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Mario Batali Holiday Food Hardcover – October 10, 2000

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

With the infectious enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning, Mario Batali--who presides over a culinary empire that includes the popular Food Network television show Molto Mario, four acclaimed New York restaurants, and a wine store--presents four complete menus for the holidays and captures all the fun and festivity that epitomize Italian celebrations. True to the commitment to simple cooking evident in his first book, Simple Italian Food, the dishes here deliver maximum flavor and enjoyment without being overly complicated.

Batali's version of the famous Italian seafood extravaganza traditionally served on Christmas Eve--known as the Feast of Seven Fishes--includes no fewer than 15 enticing dishes. Marinated Fresh Anchovies are both surprisingly delectable and delightful in their simplicity. Salt Cod with Capers and Mint, Grilled Lobster with Herbs and Arugula, and Sea Bass Ravioli with Marjoram and Potatoes would each be showstoppers as the centerpiece of any meal. Served together, they comprise a truly unforgettable feast.

The Christmas Day menu is equally lavish, centering on a succulent boned turkey breast stuffed with chestnuts and prunes, while the New Year's Day spread is pure decadence. The latter begins innocently enough, with a refreshing aperitivo of tangerine juice, Compari, and soda, then proceeds through a parade of richly flavored dishes, from the hot-pepper-spiked Octopus in the Style of the Prostitutes of Napoli, to the meatball-filled "mythic pasta dome" known as Timpano di Maccheroni, to the prosciutto-wrapped Braised Pork Roll. An irresistible selection of dolci (sweets), including Cinnamon Chocolate Pudding with Pine Nuts and Waffle Cookies, rounds out the meal. New Year's Day welcomes a relaxed daylong open house replete with an ever-changing spread of antipasti, pasta, and dolci, most of which can be prepared at leisure and served at room temperature, enabling the hosts to enjoy the party as much as the guests.

Photos, along with helpful wine suggestions and practical advice on technique, accompany each menu. Throughout, Batali paints a portrait of his Italian-American family that reminds readers that the simple joy of being together is what the holidays are really about. The 60 simple yet elegant recipes can be mixed, matched, and adapted for any occasion. Served together or separately, each is cause for celebration. --Robin Donovan

From Publishers Weekly

Americans tend to think of Italian cooking as easy: we have come to rely on 15-minute pastas and hearty, seasonal dishes like minestrone. But here, Batali of Food Network's Molto Mario presents the most cherished Italian dishesAthose served, often after days of preparation and with fanfare, during the holidays. Batali focuses on the seafood-rich Amalfi coast, beginning with a Christmas Eve menu that includes Vongole Origanate (clams oreganato), Baccal? Vesuviana, Ravioli alla Spigola (Sea Bass Ravioli with Marjoram and Potatoes), and in case you still have any room for dessert, Classic Cannoli. The book consists of traditional Italian menus that take you through the four holidaysAChristmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's DayAbut the recipes can be used for an impressive meal or snack any time. (There is also a separate section on the wines of Campania.) Cooking from scratch is the name of the game, so don't expect shortcuts; however, instructions are generally to the point and the results are well worthwhile. Recipes like Mythic Pasta Dome (a sort of pasta torte) capture the elaborate and festive nature of holiday Italian cooking. Beginners might be intimidated: Baba (lemon cake) requires a yeast rising and the insertion of fine holes in the cake into which a lemon mixture is "infused." But once practiced, recipes become easy, and there are some simple yet gratifying recipes, such as No-Bake Chocolate Cookies. If you want to enliven your Italian repertoire with authentic, celebratory dishes, this book is invaluable. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1 edition (October 10, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 060960774X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609607749
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.6 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mario Batali's world now encompasses three New York City restaurants -- Babbo, Lupa, and Esca -- as well as a wine store, The Italian Wine Merchant. He is the host of Food Networks popular Molto Mario, as well as an upcoming new series, Mario Batalis Italy. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Deb Mele on October 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
preordered this book when I saw it listed, knowing anything Mario had published would have to be great. I was however a little surprised when it arrived and I saw just how small it actually was. After reading it through from cover to cover, I overcame my disappointment however, realizing that Mario had chosen only the best recipes for the holidays. As the Italian food host at BellaOnline, I am always on the lookout for Italian cookbooks that offer more than simply everyday recipes. Anyone buying this cookbook that is familiar with Mario Batali's work, will not be sorry. If you are interested in Italian recipes specific for the holidays, buy this book!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As a Sicilian growing up with a large Italian family in Brooklyn, this book had many traditional recipes. As the older generations are are their recipes..this book brought them back to me. Christmas Eve - the traditional Fish Feast was fabulous in this book. The photography and layout is very good. I also enjoyed the brief history he includes with the holiday and food. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of this book.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By SUPPORT THE ASPCA. on February 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a compendium of distinctive recipes designed for four holidays, from Christmas eve through to New years day in elegant Italian style. The recipes make use of seasonal ingredients & shows a modest cross section of the regional variety of Italian cooking traditions. But, it is on the whole a book on the region of Campania. It includes color pictures of the food itself that are both more numerous & of finer quality than in his other books. Like many Asians, Italians truly revel in small portions of several types of dishes.

