I have to say that I am not filled with sentimental feelings at the end of this series. Unlike “The Amazing Race” finale which brought tears and a genuine sense of loss, the finale of “The Restaurant” seems almost merciful.
It’s time everybody took time off and chilled – and I am not just talking about the temperature of the served food. Rocco needs to get over himself and stop being such a glutton for media attention that he can’t see what’s really wrong with his staff and the way he’s running things at “Rocco’s on 22nd Street.” Instead, he should send his mother and indentured servant off to Capri for a month of enforced R&R. A complete turnover of staff is called for, the menu needs revamping, and most of all, he should get rid of the stupid paper banana boats.
After all, Rocco DiSpirito is a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and continued training in Paris. He even has a degree from Boston University in, get this, “hospitality administration.” Is that where he learned how to slide so niftily into the banquette and stroke a random thigh or two?
But never mind all of that, this is our Finale. Let’s put on our party hats, crank up the music, and march right in through those doors to see what’s in store for us.
Tonight’s the night we’re gonna make it happen
Our scene opens as it usually does with sped up street scenes, slicing and dicing and sautéing in the kitchen, a montage of faces and then the restaurant is filling up through the magic of time lapse photography. But the show is still not beginning, we have to listen to Rocco’s interminable American Express commercial and then just when hope has flown out the window, we are treated to Rocco’s voiceover dispensing the following wisdom: Opening a restaurant is like marriage only in the reverse sequence. It begins with a divorce and ends in a honeymoon. This is an interesting perspective and doesn’t really make too much sense but I’m going to let it go for now, because the drama is building.
Party with Rocco at the Hamptons-Part One
Rocco has remembered his Hospitality Administration degree from BU just in time because he gathers his troops and invites them to join him on Sunday at a big beach bash in the Hamptons. He says this is a celebration of all that they have achieved in the last two weeks since opening the restaurant, and it’s time to enjoy the “good part” of their experience. He encourages them to stay positive and to look forward, not back. I don’t know about you, but I am staggering with the weight of this wisdom, it’s that heavy, dude.
There is speculation as to whether Rocco is now contrite after realizing that he’s been such a jerk, or whether it’s a good tax write off. My guess is that it’s just another excuse to show ice chests full of the lousiest beer ever produced, Coors Light.
There’s a new girl in town
A cute new waitress has been hired. She was first spotted as a patron, and in some mysterious way that Rocco must have had his hand in, she gets the job as agent provocateur/server. Her credentials also have something to do with her derriere, but I am too much of a lady to elaborate on that “ass”pect.
The gossip machine is cranking up and our new girl, Lauren, is the subject under discussion. She is being dissected like a bug under a microscope and the opinions vary from highly complimentary to outright loathing, depending on whether you’re listening to Uzay or Heather (the other not-so-cute blonde). Lauren introduces herself to the rest of the staff and is warned to be careful as she goes into the kitchen. Whether it refers to the slippery floor or the randy cooks is not quite clear at this point. She gets fitted for her belt by a very enthusiastic Captain Uzay. She asks if the “Gumba” on her belt buckle signifies something derogatory. It’s very obvious that this chickie is not a New Yorker. When he still can’t get the belt to fit, Uzay gallantly tells her to take off her pants. What a kidder. Meanwhile, the girls are in a huddle and berate Lauren for wearing high heels because nobody in their right minds would wait tables with high heels on. Yeah, that might be true, but those high heels have certainly cast a spell over all the males in the establishment, so the girl is doing something right.
Heather is the biggest detractor and ringleader of the “Hate Lauren” club. They are told to stop ragging on Lauren and get to work. Now the guys are asking each other if Uzay is “smelling himself a little bit?” What kind of jargon is that? In any case, their meanness continues as they see Uzay seated a la Rocco at a table full of women and they speculate that he needs a breath mint or two.
Pete and repeat
Things in the kitchen are starting to hum before they go into a full roar. Tony tells Perry in no uncertain terms that he is to go back on the grill and he’d better make it work or it’s “Bye bye.” Chris comes up with these words of encouragement, “Hope you don’t screw up again like last time.” Perry is determined and focused and I just feel he’s going to be great tonight.
Tragically, we have another major slip and slide on that slick kitchen floor. The observation is made that no one cares because until Rocco himself falls down, it just doesn’t matter. Almost as soon as these words are uttered, or due to tricky editing, mats are laid down on the floor to prevent slippage and/or workmen’s comp claims. Of course, Pete, in his usual complaining/whining mode remarks that “Five guys falling means nothing to Rocco, but when one girl falls…”
Pete is busy explaining about hand signals between the waiter/server and the busboy that signify “still or sparkling water,” “remove the bread,” “The table needs napkins” or “It needs clearing,” when he is summoned for a little chat with Rocco and Laurent. These two have decided that he needs taking down and they are about to teach him one of life’s little lessons that he didn’t learn in kindergarten. Leave it to Rocco to ask Pete in his diplomatic manner, “How do you think you’re going to look in a dishwasher’s uniform?” When Pete looks puzzled and dumbly repeats “dishwasher’s uniform?” Rocco quickly says that it was Laurent’s idea and not his. Rocco out slicks slick Willie. Laurent is silent as a Trappist Monk as Rocco further directs Pete to “Say hello to your new colleagues” who don’t speak any English. Laurent finally comes to life and tells the “new” dishwasher that this status has been conferred on him because he has not shown them “anything.” In other words, he’s been doing a lousy job and needs to be humiliated.
Strangely enough, Pete is in better spirits than I’ve ever seen him as he’s joking around with the guys downstairs, and even when he’s told to put on a jacket because they Board of Health would frown on his sweat dripping on the clean dishes, he manages to clown around and tells his co-workers that he is the self-declared Prime Minister of Plates.
Meanwhile…upstairs in the dining room
The place is buzzing, conversation is flowing. There is an entire table of Yankees that has the wait staff agog and our new waitress is taking drink orders from the guys. She is making herself useful and when she asks Heather if she can help her, she gets a nasty “NO!” Carrie tells her that Heather needs a lot of attention and considered herself the only hot blonde before Lauren got there.
A family with quite a few kids is seated and the standout obnoxious kid is 10-year old Frankie who immediately starts hitting on the waitress. He tells her that her hair is beautiful and she is adorable as his beaming Dad says that his son is “ten going on thirty-five.” I bet you’re also proud that he learned all of your cheesy pick up lines, aren't you, dad? While they are deliberating over their orders, Frankie wants to discuss the merits of ordering rabbit directly with Rocco. Now the waitress is relegated to the status of chopped liver, and he needs to confer with the chef because this is a life altering decision.
Rocco will be out in a minute, Frankie, hold your water. He’s busy right now mentoring Perry and actually sautéing a quick dish of fresh cherry tomatoes, pasta, mozzarella cubes with a finishing touch of sprinkled herbs on top – I am definitely hoping for fresh basil here. He is also telling us how in the world of restaurants, food is very sexual and therefore flirtation is a normal extension of this feast of the senses.
As if Frankie is out to prove Rocco’s hypothesis, he goes on with his schmaltzfest and tells the server that her eyes reflect the intensity of 1,000 burning suns. I am about to lose MY dinner. Knock it off, kid, you are not cute. Rocco finally gets to the table and now Frankie has a proposition – he will trade Samantha (I’m assuming that she’s his kid sister) for Natalie the server. Rocco agrees and Frankie says, “The deal is done” and “What’s your phone number?” Geez, Louise.
The Birthday Partiers and the Reluctant Proposal
A party of revelers arrives to celebrate their girl Angelique’s birthday. Their lucky server is Lonn. Either these women have had many drinks before their arrival, or they are 180 degrees removed from being shy. They start in on the reluctant Lonn but they won’t give up and brazenly warn him that if he thinks he is sweating now, just wait until later.
At a neighboring table the stage is set for a guy who is going to propose to his girl. This is the most contrived shtick yet. It is so obvious that the people involved have been coached, but like all amateurs who think acting is easy, they are terrible at it. The girl, Holly, excuses herself to go to the bathroom while her boyfriend admits that he has been feeling sick all day just thinking about proposing to her. Did you ever hear of listening to your “gut feelings, huh?” Holly returns and asks him why he’s acting so weird. He, in return asks her if she loves him more than she loves shrimp. She is just staring dumbfounded as he asks her if she “wants” him, and does she “love” him. She says not a word in response. This could go horribly wrong. Sure enough, he says he has something to tell her – he doesn’t like shrimp! Say what, fool?
The ladies at the other table are now alternating between turning up the heat on poor Lonn and ogling the couple. One lady offers to lick Lonn while another says how much in love the guy over at the next table looks.
At long last, the guy slides to the floor between table and banquette (could he think of a dumber place to wedge himself into? I don’t think so) and proceeds to propose. He commences with something dumb and romantic like, “Baby, I love you. Will you be my wife?” I am so sure that Holly is going to shoot this guy down judging by her performance up until now, but she suddenly springs to life with a hugeass grin and tells him that she loves him while the sistahs are coaching her by yelling “Hurry up and say yeah” and “Look at the ring first.” They are hilarious. While Holly stage whispers endearments like “Now I can get fat” and he says, “You’re stuck with me,” we hear shouts of “Work it” and YES, the ever popular, “You go, girl!”
Rocco makes his rounds and congratulates the newly engaged couple and says to Holly that this is the third proposal in the restaurant, but she has the best ring. Don’t let the other two see this show, please. Bantering continues between Holly and Rocco. He tells her that now they have to come back to Rocco’s to celebrate every important event in their lives and when she asks if this is going to be on the house, Rocco tastefully responds that they get “free meals only if you let the chef sleep with your wife.”
He’s just warming up as he moves over to the Birthday girls’ table and tells them to stop messing with Lonn, they are wasting their time because Lonn’s girlfriend is a 6’2” boy. More refined humor from ole Roc. The women tell Rocco that they’ve heard rumors about him that he’s really a “brutha down there.” Rocco is delighted because he’s never “done a black married woman before” and there are volunteers right there at the table. Everyone reading this, please feel free to roll your eyes right now. The ladies are lovin’ it or just too wasted to care and give him the ultimate critique, “Love him, love his food.”
Gideon suddenly appears and asks Carrie for a few minutes of her time. Fat Tony sidles over and tells him he’s got three birthdays to sing to and wants to enlist Gideon’s help. Gideon is not buying this. Instead, he ducks into the bathroom with Carrie and they spend a few intimate moments while guests wait outside the door to use the facility. We get a glimpse of the couple sharing a kiss and Gideon telling Carrie that he will see her after her shift. Meanwhile, Laurent is wondering where the hell she went.
Party with Rocco at the Hamptons-Part Two
It is a lovely Sunday morning, and although had Rocco promised that he would drive his staff himself, a big charter bus appears and everybody hops on board. Well, almost everybody. As the bus pulls away, we see Mr. Unlucky (Gideon) yelling at the bus to wait, but it’s too late. Maybe Gideon is lucky not to be on that bus, because just about the worst rap I have ever heard (50 Cent cover your ears) emanates from the mouth of Pete. The rest of them are getting well oiled on many cans of the Silver Bullet (see, I told ya) and don’t seem to care.
Now people are frolicking on the beach in East Hampton, and various activities are being pursued not the least of which is asking Lauren where her bathing suit is, while she admits she does not have her bottoms. Hmmm, what does that mean? Heather is spitting nails she’s so furious, jealous and hateful. She says she would like to drown the “new girl” while she declares, “I’m the hottest blonde, she’s-----no!” Kind of like the wicked witch in Snow White looking into the mirror, don’t you think?
A charming family scene with Laurent, his wife and two kids gives us momentary respite. He and his older son are flying a kite and it’s very sweet to see him this way.
Finally, just when I thought we would never see her again, Mama appears and blesses the minions. She looks like an aged prize fighter in her sweats. Competitions involving trays and drinks take place. There is a tug of war between the “Upstairs” and the “Downstairs” and when Downstairs wins, Heather declares, “We’re the pretty girls!” Oh ugh, give it up already!
The sun has set and night has fallen. There is a fire and platters of yummy lobster, clams and all the fixins are consumed while Rocco is urged to make a speech. With uncharacteristic modesty, Rocco says that he is here to sit back and reflect on the past couple of weeks and just take it all in. He thinks they’ve all been extraordinary.
Mama also speaks and tells them that they are all wonderful people, good workers and she loves them.
Uzay, in his cups, tells Rocco how much he is impressed with his culture and family and says tearfully that Rocco is like a big brother to him. Somebody else says that they’ve made history (how many Coors Lights does it take to exaggerate this much?) and he’s never felt this way in his life, he can’t wait to get to work on Monday. Buddy, you won’t feel this way when you wake up tomorrow, I assure you. You’ll be worshipping the porcelain god instead.
Heather is shown deleting all her messages from callers while saying that guys are such idiots and we thankfully get our last glimpse of this witch.
Rocco wraps it all up by saying that he likes his restaurant’s name with the added “on 22nd Street” and that he believes he may have achieved the impossible by opening the restaurant in such a short period of time. They lost a few people that he was happy to see leave (cut to shot of Caroline), and some that they were sad to lose (Topher). He ends the show by saying, “My challenge is to make Rocco’s the best it can be.” Amen to that.
And thus, my friends, ends my stint with “The Restaurant” recaps. I hope you have enjoyed them. If you did, then please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org