after months of admiration from the cheap seats in barnes and noble, i broke down and bought a copy of this cookbook. Rao's is one of the most storied and exclusive restaurants in NY. but more than that, there is a focus on technique that has resulted in the distillation of Italian cooking to something like an ideal type. how to properly roast meat bones for stock. how to treat your san marzano sauce tomatoes. there is a love and attention to food there that is focused and learned and bleeds into their operating model of only 10 reserved tables for their weekly regulars, one sitting per night. they show a respect for their food that is synonymous with their culture and history (they first opened in 1896).
i feel a good cookbook has not only recipes that work, but both a culinary and ideological consistency that unifies it. other examples: david chang's momofuku; kenny shopsin's eat me; chad robertson's tartine bread; darina allen's forgotten skills of cooking; rose carrarini's breakfast, lunch, tea. even irma rombauer's JoC, in its own encyclopedic way, has a consistency of writing and illustration that allows the recipes, formulations, description, and techniques to breathe 75 years later.