Osteria Lumaca is the new flagship restaurant in the hip luxury HGU New York hotel in midtown, by celebrity chef John DeLucie. DeLucie, one of NYC’s most popular chefs, is known from his days at the Waverly Inn with Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair, to the opening of Bedford & Co. at the Renwick Hotel, to the re-opening of the iconic Empire Diner, and to the recent launch of Ainslie in Brooklyn. He’s been the talk of the town, as the first celebrity chef to be honored at the MTV Movie Awards, followed by his name splashed among the tabloids; Entertainment Tonight, The Today Show, Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal, and the list goes on. His style tends to center around American cuisine; classic at the Waverly, wood-grilling tastes at Bedford & Co., and American comfort food at Empire Diner. With the opening of Ainslie, he switched it up to Italian, including a wine bar. However, closest to ‘home’ is his newest endeavor in midtown, Lumaca. The coastal Italian menu is inspired by John’s southern Italian roots. Lumaca’s menu is filled with regional favorites sourced straight from Italy along with locally sourced seafood and authentic Italian flavors.
Lumaca, located at 34 East 32nd Street, between Madison and Park Avenue South, consists of a dining room, a lounge, and a seasonal rooftop bar. The dining room, intimate and cozy, seats 60. It feels like you’re in someone’s high-end home library or study. DeLucie, who’s family is from Puglia, has brought that southern Italian taste to his newest venture, and he sure didn’t disappoint.
We had the opportunity to visit Lumaca and experience that Southern Italian palette for ourselves. We also chatted with Chef John DeLucie to talk about his early days, influences, inspirations, etc.
Check out our TIPSY Talk with Chef John DeLucie along with some of the dishes that we tried…
TIPSY Diaries: An ‘accidental chef’, what was your initial curiosity about cooking? If you weren’t a chef/entrepreneur, what would you be doing?
Chef John DeLucie: My initial curiosity came from my grandparents, specifically my grandmother who was a very fine cook in her own right. My grandfather owned several fruit and vegetable stands in Brooklyn. He would come home with his wares and it was my grandmother’s job to cook. My first food-oriented memory is of my grandmother cooking scrambled eggs and zucchini in olive oil, I was around five years old. Food and cooking have been deeply entrenched in my life for as long as I can remember. It’s hard for me to imagine a reality in which life didn’t lead me to my career as a chef.
TIPSY Diaries: After taking classes and gathering experience, what is/was it about cooking that made you ultimately decide ‘this is what I want to do’?
Chef John DeLucie: I loved how invigorating it was as opposed to sitting in an office chair. Lifting stock pots, intense heat, and a steep learning curve, there’s nothing quite like it.
TIPSY Diaries: What inspired you to open the Waverly Inn? How did you connect with Graydon Carter? How did this come to be?
The very short story:
Chef John DeLucie: I was very friendly with a gentleman who knew the Waverly’s landlord. He introduced us to Graydon Carter who lived two doors down…the rest is history…
TIPSY Diaries: What draws the celebrity crowds to your restaurants?
Chef John DeLucie: My restaurants draw a celebrity crowd because they offer a cool vibe, beautiful decor, approachable food, great wines and cocktails, and a staff that makes you feel special. It’s the same thing that attracts non-celebrities.
TIPSY Diaries: Your restaurant concepts span various cuisines and palettes, what is your favorite?
Chef John DeLucie: Italian cuisine is my soul and in my blood.
TIPSY Diaries: What are some of your deciding factors when deciding to open a new restaurant?
Chef John DeLucie: It’s really a feeling of the space. Does it feel like you can have a nice relaxing, intimate time here?
TIPSY Diaries: Do you have a signature dish that you enjoy making?
Chef John DeLucie: I really enjoy cooking pasta. I love Pasta di Gragnano from Naples. It’s a truly fantastic product. It has a super rough surface so sauces really “stick” to it.
TIPSY Diaries: What would your last meal on earth be?
Chef John DeLucie: My last meal on earth would be wedges of parmesan, crusty bread, linguine in clam sauce, Wagyu beef cooked on a wood fire, chocolate gelato.
TIPSY Diaries: If you had the opportunity (right now), to open a restaurant anywhere in the world, where would it be? and why?
Chef John DeLucie: Some place sunny and warm, where I could feel the sand between my toes everyday, and sit and sip espresso nearby.
After our conversation with Chef John DeLucie, we ate and ate and ate and ate…
We started with the Tartare Di Salmone (atlantic salmon, fresh lime, beets), Arancini (mascarpone, black truffle, regiano, lemon aioli), and Cozze Fritte (fried pei mussels, calabrian chilies, caper aioli).
We then had the Paccheri Al Forno Con Cinghiale (large tubular pasta, wild boar ragù), the Branzino Al Cartoccio (mediterranean sea bass, steamed in parchment, seasonal vegetables), and ended the meal with the Pistacchio Tiramisu.
Here’s the rundown…
We started with drinks, of course!
Tartare Di Salmone (atlantic salmon, fresh lime, beets)
Arancini (mascarpone, black truffle, regiano, lemon aioli)
Cozze Fritte (fried pei mussels, calabrian chilies, caper aioli)
Paccheri Al Forno Con Cinghiale (large tubular pasta, wild boar ragu)
Branzino Al Cartoccio (mediterranean sea bass, steamed in parchment, seasonal vegetables)