Renaissance man Paul Sorvino has many talents. He’s a musician, an opera singer, a sculptor, and a great cook. But he’s best known as an actor – of his 200+ roles on stage, film and TV, it was his roles in Goodfellas and Law & Order that raised his level of familiarity above the casual “man that actor looks familiar… what’s his name and where have we see him before?”
As one would expect of a modern renaissance man, the woman he chose for his life partner is also a force of nature. His partner in life as well as in this cook book project is Dee Dee Sorvinao – a tall woman with a cherubic face and an electric personality, she makes a living as a political advisor and spokesperson. They met a few short years ago on the studio of Fox News, went out to drinks afterwards, and were married within the year. As Paul and Dee Dee contributed to this book it became as much an ode to each other as to the recipes and lifestyle it promotes.
And you’ll get hungry as you read it. The recipes, and the Sorvino’s commentary that accompanies each one, celebrate Italy’s love of fresh ingredients, simple procedures and meals shared with friends and family around a table full of conversation and devoid of electronic devices!
The book features over 80 recipes, most of which are accompanied by beautiful color photos. I prefer a cookbook with photos that provide a clear vision of what the completed process looks and also allow me to recipe shop without reading. Food photographer Vincent Remini did a commendable job here.
The recipes are organized into chapters featuring meals inspired by the Sorvino’s life and loves. Each chapter opens with a story from the Sorvino’s lives along with a related, thematic menu that flows (roughly) in the Italian tradition, from aperitivo (small bites during cocktail hour), to antipasto (appetizer), to primi (pasta), to secondi (main), to contorni (sides), to insalata and ending with dolce (dessert). I get the impression the Sorvino’s home is where everyone wants to be, come dinner time – not just for the good food, but to celebrate life on a daily basis. You’re sure to find quite a number of fun dinner parties between the covers of Pinot, Pasta & Parties.
One of Dee Dee’s cocktail recipes opens each chapter, and though they all look delicious (and yes, I’ve already tested some!), the title of the book seems to have been chosen more for the alliteration than the practice – I could find nary a reference to pinot. In fact, the whole subject of wine, so essential to the Italian table, is primarily relegated to the two-page reference guide to Italian grape varietals – a handy primer indeed, but I was hoping wine would be given a stronger supporting role since it’s mentioned in the title.
One thing I found rather curious is that most chapters are accompanied by the Sorvino’s take on politics and patriotism, which I found an odd thing to include in a book on Italian cooking. Stating one’s views in today’s divisive, bifurcated political environment seems to be a no-win proposition as it immediately alienates half the population. But as I said earlier, this book is as much a paean to each other as it is to the Sorvino’s love of the Italian approach to food, friends and family.
At the time of this review (April 9th, 2017), you could buy the hard-cover book on Amazon for a list price of $30. Planned release date is April 18, 2017.
Dave the Wine Merchant