Leone's Italian Cookbook - Gene Leone

Reissued 1997

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

When my aunt died, she left behind her cherished, very dog-eared copy of Leone's Italian Cookbook. After marrying her very Italian, NYC husband, building up an array of Italian staples that reminded him of his grandmother's cooking was important to her and Mama Leone's was the cookbook that inspired her to become an amazing Italian cook in the comfort of her kitchen. Having that copy in my own kitchen is equally satisfying.

If you're unfamiliar with Mama Leone, she was more than the star of a Billy Joel song. She cooked up amazing dishes in an Italian restaurant that ran from the early 1900s to the 1990s. What you'll find in Leone's Italian Cookbook is an array of Italian recipes that don't disappoint that her son Gene collected and shared with the world.

My favorite recipe in this entire book is the Italian gravy she made. Packed with meats, herbs and spices, this recipe requires a lot of time slowly simmering, but it's amazing and well worth the wait. This is only the start, you'll find recipes for clam sauce, homemade cheesecake, lasagna, and some of the greatest meatballs I've ever had. It's not just the recipes either, I've read this book from cover to cover learning about Mamma Leone's history and the restaurant's history. All in all, if you can get your hands on a copy, it's a keeper.


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