Restaurateur and teacher Soviero's personal yet comprehensive book combines his quest to uncover the techniques of Italian cuisine with his efforts to instruct others in them at the Cooking School of Umbria, in Perugia (Italy). Most ingredients, from olive oil to balsamic vinegar to chicken and fish, are discussed at length, not because they are intrinsically unusual, but because the simplicity of classic preparations demand the best, freshest and most flavorful components. And while he features recipes for currently ubiquitous staples like homemade pastas, pizzas and polenta, their treatment here is anything but common. For instance, Soviero reveals a rather surprising strategy for cooking risottos ("Misbeguided sic amateurs will tell you that it is absolutely essential to stir the risotto continually. . . . Nonsense!"). He offers savory preparations for roast pork with milk and garlic. Also noteworthy are his braised duck with peas and prosciutto, and his asparagus with zabaglione sauce. While the author's years in Perugia have led him to assume that the reader is familiar with a few unexplained ingredients (mainly pastas), these occasional lapses don't mar the importance of his work.