Felidia is the acclaimed Manhattan East Side flagship of Lidia Bastianich, open since 1981. It is here that many of Lidia’s devoted fans find her greeting each guest with the same warmth and passion that she exhibits through her television shows and cookbook.
Executive Chef Fortunato Nicotra has been with Felidia since 1996 and has brought an innovative presentation and touch to traditional ingredients and dishes from all of the regions of Italy. The New York Times three star restaurant and nominee for Outstanding Restaurant U.S. from the James Beard Foundation was a proud recipient of the Wine Spectator’s Grand Award Winning Wine List for many years.
Lidia Bastianich: founder & president of Tavola Productions, an entertainment company that produces high-quality broadcast productions including Lidia’s Italy, an Emmy-nominated television series; one of the best-loved chefs on television, a best-selling cookbook author, restaurateur & owner of a flourishing food & entertainment business. Her line of cookbooks include, Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy & Lidia’s Italy (both companion books to the Lidia’s Italy) as well as Lidia’s Family Table, Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen, Lidia’s Italian Table & La Cucina di Lidia. Lidia is the chef/owner of four acclaimed New York City restaurants — Felidia, Becco, Esca & Del Posto, as well as Lidia’s Pittsburgh & Lidia’s Kansas City. Together with her son Joseph, she produces award-winning wines at their Bastianich Vineyards in Friuli. 2007 signified a true benchmark in Lidia’s career, as she had the esteem honor of cooking for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI during his travels to New York. In fall of 2010, Lidia released her first children’s book, soon to be a holiday classic, Nonna Tell Me a Story: Lidia’s Christmas Kitchen. Perhaps the single most important quality that Lidia shares is her belief that it’s not only the food on the table that makes the meal, it’s the people who join around the table who bring the meal to life. Her signature line: “Tutti a tavola a mangiare!” means “Everybody to the table to eat!”
Tanya Bastianich Manuali, PhD
Tanya Bastianich Manuali has been immersed in Italian culture her entire life. Tanya graduated from Georgetown University summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in art history. Her junior year was spent abroad in Florence, Italy, studying Italian Renaissance art history, which was to become her passion. She continued her studies with a full scholarship for a Masters program from Syracuse University, specializing in Italian Renaissance art history. This two year program, which took place in Florence Italy, was the beginning of Tanya’s six-year sojourn in Italy, in particular, living in the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence. Tanya continued her studies with a merit based scholarship at Oxford University (UK), again focusing on Italian Renaissance art history. She completed her Ph.D. in 2000 and began teaching in Italy for Boston College and Syracuse University. In 1996 Tanya launched, together with her mother Lidia and partner Shelly Burgess Nicotra, Esperienze Italiane, a small upscale travel company focusing on Italian food, wine, and art. Tanya is a partner with Lidia and her brother Joseph in Felidia, Becco, Lidia’s Kansas City and Lidia’s Pittsburgh. She oversees the development of Lidia’s Kitchen, a tabletop and cookware line and together with Corrado, her husband, they own Nonna Foods which produces products such as Lidia’s Sauce and Lidia’s Pasta. Tanya co-authored Lidia’s Italy and Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes, both published by Alfred A. Knopf and is currently working on Lidia’s Italy in America which will be published in the Fall of 2011. Tanya’s latest publication, Reflections of the Breast: Breast Cancer in Art Through the Ages, which she co-authored with Dr. Francis Arena, was published in the Fall of 2010. She is a driving force in the production of Lidia’s Italy, the Public Television series and lives with her husband and children, Lorenzo and Julia, in Long Island.
Fortunato Nicotra arrived in New York City to work for celebrity chef Lidia Matticchio Bastianich in 1995. Hired as her Executive Chef of the famous flagship restaurant, Felidia, the restaurant earned three stars from Ruth Reichl from the New York Times only three months after his arrival. Again in 2006, Frank Bruni wrote a second raving review with a three-star rating. Wine Spectator named Felidia one of the “Top Ten Italian Restaurants in the United States” in 1998, and in 2008 Jerry Shriver of USA Today named it number #2 in his end of year round up of restaurants around the world.
Nicotra earned his first Michelin Star at the young age of 23 at the Villa Marchese Restaurant in the beautiful seaside town of Milazzo, Sicily. Although Nicotra is Sicilian by birth, he grew up in Torino where he completed his culinary degree at the prestigious Hotel and Restaurant School prior to working in several restaurants in northern Italy and then in Sicily where he left his mark. Prior to Nicotra’s 30th birthday, he ran two one-star Michelin stars — Villa Marchese and Villa Esperanza — simultaneously. In 1994, the Accademia Italiana Della Cucina granted one of his meals “Dinner of the Year” in all of Italy.
In addition to being featured in publications such as New York Magazine, Fine Cooking, Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits and Food Arts, Chef Nicotra has appeared on several television food segments including six episodes of Lidia’s Italy and Lidia’s Family Table. In 2007, he appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef where he battled Iron Chef Morimoto. He prepared several meals for Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to New York and has conducted cooking demonstrations and meals outside of Felidia for organizations such as De Gustibus and the Culinary Institute of America.
He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Shelly, a producer of Lidia’s Italy, and young children, Alex, Julia and Luca. He is proud to say that his children thrive on extra virgin olive oil and although still go through phases, eagerly eat artichokes, green beans, tomatoes, Boston lettuce, Romaine and mache — especially when grown from their very own garden.
The Management Team
- Nicholas Genji Ridley — General Manager
- Jenni Guizio — Wine Director
- Jennifer Tillerson – Private Dining Manager
- Maureen Kelly — Sommelier
- Jeff Warner – Sommelier