by Sybil PrattJune, 2000
Bravissima! Bravissimo! for the fabulous flavors of Italian cooking Now for the fancy flourishes from a formidable force in food fashion. . . . Though Pino Luongo is the owner of 10 trendy, highly successful restaurants in the United States, and has lived and cooked here for 20 years, he's Tuscan to the very marrow of his bones and believes that big benefits can come from putting "a little of Tuscany" in all our lives. To bring that Tuscan touch to our tables and our attitude toward all things edible, he presents us with his third cookbook, Simply Tuscan. These "recipes for a well-lived life" are truly Tuscan and simply stunning, but they're not simple; be prepared to spend time with Pino, assembling ingredients, following his instructions and always read the recipe through before beginning. "Thinking Tuscan" and following nature's lead, the recipes are arranged according to the season, and each season is celebrated with a "quintessential menu" and three or four others that honor holidays and special events from "A Summer Grilling and Barbecue Buffet" and a "Lunch for Children and their Friends," to "A Tuscan Thanksgiving Dinner." Tradition mixes easily with modernity. Bay Scallops and Asparagus Risotto is a variation on a classic, as is summery Fusilli Salad with Swordfish and Grapefruit, while redolent "Rostinciana," Grilled Pork Ribs Florentine Style, and cream-filled "Bombolini," are among the tempting, time-tested Italianate treats. Evocative photos, lovely watercolors, and Senore Luongo's running commentary and reminiscences put the finishing touches on this eloquent Italian experience. Sybil Pratt has been cooking up this column for more than five years.