The dinner rush has started in Gigino, a fashionable tratorria in the TriBeCa region of New York. Louis (Aiello) sits at his table, watching the profits roll in as some of New York's finest citizens sample the nouvelle cuisine of his son Udo (Ballerini). They may not be serving classic Italian dishes any more, but Edoardo's menu has restaurant critics falling over each other to gush with praise.
But this night's not like any other. First there's two Mafioso sitting upstairs who want to offer Louis a "partnership". Then there's the sarcastic art expert (Mark Margolis) and his table of hangers-on, and a city police detective and his wife. Downstairs in the kitchen, the sous-chef (Acevedo) has just lost a huge amount of money on a bad bet, and Udo is desperately trying to take over the restaurant.
This night, it seems, may be more hectic than most.
Capturing the hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant, director Bob Giraldi gives as much attention to the courses as the actors, and turns Gigino itself into character.
Every part of the restaurant becomes a mini location - from the kitchen, to the stairway, to the bar and Louis's private table - and you end up feeling you've known the place all your life. (It's no surprise to learn that Giraldi is also a New York restaurateur.)
With fantastic acting - Danny Aiello ("Leon", "Do the Right Thing") was just born to play this restaurant godfather role - and a brilliantly witty script, Giraldi doesn't have to do much except sit back and let these volatile and emotional characters collide with each other.
The result is one of the most enjoyable films of this year, a feelgood movie that avoids the sentimentality of the similarly themed restaurant comedy "Big Night". It's as insubstantial as a plate of linguini, but very, very tasty.