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Patricia Wells Trattoria: Healthy, Simple, Robust Fare Inspired by the Small Family Restaurants of Italy [Hardcover]

Patricia Wells
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Cookbooks; First Edition edition (Oct 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688105327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688105327
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 19.7 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,899,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Patricia Wells, a former reporter for The New York Times and a critic for the International Herald Tribune, was the first female and foreign restaurant critic for French weekly, L'Express. She lives in Paris and Provence, alternating her cooking courses from each place. Her other books published by Kyle Cathie include Patricia Wells: At Home in Provence, Trattoria, The Paris Cookbook and Bistro Cooking. www.patriciawells.com

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I discovered Bistro Cooking first, then bought Trattoria, I have yet to be disappointed. The beauty to this book is in the fresh ingredients and the simplicity of the dishes. I have several favorites; Penne with Vodka and Spicy Tomato-Cream Sauce, and the Tagliarini with Lemon Sauce are 2 of them. I'm one who thinks you can never have too many cookbooks and this one is definetly needed in your kitchen if you love Italian food.
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3.0 out of 5 stars OK but not great 21 Jun 2010
By Marand TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There isn't anything really wrong with this book but it just doesn't 'grab' me. The recipes are easy to prepare - a few are in fact are really too easy to require a recipe. For example there is a recipe for roasted rosemary potatoes - all of five ingredients if you include salt & pepper - which is so simple I would defy even a novice cook not to be able to make a reasonable stab at it without need of a recipe. There is also recipe for oven-roasted peppers in the same vein.

The book is pretty conventionally arranged and starts with a chapter covering antipasti & salads: walnut & pecorino salad, white bean salad with fresh sage & thyme, lemon & oregano tuna mousse, grilled zucchini with fresh thyme, marinated baby artichokes, very nice herb-infused savoury custards, fava (broad) bean & pecorino salad. Many of the dishes in this chapter could be accompaniments to main course dishes.

Next come vegetables such as asparagus with butter & parmesan, braised artichokes with garlic & parsley, deep fried zucchini flowers (for those who have never had these, deep fried courgette flowers are a real treat - they are not easy to find in the UK so I grow my own courgettes as much for the flowers as the fruits).

There is a very brief chapter on soups including Tuscan five bean soup, pasta & chickpea soup, roasted yellow pepper soup.

Pasta dishes have been divided into two sections - one for dried & one for fresh pasta. I am not sure why this distinction has been drawn.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars simple an robust 17 May 2009
The title says it all. Some excellent recipes and great information of the culture of the Italial cuisine, also some fine wine suggestions.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally: Italy is in my hands! 16 Mar 2002
By Tana Butler - Published on Amazon.com
Since I returned from a trip to Italy a year ago, I have sought high and low for a cookbook that would put Italy into my hands as it was when I was there. This is that book! I've had it two weeks and used it six times already.

I learned in Italy that there is Italian food, and then there is American Italian food (think "Olive Garden" chain restaurant). A true Italian "trattoria" is small, intimate, and completely reliant on the ingredients of freshness and simplicity. Dried pasta isn't forbidden, and fresh pasta isn't unheard of.

Many of these recipes have only a half dozen ingredients. The techniques are simple, and you need have only a medium level of confidence to turn out the most savory and aromatic food of your life. The recipes run the entire course: appetizers to dessert. Additionally, there are sources for hard-to-find ingredients and equipment.

Some sample dishes: Lemon Risotto, Goat Cheese and Garlic Spread, White Bean Salad with Fresh Sage and Thyme; Tuscan Five-Bean Soup; Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup; Roasted Rosemary Potatoes; Individual Eggplant Parmesans; Penne with Vodka and Spicy Tomato-Cream Sauce; Saffron Butterflies; Tagliarini with Lemon Sauce; Risotto with Tomatoes and Parmesan; Orange, Sage and Mushroom Risotto; several bread recipes; Fried Calamari; Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Sage; Chicken Cooked Under Bricks...oh, enough. Are you salivating yet?

Mille grazie, Patricia! And a big bacia to you for this wonderful, loving tribute to Italy.

