Romagnoli, G(ian) Franco 1926-
ROMAGNOLI, G(ian) Franco 1926-
PERSONAL: Born February 1, 1926, in Rome, Italy; immigrated to the United States in 1954, naturalized citizen, 1957; son of Luigi (an architect) and Armida (Baroni) Romagnoli; married Margaret O'Neill (a writer), December 20, 1952 (died, September, 1995); married Gwen O'Sullivan (a lawyer and travel writer), September, 1998; children: (first marriage) Gian Giacomo, Marco, Paolo, Anna. Education: Attended University of Rome, 1945-50.
ADDRESSES: Home and Office—37 Garfield St., Watertown, MA 02472.
CAREER: Independent film producer, director, and cameraman in Italy and the United States, 1949-55; WGBH-Television, Boston, MA, director of photography, 1955-58, executive producer in film department, 1958-59; independent film producer, director, and cameraman in Italy and the United States, beginning 1959. Host, with Margaret Romagnoli, of "Romagnolis' Table" on WGBH-Television. Has had photographic exhibitions in New York, Boston, and Rome. Producer of films, including "Gatecliff," for National Geographic Society; "Let Each Become" (series), Foundation for the Humanities; "Ethiopia: Empire on the Mountain"; "Stone Age to Atom Age," National Educational Television; "The Great Swamp," National Educational Television; "The Vanishing Space," National Educational Television; "The Earth, Our Planet" (series), National Academy of Science; "United Nations at Work"; "The Innocents"; "The Afflicted," American Medical Association; "From Criminal to Citizen"; "Face of America" (series), U.S. Information Agency. Also producer of television commercials.
(With wife, Margaret Romagnoli) The Romagnolis' Table: Italian Family Recipes, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1975.
(With Margaret Romagnoli) The Romagnolis' Meatless Cookbook, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1976, 3rd edition published as Cucina di Magro: Cooking Lean the Traditional Italian Way, Steerforth Italia (South Royalton, VT), 2003.
(With Margaret Romagnoli) The New Italian Cooking, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1980.
(With Margaret Romagnoli) The New Romagnolis' Table, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 1988.
(With Margaret Romagnoli) The Romagnolis' Italian Fish Cookbook: A Large Embrace and a Light Touch, Holt (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Margaret Romagnoli) Zuppa!: A Tour of the Many Regions of Italy and Their Soups, Holt (New York, NY), 1996.
A Thousand Bells at Noon: A Roman's Guide to the Secrets and Pleasures of His Native City, Steerforth Italia (South Royalton, VT), 2002, paperback edition, published as A Thousand Bells at Noon: A Roman Reveals the Secrets and Pleasures of His Native City, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.
Author, director and producer of WGBH-Television series "Layman's Guide to Modern Art." Contributor of articles and photographs to magazines, including the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Gourmet, Eating Well, and Cooking Pleasures.
WORK IN PROGRESS: (With wife, Gwen Romagnoli) Travels with My Fork: Italy, Off the Eaten Path; Over Here, a memoir about growing up in fascist Italy during the second World War.
SIDELIGHTS: For many years, the husband-and-wife team of G. Franco and Margaret Romagnoli were a staple in the Boston area, with their family-named restaurant, Romagnolis' Table, and their Public Television series of the same name. Beginning in the mid-1970s, the Romagnolis branched out into cookbooks, beginning with the bestselling Romagnolis' Table: Italian Family Recipes. By the 1990s the couple had several volumes to their credit, including The Romagnoli's Italian Fish Cookbook: A Large Embrace and a Light Touch. A Publishers Weekly contributor found that the authors "knowledgeably discuss the types of fish used in Italian dishes, how to shop for and prepare them and what utensils to have on hand." For Americans not used to Italian cuisine or fish, it's "the Romagnolis … to the rescue," wrote Booklist's Barbara Jacobs, who said that this cookbook emphasizes simplicity.
With Zuppa!: A Tour of the Many Regions of Italy and Their Soups, the authors take Italian delicacy beyond "pasta, pizza and maybe gelato," as a Publishers Weekly reviewer put it. The soups covered in this book reflect the regions in which they originated; they yield often hearty, meal-worthy soups. "Almost all the recipes," added the Publishers Weekly writer, "are simple to make and based on inexpensive, widely available ingredients." The only drawback Jacobs found in her Booklist review, is choosing among the many tempting varieties, noting the challenge in deciding "whether an amazingly simple wild fennel soup … or the original cioppino from Liguria is best."
Zuppa! was the couple's last book together; Margaret Romagnoli died in 1995. Her husband produced another volume in 2002, A Thousand Bells at Noon: A Roman's Guide to the Secrets and Pleasures of His Native City. This travelogue/memoir takes Franco Romagnoli back to his native Rome, covering that city's history, culture, manners, and, of course, food. A PublisherWeekly contributor was disappointed in some aspects of this book, saying that the author trades too often in "cliches: Romans are loud and like to exaggerate … Roman bureaucrats are lazy and take bribes." But the same reviewer also felt that Romagnoli is at his "most compelling" when he "cuts loose from the deluge of information and shares some personal experiences." Margaret Flanagan of Booklist found that A Thousand Bells at Noon "provides an insider's view into the central core of one of the world's urban treasures." Peter Davison of Atlantic Online called A Thousand Bells at Noon "A wonder of a book…. When you next set out for Rome, take Romagnoli with you."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 1994, Barbara Jacobs, review of The Romagnolis' Italian Fish Cookbook: A Large Embrace and a Light Touch, p. 1496; October 15, 1996, Barbara Jacobs, review of Zuppa!: A Tour of the Many Regions of Italy and Their Soups, p. 394; February 15, 2002, Margaret Flanagan, review of A Thousand Bells at Noon: A Roman's Guide to the Secrets and Pleasures of His Native City, p. 989.
Christian Science Monitor, December 1, 1994, Jennifer Wolcott and Kirsten Conover, review of The Romagnolis' Italian Fish Cookbook, p. 11.
Library Journal, April 15, 1994, Judith Sutton, review of The Romagnolis' Italian Fish Cookbook, p. 105.
McCall's, May, 1975.
Nation's Restaurant News, July 25, 1994, review of The Romagnolis' Italian Fish Cookbook, p. 18.
Publishers Weekly, April 25, 1994, review of The Romagnolis' Italian Fish Cookbook, p. 72; October 21, 1996, review of Zuppa!, p. 79; December 24, 2001, review of A Thousand Bells at Noon, p. 51.
Time, April, 1975.
TV Guide, March, 1975.
Atlantic Monthly Online,http://www.theatlantic.com/ (June 26, 2002), "A Living, Breathing Eternal City: A New Book on Rome Will Help Travelers There Appreciate the City that Romans Know."