Rustic Italian Food

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Slow-cooked meats, homemade breads, flavorful pastas...these are the traditional comfort-food classics that Italians have been roasting, baking, curing, and making in their own kitchens for generations--dishes that people actually want to cook and eat. In Rustic Italian Food, acclaimed Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri celebrates the handcrafted cuisine of Italy, advocating a hands-on, back-to-the-basics approach to cooking. Home cooks of every skill level will revel in the 120 recipes, such as sweet Fig and Chestnut ...

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Rustic Italian Food

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Slow-cooked meats, homemade breads, flavorful pastas...these are the traditional comfort-food classics that Italians have been roasting, baking, curing, and making in their own kitchens for generations--dishes that people actually want to cook and eat. In Rustic Italian Food, acclaimed Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri celebrates the handcrafted cuisine of Italy, advocating a hands-on, back-to-the-basics approach to cooking. Home cooks of every skill level will revel in the 120 recipes, such as sweet Fig and Chestnut Bread, rich Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi, savory Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder, and fragrant Apple Fritters. Rustic Italian Food is also an education in kitchen fundamentals, with detailed, step-by-step instructions for making terrines, dry-cured salami, and cooked sausage; a thorough guide to bread and pasta making; and a primer on classic Italian preserves and sauces. Much more than just a collection of recipes, in this book Marc Vetri connects us directly to the essence of Italian food.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This follow-up to 2008’s Il Viaggio Di Vetri, Philadelphia chef and restaurateur Vetri has a fairly defined scope. The emphasis is on old-school specialty skills like bread baking and pasta making, preparing charcuterie and preserving vegetables. It’s rustic as in “handcrafted,” not rustic as in “easy.” Mortadella pizza includes homemade dough and handmade lamb mortadella. Beef speck requires a four- to five-month process. The results, in dishes such as veal cannelloni with a porcini bechamel, amaretti semifreddo with chocolate sauce, and candele with a duck Bolognese are exquisitely worthwhile, if arduous to achieve. There are some simpler, rustic-as-in-easy pleasures, too, such as an escarole gratin with raisins and parmesan cheese; slow-roasted lamb shoulder, and Jewish-Roman-style fried artichokes. Vetri is an opinionated, authoritative guru whose carefully honed recipes inspire confidence. While it’s not for the casual cook, his collection will certainly appeal to home stunt chefs and anyone looking to deepen their knowledge about traditional techniques. Photos. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
“Vetri is not only a chef but a home cook. He is a veteran cookbook writer and old soul who thrives on thoroughness and detail. But above all Vetri is a mensch, generous and kind and full of life, and he brings that to every page.”
Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and author of Blood, Bones & Butter

“Philadelphia's Marc Vetri will unapologetically teach you the way Italian food has been made for centuries, but in doing so will apply modern sensibilities that make his food the favorite of chefs around the country … Not sure about making your own pasta? Start with the spinach and ricotta gnudi. They're simple and as sexy as they sound, assuming you know that the ‘g’ is silent.”
—St. Petersburg Times, 12/14/11

“Marc Vetri's rustic food is very family friendly, big on flavor, with detailed recipes that will make you want to cook.”
—Ideas in Food, 12/13/11

“This is a precision how-to book for a much broader range of foodstuffs – from great rustic breads to delicious mostardas and even homemade charcuterie … Rustic Italian Food demonstrates compellingly that good cooking is not about bling but about simplicity, understanding, and feeling.”
—The Austin Chronicle, 12/9/11

“These recipes prove why [Marc Vetri’s] restaurants are so successful.”
—Detroit News, 12/8/11

“Sometimes you just want rustic, and Italian rustic to me seems compelling … This is a primer on all things Italian food with detailed, step-by-step instructions for making terrines, dry-cured salami, cooked sausage, bread, pasta and classic Italian preserves and sauces - traditional comfort that Italians have been dishing in their kitchens for generations.” 
—Ottawa Citizen, 11/23/11

“As a grown-up, I've never tried to make fresh pasta; the prospect seemed so daunting and time-consuming, with messy volcanoes of flour and eggs and a thousand esoteric contraptions. Rustic Italian Food, homeboy Marc Vetri's handsome new cookbook, proved me wrong.”
—Philadelphia City Paper, 11/17/11

“This book is good like that, building foundations home cooks can expand upon. The pages feel heavy in hand, like well-rested pizza dough, and are layered with solid information that helps you understand why, for example, you should use a honey starter in one bread recipe versus a sourdough starter in another, or why some pasta doughs call for eggs and others don't.”
—Philadelphia City Paper, 11/17/11

