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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Restaurant Dreams, Kitchen Nightmares
Opening a restaurant can break the bank and the hearts of the aspirants. When the author's husband, a decidedly scattered academic, decides to open a pizzeria, the author indulges him, thinking he is not really serious. But to her shock, he is. This is the story of how a young couple fought to build a business and save their marriage.

The book reads more like a...
Published 8 months ago by Antigone Walsh

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64 of 78 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm a Fan of Her Writing, But Not of this Book
I am a frequent visitor of Molly Wizenberg's blog, Orangette, and read her engrossing memoir, A Homemade Life. A naturally gifted writer, she has set the bar high for herself in her sophomore work, Delancey, a memoir about building a small business and surviving a marriage in the process. Unfortunately, this book delves too lightly into its complex and intimate subject...
Published 10 months ago by K. Kasabian


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64 of 78 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm a Fan of Her Writing, But Not of this Book, March 19, 2014
By 
K. Kasabian (Silicon Valley, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage (Hardcover)
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I am a frequent visitor of Molly Wizenberg's blog, Orangette, and read her engrossing memoir, A Homemade Life. A naturally gifted writer, she has set the bar high for herself in her sophomore work, Delancey, a memoir about building a small business and surviving a marriage in the process. Unfortunately, this book delves too lightly into its complex and intimate subject matter. Learning how to navigate in a young marriage is difficult and a worthy subject matter on its own, but learning to coexist while finishing a book, going on tour, and helping your new husband to open a restaurant is a writer's paradise. This memoir whets the reader's appetite, but does not satisfy. It reads more like a series of light-hearted columns than a cohesive story. Wizenberg's talent for bringing the reader into her living room is one of her greatest strengths, but as a reader, I felt as though I never made it past the foyer. Not recommended.
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41 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More about the restaurant than the marriage, March 31, 2014
This review is from: Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage (Hardcover)
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I absolutely loved My Korean Deli: Risking It All for a Convenience Store by Ben Ryder Howe. So I was looking forward to this read that promised a similar, riveting story about a young couple whose marriage is stretched (almost to the breaking point) when they decide to open a pizzeria.

But, sadly, the narrative is bland and gets bogged down in details. It starts out great, as the author sketches out her personality and that of her hobby-loving (but usually hobby-abandoning) husband. But soon after her husband announces his intention to open a pizzeria, the book descends into long passages about learning to make pizza, scouting for a location and opening and running a restaurant. The author, obviously a blogger, includes very few viewpoints from anyone else, including her husband. She talks about her husband, but scenes and dialog including him are sparse, almost nonexistent, except for one dramatic moment when he wants to back out.

I was hoping for more of these moments, but like many blogs turned books, the book has little narrative drive and no story arc. Editors should have had her turn some of the narrative into scenes and dialog, to give the story energy: the old adage "show, don't tell" should be every storyteller's goal. The author does describe the train wreck the restaurant almost made of her life, but it's buried in all the verbiage about restaurant ownership. If you're interested in what it's like to open a restaurant, go for it. But if you're looking for a compelling story of the twists and turns of a young marriage, this isn't it. I would like to read the author's first book, though, the bestselling A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, which got great reviews.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Restaurant Dreams, Kitchen Nightmares, May 5, 2014
This review is from: Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage (Hardcover)
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Opening a restaurant can break the bank and the hearts of the aspirants. When the author's husband, a decidedly scattered academic, decides to open a pizzeria, the author indulges him, thinking he is not really serious. But to her shock, he is. This is the story of how a young couple fought to build a business and save their marriage.

The book reads more like a series of blog posts than a smooth narration. Although a food professional, the author is not cut out for the restaurant business. Recognizing her strengths and weaknesses, leads her to a decision that is best for the business, her marriage and herself. Included are a number of recipes. The range is fairly broad and includes a boozy eggnog, a quite good bourbon sour, and a garlic martini. Some are pedestrian like the penne alla vodka and a brownie recipe attributed to Katherine Hepburn while some intrigue like the dates sautéed in olive oil and dusted with sea salt. But most are fairly pedestrian with the author's twists, i.e., rice pudding with cherries, meatloaf with fish sauce. I thought the author was a bit overwrought and at times insensitive but overall this is an appetizing account. Recommended.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't love it as much as Wizenberg's first book, May 27, 2014
This review is from: Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage (Hardcover)
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I was very excited to read Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage because I highly enjoyed reading the author's first book, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. Historically I haven't loved memoirs by bloggers because more often than not, they haven't seemed to translate well to the page. But I found A Homemade Life to not only be one of the best memoirs by bloggers I had read, but a genuinely wonderful book in its own right. I also love behind the scenes accounts of restaurants, so I was very curious to read Wizenberg's experience of opening a restaurant with her husband. Unfortunately after reading Delancey, I just didn't love it as much as I did her first book.

