By Russell Norman
Bloomsbury, £25Co-founder of Polpo restaurants and face of BBC TV series The Restaurant Man, Russell Norman is closely associated with small plates and Venetian bacaro-style food. So when it opened in Soho in 2011, Spuntino restaurant, which serves Italian/American-style burgers, sliders and dogs, felt like a slight departure for the restaurateur and his business partner Richard Beattie. In fact, the link is rather more direct than might appear. The venue, and the book it has inspired, is named after the Italian word for snack. Even the paper of the book itself hasn't escaped the treatment. There are no crisp white pages here. Instead, the paper is stained an off-white colour, giving the impression the book has been lying around on a New York bar for a few years before you bought it. It also has a corrugated spine, so it lies flat on the page you have opened it at - why can't more cookbooks have one?
There are plenty of New York comfort food recipes here, such as the salt beef slider, a chipotle cheeseburger and fried chicken wings. Yet the book goes well beyond dude food, with a surprising number of more 'traditional' Italian recipes.
It's all interspersed with sections exploring New York and its restaurants and diners, complete with directions. Take all these together and it is clear that Norman has a formidable knowledge of the New York restaurant scene and the book easily doubles as a guide to eating out in the city.Whether you plan a culinary adventure to the Big Apple or not, it's well worth a look.
By Neil Gerrard
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