Rao's Cookbook: Over 100 Years of Italian Home Cooking Hardcover – Apr 7 1998
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
Most recent customer reviews
Finally found the Italian cookbook I have been searching for! It has taken almost 2 decades but...this is it! Read morePublished 5 months ago by C. M.
This is a great cookbook for beginners and seasoned cooks.
A must have for Italian cooking!
I will purchase this for gift giving,
When building your library of essentials, count this cookbook as one of the corner pieces of the puzzle. Read morePublished on Jan. 16 2004 by Jules
I have been in love with good food and wine all my life.
Frank's book is a must have! The braciole browed in olive oil and garlic then simmered in the Sunday Gravy as it... Read more
When I moved to the northeast and married a "yankee" I knew I had to add cooking real Italian to my repertoire of southern home-cooking...this book did it! Read morePublished on June 11 2003 by Kevin and Corrie Habib
This is the quintenssential Italian cook book. Of all my Ialitan cookbooks this is the most authenic. Read morePublished on April 2 2003
I first heard about this book while watching Sarah Moulton on the Food Channel. She had Frank Pellegrino and his son as guests, and they were impressive to watch. Read morePublished on Dec 26 2002
I own over 100 Italian cookbooks! If you are going to own just one this is THE one to own. Recipes to die for. The stuffed veal chops, the meatballs! Read morePublished on Oct. 4 2002 by Brad Mattix
I just got through making the lasagne in this book, and it is the best, most authentic recipe I have ever seen in a cookbook. Read morePublished on May 20 2002