Osteria means “tavern” in Italian. It is always a casual place, usually family-owned, where simple country cooking is served to accompany the local wine. In 2006, acclaimed chef Rick Tramonto opened Osteria di Tramonto on Chicago’s north shore. In this spectacular restaurant, he serves the kind of earthy, hearty fare so beloved by Italians—and Americans.
Now, Rick has written a cookbook showcasing the food from his osteria, with recipes ideally suited for the home cook. Osterias tend to be open all day, so Rick’s book features recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as for little snacks in between.
Breakfast and brunch recipes include omelets, frittatas, pancakes, crepes, and smoothies. Lunch includes salads, soups, pizzas, and simple pasta and meat dishes. Dinner offers everything from bruschetta and antipasto to fish, meat, and braised dishes, pasta, and desserts. There are small plates, too, and numerous antipasti, panini, and crostini.
Blood Orange Crepes with Vanilla Mascarpone, Roman-Style Omelets, Rick’s Mother’s Lasagna, Capellini with Six Summer Tomatoes, Wood-Roasted Mussels in White Wine Sauce, Braised Pork Shanks with Borlotti Beans, Lamb Porterhouse with Salsa Verde, Goat Cheese Scalloped Potatoes, and Italian Chocolate Pudding are just some of the more than 150 intensely flavorful dishes. This is an irresistible collection no true lover of good eating will want to pass up.
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About the Author
MARY GOODBODY is a nationally known food writer and editor. Her credits include Tru, Amuse-Bouche, Fantastico and Taste: Pure and Simple. She has contributed significantly to books such as Back to the Table, The Naked Chef, How to Be A Domestic Goddess, and The Morton’s Steak Bible, among others. She lives outside New York City.
Read an Excerpt
I wrote this book from my heart. Nothing inspires yet comforts me as much as the homey family-style Italian cooking presented on these pages. It is the food I grew up with and
it is the food cooked at osterias both here and in Italy. It truly is the food of my childhood, the refuge of my adult life, and the key to my heritage.
I revel in the honest, robust flavors, the straightforward cooking techniques, and the emphasis on seasonal, fresh food all celebrated by this style of Italian cooking. This is how I like to cook at home for my family, and it's how I learned to cook from my Italian-American parents and immigrant grandparents. But because I am a professional chef, I did not think about compiling a book of osteria-style recipes until now. Perhaps I thought them too uncomplicated or unrefined, or perhaps I simply had to reach this point in my culinary odyssey. The time is right for me to turn my attention to more casual cooking, and it's right for this book.
Believe me, learning how to cook these dishes is a delicious and stimulating journey well worth taking! I hope you will join me.
A little about me
Currently I devote my energy to owning and managing a group of restaurants in Chicagoland, which is what we midwesterners call the greater Chicago metropolitan area. One of the restaurants is Tru and the other is an osteria. When I am not running from one of my professional kitchens to another, I like nothing more than to spend time in my home kitchen, cooking alongside my wife for our family.
I am best known as the executive chef and partner of the award-winning restaurant Tru, one of Chicago's high-end restaurantslocated a block from Michigan Avenue. My years at Tru have allowed me to showcase the cutting-edge cuisine I have studied most of my life. I never went to cooking school, but instead worked in some of New York's and Chicago's best restaurants, absorbing all I could. I also cooked in England for several years, and from there visited the Continent, particularly France, Spain, and Italy, to learn all I could from some of the world's greatest chefs. When I lived in England, I was the chef at a country house hotel, but I also worked with Raymond Blanc and Anton Mosimann and in France with Pierre Gagnaire and Michel Guerard. I traveled as much as I could, observing, learning, and eating anything and everything as a way to broaden my informal but wide-reaching culinary education.
I pour this hands-on knowledge into my career. The menu at Tru is filled with caviar and confit, truffles and lobster. The food is wonderful and I am extremely proud of the high standards we aim for and meet every night of the year. Our customers share our enthusiasm.
The food I cook at the osteria and at home is quite different from the food served at Tru. Both are faithful to quality and the seasons, and both are prepared with exacting care and attention, but the difference is in the experience, putting on a tuxedo like/versus a pair of jeans. Both have to fit, but they are poles apart.
An osteria is defined as a "tavern or humble restaurant" where the food is designed to accompany the wine. I love this concept! The cooking is simple--but never simplistic--and straightforward, and over the years it has evolved so that now most Italians think of it as any casual fare with a smart nod to its rich culinary history. At its best, nothing surpasses it, and I aspire to this authenticity at Osteria di Tramonto and when I cook at home.
