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Rao's Cookbook: Over 100 Years of Italian Home Cooking Hardcover – Apr 7 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Rao's Cookbook: Over 100 Years of Italian Home Cooking
  • +
  • Rao's On the Grill: Perfectly Simple Italian Recipes from My Family to Yours
  • +
  • An Evening at Rao's: Songs from an Italian Restaurant
Total price: CDN$ 88.65
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (April 7 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679457496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679457497
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 2.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 839 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #43,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Rao's is an old, 10-table restaurant in an old, New York-Italian neighborhood in which old Italians still may or may not live (this was never made quite clear in Nicholas Pileggi's complete-history-of-Italian-immigrants-in-America introduction to the cookbook), but you can't go there to eat. Not unless you know someone who has a lock on one of the tables. These are shared occupancy tables, condominium tables. Every night (Monday through Friday) is already spoken for--has been spoken for, in fact, for quite some time. Mixed in with the names of the obvious rich and famous and powerful who get to eat at Rao's (and who have enthusiastic things to say about Rao's throughout the cookbook) are names of the not-so-obvious to anyone who hails from outside the Italian neighborhood that spawned them. Rao's sounds like a dream of what New York once may have been like--joints on every corner full of character and soul--or what everyone would like to think New York may have been like. It sounds a little like a Disneyland nostalgia experience that just about everyone will never have.

So bless Frank Pellegrino for putting Rao's kitchen between the covers of this book. If you want the excitement and charm and comfort food of Rao's, you can now cook it yourself and pretend that's Dick Schaap sitting over there, and Rob Reiner coming though the door with Woody Allen, Brenda Vaccaro, and John-John. Plan on eating lots of tomato sauce, for Rao's springs from the same roots that gave America Italian red sauce restaurants of the checkered tablecloth and Chianti bottle candle holder stripe. Rao's does it far, far better, and with soul. The late Vincent Pellegrino, who made Rao's what it seemingly continues to be, was particularly fond of grilled meats, and those sections of the book are exemplary: simple, straightforward, to the point. Even the tripe sounds like it might be worth trying.

If you want to cook Italian and not sweat the regional details, this book is the one to pull off the shelf. --Schuyler Ingle

From Library Journal

Rao's is a New York City institution, a tiny, family-owned Italian restaurant in East Harlem that has attracted national attention and a celebrity clientele. But most of its ten tables (they added two tables to the original eight after the restaurant had been in business for 99 years) are reserved, in perpetuity, for regulars, many of whom have been eating there once a week for decades-so a jar of Rao's Homemade Tomato Sauce is the closest most people will ever come to the restaurant's fare. But here are the simple, classic recipes that 80-year-old "Auntie" Annie and the other cooks make every weekday: Seafood Salad, Baked Clams Oreganate, Pappardelle with Hot Sausage Sauce. Scattered throughout are quotes from devoted fansAsome famous, some "from the neighborhood"Aand lots of photographs. For area libraries and other larger collections.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on Jan. 20 2004
Format: Hardcover
I must have 40 cookbooks, and I hardly ever use the ones written by even the best restaurant chefs. They usually demand too many wierd unavailable ingredients, take too much time, are too fussy about details, and often don't work particularly well. That's just my personal pet peeve. THIS cookbook is the exception to that rule. The recipes are a beautiful example of what makes italian cooking great, a few very nice ingredients, put together simply, in a delicious and creative way. This is classic family-style italian, done in an irresistibly delicious way. The recipes generally use a few basic ingredients, and are both easy to execute and well laid-out. Nearly everything I've cooked from the book has been at least very good, and some things have been outstanding. Usually, I'm pretty impressed if more than half the recipes are any good. I cook from this book on WEEKDAYS, for heaven's sake. This is easily in my top 3. Favorites include lemon chicken (yum)!, chicken cacciatore, veal marsala, meatballs, marinara sauce. As a final added attraction, there are anecdotes throughout the book, by folks from customers including Dick Schaap and Billy Crystal, among many others. This is a cookbook that's even fun to read!
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Format: Hardcover
Every household has a favorite cooking style, a combination of taste, memories, and the necessities of place, time, and diet. In our house, that position has sometimes been held by French food and occasionally Asian, but the all-time and ultimate winner is Italian.
Italian food, with its emphasis on the freshest and best seasonal ingredients - and the least fuss in cooking them - is very appealing. Real Italian cooking, as it is cooked and eaten in Italy, focuses on vegetables and grains, with meats used as seasoning, garnish, and treat, so it's also very healthy.
American-Italian cooking - the kind you remember from the old-style neighborhood Italian restaurant of your childhood memories - is based on that, but is much richer, with meat taking the center place.
Rao's Cookbook is a perfect melding of the two, offering both classic Italian dishes and classic Italian-American ones.
In fact, on page 65, I discovered Sunday Gravy, Rao's version of The Big Spaghetti Dinner, a favorite buffet dinner of ours for many years. I noted with culinary interest and delight that Rao's use the thinner tomato gravy I remember from my visits to Philadelphia's authentic South Philly Italian restaurants instead of the thick tomato sauce (derived, I'd guess, from some tenth generation bastardization of Ragu Bolognese) that we suggest.
No one can reasonably expect to get into tiny Rao's (it has 8 tables and one seating) except via celebrity or inheritance. The seats are "owned" by the original diners and Rao's has withstood any enticements to expand. These recipes are the next best thing. If you like to cook Italian style, they may be better! We've tried many of the recipes and enjoyed every one.
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By A Customer on June 26 2003
Format: Hardcover
I've not bought the book but I definitely will. I'm overseas now but it's on my TTD (things to do) list when I return to the 48. Why am I rating this cookbook a 5 without seeing it for myself? Allow me to explain: I bought four of Rao's bottled sauces at a Wild Oats store failing to notice the price (rather spendy) sauces for when I absolutely have NO time to make it homemade. The sauce is absolutely phenomenal!! I wanted to immediately stock up so I returned to Wild Oats and this time took notice of the price for each jar. Did I make a scene?, did I shove the jars back? No way!!, the sauces were worth every penny charged! So if their sauces are that phenomenal then I have no doubt that everything else in the cookbook is just as fantastic. A good cook is judged by his sauces as they're the base of his creations. A weak foundation and your dish collapses. I've seen Frank demonstrate some of his techniques on []nd I can already tell that they're worthy of many praises. I know I won't be disappointed. I've tried a "designer" bottled sauce by an Italian celebrity chef, nothing remarkable, neither was his book--great disappointments.
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Format: Hardcover
You will probably want to plan on having company when you start trying out these recipes, because you will want all the world to know what a great cook you are.
This cookbook has made me look good so many times, I can't imagine living without it. Bless the inspired friend who gave it to me! The ingredients for the minestrone look simple enough, but the combination is rich and satisfying. Linguini with white or pink clam sauce comes out delectably (even cutting back some on the oil). Biscotti and cannolis (complete with shells) were a smash -- dishes I was fearful of attempting before, by the way. It's a cookbook I've come to trust implicitly. I can approach dishes I've never made with confidence that they will turn out successfully. In my experience few other cookbooks (maybe the first Moosewood volume) are so consistent.
Maybe the best testimony would be to say that the recipes have roundly impressed even my Italian partner and his family. Buon appetito!
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Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing book and I suggest to everyone to try Rao's Marinara Sauce recipe. I learned how to make sauce from a local Italian restaurant but after reading Rao's recipe for sauce, my sauce went from a 9.5 to a 15!! Rao's gives great tips such as the "type" of tomato to use. I can't get enough of this book...

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