Say hello to Viaggio, a new magazine published by chef Mario Batali and Bob Guccione Jr. (founder of Spin magazine and son of Penthouse founder Bob Guccione). "[O]ur title has many meanings," wrote Batali in the introduction, "Our intentions are to cover, uncover, and discover the magnificent and tangy feeling of excitement and passion that can be part of all voyages."
The magazine, a bi-monthly, is to be distributed for free at
all 15 of Batali's restaurants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, and Port Chester, NY only Batali's New York City restaurants, with future issues in the other cities' restaurants. Ostensibly to promote his operation's restaurants and chefs, Viaggio is more akin to an airline or hotel magazine than the magazines of other food celebrities including Jamie Oliver, Rachael Ray, and Paula Deen.
So what's in it? Issue number one clocks in at 24 pages and features a piece about Umbria by James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Gina De Palma (Babbo), a primer on Italian wine by Dan Amatuzzi (wine director of Otto), a story about how butcher Pat LaFrieda (incidentally an advertiser) helped out Batali in the early days, and a couple of recipes. In addition, Batali's traveling companion and BFF Gwyneth Paltrow offers a list of her five favorite meals, with the #1 spot going (surprisingly or unsurprisingly, your pick) to Batali's restaurant Babbo.
But the most stunningly bombastic story in Viaggio is a profile of Batali's New York City restaurant Del Posto, penned by co-editor Bob Guccione Jr. himself. The first sentence: "Del Posto is an extraordinary restaurant." And continues: "It's extraordinary in size... It's extraordinary in its sweeping culinary imagination... it is unquestionably extraordinary in its ambition." That's just in the first paragraph, mind you. Later the restaurant is called "super elegant and indulgent," the food, "sublime," and executive chef Mark Ladner, a "genius."
Another choice paragraph from the article:
When [partner Joe Bastianich] and Mario Batali created Babbo they not only reached the zenith of what great Italian food could be in this country, they cemented the expectation of what a great Italian restaurant was and looked and felt like. They smashed their own mold with Del Posto, taking what ironically, their own success made into a big risk.
Putting such a flamboyant article aside, it is issue one, so we'll cut Viaggio some slack. Batali's restaurants carry some serious and knowledgable talent, and there's a lot of potential to channel all of that into an insightful and quality, if self-promotional, magazine. Look for it in your favorite local Mario Batali restaurant!