Cooking

This Cookbook Is a Tribute to Italian Fine Dining

And there's a recipe for a 100-layer lasagna, too
Mario Batali Del Posto
Photo: Paulette Tavormina

Reading the names associated with New York's Del Posto is like reading a roster for a food person's dream season of Dancing with the Stars.

There's Mario Batali, the ever-recognizable restaurateur with more than 20 restaurants to his name. Then there's Lidia and Joe Bastianich, the first family of Italian cuisine, who together with Batali opened Del Posto 11 years ago. And former pastry chef Brooks Headley, who elevated Italian dessert to a truly magical level, and now runs the popular pint-sized vegetarian place Superiority Burger.

Most importantly though, there's the chef: Mark Ladner, who's been consistently producing upper-tier Italian food since the restaurant opened. And now, with the newly released cookbook, Del Posto, he's paving the way for home cooks to recreate some of the dishes from the highly lauded restaurant.

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You'll find recipes for red wine risotto, Batali's grandma's potato gnocchi and meaty veal braciole, as well as go-to garnishes like tomato raisins and fried bread crumbs. There are wispy, all-purpose crepes for dessert and a crostata that proves eggplant and chocolate actually belong together.

As Joe writes in the foreward, "If you want to invent the future, you can't be afraid of reinterpreting the past." As such, this doesn't entirely feel like a book from 2016. There aren't Instagram-inspired overheads with natural light, and for that, we're grateful. Instead, the styling contains ornate silverware, old paintings in the background and decorative china, and makes a case for why every home needs a candelabra. Most recipes are perfectly contemporary, but there's also a spiced duck that nods to Roman epicures of the fifth century and traditional sausage that's been around since the early 16th century.

Will everyone crack open the book and immediately make the famed 100-layer lasagna? Doubtful. So this isn’t a cookbook for an amateur. But Del Posto was the first restaurant to get four stars from the New York Times as part of the modern review system. The wine cellar holds more than 50,000 bottles. Of course, this isn't a book instructing you to boil pasta, add jarred tomato sauce and grate some cheese on top. But your work will be rewarded—and, not to mention, a $50 investment in the book will set you back far less than a meal in the restaurant.

All of that is to say, as delightful as the book may be, the true magic of Del Posto comes from dining in the restaurant itself. The exquisite service and high class yet unpretentious atmosphere is impossible to replicate at home. Yet if you take the time to make pillowy ricotta gnudi, "lacquered in black-truffle butter and impregnated with runny yolks," you'll be as close as you can get.

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