In the Kitchen: Donatella Arpaia
By Fabiana Santana
Donatella Arpaia’s dreams were coming true when she opened her restaurant Mia Dona a couple of years ago, a restaurant that incorporated both her Italian heritage and her chef’s Greek background. The fourth in her growing empire, Donatella was well on her way to becoming restaurant royalty. She is a regular judge on Food Network cooking competitions and is a style icon for much of the New York society set. So it was only natural that Mia Dona shine.
The restaurant was a chic space that offered NYC residents the very best in Mediterranean food and was a great success, landing on magazine lists of where to eat that year. But after a year and half, Donatella wanted more and so she decided to shake things up a bit. She closed Mia Dona for a bit of a revamp and in turn, got the restaurant she truly always dreamed of.
“I was happy to make a change, but it was scary, too. It was certainly a challenge.”
Donatella’s chef, the acclaimed Michael Psilakis, decided to focus on their other places – Anthos and Kefi – and so instead of replacing him, she decided to develop the menu on her own rather than turn to another chef for their vision of what she should be serving. Instead, she realized that taking things too far away from the core of who she is was not the solution. In a city where restaurants open every day, a good concept is key, but how far do you have to find one?
“Sometimes the answer is staring you right in the face. And then you find that little bit of courage and you are able to face the challenge and do it.”
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