Best Italian cookbook for beginners / sorted by regions? Christmas gift help!!

In my in-laws' family gift exchange, we drew my sister-in-law and her husband. They are newlyweds with one on the way, quite busy with their careers, but might like to start learning a bit more in the kitchen (even though their tastes still lean highly traditional "American" fare). The highlight of their year was their two-week tour of Italy. I'd like to get them an Italian cookbook that is 1) good for beginners (easy-to-find ingredients; no complicated cooking processes), 2) visually pleasing (it is a gift after all), and 3) has some sort of nod to regions of Italy. The reason I'd like some mention of regions is because I have an idea to print pictures from their various stops, and tuck them into pages that correspond. So, it could be as simple as recipes mentioning their origin, or a book that truly is regionally divided. Any ideas?!

Kelsey Sandvall


pierino December 13, 2016
It would be the opposite of easy home cooking but The Del Posto Cookbook by Mark Ladner makes a beautiful gift. It is new as well. Ladner is the executive chef for Mario Batali's Del Posto restaurant in NYC. Ladner takes humble classics and elevates them to fine dining. There is a 100 layer lasagna and a rethink of the "timpano" from Big Night (the elaborate filled pasta drum which Primo and Secondo think they are preparing for Louis Prima). Some of the color plates will make you think of Caravaggio. This is restaurant cooking along the lines of French Laundry but it is a nice gift and Ladner does comment on the origins of the dishes.
E E. December 13, 2016
Lidia Bastianich has a book out called "Lidia Cooks From The Heart Of Italy". There are plenty of recipes that would be easy enough for beginners, and taste delicious. It is by region, and so would fit in very well with your nice gift idea. Try the Chicken Cantazaro, the lentil or rice dishes, etc.
pierino December 13, 2016
The Bugialii books are quite beautiful. The dishes are authentic and he is a good teacher.
Nancy December 13, 2016
For the cooking,
*Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, 1992 (which builds on and some think replaces her first two books on the basics).
*The Silver Spoon New Edition, 2011. Latest English version of a 1950s cookbook that was a mainstay of Italian homes (like Joy of Cooking).
For the cooking and the regions, including more photos than the first two - Giovanni Bugialli has several. See what you like on regions of Italy, Sardinia and Sicily, Tuscany, etc.

Patricia H. December 13, 2016
Bugialli has one called "Classic Techniques of Italian Cooking" which is excellent. Also recommended: Valentina Harris, "Recipes from an Italian Farmhouse" with its straightforward easy-to-follow recipes that produce delicious dishes every time!
ChefJune December 12, 2016
I highly recommend "The Splendid Table" by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. It is beautifully written, has fantastic recipes that are easy to follow and all work. It's a book that is a joy to read and to cook from. And makes you feel you're in Italy.
pierino December 13, 2016
I agree with ChefJune. This book is rich in food history.
Recommended by Food52