I read Joe Bastianich’s Restaurant Man in a weekend flat, fueled mainly by his rather delicious wine, the 2010 Bastianich Adriatico Friulano. I’m not sure which I like better, the book or the wine: they’re both brash, amusing and well worth more than their sticker price. The wine has the slight advantage of not using the word “fuck” in every second line. On the other hand, as lovely a wash over the palate as the juice may be, it didn’t cause me to burst out in giggles on every other page. I guess it’s a draw.
The wine is the 2010 Bastianich Adriatico Fruilano ($18.95, #277467), from the winery the author established with his famous mother Lidia in Friuli, northeast of Trieste, in the 1990’s. Fruilano is the name of the grape that used to be called Tocai until the Hungarians got the EU unleash their language police on the Istrians and Alsatians. Anyway, the ‘Adriatico‘ wines are Bastianich’s entry-levels, there are two others made from indigenous Slovenian and Croation grapes, respectively. It came through the LCBO’s Vintages program last week is about as balanced and as textured a white wine as one is likely to find for under $20. It’s crisp with a lovely line of minerality and lemony acidity, but it’s also a little fruity (pears) with a just a touch of honeysuckle sweetness. In other words, it’s a perfect summer wine that’s ideal with simple pastas full of the season’s fresh ingredients.
The book is the most amusing account of the New York City high-end restaurant trade since Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. ‘Restaurant Man’ refers to both Bastianich and his late father, who instilled in him the restaurant man ethos of being “a cheap fuck”. Bastianich is candid about his success (most notably with Mario Batali) and his failures, and tells his story as a kind of guide to the would-be young restaurateur. Of course, it’s the most fun when he describes things going badly, but despite all the profanity and rather crude sexual allusions, it’s a love letter to his profession, which he both inherited and chose. Anyone who cares about restaurants, ought to give it a read.
All ratings are out of five apples.
Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the not-for-profit corporation which publishes it. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley