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Patricia Wells' Trattoria: Simple and Robust Fare Inspired by the Small Family Restaurants of Italy Paperback – October 16, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"We instantly identify 'trattoria' with a simple, generous, full-flavored style of food," writes Wells ( Bistro Cooking ), and she was sufficiently impressed by trattoria cooking to travel through Italy for about a decade, looking for the best in family-owned and -operated restaurants. The 150 recipes collected here are the result, gathered from many trattorias and regions of the country, and the harvest is memorable, whether it is the sauces (red pesto, made with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, hot red pepper, olives, oil and herbs) or the desserts (toasted hazelnut cake) that most intrigue you. Wells covers appetizers, pasta, rice dishes, breads, meats, fish and more with down-to-earth dispatch and flair. ("Like so many popular dishes," she cautions, "eggplant Parmesan has been banalized," and she proposes a corrective.) In between recipes come advisories: "Pay attention to salt" (she prefers sea salt to table) and "Know your beans," in this case, the dried. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Wells, well known for her books on France and French cuisine (e.g., Simply French: The Cuisine of Joel Robuchon , LJ 9/15/91; Bistro Cooking , LJ 12/89), has turned her attention to Italian trattoria cooking. Her new collection of informal, robust recipes, gathered from Italy's small family-run restaurants, should appeal to anyone who appreciates the unmasked flavors of high-quvors of high-quality fresh ingredients, simply but lovingly prepared. Wells's often lengthy headnotes are full of personal reminiscences but also paint a colorful picture of the country's relaxed, generous lifestyle. Wine suggestions follow each recipe, and there are sensible cooking tips throughout. Wells has many fans; recommended for most collections-- Paige LaCava, New York
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; Reprint edition (October 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060936525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060936525
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tana Butler on March 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
Since I returned from a trip to Italy a year ago, I have sought high and low for a cookbook that would put Italy into my hands as it was when I was there. This is that book! I've had it two weeks and used it six times already.

I learned in Italy that there is Italian food, and then there is American Italian food (think "Olive Garden" chain restaurant). A true Italian "trattoria" is small, intimate, and completely reliant on the ingredients of freshness and simplicity. Dried pasta isn't forbidden, and fresh pasta isn't unheard of.

Many of these recipes have only a half dozen ingredients. The techniques are simple, and you need have only a medium level of confidence to turn out the most savory and aromatic food of your life. The recipes run the entire course: appetizers to dessert. Additionally, there are sources for hard-to-find ingredients and equipment.

Some sample dishes: Lemon Risotto, Goat Cheese and Garlic Spread, White Bean Salad with Fresh Sage and Thyme; Tuscan Five-Bean Soup; Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup; Roasted Rosemary Potatoes; Individual Eggplant Parmesans; Penne with Vodka and Spicy Tomato-Cream Sauce; Saffron Butterflies; Tagliarini with Lemon Sauce; Risotto with Tomatoes and Parmesan; Orange, Sage and Mushroom Risotto; several bread recipes; Fried Calamari; Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Sage; Chicken Cooked Under Bricks...oh, enough. Are you salivating yet?

Mille grazie, Patricia! And a big bacia to you for this wonderful, loving tribute to Italy.

If I can't be in Italy, I can pretend.
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By A Customer on July 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
I bought this cookbook on a whim and have never looked back! Shortly after perusing this book I thought "hmmm. Italian anti-pasti party!" I gave that party five times, and almost every dish I made for the parties was from this book. I have not made one single thing that wasn't delicious. Try the caponata, or Aunt Flora's olive salad, or the chicken with red peppers, or the mushroom orange risotto, or the fragrant orange lemon bundt cake, or the ricotta cheesecake....okay, I'm getting carried away, but from someone who cooks a lot, has taken many, many cooking classes and practically collects cookbooks, this book is incredible!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is Patricia Wells' Italian companion to her French cuisine's `Bistro Cooking' and it succeeds in doing for the Italian comfort food world the same great job she did for the Bistro. A look at the table of contents shows at a glance where the major differences lie between the two cuisines. Where `Bistro Cooking' had a chapter on potatoes and one chapter on pasta, `Trattoria' has two chapters on pasta (dried and fresh) plus chapters on `Rice and Polenta' and `Breads and Pizzas'. While `Bistro Cooking' desserts concentrated on pastries, `Trattoria' desserts concentrate on granitas, sorbets, and ice creams. The French book also seems to give more attention to eggs and cheese than the Italian book.
Recipes for a large number of Italian standards are presented in this book, but not all classics make an appearance, since this book does not deal with all of Italian cuisine, only that food you would most commonly expect in a family-run Trattoria. This means that the book gives a lot of attention to antipasti, salads, vegetables, soups, pastas, sauces, and condiments. The most common land based protein is chicken. Veal, so common in many classic Italian dishes, just barely manages to make an appearance in a recipe for veal shanks. There are no expensive veal dishes here. Some pork and lamb dishes make an appearance, but chicken is definitely the star of the show. There are also few long cooking beef braises like ragu Bolognese either. I was surprised to see that even gnocchi was absent, in spite of a healthy representation of other dishes from famous Roman Trattorias.
The classics which do show up are things like marinated, grilled, and fried artichokes; panzanella and other salads featuring arugula, celery (puntarelle), and spinach; and pasta such as spaghetti alla Puttanesca and lasagna.
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Format: Hardcover
For anyone who has traveled to Italy (or who dreams of it), this cookbook brings the simple yet effective trattoria fare into the kitchen. As Wells states in her preface, "Homey, unpretentious, honest, and homemade, that's the heart and soul of Italian trattoria cooking." The recipes she includes embrace this philosophy, and while some recipes are slightly more complicated than others, most are straightforward and easy to prepare.

She includes robust fare such as "White Bean Salad with Fresh Sage and Thyme", "Pan-fried Potatoes with Black Olives," and "Cubed Pork with Garlic, Spinach, and Spice Chick Peas" along with more exotic "Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup," "Saffron Butterflies", and "Individual Gorgonzola Soufflés" She provides recipes for dishes more familiar to Americans as well, such as handmade pizza, penne with vodka, and macaroons. Her "Speedy Lasagna" is a boon to the harried weekday cook. The skimpiest section covers fish courses, with only seven recipes.

None of the recipes I've tried have failed, although I like some better than others. All recipes are preceded by a descriptive passage of Wells's emotional connection to the dish, and some include a quote from a famous person. Small boxes with such subjects as "Eating Risotto" highlight local customs pertaining to the dish. The only thing this cookbook lacks is extensive color plates; the few it includes are often jammed with several dishes. At first I thought this was a mistake, but now I realize homey trattoria food does not love the camera. Most of these dishes won't earn high marks for presentation, but they will for taste.
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