Four decades after celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich opened Felidia, her esteemed Midtown restaurant has quietly shuttered.
In September, Bastianich sold the brownstone that’s been home to the Italian restaurant since 1981 as part of a $4.7 million deal, according to PincusCo. The building is now owned by Tony Park, the chief executive of real estate company PD Properties, who has worked with Harlem Shake, Angelina Bakery, Bonchon Chicken, Essen, and other food businesses in New York City. He plans to open an upscale Korean barbecue restaurant, called Antoya, in the space next spring, he tells Eater.
At Felidia, Bastianich introduced regional Italian cuisine to New Yorkers who were most familiar with Italian-American red sauce cooking. The menu turned to Istria, a European peninsula shared by Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia. Fans of the restaurant came for the seasonal cooking, such as its poached fruit with pate and pastas with slow-cooked sauces. Those efforts were rewarded with three stars from the New York Times in 1995, and in a follow-up review by Frank Bruni, the former critic raved about a risotto dish infused with beets, writing that “it could keep Felidia going strong for another quarter century.”
The closure marks the end of an era for Bastianich, who opened her flagship Italian restaurant at 243 East 58th Street, near Second Avenue, roughly four decades ago. Though most of its cooking has been performed by chef Fortunato Nicotra since 1996, the kitchen served as a launching pad for the Bastianich cookbooks, television programs, and supermarket sauces to come. The matriarch of the Bastianich family followed up with Becco, which she opened with daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali in 1991, and Del Posto, in partnership with son Joe Bastianich in 2005.
Despite early acclaim from the Times and others, the restaurant has been plagued by multiple wage theft lawsuits in recent years. In 2018, the Bastianich family and Mario Batali agreed to pay out $2.2 million after a former busser at the restaurant filed a class action suit against them. A year later, two former employees alleged they were illegally paid tipped wages and denied overtime pay. The suit was later settled for $10,000.
It’s not clear at this time whether Felidia will reopen at another location. Eater has reached out to Lidia and Tanya Bastianich for more information.