David Ruggerio's Italian Kitchen: Family Recipes from the Old Country


Praise for Little Italy Cookbook

"This is the real McCoy of Italian-American kitchen thinking."


"What a delight to discover the Little Italy Cookbook. It is filled with flavor, fun, and fantastic food."

--Universal Press Syndicate

"This is a bighearted unpretentious cookbook."

--Publishers Weekly

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New York, NY 2000 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 248 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Oversize book 10 ... X 8.5. Clean, tight copy with no writing. APPEARS NEVER TO HAVE BEEN READ! As new dust jacket with light shelf wear for its age. Read more Show Less

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2000 Hardcover First Edition; First Printing New in New dust jacket 1579651151. Mylar covered; 4to 11"-13" tall; 248 pages.

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Praise for Little Italy Cookbook

"This is the real McCoy of Italian-American kitchen thinking."


"What a delight to discover the Little Italy Cookbook. It is filled with flavor, fun, and fantastic food."

--Universal Press Syndicate

"This is a bighearted unpretentious cookbook."

--Publishers Weekly

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publisher's Weekly
a powerful debut novel." -Booklist, starred review "Twin addictions overlap in Berlin's noir, on-the-road debut novel. . . .Berlin displays a nice, quirky sense of dialogue, and his violent scenes are etched with convincing—if sometimes gruesome—detail.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Classically French-trained chef (formerly of Le Chantilly in New York City) and former Food Network host Ruggerio returns to his southern Italian roots (via Naples, Sicily and Brooklyn) with irrepressible enthusiasm. Ruggerio draws a distinction between the cooking of Naples (from his mother's side), which is "colorful and accessible, using mostly basic ingredients," and that of Sicily (his father's homeland), which he describes as "complex and subtle, calling for some `exotic' ingredients." More than 150 recipes from both regions are folded into the book's seven chapters: antipasti, soups, pasta, fish and shellfish, meat and fowl, vegetables and desserts. Unlike many Italian cookbook chefs, Ruggerio sincerely attempts to enlighten readers about the country's regional differences. In short essays, he differentiates, for example, between the Neapolitan and Sicilian dialects and the "Fisherman in the Bay of Naples" and "La Tonnara," the Sicilian tuna fishing tradition, often with tongue-in-cheek humor. The straightforward recipes aim for authentic, traditional preparations, such as Silken Scallion Soup with Squid, She-Crabs Marinara, Saut ed Sweet-and-Sour Tuna Steaks, Tripe Parmesan, Chicken Baked in Clay and Neapolitan Cauliflower Salad. Instructive sidebars introduce readers to Italian fundamentals, such as cooking pasta, filleting fish and roasting peppers. Alternating between entertainer and teacher, Ruggerio regales readers with countless amusing anecdotes, from yarns about his overprotective, meddling Sicilian aunt Josie (who insisted her daughter spend her honeymoon at home) to his hypochondriac friend Joey Baccala. Melding a bent for tall tales with alluring preparations, Ruggerio inspires readers to explore southern Italy with a smile and an adventurous palate. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579651152
  • Publisher: Artisan
  • Publication date: 3/1/1900
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 8.36 (w) x 10.34 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Brooklyn-born David Ruggerio has worked in professional kitchens since the age of 14 and apprenticed with some of the greatest chefs in France, including Michel Guerard, Roger Verge, Jacques Maximin, and Paul Bocuse.

Maura McEvoy is a photographer specializing in interiors, food, and people. Her work has appeared in such magazines as Saveur, Town & Country, New York, Condé Nast Traveler, and Food & Wine. She lives in New York with her husband, daughter, and two dachshunds.

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Read an Excerpt

Pezze della Nonna

Grandmother's Stuffed Pasta Squares

I love this dish. It's one of those recipes that has been handed down from mother to daughter for hundreds of years. Yes, it's somewhat involved, but it's also really fun and shows off the artistry of Sicilian home cooking. One fine feature is the tomato sauce, developed especially for this recipe. Another is the fresh pasta. If you don't have time to make it fresh in your own kitchen, you can buy the pasta in premade sheets.

Pezze, by the way, means "pieces," so the recipe title translates, literally, as "pieces of grandma." Actually, "pieces" refers to the stuffed pasta squares that are folded in exactly the same way as you would fold a "pocket square" or handkerchief - the two bottom corners in, then one more corner in, leaving a triangular peak on top.

For the tomato sauce

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

8 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only, chopped

8 large basil leaves, chopped

2 1/2 pounds ripe Italian plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 recipe Balsamella (page 216)

For the stuffing

2 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, stems removed

Coarse salt

1 pound ricotta, drained very well

1 whole egg

3 egg yolks

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg

For the pasta

2 1/4 pounds all purpose-flour

4 egg yolks

1/4 cup cold water

2 tablespoons extra-virgin oil

pinch of salt

TO PREPARE THE TOMATO SAUCE: Place the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat and saute the chopped onion, celery, garlic, and carrots for 12 minutes. Add the parsley, basil, and tomatoes, cover the pot, and allow to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring periodically so it doesn't burn on the bottom. When it's done, pass the sauce through a food mill, season to taste with salt and pepper, and keep warm (in a covered pot on the stove off the heat) or reheat later.

Prepare the balsamella according to the recipe and keep it warm.

TO PREPARE THE STUFFING: Wash the spinach well, drain, and blanch it in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Refresh under cold water, drain well, and squeeze dry. Chop the spinach fine and place it in a bowl with the ricotta, egg, egg yolks, and Parmesan. Mix well, add the nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature, or if you make it ahead, refrigerate until ready to use.

