Italian Cuisine in America: Mario Batali and Michael White Chew the Fat

There’s no doubt about it. Americans chew through truckloads of pizza pie and twirl their way to the bottom of bowl after bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.

America has a rich and proud history of Italian settlement. But how far has Italian cuisine come in the last 30 years?

How has the access to authentic ingredients changed? And which of the poorly or little known regions of Italy are beginning to find themselves expressed on the plates and in the drinking glasses of the best Italian restaurants?

These were among a tasting plate of issues discussed at a recent panel discussion on the health of Italian Cuisine in America at New York’s Strand Book store, to highlight the release of the second edition of the famous Silver Spoon Italian cookbook, first published more than 50 years ago.

On the panel were;

Emilia Terragni, Editorial Director, Phaidon Press
Michael White, owner, executive chef, Marea restaurant in New York.
Mario Batali, celebrity chef, co-owner of 17 restaurants in US/Asia.
Frank Bruni, food critic, The New York Times

Below is an audio recording of the discussion.




After the discussion, the warm and accessible Batali signed copies of his latest book, Molto Batali, and was generous with his time, thinking hard to answer our question about finding a good, authentic espresso in New York. Two of the best? His own Eataly and Otto, of course.

Food for thought

What do you think of Italian cuisine in America?
Which chefs/restaurants are pushing the boundaries?
How do US ingredients compare to imported Italian ingredients?
What the hell is that brown bilge water Americans call “coffee”?