Jonathan Waxman has always done things his way at Barbuto -- simple, delicious, playful, and very Italian. That he isn't Italian doesn't mean a thing. He cooks like a Roman grandmother, says his business partner Fabrizio Ferri. And in his new cookbook, Italian, My Way, he shows us how to play with the classic dishes he loves (such as linguine with wild mushrooms or pizza with pancetta, tomatoes, burrata, and scallions), and amp up others, spun from a good forage or a good day at the fish market (warm dandelion greens with scrambled eggs and chives; strozzapreti with octopus, red wine, and onions).
Introduced by Waxman's chatty, informative notes, the recipes, from a simple pizza with special JW pizza dough, to a twisted version of tagliatelle alle scampi, to grandmother-inspired biscotti with chocolate, read like Waxman's gabbing with you over a cup of espresso. There are stories about his days at Chez Panisse and about catching trout from a pond on command during a restaurant stint in France, about why he owns a bone saw (in a terrific "Kitchen Tools" section) and about the unadulterated pleasures of budino (chocolate pudding).
Speaking of desserts, Waxman opens his "Dolci" section with a sentence I dare you to read without salivating: "Picture a ripe peach, split in two, drizzled with peach-blossom honey and served with a dollop of peach sorbetto." The desserts here exude a sweet simplicity, and intense flavor, from a rich gelato gianduja to a rustic lemon-raspberry crostata.
Cooking from Italian, My Way is a little like sitting down to that springtime lunch at Barbuto -- you never want it to end.