Its hero is Giovanni Venturi, the owner of a small, family-style trattoria in Rome. When a branch of the upscale Uriti restaurant chain opens up next door and threatens him with bankruptcy, his friend Amadeo suggests he tunnel from his basement to the Uriti basement kitchen, steal food from the dumbwaiter, and serve it in his place at reduced prices in order to stay competitive.
After three previews, the Broadway production, directed by Stanley Prager and choreographed by Carol Haney, opened on May 19, 1962 at the Broadhurst Theatre, where it ran for 76 performances. The cast included Cesare Siepi, Michele Lee, David Opatoshu, George S. Irving, Maria Karnilova, Lainie Kazan, Larry Fuller, and Baayork Lee.
The show received Tony Award nominations for Best Composer and Lyricist, Best Choreography, and Best Conductor and Musical Director.