cover image Italian Grill

Italian Grill

Mario Batali. Ecco, $29.95 (246pp) ISBN 978-0-06-145097-6

Though he offers classics like bruschetta with white beans and grilled radicchio, pizza and sausages (as well as the ubiquitous chicken under a brick), the latest from veteran cookbook author and restaurateur Batali (Molto Italiano, Simple Italian Food, etc.) contains enough ingenious, imaginative riffs to keep even the most seasoned of grillmasters experimenting with tasty new ideas, among them thick tuna steaks cooked like bistecca alla fiorentina, monkfish wrapped in prosciutto and chicken drumsticks dunked in a spicy buttermilk marinade, topped with fennel and black pepper. His pork tenderloins dusted with ground porcini mushrooms, brown sugar, fennel and red pepper, then grilled and topped with a vinaigrette reminiscent of the classic Negroni cocktail, is nothing short of brilliant. Sides include simple but revelatory Thick-Cut Onions with Lemon Thyme and a standby-worthy take on potato salad in which waxy potatoes (like Yukon Golds) are grilled with Dijon and red wine vinegar. A fair number of dishes call for either a rotisserie attachment or a piastra, a hot griddle used to cook smaller items (Batali recommends the ones he sells online), but the bulk of the recipes are suitable for even novice grillers. Rounded out with tips on tenderizing octopus, a simple brine for pork chops and, of course, Mario's Kick-Ass Barbecue Sauce, this is an essential collection for any serious backyard cook.