Michael Sparaga’s upcoming documentary “The Missing Ingredient: What Is The Recipe For Success?” is an insightful exploration into New York City restaurant culture and what exactly it takes to become an institution in such a cut-throat environment. In order to get to the bottom of this inquiry, Sparanga focuses on two restaurants. The first is Gino’s, an Upper East Side fixture that’s been around for over half a century. It has a fiercely loyal clientele and has hosted a number of remarkable regulars over the years, including Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren, and John Lennon. Its iconic zebra wallpaper inspired Woody Allen and Wes Anderson to feature it in their films “Mighty Aphrodite” and “The Royal Tenenbaums.”
Charles Devigne, owner of Midtown eatery Pescatore, has struggled to survive in his ever-changing neighborhood. Determined to engineer his restaurant into a institution, Devigne wishes to replicate Gino’s success by renovating Pescatore with Gino’s design. Despite the objections from many New Yorkers, Devigne seeks to turn Pescatore into a landmark NYC restaurant. Will he succeed? Will people accept Pescatore? What does it take for something to go from a restaurant to something greater?
“The Missing Ingredient” had a sold-out world premiere at last year’s DOC NYC film festival, and now it will be released in Canada on July 15 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. It will then have a U.S. release in the fall.