'America's Next Great Restaurant' Recap: The Mobster Takes Out Meltworks

Maressa Brown

joey saucy ballsThe America's Next Great Restaurant competition has really started to get FIERCE. Or so said Bobby Flay. There are only four weeks left, and last night's non-food challenge was for the restaurateurs to design a uniform and then take a promotional photo wearing it. 

As previewed last week, Joe (Saucy Balls) went wild with a Brooklyn gangster theme. So. Bad! Greg and Krystal (Grill'Billies) actually joked that Joey should throw meatballs up in the air and shoot them during his photo shoot. "Hey, if it helps get him out of this competition, then ..." Ouch!! Not pulling any punches, Grill'Billies!

Then, during his photo shoot, he did his best De Niro impression ("You talkin' to me?"). Sigh. At least he passed up using the gangster gun prop at the last minute. Why is this guy still in the competition again?

But back to the food. The contestants had to make whatever Bobby, Curtis, Lorena, and Steve chose for them to make off of their existing menu. In some cases, it was a twist on what they already had on the menu, or the investors asked for something totally new (like dipping sauces for Meltworks grilled cheeses that Bobby has already requested twice from Eric). The restaurateurs would then serve those dishes while wearing their new uniforms and presenting their promo photo to ... a crowd of hungry eaters. (Yep. Again.)

Grill'Billies seemed like they were going to bite the dust during this challenge, after they were told to do their Cherry Cola Pulled Pork sandwich. Curtis and Bobby keep telling them that pulled pork isn't a fast dish, nor a grilled one. But as it turned out, Steve and Curtis actually loved it and lauded the dish's flavor. I guess it earned its spot in their hearts and on Krystal and Greg's menu.

Then, we had our weekly battle of Steve vs. Curtis. Steve was trying yet AGAIN to turn Sudhir's Spice Coast Indian food into handheld, "to-go," claiming it would make it more accessible to the masses. Curtis disagreed AGAIN, saying, "He's thinking about the Chipotle model ... but some of these breads are really flaky and delicate and just not designed to be a tortilla. And it can turn out that you bastardize it so much that it doesn't taste good anymore. So I think we have to be really careful." They left it up to Sudhir, and I hope he continues to listen to Curtis. Sure, I love me some Chipotle, but Curtis knows what he's talking about. Indian food shouldn't be served a la burrito style.

Turned out Grill'Billies actually won this week's eating fest, and Joey, Eric, and Sandy got pulled into the investors' suite for a talk.

Everyone was unhappy with Joey's restaurant photo (taken with a huge loaf of bread and no meatballs??), restaurant name, and overall Brooklyn gangster shtick that seemed to be making a mockery of his business. He begged and pleaded (just like he always does) to have one more chance and change his restaurant's name. "What are you going to change it to?" the investors asked him.

"I dunno, I was thinkin' ya know, somethin' like ... Joey Meatballs!"

Curtis, in his HOT Aussie accent, deadpanned: "I don't like the name Joey Meatballs." CLASSIC!

Then, Eric also got called in and acted like a stubborn little kid, basically telling the investors that his concept was more popular before they gave him any input.

Finally, Sandy was brought in and told to fire her chef. The investors asked her if she thought she was tough enough to do that, and she responded by noting that she once fired her girlfriend when she owned a bar. She can do it, but I feel bad for her.

But the investors' decision ended up being a real twist. Once they realized he wasn't open to changing or growing his concept, the investors sent Eric (Meltworks) home to his pregnant wife. I'm actually not all that surprised, because how can they invest in someone who isn't willing to take their advice? Eric said anything less than winning was a failure. All I can say is ... if he continues to see everything so black and white, I'm not sure he'll ever see his dream of a panini grilled cheese restaurant ever come true.

Were you surprised to see Eric get voted off?


Image via NBC

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