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Stanley Tucci

The Tucci Cookbook

Stanley Tucci's second cookbook is all about his family, but feels a little out of tucc.

In preparation for this cookbook review, I watched “The Big Night”: the film that this book’s existence is largely credited to. The concept of a film centered around a struggling, fledgling restaurant, especially one where the star of the show is really just a giant meal centerpiece — a pastry-wrapped, baked pasta dish called a Timpano — was right up my alley. The drama of unveiling that dish alone had me on the edge of my seat, and the movie gave me a huge spike of energy going into my week.

The whole premise of this book is inspiring: Stanley uses his experience and time working on “Big Night” to not only document and encapsulate the recipes that his mother and grandmothers made living in southern Italy, but also to share the spotlight with a friend from the north of Italy and showcase some of what makes those regions so special.

With unbridled optimism, I walked into the kitchen that first day ready to make Stanley’s grandmother, Concetta’s stuffed artichokes and maybe learn a thing or two from a true Italian nonna. That optimism quickly deteriorated when I realized that the recipe was written as if said grandmother were guiding you over the phone — while the instructions were written with the confident hand of someone who'd made the dish a hundred times, there were very few details to be found that would help a newcomer to the dish. Needless to say, my artichokes did not turn out well.

I wish I could tell you that the artichokes were the only dish like this, but day after day, I kept getting this feeling that the recipes were missing something, or at the very least, that I needed a Tucci matron standing over my shoulder offering pearls of wisdom to help me reach my goal.

By day three, I abandoned Stanley's timing estimates altogether, and focused on any visual indicators offered (which weren’t a lot) and it didn’t help that photos are few and far between. Again, I kept getting the feeling that in my nonna-less condition, there was simply no way I could achieve the intended outcome.

By the end of my week, I was left questioning everything I thought I understood about cooking after so few wins. Seriously, of the whole week, the wine pairings were the best part.

I don’t think I’ll be opening "The Tucci Cookbook” up again anytime soon but, after a solid week with it, I can confidently say that if you are a particularly huge fan of Stanley’s work in “Big Night” — or just a member of the Tucci family — then I think you’d enjoy having this book on your shelf.

  • Tucci Ragu + Meatballs
  • Flaky Cake with Mascarpone
  • Sweet and Sour Swordfish
  • Concetta's Stuffed Artichokes
  • Pizza
  • Timpano