“Some of the book's most significant tidbits are not in the ingredient lists, but in the chapter introductions and cooking instructions. You might never make lamb mortadella, but reading about the process, in Vetri's approachable, engaging description, is captivating, in the same way people who have never turned on a stove watch Food Network cooking shows for hours.”
—Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/9/11
“Rustic Italian Food … [is] a multifaceted experience: It's part reference (see chapters on meat curing and paragraphs on oils and cheese); part culinary philosophy (his opinion of molecular cooking and absentminded line cooks), part travelogue (like his laugh-out-loud search for the perfect Parisian baguette), part expert cookbook (homemade pastas, breadmaking, spit-roasting a pig), and part novice cookbook (some recipes, like the spinach gnudi, marinara, and salads, are downright Rachael Ray simple).”
—Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/9/11
“Vetri is the real deal: a philanthropic, guitar-playing, accomplished, brilliantly modest chef who owns three restaurants, has two cookbooks, runs a million dollar foundation, and by happenstance embodies the "six perfections" that a Bodhisattva must generate -- hence the title of this piece. These are: generosity, ethics, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom.”
The Huffington Post, 10/11/11

“Much more than just a collection of recipes, in this book Marc Vetri connects us directly to the essence of Italian food. . . . Vetri knows Italian food and we're excited to see what he has to teach. The cover alone makes us want to take a bite out of the book.”
The Huffington Post, 8/25/11

“Marc Vetri cooks the best Italian food in America. Now he shares his secrets with all of us. Get ready for gutsy flavors, silky pasta dishes, and your friends and family running to the table for meal after meal.” 
—BOBBY FLAY, chef and restaurateur of Mesa Grill and Bar Americain
“There are few, if any, chefs in America I would rather have cook for me. [Vetri is] a true magician of Italian cuisine who relies on fantastic ingredients and impeccable technique to create his rustic yet sophisticated food. I am going to run, not walk, to get this book should, too, because these recipes will take your breath away.”
—MICHAEL SYMON, chef and author of Michael Symon’s Live to Cook
“Marc Vetri has grasped an elementary but elusive truth: good cooking isn’t about obscure ingredients or technical razzle-dazzle, and it certainly isn’t about recipes. It’s about understanding food--thinking about it intelligently and feeling it. Vetri’s passion is for the elegantly straightforward cuisines of Italy and Italian-accented America, and in Rustic Italian Food he gives us plenty to chew on in this regard. Anyone who digests this volume will end up not just a better Italian cook but a better cook, period.”
—COLMAN ANDREWS, co-founder of Saveur and editorial director of
In Rustic Italian Food, Marc Vetri has captured, with his unique style and deliciousness, the essence of Italian flavors, kitchen fundamentals, and techniques. In this book, Marc has collected an abundance of recipes featuring traditional rustic Italian food. Each enticing chapter is prefaced with a sort of mini class on the subject, and then followed by an array of both comprehensive and easily executable recipes. This is surely a book you will want to add to your kitchen library.”
—LIDIA BASTIANICH, restaurateur and author of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy
“Marc’s love affair with food is obvious. His simple hands-on approach is refreshing; he is a true craftsman. Simply put, Marc is the best Italian cook working in America today.”
—TOM COLICCHIO, chef/owner of Craft Restaurants

Library Journal
Noted Philadelphia chef and restaurateur Vetri follows up Il Viaggio di Vetri by focusing on handcrafted Italian breads, pastas, salumi, sauces, and accompaniments. While familiar recipes like Margherita Pizza and Fettuccine Pork Ragu may seem simple in terms of ingredients and instructions, they require considerable time and pre-preparation (for instance, an artichoke dish suggests an eight-hour refrigeration period between steps). Advanced cooks looking to master bread and pasta will value Vetri's patient, masterful explanation of underlying techniques. Highly recommended. Serious bread bakers will also enjoy Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice and Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580085892
  • Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 181,452
  • Product dimensions: 10.28 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Trained in Bergamo, Italy, by some of the region’s most noted chefs, Marc Vetri is the chef/owner of Vetri Ristorante, Osteria, Amis, and the forthcoming Alla Spina, all located in Philadelphia. Vetri was named one of Food & Wine’s Ten Best New Chefs and received the Philadelphia Inquirer’s highest restaurant rating; he also won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic. Vetri has been profiled in Gourmet, Bon Appétit, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the New York Times. Visit his restaurants online at:
David Joachim has authored, edited, or collaborated on more than thirty-five cookbooks, including the IACP award-winning The Food Substitutions Bible and the New York Times bestsellers A Man, a Can, a Grill and Mastering the Grill, co-authored with Andrew Schloss. He lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Visit David at:
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Read an Excerpt

