The golden mosaic tiles of the pizza oven of Donatella Arpaia’s namesake restaurant, Donatella, acts as a beacon calling to diners, “come inside, you look hungry. I’ll cook something for you” just as countless Neapolitan mothers have done for centuries. Once you’re off the busy streets of Chelsea, sit down at one of Donatella’s marble topped tables, drink a glass of the finest Italian Campanian wines, and snack on a plate of crostinis while you painstakingly decide which of the pizzas you plan to try. Keep in mind though; Donatella’s is not your typical New York City Neapolitan pizza-focused restaurant. Donatella Arpaia, who is a recurring guest judge on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef” series, a contributor to NBC’s “Today Show,” as well as being behind a number of successful restaurants, such as Kefi and Dona, feels that Donatella is her most personal endeavor to date. Her goal for Donatella was to capture the traditional foods she enjoyed while summering in Naples during her childhood and bring them to New York. By using authentic and fresh ingredients (We mean fresh as in picked up from customs that very morning.) Donatella celebrates not only the famed pizza of the region but the pastas, desserts, and wines as well.
When I first heard about someone opening a “gastropub,” I thought it was something out of Aribert Heim’s medical handbook. But, good news, it’s a new restaurant from Kefi owners Donatella Arpaia and the chef Michael Psilakis. Gus and Gabriel’s Gastropub, named after Psilakis’ father and a his 3-year old son respectively, intends to appeal to the hungry child within every adult.
Arpaia and Psilakis already own Kefi on the Upper West Side, which serves Greek food, the Italian spot Mia Dona on the East Side, and the “haute Greek” Anthos, in Midtown.
Times are definitely hard. As the country struggles with its most dire economic decline in decades, belts are being tightened and pockets pinched. One of the nation’s most indulgent hobbies, cuisine, has definitely been hit with the recession bat. The result? Darwin comes to mind…adapt or perish.
Since opening in July 2007, the braised short rib flautas were always one of the most popular entrees at Johnny Utah's, a mid-scale Tex Mex restaurant in New York's Rockefeller Center. But as the economy took a dive this fall, so did the flautas. Johnny Utah's owner Bobby Werhane says demand for dishes like flautas and fajitas plummeted, while orders for burgers, ribs and smoked Texas chili rose. "We ran out of hamburgers the other day and we have never had that happen," Mr. Werhane said.