What inspired you to write your book?
Home cooks are often challenged and frustrated by their inability to prepare high-quality restaurant food in their own kitchens. There are some things that you can make at home and produce better results than most restaurants – pasta is one of those dishes. I wanted to give the home cook all the skills needed to produce delicious pasta for themselves.
About your Book:
For hundreds of years, pasta dishes have been the family favorites that home cooks rely on regularly. The purpose of this book is to provide key instructions, skills and great recipes for authentic Italian pasta dishes. These easy-to-prepare recipes range from old favorites to personal innovations, each carefully tested by the well known Chicago chef John Coletta of Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar.
Cuisine Style or Food Genre
Sample Recipe or Food Advice
Spaghetti with Monkfish Ragù (spaghetti al ragù coda di rospo)
Monkfish is often called “poor man’s lobster” because it somewhat resembles northern lobster in flavor and texture. If it is well trimmed of membrane, it makes a flavorful pasta dish at a fraction of the cost and labor required for real lobster.
Serves 4 to 6
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp diced onion
2 tbsp diced peeled celery
2 tbsp diced trimmed fennel bulb
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 cup diced, skinless, boneless monkfish
1 cup dry white Italian wine
½ cup canned crushed Italian tomatoes
1 tbsp salt
1 lb dried spaghetti
1. In a covered pasta pot over high heat, bring water to a rapid boil.
2. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and fennel and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add monkfish, wine and tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Using a fork, mash monkfish until it flakes. Continue to cook until sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Set aside.
3. White sauce is simmering, add salt and dried gluten-free spaghetti to the boiling water and cook, uncovered, over high heat until pasta is al dente. Scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta.
4. Return sauté pan to medium heat. Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and gluten-free spaghetti and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, using pasta tongs to toss and coat evenly, and adding more pasta water if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss well.
5. Transfer to a large serving bowl and serve immediately.
What formats are your books in
How do you see writing a food/cookbook as different from writing other genres of books?
Italian food is what I know. This is what I grew up eating and have been cooking my entire life. I wrote this book to pass on my experiences so others can fully appreciate pasta.
How did you decide how to publish your book and where is it published through:
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Robert Rose (October 1, 2009)
Throughout the centuries, the kitchen in Italian culture has been recognized as both the center of the heart and mind. This is a philosophy that still holds true today, as seen in the work of chef John Coletta. A first generation Italian-American, Coletta was born in New York City one year after his parents emigrated from Italy. With his father previously being a professional Italian chef in Rome and his mother an excellent Italian home cook, Coletta quickly cultivated a passion for Italian cuisine.
An award-winning chef who was named by a PBS TV series as one of “America’s Rising Star Chefs,” Coletta first began working in the industry as a teenager, when he would spend his summers working at a family owned restaurant in Italy. After graduating from New York City Technical College with a degree in Hotel Restaurant Management, Coletta worked at some of New York’s top restaurants including The Waldorf Astoria, the Four Seasons restaurant and Le Coup de Fusil.
Coletta has trained under legendary chefs like Alain Ducasse and Jöel Robuchon. Throughout the years, he has held several esteemed positions including chef di cucina at Nikolai’s Roof, a fine-dining restaurant located in Hilton Atlanta that earned a Mobil four-star rating during his tenure; and executive chef of Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, where he supervised a culinary staff of over 450 cooks and sous chefs. While serving as an executive chef of the five-star Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore, he was named one of the four “big guns” of Asian hotel cuisine by Sydney Morning Herald.
After returning to the States, Coletta opened Caliterra Bar & Grille in Chicago’s Wyndham hotel in 1999, which the Chicago Sun-Times named one of the city’s ten best Italian restaurants. From there, he joined the Carlucci Hospitality Group, where he designed and opened Carlucci Downers Grove restaurant. While the Italian dining concept was a success, receiving three star ratings from the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, Coletta found himself wanting to have more creative control over his menu. In the summer of 2004 Coletta partnered with Steve Lombardo and Larry Shane to create Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar – an authentic Italian restaurant that the trio still runs today.
Since opening in 2005, Quartino has been featured in several publications including USA Today Travel, Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. Under his leadership, the restaurant also earned the coveted Ospitalità Italiana seal, which is awarded by the Italian government and recognizes restaurants abroad that properly promote the traditions of the Italian food culture. Quartino Ristorante also received three stars by the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2009, Coletta authored and published 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes, a cookbook dedicated to his passion for Italian gastronomy.