I've never had the pleasure of dining at London's legendary River Cafe, but I have dipped into cookbooks by chef/founders Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers to bolster my Italian repertoire. Years ago, I even wrote out two recipes from a friend's copy of their very first cookbook (rare for someone constantly inundated with new cookbooks) and still use them for special dinners. Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe is the latest collection of their elegant, succinctly presented takes on regional Italian cooking, made lusciously real by full-color, eat-this-page photos. These are the kind of simple recipes that make you think about ingredients in new ways fresh mozzarella is paired with slices of grilled eggplant and roasted tomato, prosciutto goes beyond melon to top arugula, and grilled fennel combines with asparagus and potatoes in soup and covers Marsala-drenched guinea fowl while it bakes. Meat can be cooked slow and long pork shoulder simmers in wine, then milk (curious, but really good) for more than three hours; beef shank with loads of garlic and Chianti spends 12 hours in a low oven; and herb-stuffed, vermouth-finished chicken roasts for four. The vegetables are sensational, especially Zucchini Scapece, as is the baked fruit, the unusual lemon desserts and chocolate creations that are pure joy. Tutti a tavola!

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