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Bastianich's insider's view of the New York wine and restaurant world is either straightforward, in-your-face, or just plain crude, depending on the reader's tolerance for four-letter words and descriptions like "arrogant douche bag" and "pretentious tool" (and those are the guys he respects). Bastianich, son of cookbook author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich, is a self-described wine savant, who has opened a generous handful of successful New York eateries, often in partnership with Mario Batali (e.g., Babbo). His darkly humorous and gossipy memoir begins with his philosophy: appear to be generous but keep an eagle eye on the bottom line. This narrative has something to offend everybody, from Jesuit priests (fat) to Irish girls (easy) to professional waiters (bitter), Beverly Hills ("makes me want to barf"), and foodies ("spoiled kids"). VERDICT Whatever readers may think of Bastianich's writing style, he knows food, wine, and the restaurant business. The combative assessment of patrons, chefs, and critics is reminiscent of Anthony Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential; Medium Raw) and covers some of the same territory. Best for those considering work in the restaurant field or who want to sit on the stoop after hours and dish about the inner workings of the high-stakes wine and food industry in New York City. [See Prepub Alert, 11/21/12.]-Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley Sch. Lib., Fort Worth, TX (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The restaurateur/wine producer-and rising television (MasterChef) personality, behind Batali et al.-charts his personal and professional journey in this salty, rollicking memoir. Bastianich's father, Felice, owned an Italian restaurant in Queens where the young author learned the business alongside his mother and now-famous chef, Lidia. The family spent summers on the Italian-Yugoslav border, where local foods, wines, and the people behind them made a deep and lasting impression. Through lessons at home, at the family restaurant, at school, and on the streets, including time on Wall Street during the early 1990s, Bastianich sought his own identity. The strong pull of his heritage and its food and wine, however, soon transformed him into a "restaurant man" like his father. Early lessons came hard, even while his family history helped, and success did, too. His meeting with Mario Batali and the opening of their first joint project, along with his own winemaking and wine-selling ventures rewrote contemporary Italian cuisine. Though the author takes gutsy credit for innovations like the "everything bagel" and bar dining, his forthrightness about the business nitty-gritty and his own failures and mistakes are bonus takeaways along the utterly readable way. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.