Some people consider “Big Night” the best movie ever made about the restaurant business. I consider it the best movie ever made about the relationship between Art and Commerce. This 1996 production concerns two Italian brothers who operate a restaurant on the Jersey Shore in the 1950s. Primo, the eldest (Tony Shalhoub), is an uncompromising artist and wants to cook the pure, unadulterated cuisine of his homeland. Secondo, the younger (Stanley Tucci), is a businessman, eager to assimilate and to serve his customers what they want — even if that means risotto with a side of spaghetti. In my career as a food writer I cannot count the number of times that a chef, trying to convey to me how difficult it is to stay true to his vision while remaining commercially viable, has given up and said, “Have you seen ‘Big Night'?”
On Sunday, April 1, Cinema Arts Centre will screen “Big Night” as part of a fundraising evening for its Digital Cinema Campaign. (If the theater doesn’t purchase new digital projection equipment, it will not be able to present first-run films, which, starting in 2013, will be released exclusively on digital hard drive.)
The evening will be hosted by “Big Night” co-star Isabella Rossellini, who will lead a discussion after the screening. Restaurateur Martin Butera (owner of Butera’s in Woodbury, Seaford, Sayville and Smithtown) will provide a menu of dishes featured in the movie, including the infamous scallop risotto and the showstopping pasta timpano. Wine will be supplied by Bottles and Cases of Huntington.
The festivities begin at 5 p.m. Tickets are $100 for members and $125 for nonmembers and can be purchased online (click here) by calling 800-838-3006, or at the Cinema Arts Centre Box Office, 423 Park Ave., Huntington.
Tickets are going fast.