Jody Williams and Rita Sodi Bounce Back

New York magazine|May 25 - June 07, 2020

Jody Williams and Rita Sodi Bounce Back
The Via Carota partners discuss the view from their window.
ROBIN RAISFELD AND ROB PATRONITE

BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM, chefs Jody Williams and Rita Sodi own three insanely popular West Village restaurants (Buvette, I Sodi, Via Carota) plus an aperitivo bar (Bar Pisellino), and were in the midst of construction on another project when the coronavirus suspended ordinary life. We talked to them in early May by phone in their West Village apartment, where they’ve been sheltering in place and preparing to reopen for pickup and delivery.

How are you?

RITA SODI: Up and down, up and down. Our days are going by fast.

JODY WILLIAMS: We haven’t left the house in 54 days. We haven’t left the house since the 16th of March. I haven’t wanted to go outside, not because I’m afraid; I haven’t wanted to go outside because I don’t want to see my restaurants shuttered. We used to dream of being home for three months. I mean, Can’t I just stay home for one day? Rita says these two things: dolce far niente (literally “sweet doing nothing”). What’s the plan? No plan. That’s great. Sweet nothing. The other thing that she said the fiRSt day was chi si ferma è perduto: “If you stop, you’re lost.” We’re pushing through everything we ever started and dreamt little by little. It might be the end of us, or we may reap the benefit of it. I can’t tell from here. But we believe in what we’re doing, and we love it. We’re trying to figure it out: what’s worthwhile, what’s safe, what’s the future. Hopefully, we’ll all work together: Our landlords will work with us, and our people will work with us and our vendoRS.

That sounds optimistic.

JW: Well, I can talk to you today. I probably couldn’t talk to you two or three weeks ago, or even mention employees or any of the restaurants, without choking up.

How do you pass the time?

JW: We watch NY1, which is like our best friend now. Our NY1 crew, our New York mayor, our New York governor, and our cats—we’re all together. Right, Rita?

A lot of people left the city at the beginning of the pandemic. Why didn’t you?

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May 25 - June 07, 2020