Pino Luongo, the owner of Centolire and author of Dirty Dishes, tells us hes flabbergasted that Top Chef runner-up Stefan Richter is publishing a book with the same title in May, and that hes going around comparing it to Kitchen Confidential. I grew up in a world where you tried to be original, says Luongo. I can put on the table thirty years in the business! What can he possibly have to offer? Luongo says hes giving Stefan the benefit of the doubt that he doesnt know about his memoir, which includes an introduction penned by Bourdain (his former chef), but he strongly suggests that Stefan retract the title, if only to save face. Unless his nature is to be always the secondsecond on Top Chef, second with the book.
In between calls to his lawyer, Luongo is working on other projects. Next week, hell relaunch the ground floor of Centolire as a 35-seat panini bar thatll be open from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Itll serve some of his favorite grilled cheeses from over the years (see the menu here) and will be casually decorated with knick knacks from his past restaurants. Not only that, but Luongo is seriously considering three locations (one on the Upper East Side, another on Park Avenue South, and the other in midtown) for a new 100-125 seat concept where pasta and entrees will be served on the same dish. We wouldnt be surprised if this was a ways off. Luongo tells us, I dont think landlords in Manhattan have gotten the message yet that they have to lower prices.