There are some splendid Italian cookbooks on the market by the likes of Marcella Hazan and Giuliano Bugialli, but they tend to address the stubborn perfectionist and armchair scholar. For those who would just as soon skip the fuss and get down to agreeable but not-too-elaborate cooking, this contribution by a California cooking teacher is a good choice, somewhat similar to Nika Hazelton's Italian Regional Cooking but decidedly more au courant. There are a lot of obvious and good standbys like roasted red pepper antipasto, spaghetti carbonara, lasagne with homemade egg pasta, roast lamb with rosemary, and calves' liver alla Veneziana. There are also many less familiar regional specialties like Piedmontese fonduta, panzanelIa (a salad of stale bread and fresh garden vegetables), Roman roast suckling pig, Genoese cima (breast of veal stuffed with a sweetbread mixture), and Veronese pandoro. More recently fashionable dishes include pasta with four cheeses, radicchio-arugula salad with warm goat cheese, and pizzas of the novella-Los Angeles school (a more noticeable influence than the ""country"" of the title), Directions are very terse and assume prior knowledge of, say, what pancetta is or how to clean squid; there are occasional unclear details like the ""side bones"" that are to be removed from the suckling pig or the ""Delicious apples"" (Red or the slower-cooking Golden?) in an interesting frittata. You should have some idea of cooking techniques before buying this, but it's a well-planned collection.