Interview by Anthony Scillia
Q: Who are some of your Italian culinary inspirations?
A: I'm certainly most influenced by the spirits of both Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich, but also Cesare Casella and other great Italian chefs such as Gualtiero Marchesi, Massimiliano Aljamo and my recent favorite Pino Cuttaia. I'm also heavily influenced by Italian art and design, Michelangelo & Leonardo Da Vinci for example, and Italian service ware houses such as Richard Ginori, Alessi or Ruffoni. I also have some less obvious admiration for amazing Italian tastemakers such as the mid-century designer Gio Ponti (who designed for Richard Ginori for many years), the early 20th century futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti or the great international restaurateurs, the Cipriani family. As well as the fashionistas Emilio Pucci and Mui Mui Prada. Just to name a few...
Q: What drew you to Italian cuisine in the first place?
A: It chose me! The contrast of smooth cutting edge style and design with the warmth and conviviality of family and home inspired simplicity.
Q: Is there one traditional dish of Italian cuisine that was most "inspiring" for you and why?
A: Roman cacio e pepe exemplifies all that I admire about Italian sensibilities. Smooth and silky, firm and creamy texture, salty and piquant. Very few ingredients come together in equal balance. Simple is sophisticated.
Q: What is your concept of authenticity in terms of Italian cuisine and how important is it for the marketing of your restaurant?
A: To me, the most important aspect of Italian authenticity is primarily using fresh food, grown close to home that is prepared simply. In restaurant marketing, in Manhattan today, the diner is very knowledgeable and has lots of choices of where to spend their money and time. Diners have expectations that are not always easily met. Offering a recognizable meal that is also new and exciting while simultaneously offering flexibility for people to customize their experience based on their individual needs, wants and desires seems to be the most challenging thing for us to manage right now.
85 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011