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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0786868570, Hardcover)Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito is best known for his short-lived reality TV show The Restaurant, which chronicled the start-up (and disintegration) of DiSpirito's Manhattan dining spot, Rocco's 22nd Street, whose menu was partially devised by his mother Nicolina. Rocco's Italian American offers 150-plus recipes--restaurant-connected dishes like Nicolina's much praised meatballs plus her Eggplant Rollatini and Pizza Fritta, among others. Worthy versions of old favorites include Spaghetti Carbonara, Linguini with Clams, and Stuffed Artichokes. Requiring fewer than ten ingredients, the recipes are as tempting as they are approachable.
But recipes are only part of the package. Following the introduction (a bumpy start, as DiSpirito writes that "every American has in common... one émigré in his family who started it all by coming to America," a statement that Native Americans, among others, will find objectionable) the book offers "Nicolina’s Story" and "Rocco’s Story," 60-odd pages of detailed reminiscence that some readers will welcome and others find excessive. Photos throughout illustrate the dishes; the chef and his clan (this reader stopped counting shots of DiSpirito at 22); and, unaccountably, portraits of common ingredients like lemons, walnuts, and red pepper flakes, among others. This lavish "editorializing" means recipe squeezing, resulting in the use of a very small font that makes reading the methods, especially at "cooking distance," difficult. There are other problems as well, including the "loss" of recipes promised on the flyleaf and in the seafood section intro.
These objections aside, the book promises much good eating--including "dolce" like Elena's Ricotta Grain Cake and Chocolate Walnut Budino--and for DiSpirito fans, another chance to learn from, and gaze at, the master. --Arthur Boehm
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:50 -0400)
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