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

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

Pino Luongo, Andrew Friedman, , foreword by Anthony Bourdain. . Bloomsbury, $25 (255pp) ISBN 978-1-59691-442-1

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.)