Restaurant Man

100% Positive Reviews


Pros: Colorful, interesting look at the busness,

Cons: Not completely a foodie book (but that's okay!)

Restaurant Man

Joe Bastianich


Reviewed by Jim Berman



Joe Bastianich’s Restaurant Man is a manifesto on business, the business of food, the business of people, New York business and the business of wine, all colored with red, white and green; the Italian flag, wines and money. Vehemently and aggressively Italian, this restaurant man makes no apologies for being a real bastard about making people cry tears of joy  and tears of profound misery. But he’ll shake your hand and make you smile about dropping a cool grand for dinner for you and the family. Restaurant Man is as much about ego as it is a primer for doing the math of running a successful restaurant, far and away from the “greasy bag of deep-fired easy.” More access to information about running a sound operation, you need not. He gives you the percentages on the opening page.


Any book that peers out from the inside of a restaurant’s imaginary façade, be it the dungeon-esque interworkings of the kitchen, the song and dance of the front of the house, the coke-snorting owners, cash-skimming managers, or any combination thereof, seems to capture a view that is tumultuous, sexy, horrid, tawdry and just a bit maddening… in a good way. Any non-PG take on what happens along restaurant row is automatically compared with Anthony Bourdain’s now-legendary look at the “culinary underbelly.” Yes, there are frank diatribes on the respectability and pay of each member of the team; the vixen-like appeal of the coat girl to the absurd role of a manager to the maître d’ that actually runs the place. But, Restaurant Man really is all about the business. Restaurant Man is more about nonfiction then it is about superheros.


Sure, Bourdain captures the sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll of hardened deranged cooks. And Steve Dublanica does the same with Waiter Rant, pervasive with tales of criminal managers and “crop dusting” through the dining room to intoxicate the rude dinner guest with noxious derrière perfume. Bastianich does not use the same formula. The appeal of Restaurant Man is in his original voice. He enjoys wine and pours enough of it in Restaurant Man that you crave Barolo and Brunello while getting drunk on his words that will shake you like a monkey.


“We heard a lot of noise when Babbo first opened about our chutzpah in putting out a menu that didn’t seem to have one single Italian on it, no warhorses, no greatest hits – not to mention our taste in loud rock ‘n roll- but we stuck to what we believed in, and in fact about 70 percent of the menu has been solid since day one: We always have pig’s feet, tripe and testa, as well as a barbecued squab, pork chop that takes longer to eat than a Dave Matthews concert runs, and fresh branzino cooked with ingredients and flavors that my father even heard of, plus the famous two-minute Calamari Sicilian Lifeguard Style, and a mess of completely imaginative and sexy pastas including the papparadelle Bolognese, which sounds simple enough but blows everyone’s mind. You think you’ve had Bolognese, and then you try Mario’s and you just want to weep at the tragedy your life has been.”



Restaurant Man has some captivating writing. Bastianich draws you in with just enough familial histrionics without dowsing you in stories of famous mom. There is very little geeking out about having a mom who is to Italian cooking what Julia is for French fare. The same goes for his partnership with Mario Batali. There is just enough orange-clog talk to color his story without making Restaurant Man all about other people.


I do not not want to dine in Bastianich’s places after reading Restaurant Man. Instead, I feel at ease giving him $250 for dinner. He wants to “overdeliver, exceed expectations, every day.” He brings a voice to the menu, to the experience of dining, to paying the price of a night of living high. “What the hell… I [know] the power of good food. I [know] that it can could turn dark into light…”

Restaurant Man

How does a nice Italian boy from Queens turn his passion for food and wine into an empire?In his winning memoir, Restaurant Man, Joe Bastianich charts his culinary journey from working in his parents’ red-sauce joint to becoming one of the country’s most successful restaurateurs. Joe first learned the ropes from his father, Felice Bastianich, the ultrapragmatic, self-proclaimed “restaurant man.” After college and a year on Wall Street, Joe bought a one-way ticket to Italy and worked in restaurants and vineyards. Upon his return to New York, he partnered with his mother, Lidia, and soon joined forces with Mario Batali, establishing one superlative Italian restaurant after another.Writing vividly in an authentic New York style that is equal parts rock ’n’ roll and hard-ass, bottom-line business reality, Joe explains: how Babbo changed the way people think of Italian restaurants; how Lupa and Esca were born of “hedonistic, boondoggle R&D trips” through Italy; and how Del Posto managed to overcome a menu that was so ambitious that at first it could not even be executed and became the first four-star Italian restaurant in America. He lays the smackdown on the wine industry, explaining that no bottle of wine costs more than five dollars to make.Joe speaks frankly about friends and foes, but at the heart of the book is the mythical hero Restaurant Man, the old-school, bluecollar guy from Queens who once upon a time learned to sweat it out and make his money through hard work. Throughout he stays true to the real secret of his success—watching costs but being ferociously dedicated to exceeding the customer’s expectations on every level and delivering the best dining experience in the world.

AuthorJoe Bastianich
LabelViking Adult
ManufacturerViking Adult
PublisherViking Adult
StudioViking Adult
TitleRestaurant Man
Item Height0 inches
Item Length0 inches
Item Weight1 pounds
Item Width0 inches
Languages - Original LanguageEnglish
Languages - PublishedEnglish
Package Height1.02 inches
Package Length9.29 inches
Package Weight1.11 pounds
Package Width6.33 inches
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC