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Portico: Cooking and Feasting in Rome's Jewish Kitchen (Hardcover)
One of Food & Wine's Best Cookbooks of Fall 2023 • One of the Boston Globe's Best Cookbooks of 2023 • One of Smithsonian's 2023 Ten Best Books About Food • A Los Angeles Times Best Cookbook of 2023 • A Vice Best Cookbook of 2023 • A KCRW Good Food Best Cookbook of 2023 • A National Post Best Cookbook of 2023 • A WBUR Here & Now Best Cookbook of 2023 • One of Wine Country's Ten Best Cookbooks of 2023
A captivating tour through Rome’s centuries-old Jewish community with more than 100 simple, deeply flavorful, vegetable-forward recipes. “Naming the book Portico is my way of saying, ‘Welcome. I’m glad you are here.’”
A leading authority on Jewish food, Leah Koenig celebrates la cucina Ebraica Romana within the pages of her new cookbook. Portico: Cooking and Feasting in Rome’s Jewish Kitchen features over 100 deeply flavorful recipes and beautiful photographs of Rome’s Jewish community, the oldest in Europe. The city’s Jewish residents have endured many hardships, including 300 years of persecution inside the Roman Jewish Ghetto. Out of this strife grew resilience, a deeply knit community, and a uniquely beguiling cuisine. Today, the community thrives on Via del Portico d’Ottavia (the main road in Rome’s Ghetto neighborhood)—and beyond.
Leah Koenig’s recipes showcase the cuisine’s elegantly understated vegetables, saucy braised meats and stews, rustic pastas, resplendent olive oil–fried foods, and never-too-sweet desserts. Home cooks can explore classics of the Roman Jewish repertoire with Stracotto di Manzo (a wine-braised beef stew), Pizza Ebraica (fruit-and-nut-studded bar cookies), and, of course, Carciofi alla Giudia, the quintessential Jewish-style fried artichokes. A standout chapter on fritters—showcasing the unique gift Roman Jews have for delicate frying—includes sweet honey-soaked matzo fritters, fried salt cod, and savory potato pastries (burik) introduced by the thousands of Libyan Jews who immigrated to Rome in the 1960s and ’70s. Every recipe is masterfully tailored to the home cook, while maintaining the flavor and integrity of tradition. Suggested menus for holiday planning round out the usability and flexibility of these dishes.
A cookbook for anyone who wants to dive more deeply into Jewish foodways, or gain new insight into Rome, Portico features the makers and creators who are keeping Roman Jewish food alive today, transporting us to the bustling streets of the Eternal City while also making us feel—as we cook and eat—very much at home.
About the Author
Leah Koenig is the author of six cookbooks, including The Jewish Cookbook and Modern Jewish Cooking. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Food & Wine, Epicurious, Food52, and more. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.
Let Leah Koenig be your guide to the centuries-long history and culinary splendors of Roman Jewish food. These dishes feature everything I love about Jewish cooking—warming stews, pickled things, international flavors from Jewish diasporas, and, of course, creative takes on cooking with matzo, seen through the lens of Italy's produce-driven cuisine. Koenig’s recipes are fresh and weeknight-friendly with crystal clear explanations on less-obvious techniques, like preparing and frying Roman Jewish artichokes.
— Lucy Simon - Food & Wine
Portico celebrates the Roman Jewish community and its cuisine. There’s pasta e ceci, a hearty tomato-based chickpea and pasta stew that requires just a few pantry staples and has quickly become a go-to recipe in my household, along with the velvety zucchini marinated in olive oil and red wine vinegar. Though the braised artichokes are a labor of love, every minute spent trimming the tough outer leaves is worth it: Simmered with garlic, olive oil, and white wine, each bite is tender and flavorful. I’d love to return to Rome, but for now, I’ll make do by cooking out of Koenig’s book.
