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Rao's Cookbook: Over 100 Years of Italian Home Cooking Hardcover – April 7, 1998


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Rao's Cookbook: Over 100 Years of Italian Home Cooking + Rao's Recipes from the Neighborhood: Frank Pellegrino Cooks Italian with Family and Friends + Rao's On the Grill: Perfectly Simple Italian Recipes from My Family to Yours
Price for all three: $78.67

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (April 7, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679457496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679457497
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Rao's is an old, 10-table restaurant in an old, New York-Italian neighborhood in which old Italians still may or may not live (this was never made quite clear in Nicholas Pileggi's complete-history-of-Italian-immigrants-in-America introduction to the cookbook), but you can't go there to eat. Not unless you know someone who has a lock on one of the tables. These are shared occupancy tables, condominium tables. Every night (Monday through Friday) is already spoken for--has been spoken for, in fact, for quite some time. Mixed in with the names of the obvious rich and famous and powerful who get to eat at Rao's (and who have enthusiastic things to say about Rao's throughout the cookbook) are names of the not-so-obvious to anyone who hails from outside the Italian neighborhood that spawned them. Rao's sounds like a dream of what New York once may have been like--joints on every corner full of character and soul--or what everyone would like to think New York may have been like. It sounds a little like a Disneyland nostalgia experience that just about everyone will never have.

So bless Frank Pellegrino for putting Rao's kitchen between the covers of this book. If you want the excitement and charm and comfort food of Rao's, you can now cook it yourself and pretend that's Dick Schaap sitting over there, and Rob Reiner coming though the door with Woody Allen, Brenda Vaccaro, and John-John. Plan on eating lots of tomato sauce, for Rao's springs from the same roots that gave America Italian red sauce restaurants of the checkered tablecloth and Chianti bottle candle holder stripe. Rao's does it far, far better, and with soul. The late Vincent Pellegrino, who made Rao's what it seemingly continues to be, was particularly fond of grilled meats, and those sections of the book are exemplary: simple, straightforward, to the point. Even the tripe sounds like it might be worth trying.

If you want to cook Italian and not sweat the regional details, this book is the one to pull off the shelf. --Schuyler Ingle

From Library Journal

Rao's is a New York City institution, a tiny, family-owned Italian restaurant in East Harlem that has attracted national attention and a celebrity clientele. But most of its ten tables (they added two tables to the original eight after the restaurant had been in business for 99 years) are reserved, in perpetuity, for regulars, many of whom have been eating there once a week for decades-so a jar of Rao's Homemade Tomato Sauce is the closest most people will ever come to the restaurant's fare. But here are the simple, classic recipes that 80-year-old "Auntie" Annie and the other cooks make every weekday: Seafood Salad, Baked Clams Oreganate, Pappardelle with Hot Sausage Sauce. Scattered throughout are quotes from devoted fansAsome famous, some "from the neighborhood"Aand lots of photographs. For area libraries and other larger collections.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Great recipes for the authentic Italian cook.
Maryann T.
I have made more than half of the recipes in this wonderful cookbook and every one has been a winner.
Mari J
The book has lots of pictures, and the recipes are simple and easy to follow.
NCV

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By BillNipper@aol.com on December 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up over a year ago now, and from the veal saltimbocca to the stuffed veal chop to the lemon chicken to the Sunday gravy, absolutely wonderful. Then I moved to the shrimp scampi and the accolades just go on. Wonderfully annotated with quotations of those who have been fortunate enough to get a reservation, and historical notes about the restaurant and the family. If you want to put real Italian food on the table that will impress yourself first, and wow your guests, this is a great place to start. And the good news is San Marzano tomatoes are now readily available in supermarkets. These tomatoes are recommended throughout the book, and once I found them, they are really the bright star in canned Italian tomatoes. The writing is clear, the suggestions on point, and the finished product fit for your best tablecloth.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a terrific book that makes a wonderful Italian cook out of anyone -- even an Irish girl from Virginia! I have plenty of great Italian cookbooks, from Marcella Hazan to Mario Batali, but this one really takes the cake for traditional Southern Italian food. Every recipe I've tried has been fabulous. In particular, the meatballs in marinara sauce are out of this world. You won't believe how good they are. Buy the book and make the dish!
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Coming from an Italian family, I was a little reluctent to try other family recipes. Well the ones I have made so far were absolutely fabulous! From the meatballs and gravy to the chicken scarpiello. Please don't forget the pork chops with sweet and hot peppers. I have to tried to eat at Rao's, but unfortunately it is who you know. Soon enough I might have a way in there. But the book will do just fine for now! The stories in the book are so great. As my mother would say "food is the glue that keeps the family together." Oh, and olive oil and garlic is the essence of life.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on December 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
`Rao's Cookbook' by restaurateur / chef / actor Frank Pellegrino is the restaurant cookbook of what may be considered Manhattan's premier corner bar. The story is that the restaurant is only open five days a week, has but eight tables and each and every one of them is booked solid, like corporate boxes at the Astrodome. So, virtually the only way to get a sitting at Rao's is to be invited by a person with a permanent table reservation, or have such a benefactor lend you their reservation or, for a single evening, have the table revert to the discretion of Rao's matre'd.

The attraction of Rao's is not the same as that for Mario Batali's `Babbo' down in the village. Rao has no celebrity chef and its cuisine is simple Italian-American fare. There are no pilgrimages to the Union Square market for superfresh artisinal provisions. All their goods are bought at local shops in what is left of `Little Italy North' on the corner of Pleasant Avenue and 113th street in East Harlem.

This book is much more a celebration of place and of a very simple cuisine than it is any attempt at haute cuisine. At less than 180 pages of text, with lots of those pages taken up by Rao family snapshots, the book lists for a hefty $40, possibly to support the stipend to Dick Schapp and Nicholas Pileggi, who contributed a Preface and an Introduction respectively.

As chance would have it, I reviewed author Pellegrino's newer book before opening this volume, and I discover that there is a lot of overlap in the titles of recipes between the two books. That may not be an entirely bad thing for owning the two volumes, as the earlier one presents restaurant recipes while the later book presents personal `Italian-American' cuisine.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you're an Italian-American, (or want to cook like one), this is a must have book. It will evoke memories of the wonderful times, sights and aromas of family dining in your neighborhood Italian restaurant. The Italain comfort food recipes, entwined with stories of the Pellegrino family, make this a great read. I know because I own a collection of about 30+ Italian cookbooks.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I must have 40 cookbooks, and I hardly ever use the ones written by even the best restaurant chefs. They usually demand too many wierd unavailable ingredients, take too much time, are too fussy about details, and often don't work particularly well. That's just my personal pet peeve. THIS cookbook is the exception to that rule. The recipes are a beautiful example of what makes italian cooking great, a few very nice ingredients, put together simply, in a delicious and creative way. This is classic family-style italian, done in an irresistibly delicious way. The recipes generally use a few basic ingredients, and are both easy to execute and well laid-out. Nearly everything I've cooked from the book has been at least very good, and some things have been outstanding. Usually, I'm pretty impressed if more than half the recipes are any good. I cook from this book on WEEKDAYS, for heaven's sake. This is easily in my top 3. Favorites include lemon chicken (yum)!, chicken cacciatore, veal marsala, meatballs, marinara sauce. As a final added attraction, there are anecdotes throughout the book, by folks from customers including Dick Schaap and Billy Crystal, among many others. This is a cookbook that's even fun to read!
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