by Sybil PrattSeptember, 2006
Can there ever be too many Italian cookbooks? That's a question I ask myself every month as I go through the new arrivals and pick out titles for review. The answer is yes, if they're mediocre, and definitely no, if they can recreate the endless wonders of the real cucina Italiana, whether it's what you'd find simmering on your nonna's stove (if you're lucky enough to have an Italian grandmother), served in a classy classic ristorante in Bologna or trotted out in a trendy trattoria in Rome. A new Italian cookbook by Biba Caggiano never poses such a question it's always welcome, always authentic, always a pleasure to use. Biba's Italy: Favorite Recipes from the Splendid Cities offers a cook's tour of Rome, Milan, Venice, Bologna and Florence, with 100 recipes plus the names and addresses of restaurants, wine bars, food markets, specialty stores and cooking schools. You can try Chicken with Peppers alla Romana; creamy Risotto with Spinach from Florence; Potato Gnocchi with Classic Bolognese Rag&andugrave; and Bologna's Stuffed Pork Chop from Biba's famous hometown; and Old-Fashioned Milanese Veal Shanks, Pasta and Bean Soup Venetian-Style. The easy-to-follow directions, anecdotes and advice come from one of Italy's finest cooks and teachers.