This is cooking from scratch, no breezy shortcuts here. But, the instructions are direct & the results are very worthwhile. The sixty recipes are adaptable so that they can be mixed & matched for any occasion one wishes. From the Christmas day turkey breast stuffed with Prunes & Chesnuts to the vibrant Tangerine juice Aperitivo, you will find all these recipes mouth watering. Lastly, the wine suggestions helped in the celebratory enjoyment that is the "heart & soul of Italian cuisine."
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The very best thing about this book is that it is more of Mario Batali cooking Italian food. Once that is said, there are some things which are disappointing about this book.
First, the book only covers Christmas and New Year. I would hardly expect Molto Mario to cover Thanksgiving, but what about Easter? There are also the hundreds of festivals in both Italy and the United States where food is a major element of the festivities. The whole point of `carnevale' is food, as the meaning of the word is `a farewell to meat'.
Second, the book only covers Campania. What about the other 21 provinces of Italy? The best part of this selection is that it is the region from which the Italian food most familiar to America comes. I think Mario would have been much better to name the book `Holiday Food of Campania'. Joe Bastianich contributes some notes on the wines of Campania, reinforcing the impression that the book covers a limited range.
Third, the book is two-thirds the price for less than half the book you can find in Mario's first and third books.
If you are really interested in Italian Festival Food, check out the book of that name by Anne Bianchi published by Macmillan. It even includes a blurb from Mr. Molto himself on the dust jacket and I got it at a deep discount. Highly recommended.
All is not lost. This is still, after all, a cookbook by Mario. It's best feature is to give us recipes in order that we may do a Christmas Eve feast of the seven or ten or thirteen fishes (take your pick). It strikes me that this is another example where Italian food traditions depart broadly from the more formalized doctrines of France or Japan. While Richard Olney, our most analytical writer on French cuisine, dispairs of writing on improvisation in cooking, the Italians seem to revel in it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By goING_96815 on October 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I enjoy Mario Batali's quality work, both his interesting/funny TV shows and his interesting/beautiful books (the photographs are beautiful). Often when you buy quality Italian cookbooks with traditional recipes you get the feeling that it's been produced for professional chefs only. The recipes are too advanced and time consuming, and often require access to an Italian food market in order to get all ingredients. The recipes in this book range from uncomplicated to advanced but is "possible" for regular hobby chefs. Most of the ingredients are available at regular grocery stores. However, this doesn't mean that the food and all the dishes are too basic or uncomplicated; it's just that they are "within" reach for us regular guys. I'm sure that both hobby- and more advanced chefs also can appreciate and learn a lot from this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Manley VINE VOICE on January 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was really surprised by this small cookbook. Now when I saw small, it means that it isn't your typical full sized cookbook with in excess of 200 pages, it is a nice hundred pages or so cookbook. Some wonderful features of this cookbook are the pictures, the wonderful recipes, and the text that is written with the recipes.

Perhaps you are like me and enjoy cookbooks with vivid pictures. I like to know what my efforts are going to look like. This book has some of the best food photographs that I have seen. Some of this is the chosing of attractive dishes, some of it is just fabulous photography.

While I really enjoy the photographs in this book, some of that is the skill of the photographer, while the larger part of that is the choice of recipes. Mario Batali, seems to like earthy, rustic food. I like that you do not have to measure everything so exact. I like that there are natural flexibilities added into the recipes, like if you don't have xxx, use this instead. Italian cooking is all about the freshness of the ingredients, and you see this theme throughout his book.

I also like that he explains why he chose those recipes, what the significance of those recipes are. This is helpful is chosing what drinks you will serve with the food, what side dishes or desserts you will pare with the food and so much more.

I highly recommend this book to you, it really isn't just about holiday food, but more. I rate this book with 4 stars simply because the book is smaller, and for the money, if your just starting out with him, I would go with one of his standard cookbooks if you are looking for a greater resource of Italian recipes.
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