Monday, September 20, 2010

Sweet Home Donatella

I had the chance to sneak preview Donatella Arpaia's new place last Thursday and, even though it's a departure from my usual coverage of drinking and digital, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share my experience.

Donatella Arpaia's new restaurant, Donatella, proves that Southern comfort isn't just an American sentiment. Naples, the largest city in Southern Italy, serves as culinary inspiration for her new Chelsea pizzeria. Arpaia, who's family is from Naples, trained with master pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia (Naples' own Pizzeria La Noticia) to fulfill a decade-long dream.

Whether you're hanging with friends, getting cozy with a loved one or nursing a hangover, Donatella offers comfort in pizza form that's perfect for each occasion (yes, a even the hangover). What this pizzeria adds to the New York pizza scene is the infusion of passion, precision and warm welcomes. This warm welcome is multi-fold. One comes from the decor, one from the Southern Italian philosophy and the other emits from the true star of the show - the golden oven (pictured) encrusted with the name that made it all possible.

Certainly this Lady Gaga-eque oven embraces all the glitz ripe for the neighborhood, but there's more than meets the eye. Upon further inspection and conversation, I discovered this oven was built exclusively for Donatella by a Neapolitan family of oven makers and assembled with rock and sand from Mount Vesuvius. its five ton weight and rapid baking abilities proves that making pizzas like a girl is the hottest thing going.

But the hospitality doesn't end there. Around the corner (entrance on 19th Street) you'll find Dbar, Donatella's lascivious sister lounge complete with access to pizza and handcrafted cocktails. When I think of transitioning between these two establishments I'm reminded of the Day to Night Barbie circa 1985. Barbie started the day in her perky, yet professional skirt suit, but when night rolled around her pink heels emerged from her briefcase, the reversible skirt flipped around to chiffon and jacket was shed to make way for a sparkly evening of tales unknown. Barbie would be happy fulfilling her evenings and late nights between these two without ever having to fire up the 'Vette.

Dbar is open for business and Donatella officially opens its doors this Friday, September 24.

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