Pino Luongo came to America from Italy in 1980 with three passions: the Italian zest for life, his love of acting, and a passion for cooking. He is an acclaimed New York chef and restaurateur, whose restaurants includ Centolire, Coco Pazzo, and Tuscan Square. Two Meatballs is Luongo's fifth cookbook, preceded by A Tuscan in the Kitchen, Simply Tuscan, Fish Talking, and La Mia Cucina Toscana. Luongo lives with his wife and children in Westchester, where he coaches his son's soccer team, listens to Italian pop songs and opera, and cooks. Mark Strausman, a Queens native, began his career in food service selling peanuts at Shea Stadium. He is the co-owner, with Pino Luongo, of Coco Pazzo in Manhattan, where he is chef. He is also the executive chef/managing director of Fred's at Barney's in Manhattan. and the author of author of The Campagna Table. Mark and his two sons live in New York City.
In this delightful book, Luongo and Strausman, friends and
restaurateurs in Manhattan, put a personal spin on the divide
between cuisine from Italy and the American variety. Each chapter
opens with lengthy back-and-forths between the two over the merits
of certain ingredients or cooking methods, and their disagreements
over these specifics is as edifying as it is amusing to read; the
recipes aren'Aot all simple, but with Luongo and Strausman'Aos
vocal observations and tips close at hand, those familiar with
Italian cooking techniques should have no trouble mastering them.
Luongo'Aos loyalties to his native Tuscany show in recipes such as
Garfagnana Bean and Apple Soup and Sausage and Cranberry Beans with
Polenta, though he also refers to many of Italy'Aos other regions
in his focus on authenticity. Strausman defends his Americanized
vision of Italian food with dishes both old-fashioned (Chicken
Parmigiana) and chicly modern in flavor (Carrot and Ricotta
Ravioli). The indispensable chapter of meatballs and meatloaf
crystallizes their disagreements, as Luongo defends small,
flavor-packed meatballs with unusual ingredients like amaretto
cookies, mostly served on their own, and Strausman advocates the
plump kind Americans serve atop spaghetti and tomato sauce. Cooks
interested in the distinctions between regional Italian specialties
yet still fond of the American versions they grew up with will
savor almost every recipe in this spirited book.