If I can't be in Italy, I can pretend.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous food! 1 July 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this cookbook on a whim and have never looked back! Shortly after perusing this book I thought "hmmm. Italian anti-pasti party!" I gave that party five times, and almost every dish I made for the parties was from this book. I have not made one single thing that wasn't delicious. Try the caponata, or Aunt Flora's olive salad, or the chicken with red peppers, or the mushroom orange risotto, or the fragrant orange lemon bundt cake, or the ricotta cheesecake....okay, I'm getting carried away, but from someone who cooks a lot, has taken many, many cooking classes and practically collects cookbooks, this book is incredible!
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, Economical, Easy Italian Food, Excellent Recipes 15 Mar 2004
By B. Marold - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is Patricia Wells' Italian companion to her French cuisine's `Bistro Cooking' and it succeeds in doing for the Italian comfort food world the same great job she did for the Bistro. A look at the table of contents shows at a glance where the major differences lie between the two cuisines. Where `Bistro Cooking' had a chapter on potatoes and one chapter on pasta, `Trattoria' has two chapters on pasta (dried and fresh) plus chapters on `Rice and Polenta' and `Breads and Pizzas'. While `Bistro Cooking' desserts concentrated on pastries, `Trattoria' desserts concentrate on granitas, sorbets, and ice creams. The French book also seems to give more attention to eggs and cheese than the Italian book.
Recipes for a large number of Italian standards are presented in this book, but not all classics make an appearance, since this book does not deal with all of Italian cuisine, only that food you would most commonly expect in a family-run Trattoria. This means that the book gives a lot of attention to antipasti, salads, vegetables, soups, pastas, sauces, and condiments. The most common land based protein is chicken. Veal, so common in many classic Italian dishes, just barely manages to make an appearance in a recipe for veal shanks. There are no expensive veal dishes here. Some pork and lamb dishes make an appearance, but chicken is definitely the star of the show. There are also few long cooking beef braises like ragu Bolognese either. I was surprised to see that even gnocchi was absent, in spite of a healthy representation of other dishes from famous Roman Trattorias.
The classics which do show up are things like marinated, grilled, and fried artichokes; panzanella and other salads featuring arugula, celery (puntarelle), and spinach; and pasta such as spaghetti alla Puttanesca and lasagna. One of the real stars of the book is the selection of chicken dishes, including chicken cooked under bricks and the chicken cacciatora dishes.
Although Ms. Wells specializes in French cuisine, she has really done us a service with this book in making these Italian classics available in such an effective manner. The nature of the subject means that almost all recipes, especially those for vegetables, starches, and seafood are very straightforward. Still, the author does not skimp on important details. This is no more evident than in her chapters on pizza and breads. In reviewing books like this, I typically advise people to refer to books by specialists in baking, but I make an emphatic exception with this book. I am delighted, for example, to find a really effective recipe for ciabatta, a rustic type of bread which is superb for making panninis, not to mention a killer Philadelphia cheese steak sandwich (See Tyler Florence's book for an over the top recipe).
For those who are unfamiliar with bread baking, do not be surprised at the long waiting times for some types of bread baking, especially the artisinal yeast breads and natural yeast breads such as sourdough. Ms. Wells suggestions on bread baking techniques are repeated by every bread expert I have read. Do not skimp on her resting times or on her suggestions to have doughs rise in a cool location. Also, I strongly suggest you get a baking stone if you do bread, at least for your pizza. This is not to say that all bread recipes take days. The previously mentioned ciabatta and a recipe for olive rolls are relatively fast. Wells's chapter will not turn you into a professional baker, but it will certainly turn on the bread-baking gene, if you have it.
In the chapter on desserts, I was particularly happy to find a recipe for the ricotta cheesecake, a very chic pastry with as much panache as a Brooklyn cheesecake with much fewer calories.
If you like cooking Italian food without a lot of fuss, this is the book for you. If someone asked me for a recommendation on a book with which to have fun, I would recommend they get both `Trattoria' and `Bistro Cooking'. Together, they are less expensive than many recent celebrity written cookbooks.
Highly recommended.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hearty and simple Italian fare 30 Oct 2004
By Debbie Lee Wesselmann - Published on Amazon.com
For anyone who has traveled to Italy (or who dreams of it), this cookbook brings the simple yet effective trattoria fare into the kitchen. As Wells states in her preface, "Homey, unpretentious, honest, and homemade, that's the heart and soul of Italian trattoria cooking." The recipes she includes embrace this philosophy, and while some recipes are slightly more complicated than others, most are straightforward and easy to prepare.

She includes robust fare such as "White Bean Salad with Fresh Sage and Thyme", "Pan-fried Potatoes with Black Olives," and "Cubed Pork with Garlic, Spinach, and Spice Chick Peas" along with more exotic "Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup," "Saffron Butterflies", and "Individual Gorgonzola Soufflés" She provides recipes for dishes more familiar to Americans as well, such as handmade pizza, penne with vodka, and macaroons. Her "Speedy Lasagna" is a boon to the harried weekday cook. The skimpiest section covers fish courses, with only seven recipes.

None of the recipes I've tried have failed, although I like some better than others. All recipes are preceded by a descriptive passage of Wells's emotional connection to the dish, and some include a quote from a famous person. Small boxes with such subjects as "Eating Risotto" highlight local customs pertaining to the dish. The only thing this cookbook lacks is extensive color plates; the few it includes are often jammed with several dishes. At first I thought this was a mistake, but now I realize homey trattoria food does not love the camera. Most of these dishes won't earn high marks for presentation, but they will for taste.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need is this book and a lace curtain in the window 17 Jan 2007
By Jesse Kornbluth - Published on Amazon.com
I have been cooking with 'Bistro', Patricia Wells' book of simple French recipes, for several decades now. I have recently been converted to her 'Paris Cookbook'. So what stopped me from buying her book of Italian trattoria cooking?

Two words: Marcella Hazan.

I am addicted to Hazan's 'Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking'. It's clear. It produces restaurant-quality meals that take only modest effort. And "fancy" is the last thing it is.

I thought I just didn't need another Italian cookbook.

But now, fourteen years after it was first published, "Trattoria" --- a bargain at $13 --- is finally in the house. And, more to the point, in the kitchen. And I am chastened.

You want simple? This is it. Easy? Forget about it. Organized? Buying the book could be the last time you'll ever need to think about an Italian menu.

Why? Because the fact is, you really don't want rich and fancy. You want a trattoria --- an uncomplicated, modestly decorated, family-run establishment featuring traditional regional fare. You drink the house wine. You tend to order whatever special is being pushed. And you are likely to leave satisfied though not sated.

Patricia Wells recreates that experience here.
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