I REALLY LIKE TO COOK. I don’t say that as a joke--I really, really enjoy cooking. Sniffing out the best ingredients, dreaming up a dish, and then handcrafting something delicious brings me immense satisfaction. That idea might seem odd in the technological age of modern cuisine. Why bother cooking by hand? Why judge doneness with your eyes when you can just put something in an oven, press a button, and take it out when the buzzer goes off? It will be cooked perfectly. You can vacuum-seal a veal medallion in plastic, label it, put the bag in a water bath at a prescribed temperature for a prescribed time, then take it out, cut it open, and serve it. Some people think that this kind of scientific advancement is a godsend. But not me. If I wanted to be a file clerk, I would work at an accounting firm. I don’t enjoy filing. I enjoy cooking. I like to touch and smell fresh herbs, to roll them between my fingertips and breathe in their tempting aromas. I like to feel the supple skin on a fresh pear and taste the tannic bite of young artichokes. I want to understand where my food comes from--the earth, the climate, and the place where it was grown. Touching, knowing, and understanding give me more respect for the ingredients I’m working with and help me honor those foods in the kitchen. The fewer things between me and the food, the better. Don’t get me wrong--knowing the science of food can certainly make you a better cook. But how you use that knowledge makes all the difference between modern cuisine and rustic preparations. Some chefs use their knowledge to manipulate our medium--food--to its furthest reaches, constructing or deconstructing elaborate dishes with multiple components. Other chefs use food knowledge to expertly pair two ingredients together in a simple preparation like a musician who can move you from your seat with two minimal notes. That musician may have a deep understanding of musical theory but chooses to display his or her knowledge with an uncomplicated melody. I love knowing how and why things happen in cooking, but I’ll take Miles Davis over Wynton Marsalis any day of the week.
This kind of simple, hands-on cooking is the core of Italian cuisine. In the kitchen, my greatest aspiration is to take as few ingredients as possible, cook them perfectly, and make them sing. I try to bring this kind of simplicity to all of my tables--at home and in my restaurants. It’s what I teach the cooks who come to work with me, and what I set out to share in this book.
I’m not alone in this straightforward approach. Thomas Keller, the prince of precise French cooking, recently told reporters that a chicken tastes best when simply roasted in the traditional manner: “Clean the chicken, season it inside and out, rub it with butter, truss it and roast it at 425 degrees,” says Keller. I couldn’t agree more. Even Alain Ducasse, one of the most decorated chefs in the world, recently simplified the menu at his flagship Plaza Athenée restaurant in Paris. “We’ve never been about bling-bling,” he told an international news agency, “but now we are definitively going to get back to essentials. Cuisine has become too complicated--this is about subject, verb, adjective: duck, turnips, sauce.”
For many young cooks, the simple basics no longer hold their interest. Some very talented chefs have come to work with me over the years, and I am still amazed at how many of them don’t know rudimentary food preparations like butchering animals and making stock. For me, it is an art to make a piece of cured salami with only three ingredients: pork, fat, and salt. Bread, one of the world’s most important foods and most beautiful art forms, can be crafted from only flour, water, salt, and yeast. Yet these fundamental procedures are foreign to many cooks. It’s not because making bread is hard. It’s because few people take the time to show others how simple it is to make.
Think of pickles, jams, and preserves. Cooks have been preserving seasonal fruits and vegetables for thousands of years. Simple tarts and sweets have been put on Italian family tables for more years than any of us has been alive. Thankfully, this kind of hands-on food is making a big comeback these days. Highly technological cuisine may be fascinating, but food made by hand is what people are really excited about. American restaurants proudly serve house-cured meats and house-made breads. Every year, thousands more people turn to home canning, home brewing, home butchering, and making things like homemade pickles and home-cured bacon to save money and enjoy the satisfaction of doing things themselves.
You could chalk up the handcrafted food movement to tough economic times, but I think our interest in rustic food goes deeper. Breads, preserves, pies, roasted meats . . . these are the foods that cooks--especially Italian cooks--have been inspired by for centuries. These are the approachable foods that people everywhere feel comfortable preparing and eating. This is the cooking that I teach in Rustic Italian Food.
Here is my basic approach:
1. Cook and eat food that is as close to the earth as possible. The fresher and more local, the better.
2. Start with whole foods. They taste better than processed foods.
3. Keep it simple. A few high-quality ingredients make a bigger impact than a dozen cheap ones.
To help flesh out this philosophy, I don’t just give you recipes here. I open each chapter with details about making satisfying Italian foods like homemade pasta, sausages, and vegetables. These introductions are like mini classes, explaining everything you need to know to get started. The recipes themselves also give you the ins and outs of rustic Italian food the way I cook it--with more than 120 of my favorite breads, pizzas, grilled meats, slow roasts, braises, pickles, preserves, and desserts. Some dishes, like Fusilli with Fava Beans and Pecorino (page 68), are perfect for off-the-cuff weeknight cooking. Others, like Chocolate Zabaione Tart (page 262), are more sophisticated and meant for special occasions. Still others, like Spit-Roasted Suckling Pig (page 192) and home-cured Soppressata Calabrese (page 149), require some serious time and attention but give you a huge payoff. Any time you cook a whole animal or serve home-cured salami, your guests will love you for it. Believe me. People appreciate the effort and care that goes into handmade food. This is the kind of rustic cooking that I am most excited to share with you.
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Table of Contents

