Select one of the keywords
Italian Comfort Food: Intensive Eating from Fresco by Scotto Restaurant    by The Scotto Family order for
Italian Comfort Food
by The Scotto Family
Order:  USA  Can
Regan, 2002 (2002)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

After mentioning Italian Comfort Food in a column, Cookbooks for Italian Eating, I was taken with the book (I think I'm an Italian at heart; does an Italian son-in-law count?) and decided it merited a full length review. The cookbook abounds with charming pictures of the Scotto family, interspersed with glorious photos by Sacha Frey of the foods featured in the recipes, and with tidbits about celebrities who frequent Fresco.

And what recipes! Coming from close to the home of soft-shell crabs, I covet a Hot Pressed Soft-Shell Crab Ciabattini Sandwich. It looks unmanageably thick and delicious. The Meatball Lasagna is a meal fit for the Gods. But I'm ahead of myself. The cookbook starts with Soups and Appetizers. Chilled Minestrone Soup never would have occurred to me - but sounds wonderful. I discovered Frito Misto in a tiny restaurant in Tuscany, and could eat it at least four days a week - and serve me Grilled Pizza Margherita the other three. I'd almost kill for Potato and Zucchini Chips served with Crumbled Gorgonzola! Almost.

On to Salads and Sandwiches - Panzanella Salad made with Italian Bread, Meatball Sandwich, Fried Oyster Salad, String Bean and Potato Salad with Basil Pesto. Keep in mind, I'm picking out almost at random. All the recipes are worth trying. Now, on to my life's blood - PASTA! Just discovered Pasta Pie at a small pizzeria near my home. Love it. Now I have a recipe. Penne from Heaven, Fresco's version of Macaroni and Cheese, Spaghetti with Lobster and Shrimp Ragu, Sunday Sauce with Meatballs, Sausages and Pork Chops all appeal to me.

Entrees: Kath Lee Gifford's favorite dish at Fresco is Eggplant and Zucchini Pie, a layered dish that sounds divine. How about Peppered Salmon with Port Wine Vinaigrette? Works for me. Crab Cakes again, but this time with Avocado Salsa. Pistachio-Crusted Cod with Saffron Vinaigrette and Red Bliss Potatoes is another winner. It sounds, from the text, that Grandmother Elena was a driving force in the family. Her recipe for Boneless Stuffed Chicken is still being used. Rack of lamb always seems exotic to me, and this Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb proves it. Side recipes for Mushrooms, Couscous, Risotto Cakes and - oh bliss - Garlic Mashed Potatoes are included.

Ready for Dessert? A mound of Struffoli caught my eye. And just imagine Pumpkin Chocolate Tiramisu! Lead me to it. Also to the Raspberry Mascarpone Tart. Zabaglione is such a delicate flavor. Imagine it with Fresh Berries, which can only enhance it. Just dive in this section and try all the recipes to round out a wonderful selection of Italian Comfort Food.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more NonFiction books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews