cover image Your Table Is Ready: Tales of a New York City Maître D’

Your Table Is Ready: Tales of a New York City Maître D’

Michael Cecchi-Azzolina. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-28198-2

“A well-run dining room is an art, a ballet,” according to this riveting debut from Cecchi-Azzolina, a veteran of New York City’s restaurant industry. The author, who grew up in 1960s Brooklyn, landed a postcollege job as a server at the theater district restaurant La Rousse, where writer Tennessee Williams drank to excess. La Rousse closed because of mismanagement, and Cecchi-Azzolina went on to work at the Water Club (where he served actor and comedian Jackie Gleason, who requested off-menu hash browns); acted as maître d’ at Brooklyn’s top-rated River Café (“The lure for me was both egoistic and monetary”); and performed stints at “failing restaurant” Bobo, reliable date spot Raoul’s, and the small but gorgeous Minetta Tavern. The narrative provides plenty of celebrity encounters, but also reveals how restaurants work. Bribery for a coveted table? Sometimes. The main reason for delayed seating? Diners who wouldn’t leave the table. Even when Cecchi-Azzolina thinks he’s had enough of the industry, he’s soon reminded of its ability to “give one another life.” Readers will gobble up the juicy gossip and decadent stories from a man who has seen it all. Agent: Robert Guinsler, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Dec.)