BY Donna Karan
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERIC STRIFFLER | July 1, 2011 | Food & Drink
Ravioli with buffalo ricotta, bitter herbs and Parmesan sage sauce
The restaurant’s outdoor dining area
Branzino al forno
Tutto II Giorno exterior
Maurizio Marfoglia, Alex Apparu and Gianpaolo De Felice
Gabby Karan De Felice creates the ambience.
Leather chairs from a private men’s club in Italy were found at local antiques store, Schorr & Dobinsky; the antique clock is from the South of France
Panna cotta con frutta locale
Tartara di tonno
Gianpaolo De Felice, Gabby Karan De Felice and Maurizio Marfoglia
Tutto Il Giorno’s airy dining room
Tutto II Giorno in Southampton
Gabby Karan De Felice’s intimate Sag Harbor restaurant Tutto Il Giorno is a must-visit for any East End gastronome. Hence, her second location’s debut in Southampton is cause for celebration. Leading the cheer? Her mother, Donna Karan, who turns the interviewing tables on her restaurateur daughter.
DONNA KARAN: I have to smile at our similarities: We have businesses that are literally side by side in Sag Harbor, you’ve just finishing building your family home on our compound, we’re both balancing career and family and just as I expanded the Urban Zen store from one location to two, you’ve added another Tutto Il Giorno in Southampton. Why expand?
GABBY KARAN DE FELICE: The Sag Harbor restaurant is such an amazing gathering place for my husband and me, our partners, family and friends. We have such a passion for the restaurant that is was a really natural progression for us to expand to Southampton. We wanted another place, outside of our home, where we could entertain, and the village is such a great spot for a second restaurant. It’s the first stop on the way from the city and the last stop on the way home.
DK: For me, the Southampton restaurant is good news/bad news. The good news is we have a wonderful new restaurant to choose from; the bad news is we have to pick. We argue every night!
GK: I know. It used to be hard choosing between suppa de pesca or the eggplant, and you always get the ravioli with ragu. Now we have to figure out which restaurant.
DK: What’s the biggest difference between the restaurant in Sag Harbor and the new one in Southampton?
GK: They’re quite similar in ambience. Sag Harbor is on the water and reminds my husband of Italy. Tutto Il Giorno South is in the center of the village. I spent a great deal of time designing and working on the garden—it’s so beautiful and charming. It feels like Italy, thanks to your beautiful antiques.
DK: You do a beautiful job creating oases. I remember the Sag Harbor space when it was linoleum and paneled walls. What a transformation!
GK: Sag Harbor was a huge challenge. I wanted to make it a total Hamptons experience, chic and intimate. Being on the water is such a fabulous setting and having Urban Zen next door makes it even more intimate, plus gives me access to the beautiful furniture you have in the store.
DK: What’s your favorite part of the Southampton Tutto Il Giorno?
GK: I love the banquette room with all the Philippe Dodard artwork. When I was creating the Sag Harbor restaurant, I was in love with the great handcrafted treasures we’d found on our travels; all the childhood trips to flea markets around the world and all the artifacts that we’ve argued over who had found.
DK: Do you have a favorite piece in the Southampton restaurant?
GK: Absolutely—I love our communal table and the amazing dry sink I found at Ruby Beets from a Halsey Neck Lane estate. I will always have a place in my heart for all the handcrafted teak furniture from Bali at the Urban Zen store. And now I’m so into the Haitian artwork you’ve brought back from your trips. Our guests love the Haitian pieces too; the paintings, candle urns and tobacco-leaf vases—everyone wants to own them.
DK: You are definitely the aesthetic visionary; Gianpaolo [De Felice, Gabby’s husband] is the passion for food and friends. The two of you together have created a special, intimate approach to dining.
GK: Our success has been word of mouth. We opened Tutto Il Giorno South the weekend before Memorial Day and already our business has doubled. Our biggest challenge has been getting our phone number listed. We can’t take reservations over the phone.
DK: I know the feeling—my friends are calling me to get a table.
GK: We’ve had guests at Tutto Il Giorno Sag Harbor who came in and booked a table every weekend. We had to limit advance reservations to two weekends.
|Gabby Karan De Felice|
DK: What’s the special ingredient of your success?
GK: My husband and our partners, for sure. But our executive chef, Alex Apparu, has created a fabulous menu and we have a great staff. Everyone involved is passionate about the restaurant. We each bring unique talents, and combined, it’s really something special.
DK: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Stephan [Weiss, Donna’s late husband] and I were business partners. I handled the aesthetics and he handled connecting with people to make the business happen. You see a pattern?
GK: June 9th was such a special night when we honored Daddy at Urban Zen on the 10th anniversary of his death. You spoke so much about “connecting the dots”; it really meant so much to me.
DK: What’s on the calendar this summer?
GK: [My daughter] Stefania has a horse, Jewel, whom she’s fallen in love with; Gianpaolo will be flying for Zen Air; you’ll do your yoga; and I’ll take my long walks. We’ll catch up over juices and pool hop with the kids. And you have to try the basil martinis—they’re amazing.
DK: Gabby, think of all the connections you’ve made—food and family, husband and wife, art and culture, Hamptons and Haiti, New York and Italy, mother and daughter. I’m so proud of you.
GK: Don’t forget past, present and future. You’ve been bringing me to the Hamptons my whole life and now I’m bringing my own children. Just like DKNY in the city, you and Urban Zen have connected with the Hamptons. I tell everyone about the work you’re doing with the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program at Southampton Hospital, the Urban Zen store in Sag Harbor and then there’s Super Saturday; I’m so proud of you. Now I know firsthand how much work and family is a huge balancing act.
DK: In a few years we’ll be Grey Gardens, The Next Generation.
GK: Maybe, but your scarves are way nicer.
June 28, 2018