First-time author Bourdain presents a savory portion of gangster tartare spiced with salty mobspeak, coked-up chefs, wild entrepreneurs and foul-mouthed feds, served up in the colorful ambience of Manhattan's Little Italy. The FBI is using a former dentist to open and run a restaurant in a sting operation designed to catch 280-pound loan shark ``Sally Wig'' Patera-a crazed mafioso assigned to do the Don's dirty work. The deluded dentist thinks he really runs the Dreadnaught Grill and blows FBI cash on dumb marketing schemes instead of paying Sally's dues and vig. Meanwhile, Sally's nephew, Tommy Pagano, sous chef at the Dreadnaught, who loathes both his uncle and mob life, still feels loyal to the Family and so gives Sally after-hours use of the kitchen to ``talk some business.'' But Tommy isn't happy when Sally and Skinny di Milito-who strips naked before his hits to cut down on blood-spatter cleanup-kill a fellow mobster and cut up the body with the chef's knife. Though the FBI pressures Tommy hard to sell out his uncle, he stays loyal, at least until the restaurant, the chef and his cooking career are threatened by Sally and Skinny, pushing him into unexpected action. The cast of this dark-humored, street-smart novel romps through Greenwich Village and Little Italy on a testosterone high in a perfect sendup of macho mobsters and feebs alike, while the kitchen antics reveal a real love for-and knowledge of-cooking, including a mouth-watering recipe for Portuguese Seafood Chowder, complete with squid, lobster, swordfish and cherrystone clams. Major ad/promo. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995 Release date: 06/01/1995 Genre: Fiction
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