Dolce Vita Focuses on Maltese Cuisine Amid Owner Strife


It looks like Dolce Vita got some results from that open letter to their Little Italy neighbors who, they accused, were attempting to sabotage them — shortly after it was posted, their liquor lawyer stepped up his efforts and scored them a license just in time for San Gennaro. But now, manager Suzanne Hauptfleisch tells us, the restaurant’s two founders, childhood friends who made the mistake of going into business together, are mired in a legal dispute over ownership, sparked in part because the business was slow to grow. Its operation is now in the hands of one of the partners, Manuel Muscat, who has brought in his mom, Mary, to help the chef of five months, Brian Halladay, give the menu a more Maltese focus (the stuffing you’ll find in the whole roasted chicken, for instance, is hers). Maltese cooking isn’t seen much in these parts, so here’s hoping the legal dispute is a blessing in disguise and doesn’t sink the place. You can check out the new menu, with new additions like rabbit stew and pastizzi (Maltese cheese cakes), over at