.........

                                      1. "So how does the owner of two rather mediocre overpriced Italian restaurants (Basil T's and Undici) in Monmouth get his own TV show and free half hour commercial on local PBS ?"

                                        How is this a "free half hour commercial?" I believe to get a cooking show on PBS you have to come to the table with and guarantee at least $1 million in advertising. Getting those advertisers on board is hard work, not to mention the fact that you have to pull in the ratings in order to keep those advertisers on board.

                                        That said, I am not a fan of Vic Rallo or his show and am subjected to it when my husband watches it. I like the fact that he visits places in Italy, but he is such a buffoon!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Multifoiled

                                          All of these guys are using the TV thing to generate publicity for their restaurants, cookbooks, cookware lines, oven equipment lines, ingredient lines and probably soon their underwear lines.

                                          IMO the worst at this is Wolfgang Puck on QVC. OMFG is he ever annoying with that scratchy Austrian accent of his. Still he pushes a lot of crap like knives, pots and toaster ovens out the door.

                                          Rachel Ray runs a close second. I think we will be seeing her EVO based breast enhancement cream/lubricant at a nearby store soon, with a polenta dusting make up base to go with.

                                          I think the craziest thing I have seen this year is Lidia going fishing for bluefish off Long Island in the fog wearing a peach colored sunbrero. I'm sure she got that at her local Westmarine with the Port Supply card... NOT!

                                          It's all food porn.

                                          1. re: vikingkaj

                                            I think all TV exists to make money and promote products. It always has from the start and always will. Lidia's fishing trip, while I agree she looked silly, was with Dave Pasternak who runs both Esca and Eataly's fish counter, two of Lidia's concerns. Of course it is self promotion! I would do the same if I were on TV!

                                        2. Wow - your take on all of the shows above is exactly the same as mine.
                                          Vic Rallo happens to be my least favorite as far as the "Italian" theme goes. As a non-native Italian even I recognize how terrible not only his Italian vocabulary is but his pronunciation is deplorable.
                                          If I hear "la materia prima" once more I may give up watching the show altogether. (If he at least would pronounce the "e" correctly I might be able to stomach it. I mean, if you're going to put on what is supposed to be an authentic Italian show at least make it sound like one too.)
                                          I actually had to put my book down recently when I heard him refer to focaccia as focaccIO! Not only was the gender wrong but the stress on the last syllable was horrid.
                                          His animated hand movements when he talks should be offensive to any Italian as he takes the gestures over the top. Even taking out the Italian hand gesture mimics his hand throwing right in someone's personal space is invasive and rude. And - is it just me or does he actually speak louder when he's talking to someone in Italy that does not speak English?

                                          I enjoy always Jacques Pepin. He is a master and as unpretentious as any chef I have ever seen.