Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen


When two great chefs—buddies and business partners for twenty-odd years—decide to write a cookbook about the simple Italian food they love, you get decades of experience, sage advice, and wonderful recipes. And you also get a few great arguments thrown in along the way, as Pino and Mark debate the right way to make everything from meatballs to pot roast to eggplant parmigiana.

Of course, the issue is not whose recipes are better—Pino and Mark would be first to praise each ...

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When two great chefs—buddies and business partners for twenty-odd years—decide to write a cookbook about the simple Italian food they love, you get decades of experience, sage advice, and wonderful recipes. And you also get a few great arguments thrown in along the way, as Pino and Mark debate the right way to make everything from meatballs to pot roast to eggplant parmigiana.

Of course, the issue is not whose recipes are better—Pino and Mark would be first to praise each other's food. And it's not about a right or wrong way. It's about preferences in ingredients, technique, and approach.

Pino, a native of Tuscany cooking in America, is a purist. His food is grounded in tradition. Mark, a New Yorker, loves the Italian-American cooking he grew up with. Each has his favorite recipes (see back cover) and his own way, but they're bonded by a shared philosophy that the simplest food is the best, and a shared desire to please families, friends, and loyal customers with food that makes them happy.

So here are nearly 150 delicious recipes representing the best of Italian and Italian-American cooking from not one master but two, with text that teaches, dialogue that's lively, and photography that's gorgeous. There's no question about who reaps the rewards of their friendly competition—it's the reader, hands down. Whether you make...

  • Pino's Oven-Braised Lamb and Artichokes with Oven-Roasted New Potatoes and Spring Onions or Mark's Braised Holiday Capon with Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Mark's Chopped Roman Salad or Pino's classic Caesar Salad
  • Pino's Mushroom Risotto or Mark's Farro with Button Mushrooms, Cherry Tomatoes, and Goat Cheese
  • Mark's Pears in Vin Santo with sweet Polenta or Pino's Neapolitan Cheesecake

...the end result is the same—unpretentious food that is timelessly pleasing. This is home cooking at its very best.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this delightful book, Luongo and Strausman, friends and restaurateurs in Manhattan, put a personal spin on the divide between cuisine from Italy and the American variety. Each chapter opens with lengthy back-and-forths between the two over the merits of certain ingredients or cooking methods, and their disagreements over these specifics is as edifying as they are amusing to read; the recipes aren't all simple, but with Luongo and Strausman's vocal observations and tips close at hand, those familiar with Italian cooking techniques should have no trouble mastering them. Luongo's loyalties to his native Tuscany show in recipes such as Garfagnana Bean and Apple Soup and Sausage and Cranberry Beans with Polenta, though he also refers to many of Italy's other regions in his focus on authenticity. Strausman defends his Americanized vision of Italian food with dishes both old-fashioned (Chicken Parmigiana) and chicly modern in flavor (Carrot and Ricotta Ravioli). The indispensable chapter of meatballs and meatloaf crystallizes their disagreements, as Luongo defends small, flavor-packed meatballs with unusual ingredients like amaretto cookies, mostly served on their own, and Strausman advocates the plump kind Americans serve atop spaghetti and tomato sauce. Cooks interested in the distinctions between regional Italian specialties yet still fond of the American versions they grew up with will savor almost every recipe in this spirited book. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

An Italian immigrant chef and a Jewish guy from Queens, friends for many years and co-owners of Coco Pazzo in New York, have written a cookbook of 150 Italian and Italian American dishes. Each chapter begins with a repartee on the merits of ingredients. For example, Luongo does not use stock for soups; Strausman recommends College Inn canned organic chicken broth for home chefs lacking the four to six hours to simmer the broth. Recipes by both chefs are interspersed with full-page color photos of the technique, ingredient, or completed dish. There are chapters for both homemade and commercial pasta, risotto and farrotto, meatballs, and grilling. Strausman is a traditionalist using charcoal or wood; Luongo loves gas. The chapter "Sunday Means Dinner" brings back a tradition of many cultures with recipes for the meal-e.g., Strausman's Roast Veal with Gruyere Potatoes and Turnips and Parsnips. With true Italian cooking and its American version ever popular, this well-written book is recommended for all cookery collections.
—Christine Bulson

