To what do you attribute your longevity? Why do you think you have managed to stay open for so long?
I think the continuous changing of dishes and the long list of specials keep things new. It’s never boring at Da Silvano. We have always had famous people coming into the restaurant. Since the early days, we had gallery owners and artists like Jasper Johns coming in. I opened before Soho was Soho. After we opened, one day Leo Castelli came in and discovered the restaurant – the next weekend we were packed. That kept happening. Then actors like Robert Redford and others started coming in for dinner and since then we have always had a following of people who are famous and those who write about the famous people. Condé Nast has been very kind to us; Si Newhouse and Anna Wintour have been longtime customers. Word of mouth through customers and neighbors really helped make us popular and continues to today, with press sightings and famous customers like Rihanna (who comes in a lot when she is in New York).
Why did you and do you still get the A-list crowds?
We have many regulars that you could say are A-list. They like to come in often and when they are in New York. They know they will always find something new and always ask me what to order. Last week we had Peter Brandt and his wife, Lou Reed, Anna Wintour and Oliver Stone all in at different times. There is not a week that there is not somebody famous here. A lot of neighborhood locals and famous people like to return over and over again. I think the restaurant has become a New York staple.
How involved are you with the cooking now?
I am still the executive chef. I direct my cooks and teach them to cook the dishes my way, and then we decide what will be on the specials every day based on what the fish market has freshest, what vegetables are in season, and what is the best quality.
I am always here – or close by. I have lived around the corner for over thirty years! If I go away people ask why I’m not here – they even get mad sometimes. Even I need some time off now and then. But I love it.
Who (for you) is the most memorable person that has ever come in?
Off-hand, it is hard to come up with a name. There have been so many over the years. Madonna has been in…Jack Nicholson, but he gets swarmed by the paparazzi. The Rolling Stones used to come in. Cyndi Lauper was very memorable for my daughter. You know, we haven’t gotten Obama, Bill Clinton, or Lady GaGa yet!