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Rustic Italian Food Hardcover – November 1, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Featured Recipe: Semolina Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragù

Makes: 6 servings

Oxtail Ragù
21/2 pounds oxtail, trimmed of fat
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Tipo 00 or all-purpose flour for dusting
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or olive oil
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 large ribs celery, coarsely chopped
3 peeled plum tomatoes (canned are fine, preferably San Marzano)
1 cup dry red wine
3 to 4 cups beef stock or water
Sachet: 1 rosemary sprig, 5 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, 5 black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 1 smashed clove garlic, tied in a cheesecloth square

For the ragù: Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Season the oxtail with salt and pepper, then dust with flour. Heat the oil in a large roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add the oxtail and sear until browned all over, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the meat from the pan and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine, stirring to dissolve the browned bits on the pan bottom. Return the meat to the pan and cook until the liquid reduces in volume by about half, 5 minutes. Add enough stock to come two-thirds of the way up the meat. Sink the sachet into the pan, cover, and cook in the oven until the meat pulls off the bone easily, 21/2 to 3 hours.

Remove the meat and sachet from the pan, then pass the sauce through a food mill or blend briefly in a food processor.

Pick all the meat from the bones (discarding any large chunks of fat) and return the meat to the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper.


“Vetri is not only a chef but a home cook. He is a veteran cookbook writer and old soul who thrives on thoroughness and detail. But above all Vetri is a mensch, generous and kind and full of life, and he brings that to every page.”
Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and author of Blood, Bones & Butter

“Philadelphia's Marc Vetri will unapologetically teach you the way Italian food has been made for centuries, but in doing so will apply modern sensibilities that make his food the favorite of chefs around the country … Not sure about making your own pasta? Start with the spinach and ricotta gnudi. They're simple and as sexy as they sound, assuming you know that the ‘g’ is silent.”
—St. Petersburg Times, 12/14/11

“Marc Vetri's rustic food is very family friendly, big on flavor, with detailed recipes that will make you want to cook.”
—Ideas in Food, 12/13/11

“This is a precision how-to book for a much broader range of foodstuffs – from great rustic breads to delicious mostardas and even homemade charcuterie … Rustic Italian Food demonstrates compellingly that good cooking is not about bling but about simplicity, understanding, and feeling.”
—The Austin Chronicle, 12/9/11

“These recipes prove why [Marc Vetri’s] restaurants are so successful.”
—Detroit News, 12/8/11

“Sometimes you just want rustic, and Italian rustic to me seems compelling … This is a primer on all things Italian food with detailed, step-by-step instructions for making terrines, dry-cured salami, cooked sausage, bread, pasta and classic Italian preserves and sauces - traditional comfort that Italians have been dishing in their kitchens for generations.” 
Ottawa Citizen, 11/23/11

“As a grown-up, I've never tried to make fresh pasta; the prospect seemed so daunting and time-consuming, with messy volcanoes of flour and eggs and a thousand esoteric contraptions. Rustic Italian Food, homeboy Marc Vetri's handsome new cookbook, proved me wrong.”
Philadelphia City Paper, 11/17/11

“This book is good like that, building foundations home cooks can expand upon. The pages feel heavy in hand, like well-rested pizza dough, and are layered with solid information that helps you understand why, for example, you should use a honey starter in one bread recipe versus a sourdough starter in another, or why some pasta doughs call for eggs and others don't.”
Philadelphia City Paper, 11/17/11

“Some of the book's most significant tidbits are not in the ingredient lists, but in the chapter introductions and cooking instructions. You might never make lamb mortadella, but reading about the process, in Vetri's approachable, engaging description, is captivating, in the same way people who have never turned on a stove watch Food Network cooking shows for hours.”
—Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/9/11
“Rustic Italian Food … [is] a multifaceted experience: It's part reference (see chapters on meat curing and paragraphs on oils and cheese); part culinary philosophy (his opinion of molecular cooking and absentminded line cooks), part travelogue (like his laugh-out-loud search for the perfect Parisian baguette), part expert cookbook (homemade pastas, breadmaking, spit-roasting a pig), and part novice cookbook (some recipes, like the spinach gnudi, marinara, and salads, are downright Rachael Ray simple).”
—Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/9/11
“Vetri is the real deal: a philanthropic, guitar-playing, accomplished, brilliantly modest chef who owns three restaurants, has two cookbooks, runs a million dollar foundation, and by happenstance embodies the "six perfections" that a Bodhisattva must generate -- hence the title of this piece. These are: generosity, ethics, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom.”
The Huffington Post, 10/11/11

“Much more than just a collection of recipes, in this book Marc Vetri connects us directly to the essence of Italian food. . . . Vetri knows Italian food and we're excited to see what he has to teach. The cover alone makes us want to take a bite out of the book.”
The Huffington Post, 8/25/11

“Marc Vetri cooks the best Italian food in America. Now he shares his secrets with all of us. Get ready for gutsy flavors, silky pasta dishes, and your friends and family running to the table for meal after meal.” 
—BOBBY FLAY, chef and restaurateur of Mesa Grill and Bar Americain
“There are few, if any, chefs in America I would rather have cook for me. [Vetri is] a true magician of Italian cuisine who relies on fantastic ingredients and impeccable technique to create his rustic yet sophisticated food. I am going to run, not walk, to get this book ...you should, too, because these recipes will take your breath away.”
—MICHAEL SYMON, chef and author of Michael Symon’s Live to Cook
“Marc Vetri has grasped an elementary but elusive truth: good cooking isn’t about obscure ingredients or technical razzle-dazzle, and it certainly isn’t about recipes. It’s about understanding food--thinking about it intelligently and feeling it. Vetri’s passion is for the elegantly straightforward cuisines of Italy and Italian-accented America, and in Rustic Italian Food he gives us plenty to chew on in this regard. Anyone who digests this volume will end up not just a better Italian cook but a better cook, period.”
—COLMAN ANDREWS, co-founder of Saveur and editorial director of thedailymeal.com
In Rustic Italian Food, Marc Vetri has captured, with his unique style and deliciousness, the essence of Italian flavors, kitchen fundamentals, and techniques. In this book, Marc has collected an abundance of recipes featuring traditional rustic Italian food. Each enticing chapter is prefaced with a sort of mini class on the subject, and then followed by an array of both comprehensive and easily executable recipes. This is surely a book you will want to add to your kitchen library.”
—LIDIA BASTIANICH, restaurateur and author of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy
“Marc’s love affair with food is obvious. His simple hands-on approach is refreshing; he is a true craftsman. Simply put, Marc is the best Italian cook working in America today.”
—TOM COLICCHIO, chef/owner of Craft Restaurants

