This summer East Enders will be bidding farewell to the world-renowned EMP Summer House as another Upper East Side classic takes its place. Paola’s East is set to open Memorial Day Weekend with a one-year lease. The restaurant will serve classic Italian cuisine.
“The beautiful thing about a neighborhood restaurant is you stick to those basic motivations,” said owner Stefano Marracino of the existing business model that his mother, Paola Bottero, began 33 years ago. The restaurant started with only 10 tables, 32 seats, and two seating times, “it was the boot camp for making anything else afterwards, better. We wish to do the same thing out here. Just be a neighborhood restaurant.” Fast forward to today, and Paola is supportive but not physically active in the day-to-day operations.
As gastronomy is moving away from the molecular and back to the basics, Marracino is bringing simple Roman cuisine to East Hampton, “driven by love.”
House-made mozzarella, insalata di barbe, artichoke, the list goes on. With an existing over 80-percent repeat clientele already existing in New York City, Paola’s East plans to incorporate generational recipes with “a little influence with what’s local and fresh.” Aiming “to improve quality but not completely reinventing. Basic ingredients, simple combinations.”
Marracino grew up with the entire family involved in the restaurant, including his two daughters, but he’s taken the reins and absorbed the pressure. With 45 employees, many of them loyally employed for 20 years, it’s a lot of coordination but the core is respect.
“Right now, it is a pop-up dynamic and everyone has been embracing it. Because we’re not threatening what’s existing.” The restaurant is currently partnering with a farm in Woodstock, where Marracino takes his turn on the tractor, and plans to incorporate local farms, vineyards, and breweries as the months progress to lower the carbon footprint.
“We don’t want to interrupt we want to be involved and to add something,” he stated. A passion for the community drives deep into the heart of this operation, hoping to start cooking classes as well as vocational training and therapy. Food, from eating to cooking, is therapeutic as well as a passion. “To be able to work in a restaurant in this environment, it’s a dream.”
To check out Paola’s in the city, the website is www.paolasrestaurant.com.