Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, and her son Joe “B” opened a restaurant called Del Posto in November of 2005. Mark Ladner was the Executive Chef (not Batali) and the the vision of the principle owners Batali, Lidia, and Joe Bastianich was to open a Temple to Italian Cooking in New York to match any of the highest caliber restaurants Europe. I ate at the restaurant with my cousins Alexandra and Joe Macari and few friends. We were a party of six people who all had a great knowledge of Ialian Food and Wine, as well as all great cuisines of the World. My cousin Joe, who is a most generous person was picking up the tab, and spending a good deal of money on this meal was no obstacle at all. We ordered many dishes, and 13 years later recalling that meal, I can not remember one dish except maybe a Sweetbreads appetizer (antipasto). What I do remember very clearly was that my cousin Alexandra and I as well as our friend Gino (former Chef / Siracusa NYC) were very disappointed in the meal and didn’t think it was very good, and it certainly didn’t even come close to deserving the 3 Stars Review it was awarded from the New York Time. I hate to have to say this, as Mark Ladner was the Executive Chef and a wonderful person who I later became good friends with after I started working there a couple months later. And speaking of later, I’m happy to say that, eventually the food became much better. Anyway, this is not what I wanted to write about exactly, but starting this story off, I wanted to give a little base info on this restuarant I would come to work at, and the crush I would have on a girl named Edie. Edie had a crush on me as well, but you’ll find out later, that though I was crazy about this girl, my reasons for never acting on my feelings.
I had been working as the Wine Director at Barbetta Ristorante on West 46th Street in New York for almost 5 years and was feeling that it was time to move on to another venture. For those who may not know, Barbetta was once one of the premiere Italian Restaurants, or restaurant of any type in New York and had seen many a famed celebrity dine there in its day, and even still when I was working there. Well, all of the restaurants that I worked at over the years had well heeled clients and were studded with celebrity Rock Stars, Movie Stars and other sorts of luminaries as well, including my own former restaurant Bar Cichetti, and the restaurant I worked at prior to Barbetta in the form of Da Silvano which was at the time the # 1 Hottest Celebrity Spot in town, with regulars such as; Richard Gere, Calvin Klein, Gwyneth Paltrhow, Uma Thurman, Donald Trump, Graydon Carter, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito and so many more. Working as a Maitre’d / mangaer at Da Silvano was quite invigorating, but when the chance came along to run the great wine program (America’s Greatest Italian Wine List) at Barbetta, I took it. I had a fun rewarding time working at Barbetta with some very nice people, including: Elvis, Mario Bicca, Florin, Louey Luna, Vinny, Nelson, and The Maestro “Albert The Piano Player.” Yes we had a nice clientel, some of my favorites being: Governor Mario Cuomo, Denzel Washington, Billy Joel, Federico Casteluccio, Tony Cipolla, Giancarlo Giannini, David Brown and wife Helen Gurley Brown (Cosmopolitan Magazine), Rupert Holmes, Giancarlo Giannini and others.
Yes, Barbetta was filled with celebrities and quite a nice clients, but one of my main thrills was running the greatest Italian Wine List in The United States of America, that had in its cellar multi year verticals of all the great Barolo Crus, Barbaresco, Brunello, Amarone, Taurasi, and Super Tuscans like: Sassicaia, Solaia, Massetto, Ornellaia and many other great wines including numerous old vintages of Champagne, and all the greatest most important wines of California, like: Opus One, Insignia, Grgich Hills and more.
I could go on-and-on about Barbetta and all the great wine I drank there, but it’s time to get back to my Del Posto days and my crush on a girl named Edie, for she is the reason that I felt compelled to write this.
I had decided to leave Barbetta, when I ran into Joe Bastianich sitting outside a Burger Joint one day (can’t remember the name). We said hello and chit-chatted and Joe asked me what I was doing. I told him that I was about to leave Barbetta. Joe asked me if I wanted to come and work at Del Posto. I said yes, and he told me to come by to see him there the next day and so I did. I sat down to chat and interview with Joe and the General Manager Alfredo R.. We were having a nice conversation, as I was telling them of my history and passions in the business, including creating America’s 1st ever Bacaro, which is a Venetian Wine Bar / restaurant. With all this info I was laying out, Joe said to Alfredo “He does what we do,” which was quite a nice complement considering the reputation of the Batali / Bastiancih Brand.
We finished chatting and shook hands, and Joe said we’ll give you a call. So I left, walked across the street, and started to make my way home. I didn’t get one block down 10th Avenue when my Cel Phone rang. I answered it, and it was Joe. He asked me if “I wanted to come in (to DelPosto) and pull corks?” Sure! Looks like I’d been hired. Dam that was quick. Joe must have told Alfredo, this guy is good, let’s hire him, and it was as quick as that. When I went back to Del Posto later on that night, Joe welcomed me and said he really didn’t know what he wanted me to do, but he wanted me working at Del Posto (as a Manager) and that they’d figure out exactly what, later on.