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579653453
  • Publisher: Artisan
  • Publication date: 10/8/2007
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 8.31 (w) x 10.31 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Pino Luongo came to America from Italy in 1980 with three passions: the Italian zest for life, his love of acting, and a passion for cooking. He is an acclaimed New York chef and restaurateur, whose restaurants includ Centolire, Coco Pazzo, and Tuscan Square. Two Meatballs is Luongo's fifth cookbook, preceded by A Tuscan in the Kitchen, Simply Tuscan, Fish Talking, and La Mia Cucina Toscana. Luongo lives with his wife and children in Westchester, where he coaches his son's soccer team, listens to Italian pop songs and opera, and cooks.

Mark Strausman, a Queens native, began his career in food service selling peanuts at Shea Stadium. He is the co-owner, with Pino Luongo, of Coco Pazzo in Manhattan, where he is chef. He is also the executive chef/managing director of Fred’s at Barney's in Manhattan. and the author of author of The Campagna Table. Mark and his two sons live in New York City.

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Table of Contents


Introduction 8

1• Stand-Alone Soups 15
2• The Great Meatball Debate 35
3• Dried Pasta and the Unification of the Two Meatballs 63
4• Fresh Pasta Like Mama Used to Make: Essential Techniques and Well-Matched Sauces 87
5• Risotto and Farrotto 131
6• Two Meatballs Go Fishing 149
7• Meat and Poultry: Rustic Oven Cooking 181
8• Cucina al Fresco: Grilling Italian-Style 201
9• The Twenty-First Region of Italy: Italian-American Cooking 221
10• Sunday Means Dinner 243
11• The Two Meatballs Go Veggie 263
12• Dessert at Last 287

The Pantry 302
Resources 306
Acknowledgments 309
Index 310

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Who are the two meatballs? One of us is a native New Yorker, a nice boy from Queens with a culinary school degree and years of experience in some of Europe’s best hotel restaurants. The other is an Italian immigrant, a former actor who learned to cook by watching and helping his mother in a typical Tuscan home kitchen in the 1950s. Our backgrounds and training could not be more different. One of us likes to play with rustic Italian dishes such as pumpkin ravioli, filling the pasta with pureed baby carrots for a dish with the same vibrant color and a fresh new flavor, and to rethink Italian-American favorites like lobster fradiavolo by way of bouillabaisse and sauce américaine. The other is so grounded in Tuscan traditions that he finds it inconceivable to cook with cilantro.

Putting the two of us together in the kitchen may sound like a recipe for disaster. And it is true that during the twenty-plus years we’ve known each other and worked together, we’ve argued constantly about the right way to make everything from pot roast to eggplant parmigiana to meatballs, of course. But through it all, we’ve actually grown closer, bonded by our shared philosophy that the simplest food is the best, and our shared desire to please our families, friends, and loyal customers with food that will make them happy.

Our unusual friendship, with all of its conflict, is the basis for this book. By setting down our best recipes for simple dishes, along with our arguments for why we think they’re the best, we defend our often divergent styles. We’ll never agree on the best method for making risotto, the best chicken broth to put into bean soups, the merits of fresh versus canned tuna, or whether meatballs should be fried in olive oil or simmered in tomato sauce. But our shared passion for unpretentious food that is timelessly pleasing always unites us in the end.

We are two guys who love to go to the market, take in the possibilities, make our choices, and then go home and cook dinner. This book isn’t for armchair cooks, but for people like us, people who find comfort and pleasure in shopping for and preparing food. Our story often splits into separate voices. Take our two points of view, and use them in ways that make sense in your own kitchen.

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