THE MAFIA COOKBOOK by Joseph (Joe Dogs) Iannuzzi (Simon & Schuster: $15; 176 pp.) How it was with Joe Dogs: In the early '50s he found himself at loose ends--in Cleveland, where ends don't get much looser. He got himself a job as saucier in a good restaurant. Learned enough, he says, "to cook anywhere. So I stole another car and drove back to New York."
Not to put too fine a point on it, Joseph (Joe Dogs) Iannuzzi was a made member of the Mafia ("Mothers and Fathers Italian Assn.," he calls it). He loved to cook, "as long as I didn't have to"-- braciola, zabaglione, shrimp scampi Gambino-style. Lots of butter and cream; 10 pounds of mussels for two men and a girl. With each recipe he provides a guest list, people like "Jiggs Forlano (Colombo capo), Fingers Abbandando (Gambino associate), Popo Tortora (Genovese soldier and drug dealer), Tommy Agro (Gambino soldier), Marcia and Lu Anne (hookers)," many of them now quite deceased, especially Tommy Agro. When Joe says, "A sauce to die for," he's not kidding.
In a delicious, spare style that recalls Damon Runyon, Joe, between recipes, records the Mob's vicissitudes--who whacked whom and why--and table talk. (Little Dom Cataldo needs a hand with a corpse. "Joey," he says between dishes, "this guy's in my trunk for three days now. . . ."
In due course Joe rats on Tommy Agro, who has rearranged Joe's head with a baseball bat. Now in the witness-protection program, Joe dines with the Feds "in joints that advertise 'Italian Night' and then serve macaroni and ketchup. I guess it served me right. Capisci ?"