“I’ve never done this before,” says Joe Germanotta, Lady Gaga’s 59-year-old father. He’s talking about writing and releasing a cookbook, and that changes on Tuesday (Nov. 22) as Germanotta releases Joanne Trattoria Cookbook: Classic Recipes and Scenes from an Italian-American Restaurant, shedding light on the inner workings of Joanne Trattoria, the Upper West Side restaurant he and his wife Cynthia opened in 2012.
“I had no idea what the process was,” Germanotta said of writing the cookbook. “I learned quite a bit. Now the work really starts! Now there’s a lot of promotion that needs to be done, just like for an album.”
Like Lady Gaga’s latest album, Joanne, Germanotta’s restaurant was named after his sister and Gaga’s aunt, who died of lupus when she was 17 years old. “My kids never met my sister,” says Germanotta. “When we were in the process of buying the restaurant, they came in, looked around and said, ‘Let’s do it, let’s call it Joanne.’”
Released one month before his cookbook, Gaga’s Joanne album carries a special resonance to her father, especially the title track. “The first time I heard it, I cried, and still talking about it, I still cry,” he says. “Joanne, the restaurant, is still the same as it was. The front door still squeaks the exact same way. We live two and a half blocks away. I’ve had business meetings there, with Live Nation and the label and Sony/ATV, we have meetings for the Born This Way foundation there. It’s become more than just a restaurant.”
Ahead of Thanksgiving, Germanotta paired three of his daughter’s albums with signature dishes from his famous Upper West Side eatery, for maximal sensory overload.
The Fame: Chicken Scarpariello
Germanotta recommends listening to Gaga’s 2008 debut while enjoying dark meat chicken and pepperoncini peppers. “It’s earthy, spicy and unique — it’s an Italian classic,” he says.
Born This Way: Nutellasagna
For her 2011 opus, Germanotta would skip to dessert: the Nutellasagna, which layers puff pastry, Nutella and creamy mascarpone cheese. “It’s indulgent,” he says. “If I had to tie it to one of the new songs, I’d say ‘Million Reasons,’ because they’re so highly addictive, you need a million reasons not to eat it!”
Joanne: Pork Ragù
Gaga’s latest album would be the perfect soundtrack to a Sunday dinner. “That album brings out the passion for food and family,” says Germanotta. “The song ‘John Wayne’ is about how all men are kind of alike, and the Pork Ragu is something that they would eat on the trail, either with pasta or made into a sandwich. The family meal component is very important to us — when we’re together, we all sit down at the table. You didn’t eat in front of the TV. Sundays were for the big Italian meals, and I would cook for pretty much all of them.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the Nov. 26 issue of Billboard.
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