Celebrity chef Mario Batali has teamed up with manufacturer Copco to produce a cookware line called Italian Kitchen. Chowhounds are really impressed with the enameled cast iron pieces. They’re well made and they perform beautifully. They’re comparable to Le Crueset, giant in the field of enameled cookware–but the Italian Kitchen stuff is much more affordable.

The 6-quart Dutch oven is excellent for soups and braising, stovetop or in the oven; the inside of its lid has spikes to keep the moisture from condensation in your dish, a feature of the super-expensive Staub line. The panini pan includes a heavy press to produce nicely grilled sandwiches and doubles as a grill pan that themiss says heats more evenly than her Le Creuset. The deep lasagna pan is a real heavyweight at 11 pounds, but does a magnificent job on anything in the oven. They all clean up very easily, and hounds aren’t shy about their love of the pretty colors in the line.

The Kitchen Essentials line includes a bunch of utensils and also pans of other materials, as well. The stainless steel pans get a big thumbs-down from Richard Somers, who ended up returning his for its abysmal performance.

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