Friday, October 3, 2014

Downtown Italian by Campanale, et. al.

Downtown Italian's subtitle is:  Recipes Inspired by Italy, Created in New York's West Village.  The recipes and the wine accompaniments and the cocktail creations are by Joe Campanale, Gabriel Thompson and Katherine Thompson.

The sommelier, chef, and pastry chef have interpreted traditional Italian dishes to make them their own, inspired by both Italy and America.  They serve this fare regularly at four restaurants in New York City:  dell'anima, L'Artusi, L'Apicio, and Anfora.

The book's sections follow the typical Italian feast:
  • Notes on Wine
  • Aperitivi
  • Antipasti
  • Primi
  • Secondi
  • Contorni
  • Dolci
  • Digestivi
The three authors are not purists; they have a very relaxed attitude to food, and working with food.
The point is to work with the ingredients, treat them right, cook with love, and create something you and everyone else wants to eat right that minute.  Have fun!

The Notes on Wine section is interesting for Italophiles who are also Oenophiles.  The sommelier mentions that there are more than 1000 indigenous grape varieties in Italy.  He describes the wines in terms of their region, grape variety, producer, and the style of wine.  He contributes all the creative Aperitivi, most of which have accompanying photographs.  For each dish in the book, he suggests an accompanying wine.

There are lots of unusual Antipasti, and many salads, which are not a strength in traditional Italian cooking.

The Pasta section offers a wide variety of meat ragus and sauces, which seem quite North African. 

The Secondi are solid, do-able dishes of fish or meat, that seem like satisfying, not fussy, dishes. 

Contorni is the shortest section, but each dish comes with a suggested pairing with a main dish. 

The Dolci are quite work involved, and very sweet compared to their Italian inspirations, so they are more for an American palate. 

There is no recipe list at the front of the book.  The recipe names appear only in the Index, which includes all the ingredients and instructions.

So, what are Recipes Inspired by Italy, Created in New York's West Village like?  Here are some examples:
  • Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Panzanella Salad with Black pepper Bacon and Picked Watermelon Rind
  • Rigatoni with Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon
  • Green Tomato Parmesan
  • Blueberry Polenta Upside-Down Cake
  • Grapefruit-Aperol Granita
Here is a short video showing how they make their homemade ricotta cheese at L'Artusi:

From the book's description:
Three of the most inventive young restaurateurs in New York's vibrant East and West Villages present 100 contemporary Italian-inspired cocktails, antipasti, pastas, main courses and desserts—made approachable for the home cook.

Amid the cobblestoned streets and picturesque brownstones of New York's charming West Village, three dynamic young restaurateurs are creating some of the most inventive and delicious Italian-inspired cuisine in a city world-famous for its Italian food. Now the drinks and dishes that have inspired fanatical loyalty among customers of dell'anima, L'Artusi, L'Apicio and Anfora—including Charred Octopus with Chicories, Impromptu Tiramisu, and a sparking Roasted Orange Negroni Sbagliato—are accessible to home cooks in the first cookbook from executive chef Gabriel Thompson, pastry chef Katherine Thompson, and beverage director Joe Campanale.

Gabe Thompson's antipasti, pastas, main courses, and side dishes emphasize simplicity and deep flavor, using the freshest ingredients, creative seasonings, and the occasional unexpected twist---in such dishes as Sweet Corn Mezzaluna and Chicken al Diavolo. Katherine Thompson's desserts are both inspired and downright homey, running the gamut from a simple and sinful Bittersweet Chocolate Budino to the to-die-for Espresso-Rum Almond Cake with Caramel Sauce, Sea Salt Gelato, and Almond Brittle. And all are paired with thoughtfully chosen wines and ingenious Italian-inspired cocktails—Blame it on the Aperol, anyone?—by Joe Campanale, one of the most knowledgeable young sommeliers in New York City

Downtown Italian is published by Andrews McMeel Publishing.
Known for cutting-edge comics and best-selling humor, cookbook, puzzle, and children's books, Andrews McMeel has a passion for publishing original talent and delighting readers with innovative books and gifts that are worth sharing.

Here is a direct link to the book at

If you are going to be in New York City, and you wish to visit one of the restaurants run by the authors, visit the online booking site for reservations.  Here is the link to the page on the site that tells you a bit about the restaurants.

Here is a very short video showing the interior of one of the four restaurants:

This review is by Candida Martinelli, of Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site, and the author of the cozy-murder-mystery novel AN EXTRA VIRGIN PRESSING MURDER, and the young-adult/adult mystery novel series THE VIOLET STRANGE MYSTERIES the first book of which is VIOLET'S PROBLEM.

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