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!
I purchased this book in hopes of learning how to get into the restaurant business. What I learned instead was that real restaurant men are really just spoiled brats that don't appear to be able to understand themselves or the business until they realize they are too egotistical to do anything else. Boring, tedious, and uninsightful. Stop letting authors read there own books. It made a poor book unbearable.
Only used audio version I own a restaurant so audio was the best because it's his voice and you can here's emotions throughout the story .
It's all real my dad started in the business in 1960 . And it sucked me in also .
All of it . It made me want to do better in my restaurant .
For sure . But running a restaurant takes a lot of time !
I even bought a few copies for my employees CD ! And my Dad !
Joe had me laughing and thinking back to my days behind the bar and on the floor of four star restaurants. Love hearing about the numbers and how hospitality pumps in his veins.
Having visited most of the places described in the book (except NY) and coming from a blue collar family I get this story. Joe demonstrates some of the best qualities of what makes us Americans. I don't think this book will show anyone how to run a restaurant, but it will give one insight on the lifestyle. Well done fratello.. Ti saluto con il mio prossimo bicchiere di vino!
Joe is clearly proud of his accomplishments. If you can listen past his sizable eGo there is a lot to be gained from his book. Frankly I think he deserves to sing his own praises. The restaurant business is tough and accolades are in short supply.
Joe, I think you rock as do the restaurants you have opened and those you have been apart of as a young man. Thank you for the insights!
I learned a lot about the restaurant business and business in general from this book. And from what I can tell from listening to it, the writing, if I were to have read it in a book in print instead of listening to it, was probably surprisingly good. However, enduring the audiot performance by the author was really difficult. He should have taken a cue from Keith Richards and had a professional read this audiobook because his presence is a severe detraction and distraction. He often is a lifeless monotone, and comes off as an angry unpleasant person who has all the charisma of an index card - this is hard to believe because as someone who has spent a great deal of time in the front of the house with customers, one would think he would have to possess some sort of charm in order to have succeeded as strongly as he has. Unfortunately he is, or comes off as very unlikable from both a tone of voice standpoint and his unseemly insistence upon crowing like a rooster to take credit for much of the restaurant world's positive trends for the past 20 years. On top of that, there was was sounded like genuine apathy towards the performance that permeated it in a negative way - he was clearly reading, and not well mind you, and the sloppy edits stood out like skips on an old vinyl record further destroying any semblance of flow. I would, in this rare instance, recommend buying the print version of this book instead. There is some very interesting things to learn about the business and the restaurants discussed in this book, because regardless of what kind of personality the author is, the restaurants are world class. And the group running them clearly is at the top of their profession. So the cringe inducing bragging bluster is entirely unnecessary - they've created culinary and business brilliance in their restaurants (and Eataly) and this book seems like the writing (aside from the bluster) is surprisingly good.
I was unsure about this book at first. Being in the restaurant business over 20 years, I didn't want to just hear a book of rhetoric and buzzwords, but this book tells a great story about an historic New York restaurant icon. It was a very easy and enjoyable listen.
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