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Mario Batali Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages Hardcover – Sep 29 1998

3.8 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter (Sept. 29 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609603000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609603000
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #364,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Sure to excite lovers of the best Italian cooking, Mario Batali Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages reenvisions classic home cucina with enticing results. Batali, known to fans as "Molto Mario" from his Television Food Network shows, and as chef-owner of Manhattan's much-loved Po and Babbo restaurants, presents nearly 250 of his favorite recipes, traditional and innovative, for delectable salads, pastas, grilled specialties, ragus, and desserts, among others. The collection, inspired by the cooking of Borgo Cappene, a hillside village in northern Italy, and Greenwich Village, where Batali culls exemplary ingredients for his restaurants, reflects Batali's commitment to simple cooking--impeccable ingredients sensibly combined and properly prepared. Cooks seeking deeply flavored, smartly presented dishes will embrace Batali's recipes for everyday meals and for entertaining.

Arranged by courses, antipasti through formaggi and dolci (cheese and sweets), the uncomplicated dishes include White Bean Bruschetta with Grilled Radicchio Salad, Baked Lasagna with Asparagus and Pesto, and Roasted Porgy with Peas, Garlic, Scallions and Mint. Gorgonzola with Spiced Walnuts and Port Wine Syrup with fresh fruit would make a lovely conclusion to any dinner. Throughout, Batali provides advice on dish preparation; there are 32 pages of color photos and dozens of black-and-white shots of life in Batali's two villages. Batali's reliance on the best ingredients simply prepared, rather than on fussy restaurant techniques, places his dishes squarely in the realm of home cooks. They'll find his book a keeper. --Arthur Boehm

From Booklist

New Yorkers have long appreciated Batali's Po Restaurant, and fans of his cable television cooking show have come to respect his no-nonsense approach to teaching classic Italian cooking. Batali emphasizes the essentials of regional Italian cooking, carefully noting the similarities and differences as one travels from one ancient province to another. His pasta dishes come in true Italian style, heavy on the pasta itself, light on the sauce. Seafoods shine as main courses, and Batali's insistence that the famed fish stew cioppino actually originated in Liguria will no doubt offend San Franciscans, who have long claimed it as their own. Meat dishes waste nothing and make efficient use of all parts of the animals, including organs and feet. Although many of the vegetable dishes have some meat garnishes, there are plenty of recipes that will satisfy pure vegetarians, too. Mark Knoblauch

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Far too many people look at the title "Simple Italian Food" and think that the book is going to include tons of 30 minute recipes for everyday Italian cooking.
Anyone who has watched Batali's show, or anyone who reads the introduction to this book will find out that what he is referring to is the use of a few, excellent ingredients in each dish, as opposed to a long list of ingredients that will require one whole cart at the grocery store to carry. Most of the recipes require 6 or 7 ingredients, tops. Some are exotic (most have easy substitutes), yet one of Batali's primary but often-missed points is that the kind of ingredient isn't important, but its quality. I'm surprised by how few a number of people took this concept away from the book.
The recipes turn out delicious. They can be intensive at times, particularly the pasta dishes. Most of the meat dishes also require long periods of braising. Few of the dishes are quick-prepares. THAT'S FINE IF THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR.
So look through the book a little bit before buying and determine if this is what you are expecting. If so, you'll likely enjoy it.
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Format: Hardcover
I find it hard to be entirely objective about this book, as Mario Batali is my number one culinary hero. Through his show 'Molto Mario' on the Food Network, he exposed me for the first time to Italian regional and microregional cuisines and the 'if it grows together, it goes together' doctrine. This is called 'terroir by the fans of cooking from 'the F country', which Mario loves to hate. This also brought into full light the doctrine of 'buy the very best of what is fresh today and that will determine what you cook tonight.' Mario does not give you the cerebral approach of someone like Paul Bertolli or Tom Colicchio or, ultimately, like Thomas Keller, but Mario gets all the important stuff right, in a way we can appreciate and use.
I love the way Mario quite honestly confesses to having lifted most of his recipes from Italian grandmothers, as he believes that the best Italian cooking is done in the home and not in the Restaurante. In spite of his heart being with Italian cuisine, he is never disrespectful of American food and produce, especially when the American product is superior to the Italian.
This book is comprised of recipes primarily from the extended three-year stage he served in a little trattoria in Emilia-Romagna, a stones throw from the border with Toscana. But, it does contain several recipes from other parts of Emilia-Romagna, Toscana, Lazio (Rome) and even Sicily. His two 'villages' are Porretta Terme in Italy and Greenwich Village in Manhattan.
The book has six chapters of recipes, these being:
Antipasti, 43 recipes including crostini, bruschetta, polenta, pickled vegetables, mushrooms, and cured fish.
Primi (pasta or rice), 49 recipes including recipes for fresh pastas, gnocchi, couscous, and risottos.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book, based on how easy it sounded to make a few dishes, on Martha Stewarts TV show. After I got the book, I found that most receipes called for some very hard to find ingredients. I am giving the book to my daughter who works downtown, & may stand a better chance of finding the necessary ingredients at the "specialty" shops located in most downtowns. I think there should be an advisory about the fact that there may be some difficulty in gathering the various needs of some receipes.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a bit of a loss to read the less than stellar reviews of this book by Mario Batali. Yes, Mario uses some not-so-common ingredients... but if you want not-so-common food, you try your best to find those ingredients (hint: you can find hard-to-find ingredients pretty damn easy over the Web)... besides, there's
a common alternative to practically every ingredient that Mario uses.
So far I've tried about a dozen recipes... *all* with stellar results. The artichoke/pasta and the calamari recipes are particular favorites. And while I was skeptical about the quick tomato sauce that he describes early on (hey... its *so* different than Marcella's quick sauce), when I tried it, it was amazingly good, especially for a 30-minute sauce.
And... yeah... it does take a little practice to make your own fresh pasta. Overkneading/overrolling can make fresh pasta pretty tough. If you can't... you can always stick to Sicilian dishes. Sicilians prefer dried pasta. :)
This is a good book (unlike other junk like Emeril's book... Emeril is a circus clown not a cook). Besides the simple (they *are* simple) recipes, you really learn quite a bit about simple Italian cooking that you can leverage in your other dishes.
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Format: Hardcover
I think the reviewers who say that some of the ingredients are hard to find are missing the point. One of the themes of this book, which Batali also mentions almost daily on his FoodTV shows, is that great Italian cooking uses ingredients that are as fresh as can be and are native to each region. The happy result of this is that dishes taste bright, intense, and more flavorful. So go find great dishes in YOUR region and see what new things they help you discover in your cooking!
If the reviewers that can't easily find boar -- and who can nowadays :o) -- they probably could find a similar flavored cut of pork, or maybe an easier-to-find game meat like venison or buffalo, and give it the same treatment. Cornish game hens, or even a small-ish chicken, could stand in for pheasant. No goat cheese in your town? No problem, use a soft farmers cheese or even a feta instead. I've tried some of these substitutions and they work just fine. Maybe the taste won't be identical to wild boar, but if you still like it, who cares? Personally, I find these recipes inspire me to try new things when I'm cooking, but once I've learned a new trick, I don't stick to them word for word like a magic formula.
Now my only bone to pick with this book is that I would like to see more vegetarian main courses. My wife is vegetarian, and while many of the pastas in the book work very well for her as a main course, it means I'm the only one who gets to taste the great pheasent, er, chicken dishes.
Oh, and by the way, if you can't find saffron (or other spices and dried herbs) where you live, check out the Penzey's spices catalog or They can send it, reasonably priced, right to your door.
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