My Book

Coming Soon . . .

On the Rocks, a narrative nonfiction book written by Maria Costanzo Palmer and Ruthie Robbins, chronicles the journey of personality Joseph Costanzo, Jr. in his rise to success in the 1990’s as world renowned restaurateur and owner of The Primadonna Restaurant, radio host, columnist, and aspiring politician through his sharp fall ending in an investigation and a stint in federal prison in the early 2000’s. Voted one of America’s top restaurateurs by The International Restaurant and Hospitality Rating Bureau, Costanzo is arguably the greatest restaurateur of his generation. Through his marketing genius and innovation, he took a neighborhood restaurant in a tough steel town in McKees Rocks, PA and turned it into a nationally recognized eatery featured in Playboy Magazine and The New York Daily News.

Costanzo, a young postal worker with a daydream of opening a world-class Italian restaurant in a dying town becomes a classic example of blind ambition, as he is at once the driving force behind his success and the cause of his own downfall. As he begins to make his dream come true, The Primadonna Restaurant becomes the main setting of the story as well as the hottest spot in the area. With its delectable tastes, smells, camaraderie, behind-the-scenes antics, and celebrity appearances, the place begins to feel like home to readers, or at least a place they enjoy visiting through story. Much like the bar in the TV show Cheers, the restaurant is quite enough to carry not only the plot, but many subplots as well, enhanced by the descriptions of the food, drinks, and people within its walls. As the restaurant gains national attention and exceeds all expectations, it is the unlikely setting of The Primadonna—The Rocks—that makes Joe’s accomplishments astounding. Joe made it “chic” to venture to The Rocks for dinner.

Costanzo’s whatever-it-takes attitude, which had served him so well to this point, ended up being his Achilles heel as the setting switches to the Morgantown Federal Correction Institute where Joe spends five months in prison. We get an insider’s description of a setting about which many people are naturally curious. At the end of the book, when it seems that Joe has lost everything—the restaurant and the perfect home it enabled him to build—he reflects warmly on what he has gained from the experience. Come and walk beside this anything-but-average Joe as he takes you through his bumpy journey on the Rocks!

The manuscript for On the Rocks is completed, and we are actively seeking representation/sale. Fill in your information below to follow the book’s progress via email. You can also learn about The Primadonna Restaurant by visiting the Facebook site Fans of The Primadonna Restaurant, Previously Owned by Joseph Costanzo, Jr. @joecostanzoprimadonna

Recent Media Coverage About the Book:
Local Pittsburgh Magazine
Ya Jagoff! Podcast
‘Cuse Conversations (Syracuse Alumni) Podcast



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