After investing considerable time and money into transforming Bellini into dona, co-owners Donatella Arpaia and Michael Psilakis lost their midtown lease and were forced to close after only nine months. Though it was a devastating loss, the two have seized the opportunity to reinvent the restaurant as a casual, Greek-inflected Italian with significantly pared-down prices. While they haven’t officially settled on the name – they’re toying with mia dona and casa dona – its new home will be 206 East 58th Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenues.
“I wanted to stay midtown. That’s my clientele,” Arpaia tells us. “The new location feels homey, like a rustic townhouse. It has a library, living room, and lounge.” While dona has shed its yellow & white color palette for earth tones, Arpaia has kept the zebra-striped carpet to decorate the floors in both the living room and library, and the porcelain plates will now hang from wood paneled walls. “We really wanted to something more informal and affordable this time around,” Arpaia states.
As Arpaia readies the front of the house, Psilakis focuses his energies on editing the menu. “I’ve never written so many dishes for a menu in my life,” Psilakis tells us. “Now it will just be a function of cooking in that space. I don’t know what it will be like to stand on the line in our new kitchen.”
Psilakis continues excitedly, “I’ve never had any influences because I’ve never worked in someone else’s kitchen, so everything I create really is my own. It gives me the freedom. I have no rules because I wasn’t classically trained. Dona will be Italian at its soul with hints of Greek and Spanish cooking. It’s going to be a menu that bridges the gap between all the restaurants I’ve done. It will definitely be lighter, seasonally-oriented fare; pastas, antipasti and family-style plates for two.”
Address: 206 East 58th Street, btwn. 2nd & 3rd Aves.
Until we eat again,
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