Last night, restaurant legend Sirio Maccioni screened the new documentary about his restaurant Le Cirque, his family, and his life story (a veritable American dream) "A Table in Heaven," followed by a celebration at the restaurant. The Zagats were there, as was Drew Nieporent and other restaurant luminaries, Fran Drescher, new Le Cirque chef Craig Hopson, a bevy of ladies in fur coats, and Maccionis as far as the eye could see. But more importantly: the film.
If you're wondering, as we were, just how compelling an hour and a quarter long documentary about a restaurant can be, rest easy: the film is moving, entertaining, and an excellent character study on an imposing man and his family. Though the real story here is the lively and somewhat bellicose Maccioni family, the film also takes a look at the inner workings of the restaurant world in New York and just how much that world has changed since 1974.
The documentary begins just before Maccioni closed his Le Cirque 2000 at the Palace and ends after the new Le Cirque at the Bloomberg building received its three star re-review last February. In between we witness snippets of his life as the maitre'd of the Colony (and before as a poor waiter on a cruise ship) and news reels of Le Cirque back in the 70's and 80's when it was the destination spot for presidents, movie stars, and socialites. We get interviews with all three of Maccioni's sons Mario, Marco, and Mauro and a look into how exactly the new restaurant came to be. We also witness the lead up to and the aftermath of the crushing Bruni two star review in '06.
The film is a family portrait, focused on Sirio and also the two younger sons Marco and Mauro as they try to make their mark on the restaurant they will soon inherit and try to convince the stubborn patriarch that he has to change with the times. But it's also a reminder of just how important the restaurant is—Maccioni asks Henry Kissinger for advice on where to move Le Cirque, the opening in the Bloomberg building attracts every name in New York from the mayor to Woody Allen and Donald Trump—and how hard it can be to update after three decades.
The documentary airs on HBO on December 29.
· Adventures in Hypotheticals: A Le Cirque Re-Review [~E~]
· Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven [HBO]