the appetizer:

Try a taste of Italy with recipes from Two Meatballs In the Italian Kitchen by Pino Luongo and Mark Strausman, including Meatballs with Spaghetti Coco Pazzo (Polpettine con Spaghetti); Baked Penne with Radicchio and Sausage (Penne Pasticatte); and Lobster Fra Diavolo (Aragosta Fra Diavolo).

Cookbook Profile

Two Meatballs In the Italian Kitchen

by Pino Luongo and Mark Strausman


Two great chefs, two unique voices, two sets of recipes wrapped up in one mouth watering book. Meet the Two Meatballs [a.k.a. Pino Luongo and Mark Strausman]

Called "one of the great tag teams" by TV chef Anthony Bourdain, Luongo and Strausman are not afraid to disagree (sometimes strongly) about Italian food, but they were in total agreement on the cookbook each wanted to write—one filled with the food they both love.

The result: Two Meatballs In the Italian Kitchen, an unpretentious, honest cookbook that represents the best of traditional Italian and innovative American-Italian cooking. "Our unusual friendship, with all of its conflict, is the basis for this book. By setting down our best recipes for simple dishes, along with our arguments for why we think they're the best, we defend our often divergent style," Luongo and Strausman acknowledge in the Introduction.

A legend in the world of Italian cuisine, Luongo came to America from Tuscany more than 25 years ago and has since written four cookbooks, including the groundbreaking A Tuscan in the Kitchen. Strausman grew up in Queens surrounded by the culinary traditions of Eastern Europe and Italy and spent time working in restaurants all over the world. Sharing a passion for the culinary richness of Italy, they have been friends and business partners for more than 20 years.

Their book's 12 chapters feature both Luongo's and Strausman's voices, with notes from each about the accompanying recipes. Some of the chapters are:

Feast on these recipes and the other 140-plus recipes that home cooks will delight in preparing and sharing with friends and family. Though they will never agree on how best to prepare risotto, canned vs. fresh tuna, or if meatballs should be fried in olive oil or simmered in tomato sauce, the Two Meatballs do share a philosophy of "shop wisely and cook simply." It's the way they prepare the food served in their restaurants (Coco Pazzo, Centolire, Tuscan Square and Fred's at Barneys) and in their homes.

With regards to wine, there is no disagreement between them—nothing completes a meal like a perfectly paired bottle of wine. Each recipe includes wine suggestions and pairing advice for example, "a Rosso di Montalcino, which is like a baby Brunello, an everyday wine with a touch of greatness" is suggested with the Tuscan Pot Roast.

And the great meatball debate: Whose is better— Luongo's smaller veal meatballs (page 52) served with mushrooms and peas, or Strausman's plump meatballs (page 47) simmered in tomato sauce and served simply over spaghetti? Readers and home chefs can now answer that for themselves!

About the Authors

Tuscan-born Pino Luongo arrived in America in 1980 to pursue his love of acting—and instead opened a restaurant. He is an acclaimed New York chef and restaurateur whose restaurants include Centolire, Coco Pazzo and Tuscan Square. Two Meatballs is Luongo's fifth cookbook, preceded by A Tuscan in the Kitchen, Simply Tuscan, Fish Talking and La Mia Cucina Toscana. Luongo lives with his wife and children in Westchester, New York.

Queens native Mark Strausman began his food service career selling peanuts at Shea Stadium. Strausman is the co-owner, with Luongo, of Coco Pazzo in Manhattan, where he is the chef. He is also the executive chef/managing director of Fred's at Barneys in Manhattan, and the author of The Campagna Table. He lives in New York City with his two sons.


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Two Meatballs In the Italian Kitchen



This page created February 2008