SOUTHERN ITALY SET IN SOUTHAMPTON
RESTAURATEUR GABBY KARAN DE FELICE TAKES TUTTO IL GIORNO TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH A REFRESH OF THE SOUTHAMPTON SPACE AND A NEW URBAN ZEN BOUTIQUE NEXT DOOR.
Restaurateur Gabby Karan De Felice takes Tutto Il Giorno to the next level with a refresh of the Southampton space and a new Urban Zen boutique next door.
When you opened Tutto il Giorno in 2011 in Southampton, it immediately became a hot spot. What is the concept behind the brand? Our story began when I met my husband, Gianpaolo, in Italy. We wanted to share our love for the lifestyle and culinary heritage of his home in Southern Italy with my home, New York. The Hamptons became our home away from home with the opening of Tutto Southampton in 2011. We really brought Italy here—including Gianpaolo’s mother, who spent time in the kitchen in our first season, recreating his favorite childhood dishes. This summer, you did some lovely refreshes to the space. Tell us about the changes to the interiors. We wanted to create a synergy between our flagship property in Tribeca and our second home in Southampton. We collaborated with the architect Francis D’haene of D’apostrophe to create a warm and welcoming environment.
I have always been inspired by my mom’s travels around the world to places including Bali and Haiti. The reclaimed Swarovski crystal light fixture is in both of our restaurants above the bar, designed by a local Haitian artisan, Cookie Villiard, that we proudly support through the Urban Zen Foundation (4 Bay St., Sag Harbor, 631-7256176; urbanzen.com). And my favorite, the patio space, has some updates as well? Every year we try to add more light and more greenery—you can never have enough nature! This year we added a whole ivy wall in the patio, inspired by the wall we created in Tribeca.
We took over a small space adjacent to the restaurant that we enclosed with
greenery, where we offer a small selection of my favorite Urban Zen pieces that are available for sale. Your mother, Donna Karan, also has pieces throughout the restaurant from her Urban Zen collection. Tell us a bit about those. Many of the early pieces from our restaurant came directly from my mother’s Urban Zen collection and her home. I would ‘borrow’ from her and her archives, sometimes without her noticing. I remember when we opened up our Tribeca location, she was entertaining some friends, and I hear a holler saying, “Hey, Gabby, is that the table from my East Hampton home?”—referring to her table that was floating in the center of the dining room. I love that you are always in the restaurant, really taking care of it as the ultimate hostess. Last time I was in, we shared some arancini. Tell us about a few of your favorite menu items. Our menus were inspired by the recipes of Gianpaolo’s mother, Nona Carolina, who really shaped our recipes and our now signature dishes. My favorite dishes of hers and ours have been at Tutto since the beginning. The Penne with Eggplant and Tomatoes is one of my favorites, and the Whole Branzino reminds me of when we would be fishing with Gianpaolo and his mother. We would cook what we caught for dinner that night; it is super clean and fresh and beautiful. My husband used to tease me because I grew up in New York and I never knew that fish had eyes! Nona has influenced the menu and, of course, the divine desserts, correct? Yes! I also love desserts, they are such a big thing in Italy—they have dessert for breakfast. When Nona spends her summers in the Hamptons with us, she works with our kitchen to make her special Nutella cake, which is my daughter’s favorite. And the wine list is so well rounded. Gianpaolo loves wine. Does he lend a hand in what you serve? Gianpaolo’s favorite part of Tutto il Giorno is entertaining his friends and being able to source some of the wine he loves for the restaurant. He’s constantly looking for great vineyards in Italy that he can then bring back to the states and contribute to the wine list. It’s a part of the business he loves, as it’s true to his heritage. Tutto always feels like family coming together. Tell us a bit about your partners. We love Tutto and what we have built. Along with my close friends and partners, Gally and David Mayer, we have been able to combine Gianpaolo’s style and culinary history to become the family affair we all always dreamed of in a restaurant. You've lived in East Hampton for countless years. What are your favorite spots to shop and relax? My favorite spots in the past 15 years are my mother’s Urban Zen store in Sag Harbor and—when I'm not dressed in Urban Zen—i always love beautiful vintage items. Last year at the Hampton Classic I bought a great deep-blue vintage bohemian dress at Joey Wölffer’s Styleliner. I love what she does. Outside my restaurant world I spend most of time at the barn and at horse shows, as my daughter Stefania loves to ride. 56 Nugent St., Southampton, 631-3773611; tuttoilgiorno.com