I love good Italian food. And Donatella Arpaia (restaurateur and judge on Iron Chef America & Next Iron Chef) knows good Italian. After the whiskey tasting, I stopped by her restaurant for a late dinner with a friend. I had been eyeing the menu all day (to stimulate the appetite) — It’s rare for me to actually want to eat 99% of what’s listed, but Donatella’s menu just looked so good. My eyes are bigger than my stomach (sometimes ;)) and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to finish everything that I wanted to order (which was practically the entire menu), so we went with a nice variety of appetizers (eggplant parmigiana, crispy fried arancini, a soft shell crab special), a couple of pasta entrees (gnudi-ricotta gnocchi with brown butter & sage and paccheri with braised beef & sweet onion ragu), and zeppoli for dessert. What a satisfying meal! I really enjoyed every single dish, especially the eggplant parm (one of my all time favorite Italian dishes), the soft shell crab (simple and perfect), and the gnudi-ricotta gnocchi (I’m a sucker for brown butter and sage). The atmosphere was fun and casual, and the service was very friendly. I’m looking forward to coming back to Donatella again soon to try the award-winning veal meatballs, brick-oven pizzas, and more of the homemade pastas. Yum!

Donatella: 184 8th Avenue (between W19th and W20th Street)


Eggplant Parmigiana Cooked in Iron Pot (Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella)


Arancini (Crispy Rice Balls stuffed with Peas, Sausage, Mozzarella)


Inside the arancini


Special: Crispy Soft Shell Crab


Gnudi-Ricotta Gnocchi (Brown Butter, Sage, Parmigiano, Vincotto, Bread Crumbs)


Paccheri alla Genovese (Braised beef & sweet onion ragu, parmigiano)


Zeppoli (Lemon-ricotta fritters, cinnamon sugar, lemon cream, amarena cherries & candied pistachio)


Open kitchen in the back


The golden Donatella oven!