The New York Diet

Joe Bastianich Breaks From Running for Marathon Eating

Joe Bastianich behind the bar at Otto.
Joe Bastianich behind the bar at Otto. Photo: Melissa Hom

Restaurateur, winemaker, guitarist — Joe Bastianich is many things to many people, inheriting from his mother, Lidia, a multitasking streak and zeal for empire-building. “My brain is contaminated with ideas,” he says. Most recently, Bastianich founded (with help from Always Hungry’s Jeff Zalaznick), an OpenTable-like service for restaurants to showcase their private-dining spaces; he’s also opening restaurants in Singapore; and he will start construction on the 40,000-plus-square-foot Italian marketplace, Eataly, at 200 Fifth Avenue in the new year. He expects Eataly to open by July, with seven restaurants including a Neapolitan-pizzeria import called Pomodoro Rosso, a fish spot by David Pasternick, and a hand-pulled mozzarella bar from L.A. star Nancy Silverton. There will also be a rooftop microbrewery — in partnership with Dogfish Ale — that will hawk Alpine sausages and seat 300. Oh, and he just ran the New York City marathon. But he makes up for all those burned calories in this week’s New York Diet.

Friday, November 6
Jeff Zalaznick and I had a Dine Private breakfast meeting at LPQ at 9:30 a.m. We drank coffee with soy milk and had steel-cut Irish oats with honey, and chocolate-chip cookies for dessert. Yes, dessert is part of breakfast.

I hosted a lunch at Lupa with the wine directors from each of the restaurants. We drank a magnum of Champagne and then three of my wines: Vespa Bianco, Morellino di Scansano from La Mozza, Brandini Langhe Rosso. And we ate a family style menu: mixed vegetables, affetati grande, frutti di mare, bavette cacio e pepe, bucatini all’ Amatriciana, orecchiette with sausage and fennel, saltimbocca, hanger steak with polenta and Brussels sprouts, pork shoulder with treviso and balsamic vinegar, apricot-almond and lemon-zest biscotti, and tartufo ice cream. We like to get together so they can share ideas and shoot the shit about twice a year.

For dinner, we had a winemaker dinner at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck hosted by Lettie Teague and Alan Richman; I was the winemaker. The chef there is a friend of mine. His name is Nick Martschenko. He’s a great local chef. We started with an amuse of almond, garlic, and grape gazpacho, and meatballs. We had the Sauvignon “B” 2007 and Bastianich Rosato 2007. The first course was scallop carpaccio and candied pork with blood-orange caviar, cilantro, and citrus vinaigrette. We had that with the Vespa Bianco 2006. We had braised veal breast rotolo with sheep’s-milk ricotta, spinach, and Sicilian pistachio sauce, paired with La Mozza Morellino di Scansano ’07. Then, roasted sirloin and braised short ribs with matsutake mushrooms, crosnes, Thumbelina carrots, and consommé paired with Vespa Rosso 2005. And for dessert: warm apple pudding with sour-cream gelato and cinnamon tuile. We do these dinners a lot. Two a month, sometimes once a week depending on what kind of clip we’re running at. That was for 200 people; pretty big.

Saturday, November 7
Saturday morning — getting a bad cold; I had an egg-white-and-scallion omelette, a bagel, Gatorade, and espresso. For the bagel, it’s whatever kind the kids don’t eat. I had a poppy bagel that morning. The kids have the same breakfast as me; they eat egg whites.

I had an American Express luncheon with Lidia at Felidia. I had lobster Calalana style, a celery-root-and-apple salad with speck, riso e zucca — rice with butternut squash, beef braised in beer with polenta and cavolo nero. And we drank many vintages of wine: Vespa Bianco 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007; Vespa Rosso 2005, 2004, 2002; Tocai Plus 2005, 2003. Craziness: That was like fifteen wines during lunch. People are going to think that I’m a pig and an alcoholic after reading this thing. There’s no way you can believe anyone eats this much and drinks this much. Sometimes I spit the wine. It depends on how early it is. I have to keep some level of decorum. For dessert: torta di mandorle with chocolate chips and gelato.

