Reviewed by Colleen Turner

I am a huge fan of Italian cooking. There is just something about the sauces, cheeses and various pastas and vegetables that draws me in almost every time. This being so, I was so excited to review Ciao Italia Family Classics by Mary Ann Esposito. The pamphlet that came for review, however, only included three recipes and given its limited scope, was a disappointment.

First off, two of the three recipes included were incomplete. The recipe for Fudgy Chocolate Cake with Walnuts and Cream Sauce tells you to slowly add cream while never telling you how much cream you need. The recipe for Lasagne Bologna Style listed four ingredients, three of which are separate recipes that are supposed to be included somewhere in the completed book (homemade béchamel sauce, ragu sauce and spinach pasta) but were not included in the pamphlet. So, my review can actually be based only on the one complete recipe, Sicilian Meatballs in Sweet-and-Sour Sauce.

Now, I did find this recipe to be tasty although I was disappointed that it called for prepared tomato sauce instead of giving me a new recipe for a homemade one. The real difference between this recipe and any other one was the meatballs. This recipe called for veal and grated cheese which I found delicious. Using veal makes for a little pricier meatball than my typical hamburger/pork recipe but it gives a new twist when wanting to try something different. The recipe also calls for you to fry or bake the meatballs in the oven (I usually cook them right in the sauce) and I found that frying gave them a nice, crispy coating. I was not impressed with the sauce at all, which simply had you adding vinegar and sugar to any old tomato sauce you have in your cupboard. Being that these are supposed to be treasured recipes, this was a surprise.

The pamphlet has a number of illustrations of other recipes included in the final book that look absolutely delectable (a photo of what I assume is Eggplant Rollatini makes my mouth water) and I wish that whoever created the pamphlet would have taken better care when selecting the recipes to include and making sure the recipes provided were complete. Based on this one recipe I would not purchase this cookbook. However, seeing additional recipes might change my mind.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

This book was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.