Foreword by Mario Batali, ix
Introduction: A Return to Real Cooking, 1
Bread and Pizza, 8
Flour, 11  
Measuring, 12  
Yeast, 12  
Water, 13  
Salt, 13  
Starter, 14  
Mixing and Kneading, 15  
Proofing and Shaping, 18  
Baking and Steaming, 19  
I Want It Burnt!, 26  
Think Outside the Wine Bottle, 41  
Part Skim Is Part Insane, 43
Biga Starter, 22
Rustic Loaf, 24
Ciabatta, 28
Parmesan Bread, 29
Durum Focaccia, 30
Rosemary Durum Bread, 31
Blueberry Schiacciata, 34
Chocolate Bread, 35 
Fig and Chestnut Bread, 36
Brioche, 37
Romana Pizza Dough, 39
Napoletana Pizza Dough, 40
Margherita Pizza, 42
Mortadella Pizza, 48
Pastas, 52
Flour, 54  
Extruded Pasta, 55 
Rolled Pasta, 57  
Hand-Rolled Pasta, 58  
Pasta Water, 59  
Which Oil?, 74  
Opposites Attract, 83  
Getting Floury with the Kids, 93  
Parmigiano, 107
Extruded Pasta 
Basic Extruded Pasta Dough, 62
Rigatoni with Swordfish, Tomato, and Eggplant Fries, 65
Rigatoni with Chicken Livers, Cipollini Onions, and Sage, 66
Candele with Duck Bolognes, 67
Fusilli with Fava Beans and Pecorino, 68
Macaroni with Bigeye Tuna Bolognese,  70
Bucatini alla Matriciana, 72
Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, 75
Spaghetti in Parchment with Clams and Scallions, 76
Rolled Pasta
Basic Egg Pasta Dough, 80
Fettuccine with Pork Ragù and Stone Fruits, 82
Goat Cheese and Beet Plin with Tarragon, 84
Robiola Francobolli with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Thyme, 88
Mortadella Tortelli with Pistachio Pesto, 89
Caramelle di Zucca Ravioli with Amaretti, 90
Salt Cod Ravioli with Marjoram, 92 
Escarole Ravioli with Pine Nuts and Honey, 94
Baked Pasta
Veal Cannelloni with Porcini Béchamel, 98
Fazzoletti with Swiss Chard and Sheep’s Milk Ricotta, 100 
Semolina Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragù, 102
Lasagna with Zucchini and Stracciatella, 104
Eggplant Lasagnette alla Parmigiana, 106
Hand-Rolled Pasta
Orecchiette with Veal Ragù and Bitter Greens, 110
Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi, 113
Garganelli with Gorgonzola, Radicchio, and Walnuts, 114
Salumi, 116
Types of Salumi, 118
Sanitation, 119
Freezing, 120
Seasoning, 120
Salt and Sugar, 121
Grinding, 123 
Mixing, 124
Stuffing, 124
Cooking, 127
Fermentation, 128
Curing, 130
Equipment and Doneness, 132
So Young and So Good, 150
To Each His Own, 161
Potted Trout Terrine, 135
Duck Terrine, 136
Pork Liver Terrine, 138
Cooked Sausage
Lamb Mortadella, 142
Rabbit Salami, 144
Swordfish Sausage, 146
Dry-Cured Salami 
Soppressata Calabrese, 149
Fennel Salami, 152
Chorizo, 154
Whole-Muscle Salumi
Beef Speck, 157
Coppa, 158
Pancetta, 159
Lardo, 160
Shortcut Guanciale, 162
Warm Pork Belly, 163
Pickles and Preserves, 164
Canning, 165
Homemade Spicy Pickles, 168
Pickled Eggs, 169
Pickled Mustard Seeds, 170
Preserved Cherry Tomatoes, 170
Shallot Marmalade, 171
Mostarda, 172
Quince Butter, 176
Hazelnut Honey, 177
Strawberry Pate di Frutta, 178
Honeycrisp Apple Jam, 181
Apricot Jam, 182
Meats and Fish, 184
Brining Meat, 186
Roasting and Grilling, 187
Fish Freshness, 189
