Gannascoli, Joseph R. 1959-
GANNASCOLI, Joseph R. 1959-
Born February 15, 1959, in New York, NY; married Diana Benincasa, June 11, 2005. Education: Attended St. John's University.
Actor, chef, restaurateur, and author. Actor in television programs, including The Sopranos, 1999—; "Everybody Loves Raimondo's" episode of Law & Order, 2004; and Dinner with the FoodFellas, 2006. Actor in films, including Goodfellas, Warner Bros., 1990; Money for Nothing, Hollywood Pictures, 1993; Ed Wood, Touchstone Pictures, 1994; Submission, 1995; Never Talk to Strangers, TriStar Pictures, 1995; Basquiat, Miramax Films, 1996; The Funeral, October Films, 1997; Blowfish, 1997; 976-WISH, David Bertman Productions, 1997; Blunt, 1998; On the Run, Arco Films, 1999; Mickey Blue Eyes, Castle Rock Entertainment, 1999; Two Family House, Filbert Steps Productions, 2000; Skell, 2000; The Kings of Brooklyn, 2004; Johnny Slade's Greatest Hits, Johnny Slade Productions, 2005; Beer League, Identity Films, 2006; King of Clubs; Mr. Fuji; The Nuisance; The Dark Place; Question Mark; Airbag; and Dog's Life. Actor in stage productions, including The Juicemen, Annie Get Your Gun, Some Men Need Help, Bleacher Bums, My Three Angels, Fools, Cellular Fascism, Telegram, and The Peacock Sings. Former owner, Soup As Art (restaurant), Brooklyn, NY; worked as a chef in restaurants in New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Boston, MA; and New Orleans, LA. Marketer of food products, including pasta sauce.
(With Allen C. Kupfer) A Meal to Die For: A Culinary Novel of Crime, Forge (New York, NY), 2006.
A Meal to Die For: A Culinary Novel of Crime is the first novel by Joseph R. Gannascoli, an actor who achieved fame playing gay gangster Vito Spatafore on the television series The Sopranos. The book, which includes numerous recipes, draws on another aspect of Gannascoli's background: Before becoming an actor, he was a chef. A self-taught cook, he left college, where he was a communications major, to work in restaurants in New York City and elsewhere, and for a time he owned the Soup As Art restaurant in Brooklyn. At the suggestion of a New York actor friend, he auditioned for a play, and he acted in a variety of stage and film projects before winning his breakthrough role on The Sopranos.
Like that television show, A Meal to Die For is set in the world of organized crime. Written with Allen C. Kupfer, it focuses on a gourmet dinner prepared by Mafia-backed restaurateur Benny Lacoco for a party of mobsters, one of whom is expected to be killed at the end of the evening in retaliation for providing police with evidence against a crime boss. Benny is not sure who is the target, and as he serves the meal he wonders if he could be a suspect. He also reminisces about his experience with the mob, doing such jobs as selling stolen foodstuffs to restaurants. Along the way, there are detailed descriptions of the dinner, plus recipes.
Some critics found the novel a pleasant diversion. A Kirkus Reviews contributor, for example, thought some aspects of Benny's saga "predictable," but allowed that "you could spend a worse couple of hours than watching to see if he gets his." A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that A Meal to Die For's "mix of haute cuisine and Mafiosi is a natural," and pronounced the book a "solid debut filled with mouth-watering recipes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2005, review of A Meal to Die For: A Culinary Novel of Crime, p. 1204.
Publishers Weekly, November 21, 2005, review of A Meal to Die For, p. 31.
Joseph R. Gannascoli Home Page,http://www.josephrgannascoli.com (June 12, 2006).
World Entertainment News Network,http://www.wenn.com/ (January 2, 2006), "The Sopranos Star Slims Down."