I found the writing early in the book felt a little dry and clinical to me, vs. the more lyrical, emotional and evocative writing in A Homemade Life. And since, as Wizenberg admits in the book, the restaurant is more of her husband's project, I found myself longing to read parts of the book from his point of view (it was all written by Wizenberg), especially since Wizenberg wasn't even present for some of the scenes she retells. Written entirely from her point of view, it just felt less compelling and engaging.

I think her retelling of the departure of an employee was a final straw for me. It felt a tad vengeful and left a bad taste in my mouth. I was also surprised by how little the book actually focused on the effect of the restaurant on her marriage, given its prominence in the book's subtitle. This was especially surprising to me since A Homemade Life seemed to focus on just on food, but on relationships. I also found the recipes in the book to be a bit of a let down. The only recipes from the restaurant that are featured are side dishes and desserts and there isn't a single pizza recipe in the entire book. Instead, a lot of the recipes seem to focus on the dishes that Wizenberg and her husband were cooking at home at the time the restaurant was opening. Wizenberg admits that the didn't have a lot of energy or interest in cooking at home at that time so the recipes often seemed overly simple and none caught my eye.

Overall, this book just wasn't for me. I wanted to love it more given my experience with Wizenberg's first book, but in the end I didn't. That said, if you haven't read A Homemade Life, I would still very much recommend it and hope that Wizenberg writes books more in the style of her first going forward.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A tasty snack that could be more filling, June 8, 2014
This review is from: Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage (Hardcover)
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I was looking forward to this book because I like memoirs and I lived in Seattle for several years. As other reviewers pointed out, though, the author gets caught up in details. We get lots of minutiae about choosing the location, learning to make pizza, dealing with some problem employees and similar everyday experiences. There aren't many action scenes and we don't get a sense of the husband as a three-dimensional person. It's more of a how-to guide for people who want to open a restaurant.

I was especially disturbed about the way she wrote about the departure of the "drunk" cook. Not being familiar with restaurants, I thought it was useful to get the perspective of other reviewers.

I expected to hear more about the local community because Seattle is an unusual city. Some people wouldn't live anywhere else, while others complain of the rain and the chilly social climate. The book focuses so intensely on the restaurant that we don't get a strong sense of place.

Ultimately the book seems to end in anticlimax because Molly realizes she's not suited to the restaurant business and takes a more administrative role. It would have been more satisfying if we'd gotten a sense of struggle, inner or outer, that somehow led to this outcome.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly adequate, May 22, 2014
By 
Amy Thibodeau (Vancouver and San Francisco) - See all my reviews
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It was nicely written, easy to read and relatively interesting. That's about all. I doubt I'll remember much about it in a month's time.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a favorite, May 27, 2014
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This is sort of memoir lite. The writing is on a young-adult or even preteen level. As other reviewers pointed out, most of the chapters are a rehash of the author's blog Orangette. She tells things that happened but doesn't seem to consider their meaning. I wouldn't recommend this short, slight book to anyone I know.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hope the meal had more substance, June 6, 2014
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mystery lover (St, Clair Shores, MI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage (Hardcover)
I truly was disappointed in this book. Shared with several people, all felt the same way. There was little in this story about the man, the, restaurant, or the marriage. The description of the book should have read, all about me. Very self centered little insight into anything else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 stars for the memoir; 3.5 for the recipes, July 28, 2014
This review is from: Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage (Hardcover)
My husband’s favorite food is pizza. When you’re married to someone who truly loves pizza, you eat a lot of pizza (a couple weekends ago, we had pizza for lunch one day . . . and then went out for pizza at a different spot for dinner that same evening). And, when you eat a lot of pizza, you have no choice but to become a bit of a pizza snob. You can immediately discern good crust from bad crust (and good char from bad char), you know the perfect ratio of sauce and cheese to crust (enough for taste but not so much that the crust gets soggy or the toppings are gloppy), and you know all of the places in town with the best pies (here in Atlanta, that’s Antico, for their Napoletana with broccoli rabe, salsiccia, and bufala mozzarella on a perfectly charred crust).

