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Publisher's Summary

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.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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A real look at restaurants

I grew up a son of an immigrant restaurant man. And own 2 successful restaurants with my brothers, after years of hard work and perseverance. This book gives you a real look at growing up in the restaurant life. I appreciate the no bullshit candor. I really didn't like Joe watching him on TV but always thought Mario was one of the most talented chefs I ever saw on iron chef America. I was wrong about Joe and really loved him in this book. I hope to some day meet him and tell him great job on the book. I hope to experience his restaurants in New York. Thanks for opening up you personal life and wish you all the success in the world. You have a new fan. The book was awesome!!!!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Wish I had the option to give 6 stars

Great story. Amazing delivery. Had the feeling of a great conversation. I'm amazed not only by the story, but listening to Joe talk about wine and wine making...... you can't help but hear the passion he has for his craft. Greatful he took the time to not only write the book but be the narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Love this book

Joe is awesome! Wish I could meet the guy. He speaks to a lot of the things I experienced as a server in the restaurant business. Lots of great ideas and insight into what goes into a successful restaurant. I was entertained the whole time!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Foul, fowl and factual

Loved the story of immigrant parents' and first generation's struggles to assimilate in America, realizing that their differences and mores gave them an advantage although hard work and smarts were essential. Poignant tale told with a few too many four letter words but laced with colorful and often hilarious stories and commentary. I will exercise more care with my future wine choices after reading Restaurant Man!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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wow

it reminds me of a more refined Kitchen Confidential maybe a little less drugs maybe a little more wine. what it's a great read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Joe
  • Fairhope, AL, United States
  • 02-19-16

If you liked Kitchen Confidential you'll...

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Really good book, OK narration.

Would you listen to Restaurant Man again? Why?

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!

Any additional comments?

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!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great content, blunt and crass, with a slightly dry delivery

I was familiar with Joes work, and before I listened I thought he was a bit of a pretentious douche bag. I still think that, but now I understand where his outsized confidence and bravado come from. Joe is an incredibly successful restaurant man, and in this book he lets you in on his story and how he got to where he is. A good read for anyone who is interested in the industry. Only downside is that Joe is a bit flat in his delivery, but still entertaining nonetheless.

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restaurant man

I would love to meet Restaurant Man as well as learn more about wine from him!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great Story

I read in a review that he wasn't a good performer so it was dry. At first it was dry but I realized that's his style and it grew on me. It's a great story and so honest. Loved it and I'm not in the wine or restaurant business!