In my dreams, I totally have a restaurant. It features loads of brick walls, chalkboards, and the perfect shade of turmeric-stained yellow. There are reading lamps at every table. People take books and leave them on the shelves in the back. It’s a place to read, or write, while you eat amazing food and enjoy craft beer.
Joe Bastianich is happy to burst that bubble. In Restaurant Man, he does for restaurant ownership what Anthony Bourdain has done for restaurant employment. Common sense and f-bombs abound. It’s great.
The narrative traces his foundation in the family business, to his current mega-successes in New York and Vegas. Along the way, there’s wine tutorials, anecdotes about famous people, and of course, said bubble bursting about what it really takes to run a restaurant.
Here’s the thing, though. One simply cannot read a book about the food business, written by an acclaimed wine guy, without a bottle of rosé and some Italian-style eats. I am not going to attempt a veal or duck dish like Joe’s partner (Mario Batali) or mother (Lidia Bastianich) might make. Besides, when you drink
the whole bottle a glass or two of wine, you want something hearty enough to offset the alcohol, while light enough to offset the extra calories. You can easily make this dish vegan by replacing the cheese with nutritional yeast.
2 cups cooked white beans, drained
2 Tb balsamic vinegar
1/4 c Parmesan or Grana Padano
2 shallots (1/2 a red onion is fine too)
2 cloves garlic, cut in half
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bunch basil (1 cup, packed)
1/2 c panko breadcrumbs
3 Tb flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 Tb olive oil
Give everything but the oil a good whoozh in a food processor. You want it fairly smooth. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-medium-high heat. Using your hands, shape the bean mixture into 4 large hockey pucks. Cook for 4-5 minutes each side. They’ll turn nice and brown. Splash with extra balsamic.
Serve with roasted tomatoes, crusty bread, and copious amounts of wine.