TO PREPARE THE PASTA: Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center. Place the egg yolks, water, olive oil, and salt in the well and mix with the flour until all ingredients are incorporated. Don't overmix. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes, then roll it out on a floured surface to a thickness of 1/16 inch. Cut the dough into sixteen 6-inch squares and cook them in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 30 seconds, then refresh them in a bowl of cold water. Transfer the pasta squares to a damp towel.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Lightly oil a baking dish large enough to hold all the pezze, slightly overlapping. Place 2 tablespoons of the stuffing in each of the pasta squares, fold it into a triangle, then take the two side ends and fold them to meet along the bottom edge. Place all the stuffed pezze in the baking dish, then pour the balsamella on top and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, spoon the tomato sauce on top, and serve immediately.

Serves 8



This is the smooth, milk-based white sauce with flour and butter that in Italian cuisine is used as a topping for casseroles, particularly lasagna.

1/4 cup unsalted butter

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 1/2 cups milk

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. When the butter starts to froth, add the flour all at once, stirring and cooking for 2 to 3 minutes until all the flour is incorporated. As you are cooking the butter-flour mixture, bring the milk to a boil in a separate pot over medium heat. Add the boiling milk to the pot with the butter-flour mixture, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook over low heat for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and cover it with a piece of wax paper, pressing it to cover the surface of the sauce and prevent it from forming a skin on top. Keep the sauce warm in a double boiler until ready to use.

Makes about 4 cups sauce

Insalata di Rinforzo Napolitana

Neapolitan Cauliflower Salad

Although it's often ignored, cauliflower is actually a very versatile, delicious, nutritious, and economical vegetable. This particular salad is traditionally served at Christmas, a very special holiday in Italy as it is all over the world. What I like about Christmas in Italy is that it lasts twelve days, climaxing on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, when it is not Santa Claus who brings gifts to the children but La Befana - a good witch.

In Naples, they serve this salad throughout the holidays. They boil the cauliflower, carrots, and peppers, mix them up with white vinegar, hot pepper flakes, oil, anchovies, and Gaeta olives and let it pickle. It's a bracing, spicy, pick-me-up, hence the name rinforzo ("reinforcement"), from the verb rinforzare ("to strengthen"). You can find a version of it in jars at Italian delis and supermarkets under the name insalata giardiniera ("garden salad"). But forget about that--you should make this version at home.

This salad should be prepared well in advance of serving - I recommend 3 hours - so the vegetables and dressing have a chance to marinate and create a delicious melding of flavors.

1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (discard the stem portions)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large sprigs fresh oregano

8 anchovy fillets, rinsed and julienned

1/2 cup Gaeta olives, pitted and cut in half

1/2 cup capers, rinsed

1 1/2 cups roasted red bell peppers (see page 171), seasoned with vinegar and oil

Cook the cauliflower in boiling salted water until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. (It can also be steamed if you prefer.) Refresh under cold water and drain very well. Place the cauliflower in a bowl with the olive oil and vinegar. Season with the salt and pepper. Strip the oregano leaves from the sprigs and add them to the bowl with the anchovies, olives, and capers. Cut the peppers into narrow strips, add them to the bowl, toss well, and allow to sit for at least 3 hours at room temperature before serving. Serves 8.

Zuppa di Piseddi Secchi e Patate

Split Pea and Potato Soup

My father's great aunt, Angelina, used to make this soup for us when we were young. Which reminds me of a story. Have you ever heard about how protective Sicilians are of their daughters? It's all true. Angelina was so protective of her daughter Josie, it was ridiculous. When her daughter was finally allowed to date her future husband, the family would walk twenty feet behind them wherever they went. They dated for nine years and were only able to kiss during the last year. When they finally got married, my aunt insisted they have the honeymoon at her house. Their first night, my aunt didn't sleep a wink. Whenever it got quiet, she would yell, "Hey, whatsa going on inna there?" Then she started to eat the biscotti--crunch, crunch, crunch--all night. Needless to say, my cousins didn't have their first child till they were married for five years.

1/2 pound split peas, rinsed well

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into medium dice

2 medium potatoes, peeled and finely chopped

5 cups Chicken Stock (page 216)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the peas, carrot, potatoes, and 3 cups of the stock in a soup pot over medium heat and cook until all the ingredients are very tender. Puree the soup in a food processor or blender until very smooth.

Place the olive oil over medium heat in a separate skillet and saute the onion and garlic in it until golden, about 4 minutes. Add the contents of the skillet to the soup pot along with the remaining stock. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper, add the greated Parmesan, and serve.

Serves 6

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Table of Contents


1. Antipasti Appetizers

2. Zuppe Soups

3. Pasta The Macaroni

4. Frutti di Marre Fish and Shellfish

5. Carne e Pollame Meat and Fowl

6. Verdure Vegetables

7. Dolci Desserts

Basic Recipes



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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2000

    A Great Book To Read As Well As Use

    I enjoyed reading this book almost as much as I enjoyed the recipes I prepared from it. As the Italian Food Host @ BellaOnline, I keep primarily an Italian kitchen, and have over 130 Italian cookbooks in my collection. This book has great photos, interesting little articles throughout and VERY good recipes. I am partial to southern Italian cooking anyway, so this book with it's Sicilan and Napolitano influences was particularly appealing. I have made quite a few recipes from this book already and apart from the odd one or two, would repeat them all. If you like southern Italian cooking with it's bold flavors, you won't be disappointed with this book!

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