Superchef Mario Batali’s dishes, both at his 13 restaurants and in his six cookbooks, always have as much personality as the famously charismatic chef himself. That’s true even when the subject is Italian grilling, which Mario describes as “all about nuance and minimal interference…there is rarely more to marinades than good olive oil, citrus, wine, herbs, garlic and hot chile flakes.” But Mario wouldn’t be a celebrity if his food was so straightforward. In his new book, Italian Grill, he reimagines all kinds of classic Italian recipes so they can be cooked over fire—for instance, transforming a traditional antipasto of prosciutto folded around asparagus by substituting pancetta for the prosciutto and grilling the spears until they sizzle and the pancetta becomes irresistibly crisp.
Although many chefs can’t always write recipes that work in home kitchens, Mario does, flawlessly. His food is exciting and doable—and that’s what makes Italian Grill such an excellent addition to the cookbook shelf. Here are a few of his most satisfying creations.