It's time to reimagine Italian-American cooking with this week's cookbook review.
In Italian American Cookbook, Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, the critically acclaimed Don Angie chefs in New York City's West Village, reinvigorate the genre with a modern point of view that proudly straddles the line between Italian and American.
They present family classics passed down through generations side-by-side with creative spins and riffs inspired by old and new influences. These comforting dishes feel familiar but are far from expected, including their signature pinwheel lasagna, ribs glazed with orange and Campari, saucy shrimp parm meatballs, and a cheesy, bubbling gratin of broccoli rabe and sharp provolone.
Full of family history and recipes that will inspire a new generation, Italian American Cookbook provides an essential, spirited introduction to an unforgettable way of cooking.
Italian American: Red Sauce Classics and New Essentials is more than just a book about Don Angie Restaurant.
As Angie and Scott say in the book, "When we sat down to write this book, we wanted it to go beyond a Don Angie cookbook. Don't get us wrong. We're proud of the recipes at our restaurant, but the way we cook at home is different."
Throughout Italian American Cookbook, you'll see a mix of classic and not-so-classic Italian-American dishes, some of which are based on Angie and Scott families' recipes and some of which are born of their own imaginations and experiences.
Although we love restaurant cookbooks, for us, the fact that this book is not just a Don Angie Cookbook is a plus. Not only this book gives you some of the signature recipes of Don Angie, but it also gives you plenty of other recipes that you can make at home.
The words "red sauce" alone conjure images of an Italian-American table full of antipasti, whisked off to make room for decadent baked pastas topped with molten cheese, all before a procession of chicken parm or pork chops all pizzaiola. It's old-school cooking beloved by many and imbued with a deep sense of family.
Italian American Cookbook starts with two chapters dedicated to antipasti (one hot and one cold), a staple of the Italian-American table, and how all proper red-sauce meals begin. These little predinner snacks are meant to be mixed, matched, and eaten with abandon.
After covering their favorite salads, in the third chapter, Salads, Angie and Scott move into an entire chapter dedicated to sauces. The recipes in this section - including a simple ten-minute tomato sauce - are foundational to the cuisine.
Of course, there is a devoted section to pasta - dried and fresh, and within the latter, for hand-rolled gnocchi and gnudi, as well as homemade pastas made in both the Northern and Southern Italian styles.
Italian American: Red Sauce Classics and New Essentials also has an entire chapter on meatballs that mixes the traditional (a classic beef-and veal combo modeled after Angi and Scot grandmothers' versions) with the less-than-traditional (shrimp parm in meatball form).
At this point, you might think that these chapters are enough to make an excellent Italian cookbook. Still, in the true spirit of Italian cooking, the dishes keep coming with chapters featuring main courses (secondi in red-sauce parlance) and vegetables.
To finish it off, there is a somewhat sprawling dessert section, with several cookies and so much more (cannoli, zeppole, Vietnamese coffee, and tiramisù). Last but not least, there is also a few after-dinner drinks that require little more than high-proof alcohol and patience.
Thanks to its incredible recipes and easy-to-find ingredients, Italian American: Red Sauce Classics and New Essentials is one of the best Italian Cookbooks we have ever reviewed.
The diversity of recipes and the fact that they are home-cook-friendly make this book a must-have for any fan of Italian-American Cuisine.
The fans of Don Angie restaurant will also love this book because its spirit and some of its signature recipes are very well captured in this book.
Italian American: Red Sauce Classics and New Essentials is one of the best and most exciting Italian-American Cookbooks you can find on the market.