Here’s another dinner in a movie suggestion.
You may or may not have seen it. Big Night. This 1996 film met with some critical acclaim, including a nomination for the "Grand Jury Prize" at the Sundance Film Festival.
It’s set in the early 1950s and stars Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub, as two Italian brothers who are trying to make a go of it with a restaurant, The Paradise, in New Jersey. They should be able to make it. Nearby there’s a much inferior restaurant which is filled with customers.
But chef Primo (Shalhoub) is an artiste! Things must be perfect. He’s outraged when a customer orders risotto and then asks for a side of spaghetti. It is all that his brother Segundo (Tucci), the businessman of the pair, can do to keep him from tossing the customer in the street.
But the bank is breathing down their throat, threatening foreclosure, so when rival restauranteur promises to bring jazz singer Louis DiPrima to The Paradise, the brothers gamble everything, certain that the publicity will turn things around. They invite the press, friends, and acquaintances.
Primo prepares a fantastic feast. It’s centered around a timpano (a form of timballo, a very involved baked pasta dish).
The responses are, shall we say, foodgasmic!
“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God,” gushes one of the diners.
“Oh my God is right. Now you know. To eat good food, is to be close to God.”
Well, no matter how many foodgasms were had, Louis DiPima doesn’t show, and the hoped-for publicity fizzles, as does the chance for the brothers to save their restaurant.
If you haven’t seen this film, rent it now. But be prepared to be hungry. Even the final scene, the preparation of a simple omelet is bound to make you hungry.