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Food on Film: Big Night (1996)

Directed by Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott

Published 3 August 2015

Italian food – comforting, familiar, made to be shared and always a crowd-pleaser. But there was a time when risotto was seen as foreign and strange.

Big Night is a charming comedy/drama about two Italian immigrant brothers, chef Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and businessman Secondo (Stanley Tucci, also co-director), who open their dream restaurant, Paradise, in New Jersey. But business is slow. Primo’s menu is too authentic for local palates and the restaurant is struggling.

Secondo, the younger and more enterprising brother, hatches a plan to host an authentic Italian dinner for a select group of VIP guests. Together they showcase true Italian cuisine and generous hospitality in hopes that the famous Italian-American bandleader Louis Prima will attend, and draw much-needed publicity for the restaurant..


There’s lots to love about this film. We see two passionate brothers who are exact opposites – a traditionalist versus a forward thinker, an artist versus a businessman – and the classic rivalry that unfolds between them is a story everyone with siblings is familiar with. Yet the brothers come together to give Paradise one last shot, a night so important that it will determine the fate of their much-loved restaurant.

Deliciously funny with real heart, be sure to enjoy this filmic treat with a something Italian, and for Primo’s sake, please, something authentic, eh?

Food on Film: Episode 3

Big Night (1996) Directed by Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott.

Good for those who enjoy

A slice of Italian-American nostalgia with a side of extra carbs.

Scene to look out for

The labour of love preparing the Timpano dish from scratch, and the priceless risotto scene and the closing scene of the film is *chefs kiss*.

Also lookout for a young Marc Anthony, Minnie Driver and Isabella Rosellini in supporting roles.

We rate it

4.5 out of 5

Viewing Accompaniment

Pappardelle on Ragu Di Manzo for those who like to step it up a notch, make your own fresh pasta.

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