Schirripa may be best known for playing a goomba on TV (he's Bobby Bacala, Uncle Junior's dimwitted lackey, on The Sopranos), but he has some first-hand experience to draw from as well. Schirripa grew up in the heavily Italian Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, where his bookie father was arrested 32 times; he himself worked at Vegas casinos for years before stumbling into acting. But too much of this tongue-in-cheek how-to ignores Schirripa's potentially compelling life story in favor of shopworn riffs on Sinatra and prosciutto. (""Goomba culture is pretty simple stuff. All those cliches? They're true,"" Schirripa writes-which might make one wonder why a guide such as his is necessary.) Even with almost 30 pages devoted to recipes, the book feels padded, and Schirripa and Fleming are surprisingly stingy with Sopranos anecdotes. They strive for lowbrow authenticity-the word ""ain't"" shows up eight times in the first three pages, and one sentence begins, ""Just like I been saying""-but end up sounding sloppy. Sopranos junkies may enjoy the occasional behind-the-scenes tidbit, and there are a few genuinely amusing moments. But the self-conscious style and overreliance on lists (""You might be a goomba if..."" and the like) just might consign the book to ""fuhgeddaboudit"" status, despite its obvious marketing potential in Sopranos-themed displays.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2002 Release date: 10/01/2002 Genre: Nonfiction