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Restaurant Man [Hardcover]

Joe Bastianich
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 2012

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.

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Restaurant Man by [Joe Bastianich is] a terrific trench level primer on the biz.”
(Anthony Bourdain)

“In Restaurant Man…Joe Bastianich has served up a very smart insider’s take on the New York City culinary scene as only and erudite and successful member of the secret society can do. The subtext of this love letter to the memory of his father is in itself a magnificent stand-alone dissertation. Joe pulls no punches and tells it exactly like it is in a way that punctuates the many oddities with brilliant black humor and scene-of-the-crime, matter-of-fact perspective. Restaurant Man will resonate with anyone who has come in contact with the world of food, entertainment, and wine or the cottage industry of scripted reality television it has spawned.”
(Mario Batali)

“[Restaurant Man is a] rambunctious memoir….Mr. Bastianich writes in a vigorous, swaggering style….a cross between Anthony Bourdain and Holden Caulfield.”

(Moira Hodgson, The Wall Street Journal)

“Enthralling…. Funny, often surprising, and if anything, illuminating.”

(The New York Observer)

“A fascinating, brutally candid look at the realities of operating your own eatery.”

“Compulsory reading for anyone who dreams of someday opening an eatery….The lessons [Joe] Bastianich has to offer are important and fundamental.”
(Russ Parsons,

“[Restaurant Man is] a wild ride that ends with a richer, happier, healthier man amazed at his survival, emotionally reconciled with his past and committed to nurturing his family and his culinary legacy.”
(Wine Spectator)

“[A] darkly humorous and gossipy memoir…[Joe Bastianich’s writing style] is reminiscent of Anthony Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential; Medium Raw) and covers some of the same territory.”
(Library Journal)

“Joe Bastianich tells it like it is….Restaurant Man is a brutally honest account of his rise from self-proclaimed Queens “punk” to a James Beard-winning restaurateur….[Restaurant Man] serves as an education—and a warning—to anyone who is thinking of entering the restaurant business.”
(The New York Daily News)

“[Restaurant Man] is a raw, throbbing nerve of a biography: if [Joe] Bastianich has any intellectual filters, he checks them at the door here, and Restaurant Man is the beter for it….This is the Some Girls of restaurant memoirs.”

“[Restaurant Man] is a combination of homage to food and wine, and tutelage on owning and managing restaurants….Restaurant Man serves as an education to anyone wanting to enter the restaurant business”

“[Restaurant Man is a] salty, rollicking memoir….[Joe Bastianich’s] forthrightness about the business nitty-gritty and his own failures and mistakes are bonus takeaways along the utterly readable way.”
(Publishers Weekly)

“[Joe Bastianich’s] easygoing voice and substantial knowledge of real Italian food (not the spaghetti-and-meatballs kind) will lure booklovers and food lovers alike…. Engrossing details of being the front man in a variety of thriving restaurants.”

“Joe Bastianich paints a refreshingly honest picture of what it takes for a restaurant to not just create an impeccable dining experience, but also turn a decent profit…. An entertaining read, a blend of heartfelt family history, practical advice, and insider stories.”


“One thing is for certain, after reading this book you look at your next restaurant visit in a different light.”

(Palm Beach Daily News)

“[Restaurant Man] is full of frank, personal revelations…but it’s also an eye-popping industry expose.”

“A fascinating look at the nuts and bolts of running successful restaurants…. Offering tantalizing and deeply personal behind the scenes [sic] information about pricing, menu development, wines, hiring and firing.”


“[Joe] Bastianich’s Restaurant Man rightfully sits alongside Anthony Bourdain’s seminal Kitchen Confidential, pulling readers into the complex inner workings of the restaurant industry…. It’s compulsively readable…. Unabashedly dishy.”


“An insight into the restaurant business that few offer in this way.... Read this book and you will never look at a restaurant the same way again. You will have a new and broader appreciation for what it takes to make the experience for you and what it costs to do it right…. Four stars.”

(The Opelika-Auburn News)

“A fantastic memoir…. Brutally honest, and one of the best memoirs of its kind since Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.

