The Host with La Mozza

We’d like to admit a journalistic failure here. This Monday, we joined Andy Nusser, Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and all sorts of other restaurant, food and wine people for an incredibly fun, food-soaked and boozy party at Joe Bastianich’s Greenwich house. Oh, Joe was mingling, looking slimmer and more athletic than in recent appearances on his mother’s TV show, pouring jeroboams of his Maremman and Friulian wines. Meanwhile, Mario Batali and Cesare Cassela manned the big grill (until its plastic canopy got singed), and Lidia Bastianich roasted a whole pig and stirred risotto in the kitchen. It was relaxed, loose and family-style: the entire Heat crew was there (sans Buford, of course), hanging out, partying, and eating with their buddies—who were all off work because it was Monday, and that’s the restaurant world’s day of rest.

So did we press our quarry for info on their plans for Tarry Lodge?

Reader, we did not.

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To be honest, to corner one or more Bastianich/Batali/Nussers at what was essentially a family party seemed like the height of rudeness. Born Italophiles, we endeavor to be educato. Oh, we thought about being pushy, but decided it would be biting the hand that feeds us– and feeds us rather well, frankly.

Instead, we tucked into Cesare Cassela’s incredible upstate-raised Chianina beef, which was served alla fiorentina—sliced two inches thick, hard-seared outside and jiggly raw inside, gritty with sea salt and slicked with Bastianich olive oil. We scarfed grilled octopus, prosciutto and salumi, and sampled all the exciting wines on offer. Best of all, we fondled Bastianich’s free-standing, red enameled prosciutto slicer, which was the sexiest non-breathing object we’ve ever had the pleasure to touch.

As we all know, Andy Nusser of Casa Mono and Bar Jamon will be heading up the kitchen at the restaurant replacing Tarry Lodge, which is slated to be Italian. While no formal announcement has been made—and the first official news has been promised to another magazine (harrumph)—our sources in Port Chester report that the new restaurant will be similar to, but not exactly like, LA’s Mozza. This seems slightly unlikely, since Mozza is a partnership of the Bastianich/Batali team with Nancy Silverton of LA’s La Brea Bakery. Mozza, a no-reservation spot which sports a mozzarella bar, is packing them in on the Left Coast, and shares its name with Bastianich’s Maremma wines—which the group is currently promoting. Is there a cross-promoting wine and restaurant concept? Who knows, but we’ll be interviewing Joe very soon for an upcoming Westchester Magazine feature. Our Port Chester source says the new spot will also have some aspects of Otto (the Bastianich/Batali train-themed pizzeria). Hmmmm. Let’s just hope there’s lardo and gelati involved – as well as all those great wines.

Whatever the details, we’ll know soon enough—and we’ll keep you posted, just as soon as this hangover wears off.

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