Mike Isabella cooks in Washington, but his heart is in New Jersey. The two-time “Top Chef” contestant draws heavily on childhood memories and old family recipes in “Mike Isabella’s Crazy Good Italian: Big Flavors, Small Plates ” (Da Capo, 2012; $35), his first cookbook and the newest addition to his expanding franchise.
His grandmother’s bolognese, his mom’s broiled chicken and his aunt’s pepper rings are in there. So is his now-famous Pepperoni Sauce (somewhat modified since we published it in April 2011), created during “Top Chef All-Stars,” along with recipes reflecting his experience with Greek food. Most are meant to serve four as small plates.
Isabella was executive chef at Jose Andres’s Zaytinya in 2009 when Bravo TV tapped him as a contestant for Season 6 of its popular chef competition. He returned for “All-Stars” in Season 8, on the verge of opening Graffiato in Chinatown. In May, he launched Bandolero, serving Mexican food in Georgetown.