Monday, December 22, 2008

2009 Cookbook Reviews of the Month: January - Patsy's Cookbook

Patsy's Cookbook by Sal J. Scognamillo

"Start spreading the news, I'm leaving today
I want to be a part of it - New York, New York
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it - New York, New York

I wanna wake up in a city, that doesn't sleep
And find I'm king of the hill - top of the heap"

Frank Sinatra sang it well, and New York was his town even though he was a Jersey boy. Patsy's was Frank's favorite restaurant when he was in New York and he dined there quite often with his family and friends. It seems like in the past month, I have come across either a reference to Patsy's or to Frank Sinatra several times, and I thought someone must be trying to tell me something so I thought I should definitely review this book for the blog. The latest Sinatra event occurred today when my daughter told me that she ate in Sinatra's, the new restaurant in Steve Wynn's new hotel Encore which is schedule to open tomorrow. She works at the Wynn and last night, Steve Wynn and his wife Elaine, along with Nancy and Tina Sinatra and their families were all there to pay tribute to their father.

Nancy Sinatra wrote the forward on Patsy's cookbook and so, it was decided, Patsy's is this month's choice for the Cookbook Review of the month. This book is so much more than just a cookbook, it is a fascinating history of the restaurant, complete with recipes, and stories of all the celebrities that have entered the doors through the years. If you are a person who collects cookbooks because they enjoy not only cooking from them, but reading them as well, you will thoroughly enjoy this book.

Sal Scognamillo is the grandson of the original Patsy's, Pasquale Scognamillo and his wife Concetta. They emigrated to the United States from Naples in the early twenties, opening their first restaurant the Sorrento on W 49th Street, before opening Patsy's at 236 West 56th Street. In Nancy Sinatra's foreword, she quotes her father as saying "When you so to a new Italian restaurant, you should always try the pasta with the tomato sauce first. If the sauce isn't good, the rest of the food won't be either." As a child of Neopolitan descent, I heartily agree with that. You can always tell by the sauce, and very few Italian restaurants pass the test...Patsy's does with flying colors.

From Frank Sinatra, Billy Martin, Tony Bennett, Lucy Ball, Jaclyn Smith, Sean "Puffy" Combs, to Phil Rizzuto, the anecdotes are endless. The family pictures are priceless and now of course, since this is a cookbook review, the recipes are fabulous.


Forward: by Nancy Sinatra
Introduction: The Inside Story: Patsy's and Frank Sinatra

1. Appetizers
2. Salads and Vegetables
3. Soups
4. Pasta, Risotto, and Sauces
5. Chicken
6. Meats
7. Fish and Shellfish
8. Desserts


You obviously have to have a love of Italian food to enjoy the recipes in this book, and the recipes won't disappoint you. Although Sal claims that neither he, his father Joe, nor his grandfather, Patsy's were trained chefs, they learned the art of cooking the way most if us Italians do, in the kitchen, hands on, at the knee of their mother, grandmother, father, or other loving relative. As my father would say, "If you cook it with love, it will always taste delicious."

The recipes include Frank's favorites; Clams Posillipo, Frank's Stuffed Artichokes, Frank's Veal Cutlets Milanese, and a host of others such as Mussels Arreganata, Ricotta Salata Salad, Eggplant Parmigiana, Fried Zucchini Blossoms, Pasta E Piselli,
Stracciatella, Penne Bolognese, Spaghetti, Frutti Di Mare, Chicken Veneziana, Spezzatino Di Vitello, Prosciutto Wrapped Monkfish, and Zabaglione...the list goes on and on.

You must be very careful when reading the book, not to drool and get the pages wet, your olfactory glands will be on overdrive, you'll be able to smell the sauce simmering, the meatballs frying!

I always include a recipe from the book I am reviewing and this is no exception. As always, it is difficult to make a choice, but I chose Frank's Clams Posillipo because it was Frank's favorite dish, and after all Frank and Patsy's are interwined.

Frank's Clams Posillipo
Serves 4

32 littleneck clams
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, halved
1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, with juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish

Scrub the clamshells, rinse thoroughly in cold water, and place in a large pot. Add cold water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the shells open, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a large bowl. Discard any clams that have not been opened.

Strain the cooking liquid through a chinois or a strainer lined with a coffee filter, and reserve 3/4 cup of this liquid as clam broth. Return the clams to the pot, add cold water, and stir to remove any remaning sand. Drain and reserve.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium flame and saute the garlic halves until golden, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon or tongs, remove and discard the garlic. Add the onions to the saucepan and saute 3 to 4 minutes, until soft and translucent. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, and add with their juice to the saucepan and bring to a boil. reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato paste (if using) and add the basil and parsley. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Add the reserved clam broth and clams to the sauce and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the clams are heated through. Spoon the clams and sauce into a large serving bowl, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Book Title: Patsy's Cookbook
Author: Sal J. Scognamillo
Category: Restaurant Cookbooks
ISBN: 0-069-60954-8
Publisher: Clarkson N. Potter a division of Random House
Publishers Address: 1745 Broaday, New York, New York 10019
Published: 2002
Edition: First
Description: Hard Cover
Illustrations: No
Photographs: Black and White of Celebrities, no photos of food
Price: $27.50
Reviewed by: Elise Feiner - December 22, 2008

Frank always said, "I did it my way", Patsy's always did it his way...
Follow my advice, visit the restaurant ( 236 West 56th Street, NY, NY), buy the book, and do it their way!!!!

Patsy's Cookbook can be ordered by scrolling down to the bottom of the blog to our Foodfanataholics Cookbook Nook,
go to the sidebar on the right and click on Cookbook of the Month.

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