A charmingly opinionated guide to making Italian pastas and sauces, this is a happily traditional book which nevertheless cautions you on page 19, “To cook like an Italian, you have to think like an Italian. Thinking like an Italian means embracing imagination, improvisation, and paradox and not getting hung up on exact amounts or certain brands.” Zanini De Vita, the author ofThe Encyclopedia of PastaandThe Food of Rome and Lazio, commands tremendous respect in Italy for her painstaking research into the history and origins of dishes. Writing here with her longtime collaborator and translator Fant, she places every dish within a cultural context even as she urges you to try something you’ve never encountered before. A peppery sauce of arugula and olives, for instance, comes together quickly, while one of leeks and anchovies represents a typically Piedmontese pairing of the sweet and the sea. Endlessly informative.