From Publishers Weekly
In this muddled book, restaurateur Luongo (Simply Tuscan) takes the simple, unadorned food of Tuscany and other parts of Italy and makes it complex for no discernible reason. The concept is good: Luongo has now cooked in New York City for two decades, and he sets out to illustrate how his native Tuscan dishes have mutated under those circumstances. Almost every recipe is accompanied by two headers, titled "Il Classico" and "La Mia Versione," which explain its origins. But most of these explanations are based on an idea rather than taste-such as a recipe for Tuscan-Style Porcini Mushrooms in which Luongo explains that the cooking method used is one that would normally be applied to a fettina, a cheap cut of meat-leaving the reader to wonder how taste and idea interact. Some of the recipes have no Tuscan roots at all, like a Tuna and Beet Carpaccio with Gorgonzola Cheese based on the famous beef carpaccio served at Harry's Bar in Venice, or an Eggplant-Chocolate Mousse that evolved from an ancient Neapolitan eggplant dessert. Dishes that adhere most closely to the originals, such as a Baked Sea Bream on a Bed of Potatoes and Pecorino (which, Luongo admits, breaks the cardinal Italian rule of no-cheese-with-fish), are the safest bets, while out-on-a-limb combinations such as Watermelon and Fresh Fava Bean Salad feel as if they use strangeness as an attention-getting gambit.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“Pino is always coming up with something new–it’s great how he ties his creativity to the classics.”
--Jean-Georges Vongerichten, chef and restaurateur, and author of Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef
“Nearly everything I know about Italian food came via Pino Luongo. And Marta Pulini, as far as I'm concerned, is the first and last word on the subject. Together, they changed New Yorkers’ expectations and paved the way for many who came after. La Mia Cucina Toscana
is an invaluable and honest representation of Pino’s long, deep and abiding love for the food of his homeland, a straightforward and eminently useful look at the good stuff. I’ve been using their recipes for years.”
--Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential