Haute Eating: Q & A with Restaurateur Marisa May

For over 20 years, San Domenico was one of the “it” places to go for classic Italian cuisine. Run by father/daughter team, Tony and Marisa May, the restaurant closed its doors on Central Park South and reopened in a new, updated incarnation near Madison Park in the fall of 2009. SD26 has the same chefs as at San Domenico, but offers a different dining experience. Chefs Odette Fada and Matteo Bergamini were sent to Italy to study first-hand how Italians are eating today. The result: a menu with more modern dishes grouped by product rather than course.

Marisa and her father Tony have built their dream restaurant. “It’s filled with all of the elements we always wanted,” she says. “Including a wine bar with an electronic wine dispensing machine, a salumeria in the middle of the dining room and a chef’s table in the kitchen.”

Moving downtown has proven to be a wise decision. “The space is sexier, brighter, with state-of-the-art in technology,” says May. “We are now a dining destination for a much younger dining demographic, while still maintaining the customer loyalty we were so blessed with at San Domenico.”

Here, 10 questions for charming Marisa May:

Haute Living: How are you enjoying your new location?

Marisa May: We absolutely love our new home on Madison Square Park, a vibrant, expanding and exciting neighborhood.  I believe it was “in the stars” that my dad and I found the space on 26th Street. The new location has a wonderful, uplifting energy throughout the space, and we are so happy to be part of this neighborhood’s accelerating growth.

HL: What are some of your favorite dishes at SD26?

MM: I truly love them all!  But, if I have to name a few, I would say the Uovo in raviolio in truffle butter is a must, one of our only remaining dishes from San Domenico—it is rich and delicious. Also the pappardelle with the wild boar ragu is hearty and perfect to share with your fellow diners. The venison loin with celery root, Brussels sprouts and fiji apples is the perfect cold-weather dish; and for dessert, the baba with rum!

HL: What’s your favorite brunch spot?

MM: When I have the chance, usually on Sunday mornings, I love to go to Fig & Olive with girlfriends.  Their fish soup is a favorite of mine that I start to crave if it’s been too long.

HL: Where do you like to dine when you’re not working?

MM: I have 5 favorite dining spots in New York City when I have the time to eat out: Sandro’s, Boqueria, Salumeria Rosi, Le Cinque and Milos

HL: What’s your ideal meal?

MM: Puntarelle salad with anchovy dressing, a big bowl of bucatini all’Amatriciana and roasted porchetta scented with rosemary! Oh and some homemade focaccia to do the ”scarpetta” in the left over Amatriciana sauce!