cover image MOLTO ITALIANO: Simple Italian Recipes for Cooking at Home

MOLTO ITALIANO: Simple Italian Recipes for Cooking at Home

Mario Batali, . . Ecco, $34.95 (522pp) ISBN 978-0-06-073492-3

It takes a kind of genius—or obsessive personality—to open five successful restaurants, host two Food Network shows and write three cookbooks, and Batali's manic energy comes alive on every page of this fourth book devoted to dishes for the home cook. With over 300 recipes, the volume is an overstuffed celebration of the rustic local fare Batali loves, organized by course (antipasto, soup, pasta, fish, etc.). Fans will find repeat renditions of signature Batali dishes found in his earlier volumes, such as Short Ribs in Barolo, and Bucatini all'Amatriciana, but can also discover tantalizing new ones, such as Malloredus with Fennel, Game Hen with Pomegranate, and Lamb Shanks with Orange and Olive. Batali excels when he translates complex traditional dishes for the modern kitchen, such as Pork Loin in the Style of Porchetta. But in his desire to keep things "simple," he sometimes goes astray, as in the case of homemade sausage, which is reduced to two not-very-simple steps of instructions. Such compression threatens to undermine Batali's true passion for teaching Americans to savor the intense flavors of local ingredients simply prepared. All in all, the book tries to pack in too much; the two pasta sections would make a book in themselves. What the home cook really needs is more Mario, fewer recipes. Photos, drawings. (May)