(The BookReport)

About the Author

Joe Bastianich opened his first restaurant, Becco, with his mother, Lidia, in 1993. He and partner Mario Batali have since established some of New York’s most celebrated restaurants, including Babbo, Del Posto, Lupa, Esca, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, and Eataly, as well as restaurants in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. He also appears as a judge on Fox TV’s Master Chef.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Every person who want to start a restaurant need to read this book.
it's a non issue.
Every details to run well a restaurant are in this book.

10/10 book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars new found respect April 3 2014
By Val
Format:Kindle Edition
I have a new found respect for Joe Bastianich and was taught the ultimate lesson in 'do not judge a book by its cover'. Being an avid fan of his mom, Lidia, I had very limited knowledge about her son, Joe, and then I saw him on "Master Chef". My first reaction was "what an arrogant #×@". Then I just finished reading his book!
I love it! I totally get it and really respect his honesty, integrity, 'realness', and generosity in sharing the real experience of what it meant, and what it now means, to be successful in the restaurant business.
His writing style is like having a one-one conversation with him. His candor and swearing may not be appreciated by some women but, as an italian-Canadian male, I loved it! My mission now is to experience as many of his restaurants as possible.
I can go on and on but have to say that I wish him and his great family continued success as they deserve it!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I had expected July 30 2013
By Sally
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
First of all, I disagreed with the use of so many 'f' words in the writing. It was not suitable for a serious reader. I could hardly think that Joe's operation style had made him a happy restaurant man. In his book, I did not see the positive humanity view or an universally sound reason to motivate himself and the people around him other than money. Sadly I saw that Joe's negative childhood experience with his family owned restaurant still drowning him from true happiness. However, I had to agree that Joe worked extremely hard and that he was tough.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it Sept. 6 2012
I enjoyed the book, it was entertaining and informative. Been to a few of the restaurants, think that's why I really enjoyed it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  134 reviews
59 of 67 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wow, this guy is obnoxious Aug. 15 2012
By Allynn T - Published on
Not often that I read a memoir and come away repelled by the author. The misogyny (one small example - see what kind of 'broad' a man is with at a restaurant to gauge how much to upsell him on wine), the preening and egotism, the rampant promotion of his restaurants and his wine, the self-satisfaction....what an arrogant, grasping, desperate-for-attention jerk this man is.

Upped my review to two stars from one because I did read the whole book, in appalled fascination about what self-congratulatory nonsense he'd come up with next. Shook my head at his description of Eataly as some sort of common man's piazza (at those prices? please), open-mouthed at his utter inability to admit failure (his bad restaurants were just ahead of their time - the ideas and food were always good, it was the customers that failed to comprehend the genius). And get comfortable for the long smug passages about his wine knowledge, wine brilliance, wine intelligence, infallible palate and memory for wine - you'll be reading for a while.

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just what you'd expect June 5 2012
By KGS - Published on
Everyone knows this guy is a jerk, so the book is no surprise. Sort of sad. Anyone this full of bluster and self-promotion must be terribly insecure.
64 of 80 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 10% readable; 90 % trash May 15 2012
By Peg L. - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found portions of the book on how restaurants work to be interesting.

However...and this is a big however....Bastianich's ego, snobbery and fondess for swearing made only about 10% of this book worth reading.

And after reading the following, I felt very sorry for his wife: "What's the worst that could happen? You drink a bottle of wine that you don't fall in love with? You can 'F-Bomb' a lot of broads before you buy a diamond ring." Very nice. That attitude must really give his wife the warm and fuzzies.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the worst book I have ever read. July 22 2012
By Cooosh - Published on
The writing is horrible. Joe presents himself as an arrogant, entitled, judgemental, immature and obnoxious human being. I presume, in his position, he must have publicists or media handlers and I cannot imagine why they would want to shape his public image in this negative way.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No Need To Prove You're Macho Sept. 23 2012
By MilfordDave - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great book, but the use of expletives to prove what a Macho Man he is is unnecessary. He seems to want to prove himself worthy of being in the company of his mother and Bruno. He is successful in his own right without adding to his image. The language only detracts from the worthiness of the book. In fact, it ruins it!!!
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