The promise of an hour-long Food Net special documenting the opening of Molto Mario's Del Posto is, for obvious reasons, a highly intriguing proposition. The Derailment aside, with all the media attention Batali and others like him get once their venues are open, eaters are rarely given a glimpse at the process of getting them there.
The producers of Mario, FULL BOIL are banking on this and, as such, expect you'll endure what is ultimately a Mario Batali infomercial. By way of bait-and-switch, on what was to be a special on the opening of Del Posto, nearly equal time is given to Mario's other recent ventures: a new cookbook, a line of cookware, and a line of supermarket food products. None of it is entirely uninteresting--we witness, for example, a meeting at Otto at which Mario insists that his supermarket food makers reengineer a line of sausage to ensure that the taste of coriander is more consistent throughout. We also see Mario pulling up and riding away on his teal Vespa an absurd number of times, which by the end is a comical foot note to it all: Vespas are quintessentially Italian, like Mario. Do not forget it.
All is not lost though. Some of your Del Posto questions are answered.
Here is where you should start paying attention. Why the construction delays? Early on it was discovered that the Hudson river leaked into the Del Posto basement. How could Mario's four-star effort be received with such middling reviews? His hectic schedule kept him out of the kitchen during the crucial weeks of prep leading up to the opening. Unfortunately, whether edited out during legal vetting or avoided from the start, we see and hear nothing about Mario's landlord, Somerset Partners.
Interestingly, despite much of the show being conspicuously orchestrated, there are a few choice moments of candor. Mario cannot hide the fact that Del Posto will be a disapointment should it get fewer than four Bruni stars. In his first person voice over, the Iron Chef says over and over again that he's creating a "world class dining experience" and that he must ready when Bruni decides to stop in. The words "first four-star Italian restaurant in NY" are uttered. Then there are some great moments in the kitchen, such as when executive chef Mark Ladner points out to Mario that the very same pasta going for $19 at Del Posto can be had at Otto for $9, to which Batali responds that Otto cost $1 million to build and Del Posto cost $10 million. Priceless, indeed.
Like we did, we recommend you DVR/Tivo the special and skim through. The nice thing about watching it from the box is that you can fast forward through the commercials.
· Mario, FULL BOIL [Food Net]
Mario, Full Boil airings this weekend: February 25, 2006 4:00 PM ET/PT, February 26, 2006 5:00 PM.