Dirty Dishes: A Restaurateur's Story of Passion, Pain, and Pasta

Overview

The ultimate insider’s story: a no-holds-barred memoir by the legendary restaurateur, from his boyhood in Tuscany to his rise, fall, and rebirth in the New York food world.

Everyone has an opinion about Pino Luongo. To Anthony Bourdain, he was the notorious Pino Noir, the shadowy kingpin of a restaurant empire. To Manhattanites, he was either the savior or the scourge of the city’s dining scene. To the many fans of his cookbooks, he was the herald of T uscan cuisine. In Dirty ...

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Dirty Dishes: A Restaurateur's Story of Passion, Pain, and Pasta

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Overview

The ultimate insider’s story: a no-holds-barred memoir by the legendary restaurateur, from his boyhood in Tuscany to his rise, fall, and rebirth in the New York food world.

Everyone has an opinion about Pino Luongo. To Anthony Bourdain, he was the notorious Pino Noir, the shadowy kingpin of a restaurant empire. To Manhattanites, he was either the savior or the scourge of the city’s dining scene. To the many fans of his cookbooks, he was the herald of T uscan cuisine. In Dirty Dishes, Luongo emerges to tell his side of the story. And what a story: After an idyllic (and well-fed) childhood in Tuscany, Luongo came to New York as an actor, but soon fell into, and then in love with, the restaurant business. Within ten years, he had risen from a position as a dishwasher to build a string of the hottest restaurants in the city. In the decade that followed, he reigned as one of the undisputed kings of New York nightlife, earning a reputation for brilliance, charm, and volatility. But after a flirtation with a corporate chain went sour, he left behind the empire he had built and returned to his first love: the kitchen.

Luongo is a natural raconteur, and his memoir is full of hilarious and jaw-dropping stories of the New Y ork restaurant world, taking in everyone from Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Onassis to Andy Warhol and Tim Zagat. Accompanying all this are ten of Luongo’s all-time favorite recipes. For fans of Kitchen Confidential and The Devil in the Kitchen, this book is not to be missed.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"You may not know the name Pino Luongo. Yet the Italian-born chef was synonymous with the high-powered New York dining scene of the '80s and '90s, his hot temper and even hotter restaurants providing endless grist for the city's gossip mill... Boldfaced names from the worlds of art, fashion and finance would follow Luongo... But beyond the stars... the most vividly etched character in the book is the grungy New York of the '80s, a place where nouvelle cuisine and crime rules. Luongo helps change that apocalyptic landscape, kick-starting not only the vogue for authentic, regional Italian cooking but the era of the emperor chef. " — New York Post
Publishers Weekly

In his meandering memoir, New York restaurateur Luongo traces his "American success story" from a hasty, draft-dodging flight from Italy to his current position as a chef at the Upper East Side's Centolire. His rise from busboy to chef at Il Cantinori and the star-studded Sapore di Mare remains far more interesting than his descent and "death sentence" with a failed corporate Tuscan restaurant chain. Friedman (Breaking Back, and co-writer of several cookbooks) makes brief appearances as the writer assisting Luongo with his bad boy cooking memoir-and Luongo is shaped into both an uncompromising, confrontational chef and a person with an affection for his mother and good food. If it weren't for his uncompromising love of Italian food throughout, Luongo's reminiscences might seem bitter. He has a tendency to drop too many names and fight other celebrities' sense of entitlement. The trendsetting chef helped popularize Tuscan cooking and tells an engaging story even when he orbits outside the intense clatter of the kitchen. The book might disappoint hardcore foodies if it were not for a few incisive remarks on restaurant design, pasta portioning, how to skewer a critic-and recipes. (Jan.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

World-renowned chef and restaurateur Luongo offers up his life's story here, beginning with his childhood in Tuscany and quickly moving along to his 1981 arrival in New York, where he stumbled into his first restaurant job as a busboy. In just two years he opened his own restaurant, Il Cantitori. Luongo creates a window where one can peer inside the restaurant business and see its dark underbelly and what it takes to succeed, as well as all the glamour and excitement. He states that cooking is his life, and his zeal and passion are evident throughout. The book also has an appendix of ten of Luongo's recipes, including Pasticcio Di Dante or Dante's Sweet Mess. Recommended for academic libraries with culinary arts degree programs and public libraries, especially where chef biographies have proven popular.
—Lisa A. Ennis

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596914421
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 12/23/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.42 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Pino Luongo is among the most successful and renowned restaurateurs in the world. He has started and maintained restaurants in New York, the Hamptons, and Chicago, including Le Madri, Coco Pazzo, Tuscan Square, Il Cantinore, and Centolire. He is also the author of several cookbooks.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Real look at the Restaurant World

    Having enjoyed many of Pino Luongo's restaurants -- Il Cantonori, Le Madri, Coco Pazzo, Tuscan Square, and Centolire -- it's a delight to meet the man behind the menus. The story is one of success and failure and more success. It seems particularly timely for New Yorkers -- that someone would start with nothing (Luongo immigrated to NY from Italy without so much as a word of English) build an empire (16 restaurants at one point!) and come to realize that the simple things are life's greatest rewards. Whether you love to cook, eat or simply read --- you will enjoy this story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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