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The Wise Guy Cookbook: My Favorite Recipes From My Life as a Goodfella to Cooking on the Run Paperback – October 1, 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Forget that faux Sopranos cookbook. Here's the real deal. -- The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Henry whose life in the New York Mafia was the subject of Nicholas Pileggi's bestselling book Wiseguy and Martin Scorsese's film Goodfellas, started his career as a Brooklyn gangster at the age of 12.

Nicholas Pileggi is the bestselling author of"Wiseguy", "Casino", and"Blye: Private Eye". He lives in New York.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: NAL (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451207068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451207067
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Don't dis the Sopranos book -- just don't say it's the same thing as this. The Sopranos Family Cookbook is marketing with good recipes, whereas Henry Hill's masterpiece here is as much a retelling of his biography as it is an excellent Sicilian-American cookbook with a heavy emphasis on making do when you can't get what you need.
I think the recipe that sums this book up best is the Oven Penitentiary Sauce, a concoction that Henry and his prison buddies cooked up for those days when the guards have taken all your pots and pans away and all you've got is the steam table pans and the prison bakery. The whole book is like that -- real food, salvaged when something goes wrong. Lots of Italian, but a few surprises from other parts of the country (particularly the South), reflecting Henry's travels in Witness Protection. Substitutions are a big deal too -- from the pork-for-veal scam Hill learned as a kid working in a pizzeria all the way up. Hill's message to cooks: you can always find a way to make it work.
At my bookstore we sold a couple of hundred copies of the Sopranos book over the Holidays, and that was pretty cool. But I had two standard recommendations to go along with that -- Italian Classics from Cooks Illustrated and this one. Of all three (and I say buy them all), fuhgeddaboutit, this is the best -- it's very autobiographical, and will leave you very, very hungry at the end.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the 3 cookbooks that have changed what I eat and the way I cook. Henry Hill has some excellent classic recipes and adds his own little twists to each recipe. Having lived away from major cities myself for some time, I especially could relate to his struggles to find the right ingredients. His mob stories are amusing too.
I read the book cover to cover because it is kind of in a story form. Hill will tell a few stories about a particular place he lived and then give recipes for the food he ate there. I highly recommend this cookbook. It is a must have.
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By A Customer on September 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
When the rumors began flying about this book I laughed. What! Now this guy is doing a cookbook! I was intrigued. I received the book today,read it from cover to cover and made garbanzo bean salad and grilled eggplant,hey, pretty damn good! I plan a trip to the grocery store tomorrow for ingredients of fresh herbs a few spices and such to try out more recipes, will surprise the husband....."men love variety".
This book flows naturally, the stories introducing the recipes,the rules,tips and advice all flow very well. It's an easy and entertaining read. Definitely will play around with these recipes for a long time. There are recipes for the beginner to the more serious and experienced house chef.
Henry Hill is a great storyteller,honest and sincere,this quality really shines in this book. Forget the wiseguy and goodfella aspects of Henry Hill for a second, read between the lines and you'll find that he shares a part of himself that is really close to his heart, his love of cooking, the recipes and what it all means to him. I'm sure many can relate. I recommend this cookbook, not as a novelty but as a real collection of authentic Italian recipes,in addition to some old all American favorites. It's impressive.
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Format: Paperback
When you grow up with an Italian mom who cooks dishes that nobody else has ever heard of you wonder if you are the only person that has tasted such amazing dishes. Well I don't wonder anymore. The recipes are wonderful. I grew up cooking most of the dishes written about in this book and must say Henry's recipes taste just like "mom's" - in fact just a bit better.... I think this book is extremely well written not only for the "advanced" cook but also for the "novice" cook as I bought a copy for my son and he now uses it to prepare dinner for his family. If you want to cook real "Italian" food - this is your book.
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Format: Paperback
I got this for my husband last Christmas and we haven't found anything that wasn't totally delicious. The only problem is, we can't eat Italian in a restaurant anymore! We cook better at home!! With Henry's precise step-by-step directions, and his delightful autobiographical inserts, this is our favorite cookbook.

If you can stomach it, a viewing of "Goodfellas" really makes the cookbook a lot of fun and brings the voice of Henry Hill to life. Sometimes we can feel him running around our kitchen in his drug-induced haze, preparing his Michael's favorite meatballs just like in the movie!
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Format: Paperback
I have read this book TWICE, from cover to cover, including the jacket! Eventually, I got around to trying out the recipes.
A cook book is usually...for cooking! But this one is different! The author gives the reader an inside of what it is like to be in the Witness Protection Plan, a Government funded program that is not high on his list of preferences. The anecdotes are REAL. They are full of dark humor, aptly portraying the human side of both the F.B.I. agents as well as the mobsters' day-to-day life and escapades.
There is a need to temporarily skip the recipes. You are driven to read the next installment, you want to find out who did what...to whom.
Eventually, you get to focus in on the recipes. They are superb! They are also tied in with specific events, meetings with other mobsters. Most of the recipes are assembled in a make-shift kitchen, and consumed at the table, a gathering place where the next event is planned, or the previous one is discussed. Henry Hill is a far cry from a John Steinbeck, but his easy going style tells it "like it is!".
None of the recipes are complicated. Of necessity, the cooking is done "on the run", with episodes telling of problems finding good pancetta or prosciutto in the middle of Nebraska. Cooking is done with one eye on the stove and the other one on the window overlooking the street. You never know who is going to be an unexpected "guest". One line will always stand out. In assembling a sauce, Henry Hill advises to simmer the sauce. "Let it simmer at low heat for.....well, how much time you got?". When the time comes to move, again, how does he do it? He packs a change of clothes...and collects all of his treasured pots and pans, all going to the next secret destination!
Did I like the book? Well enough to buy a copy for myself....and three more to give away as gifts. Would LOVE to meet Henry Hill!!!
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