I was working primarily as a Floor Manager/ Sommelier for a couple weeks when Joe came to me one day and said he wanted to have a meeting with me about something. So I sat down with Joe Bastianich and GM Alfredo R and we chatted. Joe told me that he wanted to turn a small room that was part of the bar area which was quite large into an Enoteca, and he wanted me to run it and asked me if I was interested. Was I? “Hell Yeah.” Joe told me that, as it was quite expensive to eat at Del Posto, many people could probably not afford to eat there, and Joe wanted to change this by turning this small room into a more affordable Enoteca with a separate lower-priced menu, but of course with the same great Italian Wines of the Del Posto Cellar. So we started the Enoteca at Del Posto, and I was the one runnning it, and whenever celebrity friends of Mario’s would come in, Joe or Mario would put them in the Enoteca at Del Posto for me to take care of them. People like Jaoqin Phoenix, Lawrence Fishburn, Sammy Hagar, and Michael Stipes. Yes I took care of all of Mario’s celebrity friends, but I also had some of my own. I had become friendly with the great Italian-American writer Mick Pilleggi and his wife Nora Ephron, as well as Matt Dillon, Jill Henessey and others.
I worked with some nice people at Del Posto, my favorites being Chef Mark Ladner who I became good friends with when we’d wind down the end of a long night on numerous occasions with Sous Chefs Zack and Alex, as well as Jeff and Martin. Martin Gobe was my other good pal at the place, and we all worked quite hard, but naturally joked around and had a bit of fun to boot. The nights Martin and I had our managers meal together, we always had a nice time chatting over our meal, talking about this and that and having a few laughs to releive some of the stress that our jobs entailed, especcially the huge task of closing that gigantic restaurant, seccuring8 doors (locking), closing out 2 cash registers, running reprots, and depositting money into the safe. As well as making sure all the guest were happy and watching over a staff of more than 30 waiters, captains, and busboys.
Martin was the Maitre’d at the podeum doing the reservations and handling the book. At night, Martin had two Hostesses working with him, who would help greet the customers and bring them to their tables that Martin assigned for them. Among the hostesses were a Korean girl Rachel who was very nice, there was Melanie and her cousin Edie, the girl who I would eventually develop a major crush on, and she one on me. There were other hostesses who worked there but I can’t recall their names.
So Edie? She was a beautiful girl, who had a very sexy way about her, and I guess I immediately liked her, and developed a major thing for her, so to speak, Edie had a very pretty face, blond hair, and a most exquisite body, I must say. We used to flirt a little here and there, and it was obvious to both of us that we had a strong attraction to each other, but neither of us actually said it, we didn’t have to, we knew it. My suspicion that Edie had a strong attraction to me was confirmed when one of the waitresses (Indira) that worked with me asked me why I didn’t ask Edie out, and Indira told me point blank that Edie liked me and wanted to go out with me. So why when I was majorly attracted to this beautiful girl who felt the same way about me, why didn’t I ask her out. Well for one thing, it has always been a personal policy of mine not to go out with anyone that I work with. I usually think ahead and think things out, especially when it comes to romantic relationships and especially when it comes to relationships with people I work with. I was really crazy about Edie and wanted to go out with her and desired her in the worst way. Yes I did think about it, and I was thinking about making a Sexy Mixed Tape (cassette) for her. A tape that, once she listened to it, she’d know exactly how I felt about her and how strongly I desired her. Yes, I thought about it, but I valued my job and didn’t want anything to affect it. I always think ahead when I might care to have a relationship with a girl I work with. What if things don’t work out well, and then I have to go to work and see this person almost every day, and be working with them? It could be awkward. Well, so I thought into it, and just decided, I work with the girl, so don’t get involved, it could get messing. I so I never asked her out.
So that was way back in 2006, and every now and then, and certainly whenever I hear one of those songs that I was going to put on that mixed tape, I always think of that gorgeously sexy girl Edie, what it would have been like to make Love to her, and what would have come about if we did act on our desires? Would we have had a torrid relationship, would everything have been great, or maybe not, and would it ever have gone so far as to marriage? Yes that’s how strong my feelings were for Edie. I wonder how she is, is she married or not. Is she not in a relationship, and if she wasn’t and if we ever ran into each other, would we ever then finally go out together. Who knows? And I wonder, how my life could have changed if we’d ever gotten together? That is life for you.
This is for Edie. Regretting I never asked you out. Hope you’re doing well.
Daniel Bellino Zwicke
The MIXED TAPE in Question
Yes, I was going to make a mixed tape and give it to Edie and Dam that girl would know I was serious. The tape was going to be incredibly Sexy, with music that I think is the Sexiest Ever Made, primarily consisting of extremely provocative music by Teddy Pedergrass and Barry White. The main song would be Come On and Go with Me by Teddy Pedergrass which may very well be thee single sexiest song ever recorded. Other songs being Close The Door and Turn Off The Lights, “Pillow Talk” by Sinoa, songs by Barry White and other Sexy and Romantic tunes.
LISTEN to My MIXED TAPE for EDIE