Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food
Andrew Carmellini, Gwen Hyman. Bloomsbury, $35 (311pp) ISBN 978-1-59691-470-4
In one of the more creative yet accessible Italian cookbooks to come along, Carmellini (formerly chef of A Voce in New York City) presents spectacular recipes while opening a window onto his life with food, from his Italian-American boyhood and cooking school to revelations while traveling in Italy and being a top New York chef. An extensive personal introduction as well as ample side notes and recipe introductions offer extra insight into his approach to food. The recipes, which come from all over Italy and mix regional Italian and American influences, are arranged classically, from antipasti to dolci. Many seem typical Italian fare, yet Carmellini gives them an idiosyncratic touch that heightens flavors and makes them work for the modern cook, whether that means an intriguing beet and grapefruit salad or meatballs with cherries. Some recipes are simple but time-consuming, as he candidly admits, yet he walks through the steps so patiently that a determined cook at almost any skill level will manage. Carmellini shows why he is considered one of the country’s best young chefs, and a natural teacher.
Reviewed on: 09/15/2008