Our customers happily embrace what we try to do at the osterias every day. As is typical of an osteria, we are open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Customers sense that this is the "real deal," whether they order veal shank osso buco, a plate of garlic-and-oil pasta, a meatball salad, or braised monkfish. Our food is a welcome alternative to Italian-American restaurants; it's a breath of fresh air because its genuineness is a gentle reminder of how comforting and stupendous real Italian food can be, especially when it follows the seasons.
During the last five years, since I opened the osterias, I have rediscovered my Italian heritage in exciting ways. I have made numerous trips to Italy to soak up all I can about the food, the raw ingredients, the cooking, the culture, and the people. Not surprisingly, I found that hospitality is the glue that holds it all together. Italians welcome everyone to their restaurants, large and small, fancy and casual, with open arms--often quite literally--and are just as likely to invite you into their homes if the opportunity arises.
I recognize this impulse. I have been drawn to the hospitality and restaurant business since I got a job at Wendy's at age sixteen when I dropped out of high school to help out with the family finances--and I have been cooking in professional kitchens ever since. I grew up in a large Italian family in Rochester, New York, where home-cooked meals were a daily occurrence and on Sundays could last all afternoon, with as many people as possible squeezed around the table.
My two grandmothers spent as much time in our kitchen as their own. I learned to make marinara sauce from my grandmother from Naples, and risotto from my grandmother from Abruzzi. Both my grandfathers cured meat and aged wine in their basements. My aunts baked large casseroles of eggplant Parmesan, and my parents used gigantic pans for rectangular pizzas. (I still have those battered old pizza pans, and guess what? The pizzas I make in them are outstanding!) My parents tended a large vegetable garden and we all eagerly awaited spring's first peas and lettuces, summer's plump, juicy tomatoes, and autumn's mellow butternut squash. We piled skillets high with greens such as chard and spinach and watched as they shrank to a quarter of their mass while they soaked up the garlic and olive oil in the hot skillet.
We shopped at Wegmans, the wonderful family-owned supermarket chain that has its roots in Rochester, and also bought bread and pasta from the nearby Italian markets, although we never hesitated to make our own. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my mother and grandmother, rolling pasta dough and running the silken sheets through the hand-cranked pasta machine. It's no coincidence that my fondest memories of childhood revolve around the kitchen, cooking and eating. We were a typical Italian-American family and food was at the center of our existence.
Cooking the food on the pages of this book is a natural outgrowth of what I recall from those early days. Though I never forget the old-world traditions that demand such enormous respect, in a number of cases I have refined a dish to meet contemporary tastes. When I have been inspired by an unfamiliar cooking technique or ingredient discovered in Italy, I have created a dish to keep up with the normal evolution of any great and organic cuisine.
Ligurian Seafood Salad
Insalata di Pesce
I fell for this style of salad when I was visiting the Ligurian coast many years ago and stopped at one osteria after another along the way to try their versions of a seafood salad. I washed them all down with glasses of crisp, chilled Italian white wine and have nothing but relaxing memories of the journey. Back home in Chicago, I work with top-notch fishmongers to get the best fish and shellfish I can find to make a salad redolent of lemons, herbs, and olive oil. When you make your own version, go with the market and the season when you select fish and shellfish.
1 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
½ tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped Calabrian chili or another hot chili such as jalapeno or serrano
¾ pound mussels
½ pound littleneck clams
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Pinch of dried red pepper flakes
¾ pound calamari, the body sliced into ¼-inch-thick rings and the tentacles halved
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced fennel
1 quart cooked cannellini beans, page 00
1 cup Oven-Dried Cherry Tomatoes, page 00
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons minced shallots
Juice of 3 lemons
2 tablespoons Calabrian chili oil or other hot chili oil
1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices Rick’s Basic Crostini, page 00
2 lemons, halved
1.To make the marinade, in a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 4 minutes or until the garlic begins to sizzle. Do not let it burn. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
1.Once cooled, stir in the parsley, thyme, rosemary, and chili pepper, and set aside.
2.To make the seafood salad, heat a large sauté pan over high heat and when hot, put the mussels and clams in the pan. Add the wine, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cover and steam for 5 minutes, or until the shells begin to open. Add the calamari, cover, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer or until the shellfish are fully open. Remove the shellfish and the calamari from the pan and set aside.
(Partial recipe only–for space considerations, some instructions have been omitted. The full text will appear in the book.)