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Our “American Chef in Tuscany” Is Coming Home

Our Editor-in-Chief shares the news of our expat contributor in Tuscany, Gaetano Arnone, who will return to open an Italian restaurant in the Hudson Valley.

Gaetano Arnone and Andrew Cotto

Gaetano Arnone and Andrew Cotto. Photo by Mireille Jaccard.

Early in the pandemic, I had been interviewed in a promotional series hosted by LA-based filmmaker Roberto Serrini in conjunction with a film he had made about a vintage Italian book collection, Italy in Bocca. After chatting about Italian food on air, we spoke about Italian food off air. It was in the latter conversation that Roberto tempted me down to the Brooklyn waterfront where he and his crew, a collection of creative Italophile rogues, hung out drinking and cooking in a loft above a vintage European motorcycle shop, both owned by his friend Motoborgotaro. It sounded cool to me, so I went.

The first person I saw, sitting on a Ducati parked in front of the shop, was a handsome, dark-haired dude talking on his cell phone. He nodded as I entered the loft. Upstairs, in the hipped-out space full of light, featuring a six-burner Viking range and enough kitchen apparatus to run a restaurant, I met the gang and made fast friends. The loft would later be my almost-nightly destination for dinner and the venue for the pandemic-era book release of my novel, Cucina Romana: Another Italian Adventure, with guest host Rocco DiSpirito making Pasta Carbonara and Beefsteak Fiorentina. See it here:

Eventually, the motorcycle guy on the phone came upstairs. He was introduced as Gaetano Arnone, a chef who had worked closely with Mario Batali before the collapse. In fact, it was Batali, from his secret location in exile, with whom Gaetano had been speaking to on the phone when I arrived. Instead of dishing tidbits on his intimacy with one of the most notorious figures in America at the time, Gaetano offered a measured yet thoughtful rumination on the situation that had complicated so many lives, including his own. I liked him immediately.

Meigan and Gaetano Arnone with Radio.
Meigan and Gaetano Arnone with Radio. Photo by Meigan Arnone.

Later in the evening I learned the Gaetano and his wife, Meigan, and their Jack Russell Terrier, Radio, would be moving outside of Milan to work on projects under the auspices of my food hero, Dario Cecchini.

When the Cecchini projects were altered and no longer a fit, Gaetano, Meigan, and Radio relocated to Villa Le Corti, a sprawling 17th century estate in Tuscany, where prestigious wines and extra virgin olive oil are produced, on grounds owned by the Corsini family since the 14th century. Gaetano would serve as a private chef, give tours of the property, teach classes, and tend to the garden; Meigan took on the role of creative director for the estate as well as social media manager and photographer. Radio was free to run the grounds at will.

I know all of this because I stayed in touch with Gaetano after our initial meeting at the loft and visited Villa Le Corti in 2022. I found his thoughtfulness and intellect to be refreshing. I learned that he was a history buff, a great admirer of Caravaggio, and a damn fine writer. It was the latter talent that inspired me to ask Gaetano to contribute a regular column at Appetito. His The American Chef in Tuscany pieces offer honest insight into their lives as expats in Tuscany as well as seasonal recipes (enhanced by Meigan's expert photography).

And while we have loved Gaetano's contributions from Italy, we are also happy to report that he and Meigan and Radio will be moving back to the States to open Via Cassia in Hudson, NY, in early 2024, inspired by the eponymous Roman road that still runs from the Eternal City to the south of France. The menu will reflect this geography with seafood from Liguria, oil, meat, and wine from Tuscany, and grain from Lazio. The wine list will represent the entire peninsula with many selections from the south.

Allow me to be the first to welcome the Arnone's back to America and to wish them all the best in the new endeavor. Appetito will be there on opening night!

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