Table’s Edge

“Stories and Favorite Recipes of the People Who Created a Dining Paradise in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts”

Hardbound Culinary History of Northampton, Massachusetts with Recipes.
Copyright 2005. Still available from third party sellers on Amazon.

cover

REVIEWS ~

 Off The Shelf
Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly

Side Dishes, by Hugh Robert
MassLive.com

“If you’re looking for a great winter read, Carol Colitti Levine has written a book that’s sure to be of interest to anyone who’s familiar with the region’s restaurant scene. Table’s Edge is billed as anecdotal history of Northampton’s rise to prominence as a dining destination. To that end about half the book is given over to a series of character sketches describing those who’ve established, owned, or run restaurants in the Meadow City.

In putting Table’s Edge together, Levine interviewed people like Gail and Dan Yacuzzo of Eastside Grill, Claudio Guerra of Spoleto and Del Raye, and Martin Carrera of La Veracruzana. The book also lays some historical groundwork, describing the influence of men like Lewis Wiggins, Wiggins Tavern; Jim Wolff of Beardsley’s fame; and Roger Kirwood, who opened Fitzwilly’s, one of the region’s earliest fern bars. Originally conceptualized as a collection of recipes from the city’s best restaurants, the book morphed into a ‘Who’s Who’ of Northampton dining as Levine pursued her research.

Kitchen secrets nonetheless remain a part of what makes the book special, and readers will discover that Levine has procured the secrets of area favorites like John Sielski’s Chocolate Pots de Creme, Green Street Cafe; and the Ginger Chicken Kadai served at India House. In all, the book incorporates dozens of recipes contributed by various Northampton landmarks. The book itself is a high quality production, attractively illustrated and handsomely bound.” – Offthemenuguy © 2005 

~ Articles ~

Eateries Book Focuses on People, by Denise Favro Schwartz
Springfield Republican Sunday Magazine

When your hobby is dining out at the trendiest restaurants, as Carol Colitti Levine writes in the forward to her book about the people behind the city’s vibrant dining scene, it makes sense that her desire to own a restaurant would be as sweet and fat as creme brulee. Having enjoyed careers in international banking and teaching, and having moved from Springfield to New York, then fourteen years in San Francisco, and back home to Western Massachusetts to raise her son near family, Levine found herself still dreaming of fine food and the establishments that served it. New to Northampton, she resumed her hobby of searching out the best places to dine.

It didn’t take long to realize she had moved to “the Valley of Great Dining.” In the back of her mind was the thought of opening a place of her own. On a visit to Manhattan with her husband to have dinner with old friends, she reconnected with Joy Simmen Hamburger, who had published a cookbook of recipes from restaurants in Tribeca. With marketing instincts on overdrive, she used friends as focus groups, answering their questions about what she wanted to do with her life now that she had left corporate life behind. Her answer? A cheerful, “I want to open a restaurant. “They all told me I was crazy,” she said, over coffee in one of Northampton’s busy bistros, just a few weeks before the publication of her book. They cited the long hours, financial risks, employee turnover, small kitchens, she said. She wondered why anyone would ever want to own a restaurant if it was so bad. So she did other things with her life. Time went by. Her former boss called and asked Levine to act as Managing Director of the Dutch Bank in Boston, suffering the two-hour commute, each way, for years. Finally, she said “bye-bye, bank” for a final time…

She reasoned that if it was too crazy to open a restaurant, she could write a book about the crazy people who had. Northampton’s rich menu of dining spots offered great material. And she was ready to tell the stories. Levine examines the Hotel Northampton, as well as the Wiggins Tavern and Coolidge Park Cafe within it, Fitzwilly’s, Eastside Grill, Spoleto, Pizzeria Paradiso, Del Raye Bar and Grill, Spoleto Express, Mulino’s, Brasserie 40A, Bishop’s Lounge, Green Street Cafe, Circa, La Veracruzana, India House, the Great Wall and Curtis and Schwartz Cafe. She is careful to point out that her book is not a cookbook or a book about restaurants. While a delicious selection of recipes occupies the back of the book, its main courses are the tales of the people who made the eateries happen.

“It’s about people,” she said. Claudio Guerra is one of them. The owner of Spoleto, Spoleto Express, Pizzeria Paradiso and Del Raye Bar and Grill, Guerra said, “‘The book was a great idea,'” according to Levine. “I spent two hours hearing his life story.” She was intrigued… Levine said that although she had an idea of where she wanted her book to go, she “let the process” guide the way. “I was naive about everything,” she said, except marketing. “That’s what I did professionally.” She had a marketing plan and started to do homework regarding publishing. She began to interview restaurant owners or managers, many of whom she learned about from other restaurateurs. She was fascinated by how the stories of one person linked with another, how “their paths had crossed.”

