Kitchen Nightmares Episode Recaps

Chiarella's

Chiarella's

Aired: 3/23/12

Chef Ramsay pays a visit to Chiarella's in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Owners Tommy and Dina DeFino opened the restaurant in 2007 after Dina's parents closed the original, very successful, establishment in Wildwood, New Jersey. The couple was happy when they first went in to business, but since then customers have started to dwindle, and Dina claims that Tommy has become a different person.

The owners say that the food is great, but the patrons and the staff seem to have a different opinion. To make matters worse, the employees say that when there's trouble in the kitchen, Tommy retreats to his workout room in the basement. They claim that he's "mentally breaking down."

When Chef Ramsay arrives, Tommy is downstairs lifting weights. Dina tells Chef Ramsay that there is no consistency at the restaurant, while Tommy stands by his claim that they serve great food. They feel that the only thing missing from the restaurant is customers.

But the truth starts to come out: Dina is only there a few days a week, and she disagrees with how Tommy runs the place in her absence. Chef Ramsay speaks with Tommy on his own, and Tommy confesses that he's embarrassed that he has let down his wife.

When Chef Ramsay samples the food, he discovers that the offerings are not as good as Tommy and Dina have been leading him to believe. He also learns that the menu is exactly the same as the old menu on the Jersey Shore. Tommy and Dina have never created their own identity in the new location.

Chef Ramsay is served raw steak, and he says that the veal is dreadful. But Tommy and his wife still stand by their menu. The chef gathers the cooking staff and tells them that their offerings are embarrassing. He says, "It's 2012, and we're selling food from 1970." He then tells Tommy and Dina that they are in denial about their cuisine.

The chef is curious to see how the locals react during that night's dinner service. When the doors open, Dina is clearly frustrated by the fact that Tommy believes his job in the restaurant is waiting tables, when he should be acting like the owner.

Chef Ramsay is shocked to learn that no one expedites service in the kitchen and that there is no real system in place. Despite this, food makes its way out to the diners, but it quickly becomes obvious that the customers are far from satisfied as dishes are sent back with a wide array of complaints.

When Dina asks Tommy to go back to the kitchen to talk to the cooks, he tells her that he is afraid. So instead she is left to deal with the staff and try to expedite the orders.

It becomes apparent that Tommy is not willing to stand up to his employees and give them direction. He retreats to his exercise room as Dina takes charge in the kitchen. After dinner service is complete, Chef Ramsay is left speechless by the apathy of the owners and staff.

The next morning, Chef Ramsay makes a home visit to see Dina and have a heart-to-heart conversation. When she denies again that there is a problem with her food, Chef Ramsay threatens to leave saying, "I'm not going to deal with someone that is that deluded."

Dina finally admits that she is scared to change and that it's hard for her to leave behind her memories of her childhood. But she agrees to try something new to save the restaurant.

Chef Ramsay then tells her that there is a bigger problem than the food. He feels Tommy's depression is sinking him and the business. The chef pleads with her to help Tommy pull himself out of his hole.

When her husband comes in, Dina expresses how much he means to her, and she begs him to come back to her and help save Chiarella's. Tommy finally admits that he feels like he has let his family down. Chef Ramsay emphatically implores, "You have an amazing wife and amazing kids, and you have not failed. You can't give up. You've got to bounce back."

Tommy returns to the restaurant with a more positive outlook, and Chef Ramsay is eager to get him more involved in the kitchen by giving him his first cooking lesson. Tommy learns a few skills and regains some confidence.

That night Chef Ramsay and his team transform Chiarella's into a slick, contemporary eatery. Tommy and Dina are thrilled that the place now fits into the neighborhood and has its own identity. The menu has also been updated and refined.

In addition, Chef Ramsay gives them one more surprise: a new chef consultant named Mike. When they taste Mike's food, they are happy to have him onboard.

That night at Chiarella's all eyes are on the reenergized Tommy. He takes charge, and dishes are going to the diners at a rapid pace. While most customers love the new menu, one table has not been served. Tommy realizes that he made a mistake on the ticket, but Chef Ramsay reminds him not to collapse over one little error.

Tommy takes a deep breath and gets back on track. Dina is ecstatic to see her husband step up and run the business. Tommy's passion for the restaurant has returned, and Chef Ramsay begs him to maintain his new attitude.

In the weeks that follow, the combination of a confidant Tommy and a supportive Dina have made it possible to maintain the high standards set by Chef Ramsay. And the once fractured couple has been reunited as a team.

View Full Recap »

Latest Full Episodes

1DAY

Episodes appear online 1 day after airdate. Learn more

Season/
Episode
Episode Title Description Air Date Expires
6/10 Revisited (43:42)  
RevisitedChef Ramsay catches up with some of his worst nightmares.
09/12/2014 05/01/2015
6/9 Bella Luna (43:43)  
Bella LunaChef Ramsay tries to wake up a mom-son pairing.
05/16/2014 05/01/2015
6/8 Zayna Flaming Grill, Pt. 2 (43:42)  
Zayna Flaming Grill, Pt. 2Chef Ramsay finds himself in the midst of a feuding family.
05/02/2014 05/01/2015
6/7 Zayna Flaming Grill, Pt. 1 (43:42)  
Zayna Flaming Grill, Pt. 1Chef Ramsay travels to Redondo Beach, CA to visit a Mediterranean restaurant owned and operated by an aunt-and-niece duo.
05/02/2014 05/01/2015
6/6 Mangia Mangia Pt. 2 (43:42)  
Mangia Mangia Pt. 2Chef Ramsay drives an owner to make drastic changes.
04/25/2014 05/01/2015

1 day

Episodes are available 1 day after airdate to subscribers of participating TV providers. Learn More

8 days

Episodes unlock 8 days after airdate.