Restaurant Man
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Restaurant Man

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  543 ratings  ·  117 reviews
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-procl...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Viking Adult
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Realitytrucks
Reviewing this for work... Which might be a bit of a challenge... Roughly 431,000 uses of the f-word (ok by me!) Favorite quote (on his impatience for poorly-conceived minimalist Menus): "You're a fucking restaurant. Cook something!"

A man after my own heart, he explains at length why fountain Cokes taste do awful in most restaurants. Half the time it isn't even Coke (I knewwwww it!) "it's always too sweet. It's flat. And it's unsanitary. You know it the second you taste it. It sucks because it'...more
Leslie Doll
When I first started reading this book, I thought to myself: What an egotistical jerk. Who does Joe think he is? Every paragraph had at least 3 F-bombs; more often than not, it just wasn't necessary. Reading the first sections made one want to punch him for his arrogance; some publishers' reviews called him a "nice boy" from Queens. If that was the case, then I really don't even want to know what "bad boys" from Queens are like.

Now I know better. Joe is testing you. He wants to see if you REALL...more
Sam
Celebrity memoirs are generally considered trash books worthy of little more than a quick trip to the donation pile at the local public library. But Restaurant Man, by Joe Bastianich, is no ordinary celebrity memoir. It deserves your close attention and quite possibly a permanent place on your shelf.

One thing that helps Bastianich's book along is that until the US version of MasterChef, most people had no idea who he was. Many still don't, despite the fact that he may be the most successful rest...more
Emilia
Holy cats, this just might be one of my favorite books ever! I feel like I just sat down at Joe Bastianich's table, popped open a bottle of his wine, and shot the shit with him for a couple of hours. I first learned about Joe from watching / obsessing over "Master Chef" and have loved his mom, Lidia, for years. At first, I HATED him!!! Absolutely could not stand the man! But I've grown fond of him and really came to value his critiques even if he is a jagoff at times! But reading his book taught...more
Sara
This book intrigued me as I had never heard about Joe Bastianich until MasterChef. I figured out finally he was Lidia's son but I still had never heard of him.

I found this autobiography interesting. I learned so much about running an Italian restaurant in New York. Actually about running a restaurant, period.

I have never worked in the food industry. I've never even been to New York. I like wine but I've never tasted the good stuff he extols in his book. Still, this was interesting to me because...more
Danielle
Holy crap how do people not like this book? Okay, Joe swears a lot; and? (To be fair, I might be a bit more blase about this because I was in the Marines for 8 years, and really, to me this book only contained a moderate amount of swearage.)

This book is a no-bullshit crash course in the fundamentals of running a restaurant, with a lot of funny anecdotes included. I expected to read about Italy; I DIDN'T expect to be reading about Joe's predilection for white Capezios while he was in school (tota...more
Beverly Swerling
I really loved this, but I've lived in NYC for years (currently in Philly, but that's beside the point), have been to many of the restaurants mentioned, know the scene he's describing, and am an admitted foodie. I'm not sure that anyone for whom those things aren't true will find this interesting in the same way. But to give Joe his due, there's an underlying theme here that's more universal. He's writing (well) about family and friendship and the world we encounter when we go out seeking the su...more
Kate
I'm re-listening to certain discs of the audiobook because I can't bear to let it go. Which kind of says everything, right there. But, to sum up, it's a great memoir. I appreciated his no-holds-barred attitude and insight into the past, present and future of the restaurant business. This book deepend the way I think about wine, as well, although Bastianich has a strong anti-California bias, which is obvious bullshit. He probably included the origin story of a few too many of his restaurants, but...more
Russell
Joe Bastianich is the son of Lydia Bastianich, chef and star on TV food shows. He is also the long-time partner of Mario Battali and, together, they have opened numerous restaurants. The book is well written, informative, and will give you a front row seat into what is the full contact sport of restaurant siting, design, and management. Along the way, you will learn about food selection and pricing, characteristics of various employee groups from busboys to hat check girls (you will be surprised...more
Dan Taylor
A few years ago I had no idea who Joe Bastianich was, then I caught him as the persnickety, staring judge on tv's MasterChef. Not only is he my favorite food competition personality but his funny, totally un-PC look at life as a Restaurant Man had me laughing out loud and loving every page. (And many of his remembrances and stories were echoed by my father-in-law, a longtime Restaurant Man.) Even if the restaurant biz isn't your world, Joe's book tells it like it is for pretty much every busines...more
Haidji
The book is a great read.
If you work or if you don't work in the restaurant industry, I'd recommend this book.
It is a great inside story of a hard business, an interesting look behind the scenes at one of the most successful restaurant groups in the world.
After reading it, well, all I can say is that I'll never walk into a restaurant the same way again.

Mk
I liked reading about how he and his partners started and ran all their properties, but I could have done without the egotistical, bombastic, predictable foul language. I realize that insulting the size of someone's dick may be meant metaphorically, and that repeated use of profanity may be meant to convey toughness and hipness, but what I really get is that the author is better at running food service operations than writing books.
Luke Bunker
Joe Bastianich. He's an arrogant a**hole, a self-professed "cheap f*ck"... But, you can't ignore his success or that, yes, just maybe, he has a reason to be just a bit arrogant. The man seems to be a genius, although he can at times come across as the pioneer for *everything* - surely he is an innovator, but sometimes it feels like a bit of a stretch. His passion for food, wine and Italy are evident throughout the book, and it seems incredibly authentic in those respects.

