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Showing 1-10 of 126 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 190 reviews
VINE VOICEon June 19, 2015
I listened to the audiobook version of Restaurant Man, and I'd recommend that as the best way to consume this book. Part "how to" run a restaurant, part history of Italian food in NYC and part biography, Restaurant Man is an engaging look behind the scenes of restaurants and restaurant culture.

Joe Bastianich is a great narrator and his depth of knowledge on the subject is clear. The book is best when it's breaking everything down on how a successful restaurant actually works. Joe's journey through his time in Italy and Croatia and his journey through wine and winemaking is especially engaging. The book falters a bit when it starts looking at more contemporary issues, like Joe Bastianich's hard learned lessons on who to go into business with and what things don't work. Perhaps that part was a little too fresh in the writer's mind to have the depth of perspective and eloquence in storytelling.

Restaurant Man is still required reading for anyone even mildly interested in getting into the restaurant business, and is a smart, funny, and engaging story, well told by its author on the audiobook.
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on June 12, 2017
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on August 6, 2012
My hope was that this book would describe the realities of the restaurant business, and certain chapters - especially the first - accomplished this and were very engaging. It also was interesting to learn about the "concepts" of various restaurants that Joe Bastianich opened with Mario Batali. It would have been good if more time had been spent in these two areas, and in really describing other people Mr. Bastianich knew and worked with, such as Chef Batali as a personality, his mother, and what made his mother's and Mario Batali's food great. It also would have been of tremendous interest for him to talk about life in the kitchan and in the front of the house in more detail. Instead, too much time is spent on autobiographical material which wasn't consistently very interesting, and often was superficially treated. Mr. Bastianich no doubt is a tremendous businessman, and some of his business insights are great. The fact that he knows a lot about Italian wines is definitely of less interest, but since he isn't a chef, perhaps he felt he needed to glorify himself by emphasizing his knowledge of wine since he couldn't talk about his great skill in the kitchen. Overall, the book was enjoyable, but a bit too long, and perhaps too much of a self-aggrandizing marketing tool for the author.
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on January 3, 2014
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…”
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on May 6, 2014
I might have given his memoir 5 Stars had I not found myself highlighting & then annotating in both English & Italian as I read. The book is heavily 'padded' with a very liberal sprinkling of the F-word. I say 'padded' because it would be a lot shorter if its use as an adjective, adverb, verb, noun were edited out. I have no objection to the use - I can express myself in both English & Italian with fluency if I want to - but after a bit it's tiresome & probably will be off-putting to some readers. I actually found myself anticipating its use beforehand, which says something.

He also adopts a Damon Runyon-esque Forties & Fifties use of descriptive terms like 'broads' when referring to women - plenty of misogyny abounds throughout which is rather odd, given his age & the fact that this stuff finally went out in the Seventies - not counting revivals of 'Guys and Dolls.' Definitely off-putting.

I found myself questioning certain assertions regarding Italy & New York pre-Babbo. By now he is a well-known quantity on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to Master Chef, where in Italy he appears in both the American version (he dubs himself) & the Italian one. Sadly, for all his grand pronouncements, he is now flogging an industrial product on Italian TV & finding it buonissimo. He's not the only one, I have to admit, since another Italian Master Chef chef is doing likewise, to everyone's consternation.

For those interested in a personal history of Italian restaurants in New York & the rise of the Mario-Joe empire, this is worth a read. I think he could have done a much better job or could have benefitted by better editing - I noted the entire book for the most part lacked dates, which I found annoying.
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on September 27, 2014
Wow. A tour de force in a shoulder-to-shoulder restaurant bio literary landscape. The Master Chef is at various points revelatory, self-deprecating, caustic, tackling, and just about any other descriptor you can hurl at the guy. You can minimize his output due to his genetic connectivity to Lidia, but the apparent bottom line is he (and frequent partner and debacler Batali) have transformed elements of the culinary continuum, and what the heck, it's a damned good read to boot.
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on April 30, 2015
First let me say I'm not American & hadn't heard of Joe until I started watching US Masterchef on TV. I was intrigued by his sullen attitude towards the contestants & the permanent sneer & got to wondering who he was & why he possessed such an air . Restaurant man gives a great insight into Joe's upbringing & successful career. It's also a terrific insight into the restaurant & wine industries & I found it very enjoyable. Joe's language is fruity but so what? It's clearly a tough industry & I'm sure that type of language is common. Bottom line is I liked Joe before & now I feel I know him I appreciate him even more. Anybody who says this guy isn't a talent isn't being truthful to themselves about Joe's achievements - even if he was born into it.
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on December 2, 2016
An absolute MUST read for anyone interested in pursuing the restaurant business. Joe's definitive , yet humorous approach to the deep down inner workings of the restaurant business is priceless! From the beginning to the end it is a learning experience of true excellence. If the idea of the restaurant business has crossed your mind; this book will fast track you to Quit or Commit! Either way, you'll no longer have a misconception about what it takes to be successful in the business.
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on June 12, 2016
Tough guy raised in the bizz. No bulls*** reminisint of Kitchen Confidential. Kinda cocky but that is the naturwebof the beast. If you don't like it you can't relate or you've already failed
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on October 6, 2012
As someone who is not in the restaurant business, I bought this hoping to get some "behind the scenes" insights--which did happen. It was interesting to read how he (and Mario Battali) developed the restaurants and businesses, the problems they had, and the passion for this industry. The books also gives you an eye-opening lesson on how food/beverages are priced and their profit margins - many of which were surprising. I also learned more about his personal life - which was OK. What I really didn't like about the book was his unrelenting use of profanity. I can only assume that this is his normal vocabulary and, therefore, was written that way. However, it was so prevalent, that it actually detracted from the story for me. Halfway through the book, I found myself glossing over the "colorful adjectives/adverbs" to pick out the meat of the story.
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