Dorme Bene, il Bagatto
If you have read these pages, my other blog www.eatdrinksleepwell.blogspot.com, or if you know me personally, then at some point over the last decade you undoubtedly have heard me sing the praises of my dearest friends Julio Pena and his wife Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta and their miraculous gastronomic outpost and labor of love called il Bagatto in Manhattan’s East Village. Il Bagatto vastly precedes my period of patronage. What began as a culinary vanguard in the gritty mid-1990s on East Second street has developed over the last 18 years (an eon for a Manhattan restaurant) into a consistently top rated destination for lovers of true Italian food and wine, a discreet hideout for those avoiding the prying eyes of Page Six, and the erstwhile clubhouse for a rabidly loyal family of regulars of which I proudly count myself a member.
Indeed, my friendship with Julio and Bea and my experiences from the literally hundreds of meals at il Bagatto over the last decade were the direct inspiration for the title concept behind EatDrinkSleepWell. When I penned the line that I “spend my time looking for special places … local haunts that develop a loyal family of patrons seeking wonderful food, drink and fellowship” it was il Bagatto I specifically had in my mind.
As someone who truly loves this type of familiar food and fellowship, I have or have had other restaurants in my life where I was or am a regular. To borrow a phrase, some have changed, some forever not for better, some have gone and some remain. And while all of these places make up pieces of the mosaic of my life’s experience, none has become a central part of me as have Julio and Bea and il Bagatto.
Julio and Bea have treated me and my family, as they genuinely treat each of us who has found our way into their lives and their kitchen, as their family. I use the word family advisedly. My sons literally refer to them as Uncle Julio and Aunt Bea without any sense of honorific or irony. While this may be because they have heard Julio repeatedly introduce me to people as his brother (“from another mother”), it more likely because Julio and Bea have welcomed us into their home and lives as actual family, sharing in our joys and supporting us in our challenges, as we have in theirs.
And it is no exaggeration that il Bagatto has played a more central role in the history of my family than perhaps any other single location. I had my first date and my first kiss with my wife at il Bagatto. I met my future father-in-law there for the first time as my wife met my father for the first time. I got engaged there. We had our rehearsal dinner there. We had my 40th birthday party there — the last my father would ever attend before his premature passing — and then we mourned my father’s passing there. When one of my close relatives was in intensive care in New York with a sudden and life-threatening condition, Julio appeared immediately, and day after day thereafter, with trays of food for the medical staff. “We want them to know how special she is,” he said to me at the time.
Indeed, I can think of no major event or milestone that has passed over the last decade without a meal at il Bagatto, let alone the literally countless meals for more ordinary — but no less special — occasions. I even have tended bar and waited tables at il Bagatto in a pinch. This centrality alone makes il Bagatto unique, far more than simply a restaurant. Like the settings of some of history’s greatest films, it is a location that has taken on its own starring role in my life.
But there is more. Julio and Bea not only have welcomed us into their family but they have given all of us they have welcomed into their family an even greater gift: Through their alchemy, they have casually but methodically introduced us, their many friends and patrons. to each other over the years. And we, in turn, have learned from Julio and Bea to treat one another the same way the same way they treat us, even when we are without them. It is the rare moment that I would walk into il Bagatto and not know at least one full table of patrons, when in fact more likely half of those sitting in the place. I knew them well enough that I often would join their table with my own. I even have done formal pro bono legal work for at least two people who I knew only by sight before I learned of their plight sitting at the bar for brunch.
Those bonds did not end at il Bagatto’s door. I have been to numerous family milestones: christenings, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, promotions and, sadly, more than one funeral of friends that I have met only through Julio and Bea at their remarkable crossroads. And while I’ve rarely stepped back to consider it, that is truly remarkable. How many places in your life, let alone restaurants, have brought to you a community of life-long friends? The answer, unless I know you from il Bagatto, is almost certainly none.
At some point years ago Bea explained to me that il Bagatto means the Magician from the Italian Tarot deck. Over the last decade, I never focused much on the restaurant’s name. It literally is only now as I sit and write this eulogy that I smile with bewilderment as I am struck by the brilliantly prophetic nature of the eponym Bea and Julio chose for their restaurant. Il Bagatto was indeed the most magical and transformative place I have ever known.
It became official this week that Il Bagatto closed at the end of this summer, without fanfare. I was there that last night with my wife and sons, for one last Sunday dinner of calamari and Bea’s lasagna. I was, and still am taken by many memories and emotions. I am comforted that Julio and Bea have kept their wine bar, il Posto Accanto, right next door at 190 East Second Street so I (and you) can still see them and my extended il Bagatto family (and get my fix of calamari and other il Bagatto specialties). Most of all, I know only that my life would not have been the same without il Bagatto.
Non posso ringraziarvi abbastanza, Bea e Julio. E dorma bene il Bagatto, mi mancherai.
A fitting tribute to a wonderful place. We will miss you il Bagatto.
With the first batch of Eidos shirting landing on the floor of Bloomingdales New York and San Francisco this past weekend, I thought I would take the opportunity to relay a short story about what makes them so special to me.
On my last design trip to Italy, I had the chance to visit our shirtmaker Claudio’s small workshop to go over some new models for the upcoming fall collection. Upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised to find that his workroom was actually the ground floor of his home! There he and his team of six cut each of our shirts entirely by hand. They are then carefully assembled without fusible or glue to ensure that the garments have an easiness of character, a soul.