Procuring a Spit and a Suckling Pig, 193
Trussing a Pig to a Spit, 193
Preparing a Chicken for Grilling, 199
Thanks for the Complement, 210
Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder, 190
Spit-Roasted Suckling Pig, 192
Shaved Pork with Summer Fruit, 195
Chicken Halves on the Grill, 198
Sal’s Old-School Meatballs, 200
Veal Breast “al Latte” with Fried Sage, 203
Grilled Beef Cheeks, 206
Turkey Cutlets Milanese Style, 208
Braised Monkfish, 209
Mixed Seafood Grill, 211
Halibut with Peas, 212
Fish Poached in Olive Oil, 213
Tuna Tagliata with Fennel and Orange, 214
Simple Vegetables and Sides, 216
Choosing Produce, 218
Preparing Fruits and Vegetables, 218
Seasoning, 219
Vegetarians Welcome, 225
Birds of a Feather, 234
Lima Bean Salad with Shaved Red Onion, 220
Apple and Endive Salad with Lemon and Thyme, 221
Celery Puntarelle Salad with Anchovy Dressing, 222
Cold Farro Salad with Crunchy Vegetables, 224
Corn Crema with Corn Sauté and Scallions, 226
Roasted Mushrooms in Foil, 227
Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, 228
Potato Torta, 229
Polenta Squares, 230
Tuna and White Bean Bruschetta, 231
Fennel Gratin, 232 
Escarole Gratin with Raisins and Parmesan, 234
Eggplant Fries and Zucchini Waffle Chips, 235
Snails alla Romana, 236
Eggplant Caponata, 237
Artichokes alla Guidia, 238
Tuna-Ricotta Fritters, 240
Montasio Cheese Frico, 241
Rustic Desserts, 242
Simplicity and Seasonality, 243
Chocolate, 244
Suit the Situation, 251
Traditional Tiramisù, 245
Baked Peaches with Almond Frangipane, 247
Olive Oil Cake, 248
Toasted Raisin Biscuit, 249
Apple Fritters Lombarda Style, 250
Buttermilk Panna Cotta, 252
Mom-Mom’s Rice Pudding, 253
Blueberry Custard Tarts, 254
Rhubarb Strudel, 256
Amaretti Semifreddo with Warm Chocolate Sauce, 258
Waffles with Nutella and Semifreddo, 259
Chocolate-Hazelnut Tartufo, 260
Chocolate Zabaione Tart, 262
Sauces and Other Basics, 264

Hand-Crushed Marinara Sauce, 266
Pizza Sauce, 267
Tomato Conserva, 268
Porcini Béchamel, 268
Pistachio Pesto, 269
Garlic Chive Oil, 269
Celery Root Puree, 270
Gremolata, 270
Saffron Puree, 271
Corn Crema, 272
Horseradish Crème Fraîche, 273
Lemon Vinaigrette, 273
Rosemary-Garlic Brine, 274
Candied Hazelnuts, 275
Chocolate Sauce, 276
Candied Citrus Peel, 278
Sources, 279
Acknowledgments, 282
Index, 284
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2014


    Changes into a dark gray suit and a deep purple button down shirt with a black tie

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2014


    Puts on a jet black suit and dark sunglasses (im blind)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2014


    Gets ready.

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  • Posted August 25, 2013

    Authentic Italian Cooking

    if you are looking for the real deal, look no further. I actually got this from the library and loved it so much I ordered it so I would own a copy. You cannot go wrong with Marc Vetri. This will not disappoint.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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