Mike Isabella's Crazy Good Italian: Big Flavors, Small Plates (Hardcover)

Big Flavors, Small Plates

By Mike Isabella

Da Capo Lifelong Books, 9780738215662, 334pp.

Publication Date: September 25, 2012



Discover the tastes of New Jersey childhood alongside the refined flavors that come from decades in the culinary world.

Whether you know Mike Isabella as the tough-talking Top Chef competitor or as the chef behind hot DC restaurants Graffiato and Bandolero, you'll now be able to recreate his recipes: one part old-world inspired Italian, one part old-school Jersey, one part modern Mediterranean--all parts delicious.

Inspired by the food his Italian-American grandmother prepared, Isabella serves up 200 recipes for everyday meals that appeal to the heart and the appetite, with a modern twist. These "small plates" versions of Mediterranean classics are food that's original and accessible, authentic without being fussy.

Isabella shares his secret family recipes, the dishes that made him famous on Top Chef, and signature meals from his restaurant, from Ricotta with Charred Scallion and Harissa to Grandma's Potato Gnocchi, Chicken Wings with Pepperoni Sauce to Carnival-Style Zeppoles. Whether you're a seasoned home cook or just starting out in the kitchen, you'll taste the pure joy these meals can bring. Delive ring lip-smacking food (and talking some smack while he's at it), Isabella makes Italian fun to cook again.

About the Author

Mike Isabella is the Chef/Owner of Graffiato, which opened in June 2011 in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The 130-seat Italian-inspired spot features small plates, locally cured meats, artisanal pizzas, and pastas with seasonal ingredients influenced by the food Chef Isabella grew up eating in New Jersey prepared by his Italian-American grandmother. For the past 15 years, he has worked for some of the world's most renowned chefs and cooked to critical acclaim at restaurants all over the country. Before opening Graffiato, Chef Isabella was the executive chef of Jose Andres' Zaytinya. During his three-year tenure, Chef Isabella generated accolades and national attention for Washington, D.C.'s Mediterranean powerhouse restaurant. Chef Isabella's formal training began at The Restaurant School in New York. He has worked as a sous chef for James Beard Award winner Douglas Rodriguez at Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia and as Executive Sous Chef of Marcus Samuelsson's Washington Square. Outside the kitchen, Chef Isabella recently appeared on Season Six of Top Chef (Las Vegas), and he was the runner-up on Top Chef All-Stars.

Praise For Mike Isabella's Crazy Good Italian: Big Flavors, Small Plates

Every Day with Rachael Ray, September 2012“What do you get when you cross a Top Chef All-Star with an Italian-American childhood? Isabella’s first cookbook, which includes family traditions (check out Grandma’s potato gnocchi) and the chef’s own creations (remember that pepperoni sauce from Top Chef?). It’s a mix that totally says deizioso.”

DailyCandy.com, 9/18/12“Mike Isabella’s talent for upending the ordinary (hello, pepperoni sauce) lit up two seasons of Top Chef. He spills his secrets—and some of his Nonna’s, too—in his debut cookbook, Mike Isabella’s Crazy Good Italian, a collection of 200 lip-smacking recipes.”
New Jersey Monthly, October 2012“Well organized, crisply written and handsomely produced, it ranges from Jersey Shore-style fried food to family recipes from Antoinette and others to his own lively take on Italian classics.”

Portland Oregonian, 10/1/12“In the history of the TV reality cooking competition ‘Top Chef,’ there are few contestants who were as lovingly obnoxious as Washington, D.C.'s Mike Isabella. But his first cookbook is so impressive it makes you forget all the earthy behavior that was caught on camera…He's given these dishes plenty of modern twists without making them fussy. The result is a free-wheeling cookbook that's infused with the spirit of fun.”

San Jose Mercury News, 10/10/12“No doubting the guy’s mad kitchen skills [and] it was his larger-than-life personality, little-brother peskiness and soulful Italian cuisine that made him so noticeable.”