Luckily, there are a lot of people out there that take pizza seriously. They have studied wood-burning oven times and techniques, what cheeses taste best with various toppings, and the exact right amount of sugar to put in the tomato sauce. These days, there are lots of pizza hipsters, and they make some durn good pie.

Molly Wizenberg’s husband, Brandon, is one such pizza hipster. And it’s about his pizza obsession, his dream to open a pizza joint in Seattle, and the realization of that dream that Wizenberg writes in Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage. The book follows the couple from the hatching of the idea to open their own pizza place through its opening (and beyond), discussing everything from deciding on its name to finding its location to hiring (and, in some cases, firing) its staff to perfecting the pizza dough to crafting the menu.

There are emotional highs and lows. There are times they want to quit. There are lots of long days. And, most importantly, there is a lot of talk of delicious food (and not just pizza!). The book is part cookbook; it contains twenty recipes (a sizeable percentage of the 242-page book), from Sriracha-and-Butter Shrimp to Shortbread with Rosemary and Candied Ginger.

Memoir Rating: 3/5

Memoirs are usually a little too feely and poorly written for my taste. But this one is written by a well-known blogger (her blog, Orangette, has been called the best food blog in the world) and writer for Bon Appétit (a magazine I read and cook from religiously), so I had high hopes.

The beginning of the book starts out with a strong concept: there is a photograph, followed by a brief introduction and a short chapter that explains the background and circumstances surrounding the photo, followed by a recipe for a dish that was mentioned in the chapter. It all ties together nicely and reads like one of Wizenberg’s well-crafted blog entries or short magazine articles.

But, after the first chapter, that structure fizzles out quickly. It seems like Wizenberg lost steam or ran out of good tie-in ideas for the recipes. As the book goes along, the recipes (which follow some, but not all, chapters) become more peripheral to the text . . . and are, on occasion, totally random. This was a disappointment for me, because I really enjoyed the structure of the first chapter. It was well-organized and made sense. And, after starting the book with that structure and then abandoning it, the later chapters seemed a little lazy.

The writing has the typical tone of a laid-back memoir. It’s cute but a little scatter-brained (lots of awkward transitions and occasional pointless tangents) and similar in style to her blog. The best moments are her discussions of the struggles and stresses she and her husband endured as a result of working 18-hour days together when they first opened the restaurant. She is very honest in her depictions of herself and her reactions. In her recollections of situations, she allows herself to look unreasonable, unfair, and vulnerable, which is endearing and relatable.

Cookbook Rating: 3.5/5

Despite the fact that the book is about the opening of a restaurant, the recipes are, largely, not recipes from the restaurant ("A few of the recipes in this book are for dishes that we served at Delancey early on, when I cooked there. But in large part, what you’ll find here are the foods that we wished we were eating. You’ll also find dishes that friends made for us when we were too crazed to cook for ourselves. And you’ll find recipes that we turn to most often now, when we don’t have a lot of time to cook together but still want to make the most of the time we do have.")

As I mentioned above, I would have preferred more connection between the recipes and the restaurant. As for the quality of the recipes, the only way to assess that is to test them out. And, because this book is, in part, a cookbook, I decided I could not reasonably review the book as a whole without also making and reviewing at least a couple of its recipes.

First, I made the Tomato and Corn Salad with Shallot Viniagrette. The recipe calls for both regular tomatoes (“2 large beefsteak tomatoes or 6 smaller tomatoes”) and “1 or 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes.” Our garden is in the throes of tomato production, so this was a perfect recipe for the season. The recipe includes a very simple vinaigrette recipe to dress this incredibly easy plated salad (made from just the tomatoes, kernels cut from one fresh ear of corn, a little Maldon salt, and some fresh basil leaves). Here’s a picture of the finished product:

Let’s be honest: it’s hard to go wrong with garden-fresh basil and tomatoes with sweet and crunchy fresh corn kernels. You can’t really mess up fresh and delicious ingredients like those. So, no complaints there. But my husband thought the shallot vinaigrette was a little too shallot-y. The recipe instructs you to “stir together the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a small bowl” and set them aside for at least an hour to “soften the flavors of the shallot and garlic, so that they no longer taste raw; they should taste lightly pickled.” I set them aside for about four hours, but the shallot flavor was still quite pungent. Edible and pretty tasty, certainly, but a little too strong for his taste. It was good, but I probably wouldn’t make it again.