I went home sick that afternoon; made tortellini in brodo in capon stock with Parmesan cheese; and took extra-strength Tylenol and Nyquil and went to bed. That was early, like 7 p.m. That was the end of my eating day.

Sunday, November 8
Sunday was my son Ethan’s birthday. He turned 8. We went to a family lunch at our place Tarry Lodge after football. I started with meatball pizza marinara, and then spaghetti with piquillo peppers, crab meat, and scallion. For dessert, I had panettone bread pudding. I drank Brandini 2007 Barbera and Tritono Malbec from Mendoza.

Then we went to my sister-in-law Dawn’s house for the official birthday party with the in-laws. My wife Deanna’s mom made maple-syrup baked beans that she was very proud of; they were good. My sister-in-law made pulled pork. Yeah, they’re Italian. The last name is Damiano. We had really good Hungarian salami as an antipasti, some cheeses: a really ripe Époisses. We drank an American Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay that their neighbors make in Australia. For dessert, I brought a double-chocolate mousse cake from Del Posto for Ethan’s birthday.

Monday, November 9
Monday I left for a trip to Vegas and Seattle. On Delta first class I had a marinara omelette with a bagel and fruit, and two Bloody Marys. I was still feeling sick, so for lunch I went to a great noodle shop on the casino floor in the Venetian that I go to for wonton soup when I’m feeling shitty. I had a dinner meeting at our steakhouse Carnevino: We shared a rib eye and a porterhouse.

Tuesday, November 10
Tuesday morning, I went to Seattle and started my eating tour. I ate at twenty restaurants in six hours. We ate at a great Neapolitan pizzeria there called Fondi. For pizza, I look for the right crust; whether you’re doing Neapolitan style or Roman style; a good proportion of toppings to bread; nice char; good flavor, seasoning. We went to a great seafood restaurant, Palisade. It has a gorgeous view of the harbor there and they were trying out a new chef, Chris Bryant. He did a great dish of lobster two ways: poached and tempura lobster tails. I was just visiting a friend of mine who owns a restaurant company. We’ve talked about doing things together, but we were just trying out some places.

Wednesday, November 11
I flew back on the red-eye and got in at 6 a.m. and didn’t eat anything. I drove home, went to sleep; woke up at 10 a.m. and had a peanut-butter-brittle-and-chocolate energy bar. I think it was MET-Rx; I buy different ones. I had two espressos with that.

I had lunch at the Breslin, with Jeff again. We had the onion-and-bone-marrow soup, a lamb burger, fries, a Caesar salad, and pan-fried sea bass. I thought the French fries were great and I liked the bone-marrow soup too; it was all good. April [Bloomfield]’s a brilliant chef.

I was tired; I went home. Maria — who cooks for my kids — made a timbale of pasta with penne Bolognese, peas, zucchini, and eggplant. Remember Big Night, the movie — they make the timbale? She made one of those things; she lines the pan with baked, then grilled, eggplant, puts the pasta in it, bakes it all together, then puts it upside down and cuts it like a giant cake. The family was all eating together, since I went home early. We drank Rosso di Montalcino and we had lemon Italian ices for dessert that we buy from Trader Joe’s. Those yellow things from Corona. My kids are pretty good eaters. They eat a little bit of everything, but they can be picky. They’re not like one of these kids that thinks ketchup is a vegetable. They eat vegetables and meat, raw oysters, foie gras, but sometimes they just want plain pasta like typical kids. They’re 8, 10, and 12; Ethan, Miles, and Olivia — she’s the oldest.

Thursday, November 12, 2009
For breakfast, I had everything-bagel flatbreads with fake butter. I use Olivio, that Lee Iacocca stuff made out of olive oil, allegedly; no trans fats; tastes pretty good. I had two espressos, a banana, and I’m just trying to think of where to got to lunch. I was going to go to Danny Meyer’s new restaurant, Maialino, except I don’t think it’s open for lunch.

Joe Bastianich Breaks From Running for Marathon Eating