Restaurant Man
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Restaurant Man

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  544 ratings  ·  116 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
N
I really enjoyed this. Bastianich's straight-shooter style was just right for telling this story of cultural self-discovery in a bottle of Barolo (or 60). If I were in the food industry, this would be a no-nonsense cheat-sheet. As a quasi-foodie, it was a gift, despite his "colorful" Queens vocabulary.
Carrie Ramlow
I read this book in 3 days, every morning and night, couldn't put it down, it's like roaming through Italy and New York with an expert guide on food, wine, and passion. I loved every page, he is witty, charming, and so passionate, a Really great read.
Jody Giardina
Worked up an appetite reading this book. We have eaten in 3 of his restaurants in NYC. He competed in Kona (Ironman World Championships) in 2011. I enjoyed learning about the restaurant world!
Robin Riopelle
I've been binging somewhat on books about food. I'm working on an exhibition about food, so fair enough. Between Lucky Peach consumption and delving into Harold McGee's excellent and authoritative On Food and Cooking, I've been sampling books about chefs and restaurants.

Now, I have been known to watch the occasional episode of MasterChef, the serialized public debasement of home cooks striving in a "reality" that bears no resemblance to ACTUAL home cooking (yeah, Gordon Ramsay, I'd like to see...more
Alexandra
I love Joe's writing, and this book is hilarious. The only downside for me is that I expected there to be at least a paragraph regarding MasterChef. Oh well. Next book, I guess. ;)
Renuka Soll
It tells the ins and outs of running a successful restaurant. Joe Bastianich is very knowledgeable. I just found that his crude language got in the way of really enjoying this book.
Kelly
This book was a smart, funny, profane, ego-driven romp into the life of a true 'restaurant man'. I loved every page to the very last line.
Rachel
Kind of cool and slightly terrifying to read as Alec ventures more and more into this world. Really interesting though!
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