Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World
Tom Roston

Book cover image

Narrated By: Richard Ferrone

Duration: 13 hours and 6 minutes

What to expect

The remarkable story of a restaurant on top of the world—built by a legend, destroyed in tragedy—and an era in New York City it helped to frame

In the 1970s, New York City was plagued by crime, filth, and an ineffective government. The city was falling apart, and even the newly constructed World Trade Center threatened to be a fiasco. But in April 1976, a quarter-mile up on the 107th floor of the North Tower, a new restaurant called Windows on the World opened its doors—a glittering sign that New York wasn’t done just yet.

In The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World, journalist Tom Roston tells the complete history of this incredible restaurant, from its stunning $14-million opening to 9/11 and its tragic end. There are stories of the people behind it, such as Joe Baum, the celebrated restaurateur, who was said to be the only man who could outspend an unlimited budget; the well-tipped waiters; and the cavalcade of famous guests, as well as everyday people celebrating the key moments in their lives. Roston also charts the changes in American food, from baroque and theatrical to locally sourced and organic. Built on nearly 150 original interviews, The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World is the story of New York City’s restaurant culture and the quintessential American drive to succeed.


Biography: general, Cookery / food and drink, History of the Americas, Cookery / food and drink, Social and cultural history

Listen to a sample

“Roston’s book…doesn’t just chart the dazzling opening and tragic end of a fine-dining establishment. It also tells the star-studded, no holds barred story of modern dining, American grit, and what it takes to make it in the toughest town in the world.”

Town & Country magazine

“This isn’t just an account of the restaurant but also a history of fine dining over the past 150 years, rooted in the emergence of New York’s restaurant culture and following the ebb and flow of the city’s own tumultuous history over the second half of the twentieth century.”

Fortune magazine

“In the foreground are the many stories of the founders of the restaurant, the local politics, key workers in the restaurant, the amenities, and the menus…Stories of creation and destruction told in an informed and compassionate voice.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Roston has woven together a riveting history of New York City since its near collapse in the 1970s and intriguing stories about the restaurant business…The World Trade Center was cold and ugly from its inception, but its restaurant was magical.”

Paul Freedman, author of Ten Restaurants That Changed America

“With exhaustive research and crystalline writing, Tom Roston unspools the glamorous story of a culinary temple in the sky, of cooks and busboys proud to work amidst clouds, and of an era that today seems romantic and innocent.”