Little Italy Cookbook

David Ruggerio, Author, Melanie Acevedo, Photographer Artisan $29.95 (232p) ISBN 978-1-885183-54-5
In this companion volume to an upcoming PBS series, Little Italy with David Ruggerio, the very busy chef retreads some very familiar ground as he offers recipes for such Italian American standbys as Neapolitan Stuffed Peppers and Zabaglione. Ruggerio is chef and owner of New York City's Le Chantilly restaurant. Here, however, he returns to his ethnic roots, playing the immigrant angle to the hilt in chatty, unfocused chapters organized around such themes as his grandmother and his friends. Recipe headers are anecdotal and often amusing, such as the story of a dog named Val (named for Rudolph Valentino). Some other headers are frustrating, however: the one for Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe tells the reader ""fresh pasta is better"" but fails to include instructions for making orecchiette (there's a recipe for pasta dough, but orecchiette are made from eggless dough). Recipes for standards such as Pizza Margherita, Polenta with Sausage and Tomato Sauce and Amaretto-Chocolate Cheesecake are competently executed. A few vegetable pies--e.g., the Grain Pie traditionally prepared for Easter and a Pasta, Ricotta, and Dandelion Pie--offer fresh tastes. This is a bighearted, unpretentious cookbook--and Ruggerio has no qualms about promoting friends, insisting, for example, that Colavita olive oil is the best. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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