Molto Mario (Food Network)
Mario Batali, whose original career path had him studying Spanish
took his first bit of culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu in London,
which he withdrew immediately due to a "lack of interest." An
apprenticeship with London's legendary Marco Pierre White and three
cooking and learning in the Northern Italian village of Borgo Capanne,
population 100, taught him the needed skills to return to his native
US. He owns and co-owns six restaurants, has written three books and hosts
three TV cooking shows.
We find Mario in his studio kitchen with three different guests asking
questions about what he's cooking. "Mario, what's Mozzarella di
do you add salt to the pasta water?" Each episode is packed with
and is organized by Italian Region, or theme. Bonnie, a freqent participant in the virtualitalia.com forums, says "I find all of Mario Batali's shows really great.
I really love to cook and good thing, my husband loves to eat." This show is both educational and entertaining and it merits our top rating.
Nick Stellino's Family Kitchen (PBS)
Nick Stellino grew up in Sicily and came to the United States in 1975.
1991, he decided to leave his lucrative career as a Wall Street
in order to follow his dream of becoming a chef. He started his
career as a dishwasher. Over time, he apprenticed with the best Italian
chefs in America, including Celestine Drago at Drago. Wanting to share
enthusiasm for Italian cooking with more people, he decided to start
show and has written six books.
In each 30 minute program, Nick
two traditional Italian recipes in their entirety, step by step. He
shares useful tips for preparation, substitutions and presentation, along with stories that recall the family kitchen of his childhood. A reader of our website in San Francisco adds "I like how he suggests some easier to find ingredients (where would you find pancetta if you lived in a small rural Southern town of 300 people for example?) and he gives a lot of leeway with his recipes, always stressing the point that every cook brings a little of him or herself to the cooking process." It's
to miss this host's Italian accent and sense of humor.
Mario Eats Italy (Food Network)
Mario takes his show out of the kitchen and into the Italian countryside. Joined by travelling partner and
student Steve Rooney, Mario winds his way from north to south, from balsamico
bruschetta, sharing his passion for Italy and its abundant
artisanal food and table-related
This show focuses more on Italian table culture than making
dinner - however, you'll find several recipes in this show too! This show does a fantastic job of
explaining Italian culture to the viewing audience and virtualitalia.com's founders have it on their
"must-see" list. One reader of virtualitalia.com told us that, "it's like a mini travel show, he talks about the region that he's visiting and why that food is so prominent in that area." This kooky
food comedy entertains while it educates.
Lidia's Italian American Kitchen (PBS)
Lidia Bastianich, came to the United States when she was 12 years old and opened her first restaurant at 24. Lidia is now the
co-owner of Felidia and Becco restaurants in New York and
in Kansas City and Pittsburgh. She also has two sauce lines and was
previously the host of Lidia's Italian Table (a TV show that is no
The show is held in her real-life kitchen where she has a
wood-burning oven (with rotisserie attachment!) She cooks and tells
(often of her kids and family), pausing to show you a particular
or shortcut. She'll also describe how the original Italian recipe was
why it was adapted as it was - for example, the easy access to "meat"
milk products meant that Italian American cooking uses lots of both!
While some may find her story-telling distracting, others (like myself)
find it very
reminiscent of sitting in the kitchen and discussing life with an
mom. Bonnie notes that "Lidia always seems to choose wine that matches the
food, something I find very helpful, because I don't drink wine often".
A reader from San Francisco adds, "I love it when she brings her various family members on the show to help out, or just to eat the finished product."
Everyday Italian (Food Network)
Giada De Laurentiis worked in a variety of Los Angeles restaurants,
including Wolfgang Puck's Spago, before starting her own business
a private chef and caterer in Los Angeles. De Laurentis cooks about
dishes per episode. She shows her viewers how to cook
traditional and updated Italian favorites by lowering the fat content.
Each episode ends with a party at her house and everyone munching what
has just cooked.
The show opens with De Lauretiis shopping in Los Angeles Italian delis and a brief introduction to set the mood for the episode (she's cross-legged on the couch before the "Comfort Food" episode and in a pary dress for the "Cocktail Party" episode). Her informal and energetic style along with her clear cooking
direction would have earned her three spoons had she been more
distinguishing between which recipes she has modified and which are traditionally Italian.
Ciao America with Mario Batali (Food Network)
Mario Batali visits Italian American centers, and not so Italian ones,
find the Italian American tradition in practice. We see him shopping in
Italian American stores, speaking to the owners, going to someone's
be shown how to make a meal by the resident (and eat it with their family). Batali, as in
other shows, does a fantastic job of educating the viewers about the
difference between Italian and Italian American cooking.
He focuses on Italian American traditions rather than cooking. Faithful Batali fans can tell he's holding something back--
particularly in the BBQ Chicken Pizza episode. By not telling us what's really on his mind our favorite cook earns only two spoons for this show.
Michael Chiarello's Napa - Casual Cooking (PBS)
Of Southern Italian Heritage, but born and raised in central
Michael Chiarello began apprenticing in restaurants at age 14 and
from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, in 1982. He is
owner of the specialty food store Napa Style. Previously he was the
of "Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello". This show will bring you into Michael's
kitchen, fitted with a custom wood burning oven, making the foods he
for, and sometimes with, his friends and family. He also takes his viewers on field trips in Napa Valley.
Although not strictly Italian, this show deserves some
attention because many of Michael's recipes are inspired by his
Italian heritage and on the very Italian philosophy of using what's in
show focuses on California Cooking, which is the Mediterranean kitchen
a low-fat twist. Unfortunately, he peppers his cooking lessons with mispronounced Italian -
thing he shouldn't be teaching - but his recipes are worth the cringe.
Cucina Sicilia (PBS)
The hosts, Damian Mondola and Johnny Carrabba, are founders of
Italian Grill in Huston, Texas. They previously hosted Cucina Amore
TV show that is no longer on the air).The premise of this 30 minute
that the hosts will share all their Sicilian cooking secrets and teach
viewer to make traditional Sicilian dishes. This show definitely has a
home-made atmosphere to it and the lovable hosts-- with their Texan
drawl-- that you wouldn't mind having as neighbors.
Unfortunately, their recipes are
from traditional Italian fare. Their "Elephant Ear-sized Veal Chops" is miles away from Sicilian peasant food and much closer to the old adage "Everything is bigger in Texas".
This show doesn't appeal to us at all and that the hosts are
a great disservice to the public by marketing this show as traditional Sicilian
cooking. "Cucina Sicilia" earns virtualitalia.com's worst rating - one paltry wooden spoon.
Italian Cooking and Living (Local NY, coming soon to: Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco Bay Area)
Host Paolo Villoresi, President of the Italian Culinary Institute of
York , reveals the cuisine and charm of different regions, cities,
and kitchens throughout this enchanting country. Discover little-known
places full of history and art in even the most popular of cities and
how to prepare traditional dishes and regional specialties from Italian
chefs and locals.
(we haven not seen this show)
If you have seen this show share your comments on the Italian
Food & Cooking Forum.