I also made the “My Kate’s Brownies,” which Wizenberg adapted from one of her mother’s old recipes (her mom found it “in an article about Katherine Hepburn in a 1975 issue of The Ladies’ Home Journal”).photo-7 I was looking for a good brownie recipe to use in my latest homemade ice-cream creation (“Nutty Nutella Brownie”—hazelnut ice cream with a Nutella swirl and brownie bits). I wanted a small brownie batch (this makes one eight-inch square pan) with brownies dense enough to hold up well in ice cream. Wizenberg described these as “thin, but they stay chewy and fudgy, and I think they’re perfect,” and, based on the ingredients, they seemed to fit the bill. Plus, this was one of only a few recipes that they actually served in the restaurant, so I thought it would be a good one to make.

Like the tomato and corn salad, this recipe was incredibly easy (all told, it took only about 8 minutes of prep time before I popped them in the oven). There are no photographs of the food included in the recipes, so you don’t have that guidepost, but she includes helpful comments like, “The batter will look gritty” to help you along the way. She is obviously writing with inexperienced bakers in mind (“bang the dish straight down on the countertop a couple of times, to release any air bubbles”), which makes the recipes manageable for just about anyone.

And the result? Delicious! Exactly as described—very thin, chewy, and fudgy. Perfect for inclusion in my ice cream. I will definitely make these again.

The recipes are all easy and straightforward (and explained in a very conversational tone, complete with helpful little notes and pointers throughout), and none requires any bizarre ingredients or tools. They’re a nice mix of the totally mundane (Meatloaf) and the unique (Sautéed Dates with Olive Oil and Sea Salt). Any home cook could easily execute any recipe included in the book (but, if you’re a serious home cook, some of the recipes will probably strike you as a little too simple or, in some cases, maybe even pedestrian).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Believe In Life, April 1, 2014
This review is from: Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage (Hardcover)
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You have to believe in life before you can accomplish anything" written by Jack Kerouac, is a sentence that resonates with Molly Wizenberg. She believes in excellence, and has this sentence along with others written by Jack Kerouac near her desk, taped to her wall. I have followed Molly since I found her blog 'Orangette' , 5 years ago. I followed her romance with Brandon, their marriage and the beginnings of 'Delancey'. Her first book, 'A Homemade Life' summed it all up nicely. Now, we have the rest of the story.

My daughter and her family took me to Delancey in 2011. I was surprised at how small the restaurant was, even though I knew it was small from reading about it. We arrived early, and waited for Delancey to open. The sounds of happy people resonated down the street, and once inside it was homey and smelled so good. We each ordered a pizza, my grandson, then 5, ate an entire pizza by himself. I ordered the Margharita pizza and had one piece left to bring home. It was the best pizza I have eaten. My daughter and her family have been back many times. This is an off side to let you know that when Molly talks about how hard Brandon worked to find the best pizza dough and the best over-all pizza, he succeeded.

Molly tells the story of the thought processes and development of Delancey, at the same time intertwining the story of Molly and Brandon's marriage. Both have been difficult, and, at times, Molly wondered what they were doing. Brandon had a habit of finding something he loved, working at it until he accomplished the best result. The thought of a pizza restaurant was something Molly thought was probably a passing fancy. She was immersed in writing her first book, had a contract, and had to finish the book and then tour. When the book was all said and done, Molly finally realized that Brandon's wish for the restaurant was a reality, and this was something he loved. She had a sense of dismay and told him that she did not want this restaurant. Shocked and dismayed, Brandon moved on anway, and Molly soon joined him. This is their story. They essentially did all of the work themselves, friends helped, but it was their hard work. Cleaning, painting, purchasing second hand furniture and equipment and finally hiring staff.

Running a restaurant is not easy, and we learn first hand the ups and downs of staff personalities, and what it takes to make a restaurant work. Interspersed throughout the book are recipes from the restaurant, usually salads and desserts. Lots of stories of people, places and things, all written in the style of Molly's blog. I found the book very satisfying. I could picture in my mind's eye, the restaurant, the staff, the pizzas and the desserts. The story of Molly's realization that change is not easy for her, is the story of many people. However, she was able to share her innermost feelings of not being able to keep up with the restaurant's needs, and that seemed, to me, an honest realization. Today, Molly and Brandon have their young child, June, the most important person in their lives. And, a new bar, 'Essex' next door to Delanceys. This is a story of success and the labor and love required.

Recommended. prisrob 04-01-2014
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Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage
Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg (Hardcover - May 6, 2014)
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