Here's a typical example of Caesar's nonsense. Not liking his grease-splattered cooks using the patrons' bathrooms and offending the customers' delicate sensibilities, Caesar insists that everyone use the tiny windowless bathroom next to the deep fryer in the kitchen. That miserable bathroom's so small it would give Harry Houdini panic attacks. Technically, the waiters are supposed to use this bathroom, but none of us ever do. Half the cooks don't either. I'm not surprised. Rizzo, Amici's headwaiter, lovingly refers to the kitchen's hot, cramped, porn-decorated bathroom as the "phone booth of sodomy." After eyeballing that miserable toilet, I'm beginning to understand why the kitchen crew is so obsessed with my sexual orientation.

Leaving Benny and his sexually conflicted comrades behind, I enter the trattoria's main dining room. It's only five o'clock on Saturday night, and the place is already filling up with customers. Influxes of bull-market nouveau riche transformed this formerly picturesque suburb into a gigantic outdoor shopping mall. Oozing with corporate-branded hipness, the town's countless rows of boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries ruthlessly compete with one another for the well-shod discretionary incomes of the yuppies prowling its streets. Situated in the heart of the town's retail district, Amici's sucks yuppies off the sidewalk like a black hole consuming dust from a dying star. Amici's has the three things any restaurant needs to survive—location, location, location.

"So you ready to rock and roll, newbie?" Rizzo, the headwaiter, asks me.

"Ready as I'll ever be, I guess."

"You're gonna be busting your ass tonight. We're down two waiters."

"You mean there are only four of us taking care of two hundred people?"

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Excerpted from Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica. Copyright 2008. Excerpted with permission from Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher.


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