All Columns in Alphabetical Order

Monday, August 3, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Fabio Granato of Serafina

Raised in Torino, Fabio Granato’s interest in building and architecture was fostered by working in the family’s construction business at an early age. During a college trip to New York, Fabio fell in love with the city, met a girl at Studio 54, and never left. He started working in the construction field, where he was soon joined by his brother, Luciano. Together they formed the Brooklyn-based Red Hook Marble Company which specializes in commercial and residential fabrication.

Mr. Granato’s partnership with Vittorio Assaf was cemented in 1994 when the two friends found themselves lost at sea on a small sail boat. They agreed to open a restaurant if they survived the ordeal.

Shortly thereafter, they were rescued by the Coast Guard and a few months later they fulfilled their promise by launching Serafina Fabulous Pizza on 79th and Madison.

Following the success of Serafina Fabulous Pizza, the two partners have gone on to open Serafina Fabulous Grill, Serafina Osteria, Serafina at The Time Hotel and Serafina Broadway. Frequented by celebrities, businessmen, families and tourists, each location features the highest quality food set in an exciting atmosphere. For those who want to savor the taste at home, Serafina’s Pasta Sauce comes in five varieties and is available in grocery stores throughout the U.S.

Expanding their culinary horizons beyond their Italian heritage, they teamed up with one of Vittorio’s best friends, Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert, to create Geisha, an immensely popular Japanese fusion destination on the Upper East Side. In 2008, they opened Brasserie Cognac in the Theater District where Chef Florian Hugo, a great-great-great grandson of poet Victor Hugo, serves fine French cuisine. Most recently, the two embarked on a Mexican adventure by creating Mañana with the help of Chef Omar Luna from Mexico City.

Each restaurant has its own set of design and construction challenges. Fabio utilizes his talent and creativity to take on difficult locales and make them functional. In the case of Serafina Lafayette, Fabio worked within the context of a landmark building, while Serafina Fabulous Grill on 61st Street presented a different set of issues because of its townhouse location. Geisha required total reconstruction on the interior while maintaining the original shell. Some of Geisha’s most spectacular features were created by Red Hook artisans, among them the restaurant’s geometric bar crafted from terrazzo with mother-of-pearl inlay, and the limestone crown moldings on the exterior of the building. For this ambitious project, he collaborated with the famous Rockwell Group, as he did in the creation of Lollipop (now home to Mañana), and the theatrical, Fellini inspired Serafina Broadway.

In the partnership at Serafina Restaurant Group, Fabio is responsible for the design, construction, and renovation of the restaurants’ spaces. A tireless worker, Fabio remains boundlessly enthusiastic: “I love what I do. We create atmosphere, positive energy, and make people happy. We’re selling good times and happiness. It is great to see people smile because they ate well. In the end, they thank you for it.” We are so pleased to present him as our latest Mover and Shaker.

Peachy Deegan interviewed Fabio Granato for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What do you miss most about Italy?
Fabio Granato: I miss the summer. I wish I could be in Italy during June, July and August.

What do you like better in Manhattan compared to Italy?
New York has more of a feeling of freedom. It is more international. When you are in New York, you are more in touch with the world. Italy is beautiful, but it is very local.

What is the key to getting Italian food "right"?
To be simple. It is based on simplicity. You must understand the ingredients so that they match together. It is more difficult than it sounds.

If you could only eat one kind of pizza for the rest of your life, what would be on it and why would you pick this?
Pizze di Fabio because it is my favorite. We serve it at Serafina. It has mozzarella, prosciutto, and sliced tomato

What is the most fun part of the restaurant business in Manhattan?
It comes natural. Either you like it or you don’t. The people are the best part.

What is the most challenging part of the restaurant business in Manhattan?
Making sure that people leave happy and smiling.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
My love of being around people and my love for food. That is why I like what I do. I love the people and the food.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
Today Manhattan is beautiful everywhere. I would never change it. Every area is beautiful.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
I really hate shopping. My girlfriend shops for me. After five minutes in a store I get a headache.

What is your favorite drink?
Wine for dinner and vodka tonic for the evening.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Beides my own restaurants, I would say Cipriani Downtown and Nobu 57.

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
Any book that talks about New York history, especially from 1920 to 1960.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
I went to see the hockey game at Madison Square Garden when my friend Darius Kasparaitis was playing with the Rangers, he gave me the best seats in the house. It was a strong impact to see the sports live. The next day I went to buy myself ice skates but I never went on the ice because I was too busy.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
The freedom I feel here is better than anywhere in the world.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
The Nelson Mandela Birthday party at Radio City Music Hall. I had the best seats with the beautiful girls and I celebrated with Zucchero after the show and the rest of the weekend. We went to Serafina 61 and ate tiramisu with a candle in it and sung Stevie Wonder’s rendition of Happy Birthday. The next night we ate and drank at Cognac until 4am, singing and laughing while we watched Times Square. The next day Zucchero came for lunch at Geisha.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
Tasty Tidbits gives good info about restaurants.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
Facebook: Serafina Gruppo

Back to TOP