To be honest, I almost...more
Brooke Everett
My kind of business book - I do enjoy these sorts of stories, plus I feel that they're good for my brain from a professional standpoint. Plus it was hilarious, straightforward with no bs on the business stuff, and every other word is "fuck." Truly, a Restaurant Man's voice. A few of the chapters weren't entirely focused - they started off with a certain idea but then the narrative would ramble to something else - but the story as a whole flowed really well. A little boastful at points about pion...more
Ty
Joe Bastianich is best known these days as bald, steely-eyed judge on "Masterchef", but he's been working in the New York restaurant scene pretty much all his life. Joe's Mom, Lidia, was one of the first famous female chefs and his family owned a great Italian restaurant. Now, Lidia is a cooking force, with shows on TV, cookbooks, and multiple restaurants, and Joe has followed in the family footsteps expanding the empire in collaboration with the crazy fat guy in the orange Crocs, Mario Batali....more
Robin
3.5 stars

If one can get past the overuse of the f-word, this was an interesting report on life in the restaurant biz and how to be a success (he and Mario Batali are co-owners of NYC's Babbo, and Bastianich also owns other restaurants) interwoven with bits of his own life. That being said, since about the only wine I care about is a cold glass of Barefoot riesling, I thought there was a little too much talk about wine, although I realize there are many who would find it fascinating.

Note on audi...more
Al
3.5 stars - i could read about restaurant crap all day long, and being familiar with joe from tv and from mario batali etc, i was definitely the target audience for this book. it's highly readable, and full of straight-talk about the business of owning and operating successful restaurants. where it could have improved was that there was little to no insight into mario batali as a person, and not much insight into lidia bastianich, whose life i'd really like to know more about. also he could have...more
Liz
Not a single expletive deleted. Fasctinating story of a son who worked in parent's restaurant in Queens. He was forced to go to Europe in the summers visitng his mother's friends homes restaurants and wineries. He developed an excellent palate. His knowlege of restaurant management is steller - margins, front of house, back of the house, customer service, suppliers. Book is quite an education. It's also funny, he describes his denim jacket with Rolling Stones painted on back. His restaurant proj...more
Bill Saltarelli
I loved this book. It explains the humble beginnings of an Italian-American hardworking family, Starting out with one restaurant in Queens NY. Lidia Bastianich had the insight to see NYC as being the place to offer authentic Italian dishes and not a typical red sauce, spaghetti and meatball restaurant. It explains about how Joe after meeting Mario Batali formed many great ventures together like Eataly and Del Posto. If your in the industry this is a must read.
Maree
I love Joe Bastianich. I also love that he comes from Queens and never forgets it; I love that he talks openly about his relationship with his father; I love his trips to Italy with Batali; I love his mom. I love that he brings us into the business end of the restaurant biz. I love that he still sounds like an educated guy from Queens. Good read.
Ashland Mystery Oregon
Remarkable culinary narrative of the Bastianich dynasty, and the well known restaurants that Joe Bastianich established. I've read the back of the house, the front of the house, but Restaurant Man is unabashedly about managing the house - planning, financing, designing, controlling.Forward by Mario Batali and Bastianich's narratives about Batali showcase how closely and well they work together. Really good read and a new perspective on the Bastianich family.
Michele
This book gives insight on what you need to consider to run a successful restaurant. It also gives Joe's perspective on food, wine and who he can't stand--he calls people a prick, short-dicked, etc. I love any book that has to do with food, this one was even better because Joe is so honest about how he feels about everything and everybody. Not too many people use their memoirs to badmouth jerks they have encountered.
Brett
I liked the light, yet thoughtful tone of this book. I assumed it would be Kitchen Confidential from the front-of-house perspective, but instead I found an occasionally introspective memoir. Clearly Mario Batali's success is closely intertwined with Joe's business acumen. Also, found it quite interesting as a lens into Joe's Mom's success (Lidia Bastianich). Recommended to fans of Mario or Lidia especially.
Laure
I've read several "restaurant memoirs" lately and this was probably my least favorite. One reason is that, although I usually do not mind some salty language, there comes a point when too much is too much, and this book crossed the line not only very early on but repeatedly. The "f" and "s" words are used almost every other sentence and after a while that became old and offensive.
Serge Pierro
Bastianich provides excellent insight into the world of running a restaurant. Having worked in a restaurant, I can vouch for the authenticity of his statements. Most people have no idea of what really goes on in the business. Between this and "Kitchen Confidential", you will begin to understand the realities of restaurant work. Plus, he's a Led Zeppelin fan - 'nuff said!
Andrea
I thought about finishing it...I like Mr. Bastianich and there wasn't anything inherently wrong with the book. It was just not really what I thought it would be and I don't work in the industry, nor have I ever been to New York so I mostly just felt excluded. Like hanging out with a bunch of people who all know each other from something that you aren't involved in.
Deanna
Think you know what life is like in the restaurant industry? You probably don't. This is a great account of what it is like to grow up in a low-income neighborhood, growing up as a son of a restaurateur. Joe has helped create an Italian restaurant empire due to his experience and hard work. If you work in a restaurant or are in-the-know it's a great, quick read.
Katie
I found Restaurant Man to be enlightening, entertaining and hilarious. Joe Bastianich clearly knows what he's talking about, and if you're into what he's talking about (food, wine, Italy), and just generally have an appreciation for sassy Italian guys from the NY metro area, you will enjoy this book.

Del Posto is now at the top of my list for places to try.

John Steidle
Most certainly not a family friendly book, but an aggressive look into what it really takes to be a success in the restaurant world. An excellent and engaging story! Would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in starting a restaurant or entering the industry, but also just to anyone who loves food and the dining experience.
Marilyn
Very interesting view into the restaurant world. Gave me some insight into his brazen personality on MasterChef. I love anyone being transparent about their life, but I agree with some of the reviews, he is downright arrogant, but you have to be I guess with this business. Wish he had repaired the relationship with his father. Sad.
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