By Kelly Carter
As an Italophile who spent two years in Italy, I’m always delighted to find a restaurant that takes me back to my memorable days living la bella vita in Florence and visiting the Tuscan countryside. Felice 83 Ristorante, on New York’s Upper East Side, did just that during my recent swing through Manhattan. And the recent addition of Bar Felice, the newly-opened European lounge, adds even more warmth, making it the perfect place to escape the winter chill during Super Bowl Week.
Felice owner Jacopo Giustiniani, who was raised between his family’s winery, the Fattoria Sardi Giustiniani in Lucca, and his hometown of Florence, has created a neighborhood gem. Felice 83’s rustic setting is perfect for enjoying authentic, hearty Tuscan dishes such as costata, a 35 oz. Creekstone Farms, dry-aged, bone-in New York strip steak served with herb roasted potatoes (made for two), ossobuco, traditional braised veal shank with saffron rice cake and gremolata sauce, or tagliatelle alla bolognese, which I opted for and thoroughly enjoyed. Lighter dishes, like this insalata di carciofi (artichoke salad), are also available on the menu designed by Executive Chef Simone Parisotto.
It’s hard not to fill up on the homemade bread, baked daily, and imported cured meats and cheeses while sipping selections from the wine list that features 20 wines by the glass and 100 wines by the bottle, heaven for those suffering from oenophilia.
Giustiniani prides himself just as much on his wine offerings as he does his food. The Fattoria Sardi Giustiniani has belonged to the Sardi family since the 19th century. Giustiniani and his brother wasted no time enhancing the oenological potential of the land after they inherited the Fattoria, which includes 47 acres of vineyards, located in the renowned wine region of Colline Lucchesi. It’s nice to find out that the wines, including Felice and Felice Rosso, are produced in a sustainable fashion.
“I developed a passion for Italian food and wine growing up in Florence and on my family winery in Lucca,” says Giustiniani. “Felice delivers the authentic Tuscan flavors of my homeland to the most dynamic city in the world, New York City.”