Renowned chef and author David Ruggerio takes you back to Brooklyn and introduces you to the Italian-American experience and cuisine he knows, grew up with, and adores. This humble cuisine reflects a beautiful narrative of joy, sadness and fatigue but always rich in humanity and heritage.
A Tomato Grows in Brooklyn is full of luscious pictures with more than 135 recipes that will make your mouth water.
With a bite of Involtini of Eggplant, a taste of Octopus in Warm Vinaigrette, a forkful of Carbonara of Artichoke, a morsel of Gnocchi all'Amatriciana, or a mouthful of Panna Cotta of Orange, Caramel and Figs, you will discover what makes the Italian American cuisine of Brooklyn unique.
A Note From the Publisher
Average rating from 7 members
A Tomato Grows in Brooklyn is a cookbook interspersed with warm memoir recollections by David Ruggerio. Due out 12th Oct 2021 from Black Rose Writing, it's 252 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free. This is an unvarnished memoir written in chapters through Chef Ruggerio's childhood and professional life. He talks plainly in a direct voice with the reader about his difficult childhood, trouble with the law, and eventual redemption and professional success as a culinary professional. He is unabashedly plain spoken, brash even, and his recollections and reminiscences are often bittersweet. He doesn't dwell on the tragedies (he was orphaned at 5 years old) or the systemic racism which Southern Italians experienced - they are just facts of life to be gotten around or compensated for. What does come through clearly is his love of and respect for food and family which are inextricably entwined. In fact, the recipes are gathered in each memoir chapter in a sort of stream-of-consciousness manner, and only coded with their uses: a (appetizer), b (breakfast/brunch), m (main course), c (side dish/contorni), and d (dessert). At least in the pre-release ARC I received for review, there was no comprehensive index, which will make the recipes a challenge to find without a systematic read-through of the book. I was entranced by the brash style of the memoir and his unapologetic (and presumably) unvarnished reminiscences of growing up in the 70s in Brooklyn. The comforting home life with scents of olive oil, tomatoes simmering with basil, and handmade traditional sausages are there, related on the same page as violence on the doorstep with drug abuse, stabbings, and murder. The dichotomy is dizzying and somehow fascinating at the same time. Recipes are written with names in both Italian and English, the aforementioned code (breakfast, appetizer, main dish, dessert), an introduction and recipe ingredients listed bullet-style in a sidebar. Ingredients are given with American standard measures (no metric equivalents given), followed by step by step preparation instructions. Roughly a third of the recipes are accompanied by photographs. The food is not overstyled and looks genuinely appetizing and real. Serving photos are appealing and appropriate. Most recipes are written for family sized portions (generally 4-8 servings, sometimes more). There are a number of "fancier" dishes which aren't generally available outside of specialty cookbooks, as well as quite a number of specific holiday recipes (Saints days, Christmas, etc). My major problem with the book was the apparent lack of a table of contents or index. Both of these issues are possibly fixed in the release copy. The memoir itself is quite worthwhile and I compensated for the lack of index by bookmarking recipes I wanted to revisit as I read through the book. Not ideal, but workable. Three and a half stars, rounded up for the unvarnished and enlightening memoir. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
David Ruggerio writes with such fondness of where he grew up in Brooklyn. The recipes capture that love and respect for the Italian community. The recipes are rustic and hearty and sound utterly delicious. These are Italian American recipes rather than traditionally Italian and well worth exploring.
My mother-in-law was Sicilian. 1st generation American. She cooked the most amazing spaghetti sauces, cannoli, and pizzellas. From a large family of all girls, she was the only one who spent time in the family kitchen learning to cook from her mother! She would have loved this book. David Ruggerio has done fabulous job of collecting all the great recipes from his neighborhood in N.Y. I plan on getting this book as a gift for my daughter, so she can continue learning to cook like her grandmother! Anyone wanting to learn a bit of Italian immigrant experiences in this country, along with learning to ccok great meals, should get this book. Instructions are clear and concise. And while the book does not have step by step photos, it does have photos of the finished products! I look forward to seeing this book in color!
Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. I loved this insight into the Italian scene in Brooklyn. Touching and warm, it was a great memoir and a compelling read as well as providing beautifully presented recipe which I am working my way through!. Recommended for anyone with interest in the cuisine.
I am neither Italian nor American, but having travelled extensively in Italy, I love Italian food. I really enjoyed browsing through this book; the stories were interesting, told in a down to earth and often irreverent manner, but underpinned by a love of family (and especially grandmother Mary) and a love of genuine Italian food. The recipes were “real Italian” and reminded me of some of the food served in little off-the-beaten-track restaurants in Italy, so the traditions have remained for Italian families in Brooklyn. I made the Creamy Chicken Marsala and the Gemelli Pasta with Tomato Accented Pesto and both were very successful; quick to make, yet tasty. I have bookmarked others to try! Tidbits at the end of recipes – for example, what variety of pear to eat raw or cooked, types of rice for risotto etc. were a great addition to the recipes and the balance of stories to recipes worked well. Some negative points include not having any index and I found the frequent “STOP!” “Hold on a moment” type comments in the introduction to the recipes rather repetitive. A typo – tartlettes became tattletales – was amusing, but can suggest that the book was not proofread carefully. However, these are minor points and would not stop me recommending the book to other lovers of Italian food.
This is a very unique cookbook. The recipes are taken from an Italian American experience and they have some great recipes like savory chick peas with prosciutto, pistachio and dark chocolate torte, bomba calabrese (pepper spread), pizza a Ogge a Otto (fried stuffed pizza) and the slightly different take on many traditional dishes are all delicious. They are also easy to follow recipes. I would highly recommend the book.