Food and Travel Magazine|Spring/Summer 2020
As the child of first-generation Italian immigrants, Arpaia fondly remembers spending her summers in Italy. These early years provided her with the foundation for her expertise in southern Italian cuisine. After a very brief career as an attorney, she decided to follow her passion and opened her first restaurant Bellini at the age of 26, which celebrated the Italian cuisine of her youth.
Donatella furthered her expansion by teaming up with then unknown chef Michael Psilakis as they opened a string of highly acclaimed restaurants such as Dona, Anthos, and Kefiin Manhattan as well as Eos and Bistro E in Miami. In 2016, she debuted her first upscale quick-service pizza concept, Prova Pizzabar in Grand Central where she is Chef/Partner and then opened her second location in the Moxy NYC Times Square Hotel.
She recently spoke to Food & Travel.
What is it about food that inspires you?
“Everything. It is constantly changing and becoming more and more creative. Food nourishes and brings people together, it is healing and it is constantly evolving. Food is love.”
Can you list a few of your favorite meals to prepare?
“I love to prepare Meatballs because it reminds me of my childhood, specifically of my mother in her robe and slippers on Sunday morning. It is wholesome. To me, meatballs are all about family and it is truly one of the most beloved comfort foods.”
How did spending summers in Italy growing up influence your cooking?
“Wow, it influenced me so much. Italian cuisine is all about highlighting seasonal, local ingredients. I am in constant search of my sense memories and early days I spent in Italy. To this day, for my family, I still create and crave the simple dishes that my mom cooked for me as a child, like authentic Italian pasta.”
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