Altogether, Levine interviewed 20 past and current movers and shakers in Northampton’s restaurant scene. “It was like herding cats” trying to reach them, she said. From these experts in the field Levine loved, she said she learned “that it was even harder to run a restaurant than I’d thought. And it’s not very glamorous. When I had thought about owning a restaurant, I’d had this image of sitting on a stool at Elaine’s (in New York) hanging out and enjoying the life. It’s not like that at all.” From her conversations, Levine realized that the reasons people went into the restaurant business – their love of cooking, fresh food, and gardening, their creativity, and their own stories about their connections to the family kitchen – were the things she wanted to write about. “I have to tell everybody’s stories,” she said. “The book is people’s life stories. The recipes are the bonus at the end.” 

Making Book on Dining Out, by Pat Cahill
Springfield Republican Food/Living

“A former banker turns to the business of food. In 1994, Springfield native Carol Colitti Levine gave up her job as an international banker in San Francisco, said goodbye to her British nanny, and moved with her physician husband and young son back to Western Massachusetts.

Levine wanted her child to grow up near relatives. But the transition wasn’t easy for her. After years of “making hundred-million-dollar deals,” she had gone from having a chauffeur to being one. She decided to write a book about food. Levine loved to eat, she loved to cook, and she was surprised to learn that Northampton, where she was living, had become a “dining mecca.” …“I’ve always been a restaurant-hopper,” says Levine, who has dined at “the best restaurants in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington, Paris and Amsterdam.” She had even considered owning a restaurant herself. She had never written a book before. She enlisted a designer and a printer. And she got to work interviewing and writing about the people behind Northampton’s restaurants. They include Egil Braathen and Mansour Ghalibaf of Wiggins Tavern, Roger Kirwood, Jim Wolff and Fred Gohr of Fitzwilly’s, Danny Constance of the former Beardsley’s, Gail and Dan Yacuzzo of Eastside Grill, Linda Schwartz of the former Curtis & Schwartz, and Claudio Guerra of Spoleto, Pizzeria Paradiso, Del Raye Bar and Grill and Spoleto Express. Also John Sielski of Green Street Cafe, Dane Boryto and Liz Ferro of Circa, Martin Carrera of La Veracruzana, Alka and Omi Kanoujia of India House, Clara Li and Ken Cheung of The Great Wall, and Tony Bishop of Mulino’s, Brasserie 40A and Bishop’s Lounge. 

Levine is the granddaughter of Joseph Colitti, who founded Joseph’s Clothiers in Springfield in 1918. She graduated from Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham and in 1975 from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, where she majored in Spanish. She taught at Longmeadow High School before embarking on a multilingual career in finance in New York and later San Francisco. Since moving to Northampton, Levine was lured back to the big leagues of international finance. But, like running a restaurant, she says, constant travel is less glamorous and more exhausting than it looks”

~ RECIPES ~

Recipe List by Restaurateur & Restaurant

Mansour Ghalibaf’s Wiggins Tavern
Salmon Ballontine
Crab Cakes
Crème Brûlée

Fred Gohr’s Fitzwilly’s
Chipotle Steamed Mussels
Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Sautéed Balsamic Chicken
Raspberry Chicken Salad
Lobster & Shrimp Alfredo

Dan & Gail Yacuzzo’s EastSide Grill
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Pecan Butter & Spinach
Roasted Sea Scallops with Pancetta Leek Cream Sauce
Baked Atlantic Cod with Lobster Bisque Sauce

Claudio Guerra’s Spoleto
Spaghetti Bolognese
Frisée Salad
Muscat Trifle Italiano

Linda Schwartz’ Curtis & Schwartz Café
Mochaccino Waffles with Cinnamon Espresso Butter
Lox & Eggs for Two

John Sielski & Jim Dozmati’s Green Street Café
Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup
Potato Goat Cheese Ravioli
Classic Pots de Crème au Chocolat

Dane Boryta & Liz Ferro’s Circa
Mushroom Velouté
Chicken Roulade with Figs & Brie & Red Onion Jam
Poached Bosc Pear in Red Wine Reduction
Crème Fraîche Sorbet
Pistachio Sable Cookies

Tony Bishop’s Mulino’s
Veal Française
Rompi Capo
Seared Tuna with Wasabi Mayonnaise
Roasted Corn Relish
Mango Coulis
Mango Ketchup
Asian Slaw with Ginger Vinaigrette

Clara Li & Kenny Cheung’s Great Wall
Seafood Soup
Scallion Pancakes
Stuffed Tofu

Alka & Omi Kanoujia’s India House
Onion Bhaji
Cumin-scented Basmati Rice
Ginger Chicken Kadai
Poori

Martín Carrera’s La Veracruzana
Enfrijoladas

 

For Carol Colitti Levine’s own creations, check out RecipeDetours.

 

 

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