How does a nice Italian boy from Queens turn his passion for food and wine into a nationwide empire? In his intrepid, irreverent, and terrifically entertaining memoir, Restaurant Man, Joe Bastianich charts his remarkable culinary journey from his parents’ neighborhood eatery to becoming one of the country’s most successful restaurateurs, along with his superstar chef partners - his mother, Lidia Bastianich, and Mario Batali.
Joe first learned the ropes of the restaurant business from his father, Felice Bastianich, the original Restaurant Man, the ultrapragmatic and sharp-eyed owner of a popular red-sauce joint. But years of cleaning chickens and other kitchen drudgery convinced Joe that his destiny lay elsewhere. After a year on Wall Street, however, he realized that his love of food was by now too deeply ingrained, and after buying a one-way ticket to Italy, he spent over a year working in restaurants and vineyards there, developing his own taste and learning everything he could about Italian cuisine.
Upon his return to New York, he partnered with his mother to open Becco and soon after joined forces with Mario Batali, an alliance that not only created a string of critically acclaimed and popular restaurants but redefined Italian food in America.
Restaurant Man is not only a compelling ragù-to-riches chronicle but a look behind the scenes at what it really takes to run a restaurant in New York City, the most demanding, fickle, and passionate market in America, from dealing with shady vendors, avaricious landlords, and vitriolic food critics, to day-to-day issues like the cost of linens (“the number-one evil”) and bread and butter.
Writing vividly in an authentic New York style that is equal parts rock ’n’ roll and hard-ass, bottom-line business reality, Joe shares lessons learned from a lifetime spent in restaurants (“Anything you give away for free is bad”), while recounting the stories of his own establishments - including how Del Posto managed to overcome a menu that was initially so ambitious that it could not be executed, to ultimately become the only four-star Italian restaurant in America.
Joe speaks frankly about friends and foes, but at the heart of the book is the mythical hero Restaurant Man, the old-school, blue-collar guy who stays true to the real secret of his success - watching costs but ferociously dedicating himself to exceeding his customers’ expectations and delivering the best dining experience in the world.
©2012 Joe Bastianich (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I am planning to definitely listen to this again. There are a ton of gems in this book and you cannot absorb all of them on one reading, I'm sure!
The narrator is also the author and in this case he was fine, not great. He is not an actor and that is what I liked about him narrating it because it shows his real New York tough-guy personality. You can tell he began to loosen up as time went on and he really grew on me. Some people have said that they were hoping to learn more about running a restaurant and I suggest those people think again about "running a restaurant." There is a lot of valuable real life experience provided to us and nowhere in the title does it say "learn to run a successful restaurant!" Obviously this was not meant as an instructional piece so look elsewhere if that is what you want. However, this does provide some really good information on how to act towards your customers and what it really takes to become someone as successful and reliable as Joe. A good book overall for sure!
The Batali and Bastianich group has done some amazing things in the culinary world. This book takes a look at how it all began and into the personal life of Joe Bastianich and how he got the restaurant bug. He talks (reads) like someone in a restaurant and his stories are authentic. If you have not eaten at one of the Batali and Bastianich restaurants, this book may come across as offensive to some, or offensive to someone not in the culinary world. I enjoyed it from start to finish! Highly entertaining and real!
I'm a bit of a fan of Joe, and I've read enough books about chefs it was time I read one from an owner's perspective. I listened to it while painting my own restaurant, which opens next week, and it helped calm my nerves.
It's autobiographical, and the tone has the macho swagger of Kitchen Confidential, almost like it's a sequel. Yes, I did cringe at some of the misogynistic moments (who says "banging broads" anymore). And while Bourdain hid the names of most characters in KC, Bastianich names them outright. At many points it sounds like he's trying to settle petty scores. Was hoping Joe would be above that. He seems to contradict himself a bit, calling out the snobs in the industry and then going on snobby tirades about things like New World wines. But hey, we're all the heroes of our own stories. The best parts are the stories in Italy and of opening the restaurants in America. It's worth it for Del Posto alone.
The narration wasn't bad, but Joe starts out sounding like he's bored with his own story. Other times I swear I can feel his hangover as he tries to get through a passage. At other times he sounds like he has an air bubble trapped in his stomach or acid reflux.
I'm glad I got the book, and it's a good companion with Kitchen Confidential and Bill Buford's "Heat," which explores Mario Batali's side of the partnership with Bastianich.
A huge fan of the Audible fun ;-)
Listening to ResturantMan had given me the authentic feeling the author and me share table talking open hurt, no b**it no nice guy. However, if ResturantMan had tried fooling me into thinking he is being honest, he'd really succeeded.
this is a quality book. I wasn't blown away but I do find myself referencing the book often. I love to hear the back stories of the ups and downs and I feel he only glazed over some of these. As a fellow restaurateur I enjoyed it. thanks for the book and everything else you have given to the food and beverage industry.
Overall a very worthwhile listen. I love the mix of personal family stories, real-life drama, and the behind the scenes look at the seamy side of the restaurant business.
Only negative I can say, Restaurant man is not a good narrator
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