Lately there has been a rush of films about or set around food. Dinner Rush, Bob Giraldi’s second feature film (the first was National Lampoon Goes to the Movies way back in 1981), is the latest, but not the last, to finally reach our shores. Sixty-something Giraldi is well known on the food scene in New York but has also produced and directed thousands of commercials and music videos, including Michael Jackson’s Beat It. He is a successful restaurateur, owner of 10 establishments and founder of StarChefs.com. Giraldi shot the film in Gigino’s Trattoria, one of his own restaurants in the TriBeCa region of New York.

This is restaurant as a slice of New York life, so we have all the usual elements -“ ambition, humour, jealousy, grief, revenge, murder and food. Dinner Rush -“ an unfortunate title chosen supposedly because the film represents one night’s dinner rush -“ truly captures restaurant hustle and bustle better than any food film I have seen. The menu and the trattoria itself become key characters.

Giraldi’s experience in video clips and commercials shows in the snappy quality of the editing and the beautiful cinematography. The script by debutante writers Rick Shaughnessy and Brian Kalata is witty and as sharp as a knife. Danny Aiello (Do The Right Thing) is excellent as the Godfather of the restaurant scene. He leads this outstanding ensemble piece which also stars the likes of Vivian Wu (The Last Emperor) as well as Sandra Bernhard playing a big-haired food critic and Summer Phoenix, yet another member of that acting clan. This is a film that you definitely should not see on an empty stomach.

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