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158008589X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580085892
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What is your favorite Italian dish? If you said "Fettucine Alfredo" then you need to find another book. Here, you won't find 30 variations of pasta tossed with your favorite jarred sauce or be encouraged to use $4.99 off-the-grocery-store-shelf Balsamic vinegar. Instead, chef Vetri gives readers basic instruction and lays out the tools and techniques they need to really get into making traditional Italian food. I won't even call it "cuisine," because in many Americans' mind it immediately conjures images of fussy, refined, overly pretty art on a plate that one isn't sure if he is supposed to eat it or admire it from a distance. This is the real deal. If you make these recipes correctly you WILL end up with flour all over your kitchen, raw meat scraps on the cutting board and counter, and probably a bit of spilled olive oil or kosher salt here and there. It's going to take a lot of work, but if you're like me and live in an area without access to high-end Italian restaurants or products then you need this book. If you tell people that you enjoy Italian food, but you really mean that you love thick-crust pepperoni pizza and grocery store garlic bread, then skip this book and search out one from Rachel Ray instead.

The one minor drawback is in the text. It appears that Vetri has taken the Anthony Bourdain route and scattered f-bombs and other innuendo throughout the pages. I don't mind that kind of talk when I'm at the local watering hole with my buddies, but when you're equating fried cheese with sex I can't help but think it's only for shock value.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was really quite eager to purchase this book as a Philadelphian who loves his restaurant Osteria. But I must warn everyone that these bread and pizza dough and pastry recipes are completely wrong. It's as though it got through to printing without being proofed. I am a baker so I noticed the errors immediately and tweeted Vetri about them. He acknowledged that there are several errors and will be fixed for the next printing. Yeah, great. How about all the bucks we put out for these bad recipes. Soooo dissapointed. Save your money and buy Mozza. Terrific book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Okay, so I'm a fellow Chef and I wanted to like this cookbook, I really did. The measurements and timing are off....by A LOT. Take for example the baked peaches with almond cream, the measurements are all over the place. The recipe begins with 8oz of almond paste, then later 1/2 cup of pastry flour, two eggs, 3 tablespoons of sugar. Why does this annoy me? Because the 8oz of almond paste should be measured by cup to keep in line with the other measurements. I don't think the average cook is going to scale out 8oz of almond paste, when 8oz = a cup. The recipe also says that there will be "about a cup" of almond cream, oh really? Since when does 8oz + 1/2 cup + 2eggs + 3 tablespoons of sugar = 1 cup. Its more like two cups, then there is enough cream for at least 12 peaches, not 8. Also the white bean and tuna recipe calls to boil the beans for about and hour, doing this will result in mushy beans. You want to boil them for about 30 minutes. So how was a cookbook published with such poor guidelines? I'll never know...
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Format: Hardcover
I've had my eye on this book since before it was released, and I was terribly excited when it was finally available. Imagine my surprise when I saw a copy at my local used book store only a couple of days after release! I quickly snatched it up and started flipping through it, and then I realized why it was already there. David Joachim isn't kidding when he says rustic.

Many of the recipes in the book take considerable amounts of time to complete. And I'm not talking about 6-8 hours. I'm talking about DAYS. I'm perfectly willing to spend a lot of time working on a recipe, but one that takes several days to complete starts wearing me down. Many cookbooks from professional chefs will have a couple of these type of recipes as a kind of challenge, but the rest of the book will be dishes that are a little less time-intensive. Unfortunately, most of the recipes in this book will require a lot of commitment. Some examples: spit-roasted suckling pig, home-cured salamis, homemade bread using homemade starters (you can't even make the bread until the starter has been bubbling in your fridge for a week), and homemade pasta that must be dried for several days.

It's not that these recipes are necessarily bad ideas, it's just that many people don't have the time to devote to this kind of cooking anymore. I certainly don't. I still like to spend a Saturday making a fabulous dinner for family or friends, but I don't have the time to make a batch of preserves and can them. That makes the book much less usable in my view. And that's not even touching on the subject of all the special equipment you would need to accomplish these recipes, given the time (do you have a pig spit in your backyard?).
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Format: Hardcover
I would have given the book 5 stars, the actually 'cooking' recipes are wonderful as are the photos, just great. The Veal Breast al Latte is Killer!

BUT! The bread baking recipes are way off. It's like no one actually tested them prior to print. Or perhaps the conversions from grams to U.S. standards went wrong? I was majorly dissapointed after having invested time into making homemade bread, specifically using the natural sourdough starter.

Now, I can cook, but I am not a baker. With 'cooking' recipes I can mess with the ingredients, make it my own, etc. With baking, I know better and follow directions to a T. And I can tell you they are wrong. So if you are learning to bake bread, this is not the book for you. I think I will seek out an Alton Brown book for bread making (if it exists) as he seems to be really precise and scientific with his recipies, key for bread making.
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