Written by Alia Akkam
When a problem with one of the food runners arises, Donatella Arpaia remains calm. She exchanges a few words with one of the kitchen staff, authoritative, yet kind, takes a sip of water, returns to the conversation and apologizes for the “distraction.” Sitting down at davidburke and donatella on E. 61st St., the sexy new restaurant Arpaia opened with celebrated David Burke last December, she points out the paintings of whimsical playing cards on the wall.
This lipstick-red playground on the East Side received lots of buzz for its celeb sightings and the Burke’s menu, but also for Donatella, whose graceful presence is a constant at the restaurant. The 31-year-old Italian glamour girl scurries from table to table in stylish fishnets and heels, always playing the affable hostess without even trying.
“They match the food,” she says, comparing the eclectic decor with Burke’s offbeat creations. “It’s hip. Gourmet without being stuffy for this traditionalist neighborhood.”