— Genevieve Yam - Bon Appétit
Jewish-food authority Leah Koenig celebrates the unique cuisine of the Jewish community of Rome (the oldest in Europe) in Portico, a collection of more than 100 recipes. The compendium is named for Via del Portico d’Ottavia, the road leading to Rome’s Jewish ghetto, where the city’s Jewish community still thrives. And the recipes within are nothing short of transcendent, including classics like stracotto di manzo, a wine-braised beef stew, and carciofi alla giudia, the quintessential fried artichokes. It’s a great place to begin exploring the wide-ranging parameters of what we call Jewish food.
— Dorie Chevlen and Samantha Schoech - Wirecutter
The kind of cookbook you can page through like a novel, reading for culinary wisdom, but also for deeply heartening stories and maybe a little life advice . . . Portico is equal parts transportive and engrossing, with Koenig herself acting as historian, anthropologist, student, and teacher. You’ll want to flip through these pages over and over, and over again.
— Zoe Denenberg - Epicurious
To say [Portico] was worth the wait is an understatement; I’ll be spending this fall working through its garlicky pumpkin spread, fried artichokes, spaghetti with tuna and tomato, and, duh, the Roman flatbread. Plus, from its typeface to its photography, this is just a classy, beautiful volume that feels upscale but approachable (read: your mother would approve).
— Adam Rothbarth - Vice
Leah Koenig . . . has compiled an ode to the rich culture that grew out of this community, particularly famed for its fried artichokes. Yes, there’s a recipe here (two, in fact), along with five other artichoke-starring dishes, Jewish-style pasta amatriciana, braised chicken and chickpea stew, whole roasted fish with raisins and pine nuts, garlic and rosemary roasted lamb, ricotta cheesecake, and other dishes that bring together the flavors and history of the region.
— Devra First - Boston Globe
Jewish Roman food is one of those culinary side streets very much worth our time and attention, and I will be cooking out of this book for some time to come.
— Christopher Kimball - Milk Street
There's not an unlikable recipe in [Portico]. Everything is wonderful. There are a lot of vegetable recipes like the Roman artichokes, the Jewish artichokes. And, of course, there's plenty of pasta.
— Celia Sack, on KCRW
It was only recently that I explored the food of Rome’s Jewish community. Between olive-oil-soaked vegetables and crispy fried artichokes, I couldn’t get enough. I can’t wait to bring these recipes into my own kitchen with Koenig’s newest cookbook.
— Sheela Prakash, author of Salad Seasons, in Food & Wine
A gorgeous, heartfelt book that shines light on a uniquely delicious corner of Roman cuisine. A fascinating read—and a delight to cook from!
— Gwyneth Paltrow, actor, CEO goop
A talented interpreter of both cuisine and culture, Leah Koenig combines her celebrated research skills and cooking chops with a tenderness that brings Rome’s Jewish recipes and stories to life. I’m heartened to know that any time I want, I can simply open Portico to bring authentic, soulful Jewish Rome into my home kitchen.
— Adeena Sussman, author of Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen
How do you distill Europe’s most ancient Jewish cuisines into a single volume without compromising their richness? Ask Leah Koenig, who has assembled recipes that paint a complete portrait of Rome’s cucina ebraica, from long-rooted favorites like concia and pomodori a mezzo to the spiced and garlicky cershi and tbeha of the Libyan diaspora.
— Katie Parla, author of Food of the Italian Islands
Koenig is a genius at interpreting traditional dishes in a progressive, respectful, and of course, unbelievably delicious way.
— Jenny Rosenstrach - Dinner: A Love Story
Sumptuous . . . Koenig delivers a lively tale of modern-day Roman Jewish food culture, peppering it with bright and enticing photography and histories and anecdotes from Jewish chefs, butchers, and others living in the Eternal City.
— Jessica S. Levy - Booklist
Koenig’s well-researched journey delivers a wealth of history, detailing waves of immigration that shaped Roman Jewish cuisine.
— Sarah Tansley - Library Journal
A vibrant culinary tour. . . . Koenig’s inviting introduction to Roman Jewish fare is sure to inspire home cooks of any faith.
— Publishers Weekly