I’m extremely proud to be working with artisans like Claudio that care enough about the product they make to bring it into their own lives in such an intimate way. This is the very definition of clothing with soul.
To our dear customers, our friends, and aficionados of classic menswear everywhere:
We are pleased to announce that The Armoury is expanding beyond Hong Kong and opening our first North American location in TriBeCa, New York City.
The store will be soft launching on Tuesday, December 10th,…
Truly honored to have Eidos included in The Armoury’s brand roster for next spring.
We would like to invite you to be among the first to watch Worn Wear, a new film from Keith, Lauren, Chris, and Dan Malloy.
Worn Wear is an exploration of quality – in the things we own and the lives we live. This short film takes you to an off-the-grid surf camp in Baja, Mexico; a family’s maple syrup harvest in Contoocook, Vermont; an organic farm in Ojai, California; and into the lives of a champion skier, a National Geographic photographer, and a legendary alpinist. It also features exclusive interviews with Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard.
Released as an antidote to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy, Worn Wear is an invitation to celebrate the stuff you already own.
#WornWear #BetterThanNew #BlackFriday #AntiBlackFriday
This is fantastic.
Eidos Napoli’s This is Rome as worn by the models I like and the friends whose style I admire.
Lalle Johnson for Gabucci.
Lalle is a legend.
recordandcurate asked: Dear Antonio, I'm a fan since the days you were with Bastian. I'm going to Rome next week for business and will have some time to spare. Last time I was there, I was a child!. Anyway, would appreciate your recommendation on good places to eat/drink as well as the usual #menswear haunts (including your new gig with Isaia). Thanks a lot man.
Thank you for the words of support.
I just got back from Rome where we shot the Eidos S/S14 campaign (more on that later) so a lot of this is particularly fresh in my mind.
As a general rule (although there are a few exceptions) the best food in Rome is found a bit off the beaten path. There are easily dozens places I could recommend but you can’t go wrong with the following spots:
1. Giggetto - An institution in the Ghetto section. Jerusalem style fried artichokes (Carciofi alla Judea) and lamb scottaditto are fantastic here.
2. Alfredo e Ada - An easy to miss spot near the oratory of San Filippo Neri (google it). No real signage, 4 tables, no menu. They ask you what you feel like eating. Carbonara and Amatriciana are wonderful choices.
3. Giolitti - The best gelato anywhere, period. We had a two cone a day quota we easily met during the shoot. Special tastes to try are Lemon (Limone), Coffee (Cafe), Raw Chocolate (Cioccolato Fondente) and Pistaccio. If you are going for more milk based flavors don’t forget the Panna (whipped cream).
Based on what comes up when you type #menswear into a tumblr search, I cannot really help you with that kind of shopping. If you are interested well made clothing with a ton of character and taste I’d suggest the following places:
1. Cruciani e Bella - Always my first stop when I get to the city. I’ve written about it extensively of 13th & Wolf. The owner Danilo focuses on shirts and ties, with the tie selection being the best I’ve seen anywhere. If you’re there for a little while have him make one bespoke just for you.
2. The windows of Cosimo Colonna (a few doors down from Giolitti, near the Pantheon) are better than the store itself but worth a visit none the less.
3. You can’t go to Rome without visiting Dickie Greenleaf’s personal go to for tailoring - Battistoni, which is inside a palazzo on the Via Condotti.
4. Gallo - On the via frattina. Their sock selection puts Paul Smith to shame but I go for the fantastic knit ties and Friulani velvet gondolier loafers. They also have a really strong women’s offering.
All this said, the former aspiring art history professor in me cannot write a guide to Rome without mentioning that it is a city made for enjoying art and architecture, not shopping! Go checkout the follow places, they’ll leave a far more lasting impression than any jacket, tie or shoe you’ll find, I promise.
1. The Church of Il Gesu - The most fantastic frescoed ceiling in Rome that you don’t need to wait 3 hours to see.
2. Galleria Borghese - A once private villa set deep in the Borghese Gardens outside the city’s walls. Gianlorenzo Bernini’s renditions of the David, Apollo and Daphne and the Rape of Persephone are groundbreaking feats of early Baroque sculpture and not to be missed. Make an appointment ahead of time.
3. The Baths of Caracalla are the most humbling (and least crowded) of ancient archeological ruin sites. Truly monumental.
4. The glance through keyhole in the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta will provide a small but stunning view of Michelangelo’s architectural masterpiece, the dome of St. Peter’s.
5. The Church of Santa Maria sopra Minvera - Set in a piazza catty-corner to the Pantheon and flanked by an egyptian obilisk that is grounded by Bernini’s little elephant. This church houses the only piece of marble sculpted by Michelangelo that you don’t have to wait in line to see in Rome. Walk in, head for the main altar and look left. The real MB’s Risen Christ will be there to greet you.
Enjoy your trip.
As fashion overtook classic dress , the modern man stopped being sold what was right for him, and started following the dictates of those that represented fashions extremes. The lucky few with model figures and a lifestyle that started as the sun went down were at an advantage, as low waist…
kokttorsk asked: Eidos SS14 is probably the most intriguing thing I've seen in all my years lurking around the corners of the interwebs. Utterly impressed.
Thank you very much sir. Lets hope others feel similarly and that it finds its way into people’s closets.