… A Farmhouse in the Middle of Manhattan …
Restaurateur Peppe Iuele and partners Enzo Ruggiero and Pino Coladonato, with Interior Designer Libby Langdons’ help, have brought the Italian countryside to Manhattan in form of their restaurant “La Masseria”.
What is La Masseria?”
In the Puglia Region of Italy the masseria is the heart of any large working farm. It’s the building where produce is preserved and where everything, from tools to live animals, is housed. Inspiration for our restaurant La Masseria comes from these ancient farmhouses, where classic dishes utilized the freshest natural ingredients harvested from land and sea. Ripe with all the delight nature has to offer, the fertile southern Italian land produces superb wines and olive oil, the farms yield rich organic grains and vegetables, and the seas are teeming with fish, shellfish and crustaceans. This region’s simple, authentic style of cooking is an integral part of the masseria culture, and is the cornerstone of New York’s newest dining experience.
The 3 Owners of La Masseria Restaurant
Peppe Iuele, formerly co-owner of La Locanda, hails from the famous isle of Capri. “Growing up in Italy, I understood that food was an important way to bring people together,” he says. Peppe was naturally drawn to the restaurant business, and whether as a waiter, head chef, general manager or owner, his approach to customers has remained the same. “I want them to feel comfortable, as if they are enjoying a delicious meal at a good friends house, and I think we’ve successfully created that feeling here at La Masseria.”
Enzo Ruggiero has known Peppe since they were children growing up in Capri. Enzo’s passion extends beyond food to wine. In his childhood his grandfather used to take him to local vineyards where they would stomp grapes to make the family wine. Passionate about pairing the perfect wine with the right dish. “I have traveled throughout southern Italy to find vineyards producing a collection of lesser known wines, like the Falanghina from Campania”, Enzo says. The wine list of La Masseria is extensive and with Enzo’s expertise there’s sure to be a fabulous find for everyone.
Pino Coladonato, executive chef and co-owner, met Peppe and Enzo when he was the chef at Sette Mezzo, where he worked for 14 years. Growing up on a farm in Puglia Pino began creating dishes with the few ingredients, often limited to beans, available. Today fava beans, chickpeas and lentils are still a core element in many of his entrées. For La Masseria he has designed a superb menu that uses a wealth of traditional ingredients to evoke flavors and aromas of the Italian farmhouse culture. “I remember the masseria food; it was simple, fresh and flavorful – it’s whatever the land or sea has to offer at that time. That’s what I want to offer people here, the best dishes that represent that authentic cuisine.”
Interior Designer Libby Langdon has created a warm, inviting dining atmosphere reminiscent of a true masseria. “We wanted rustic-and-relaxed with plenty of old world charm,” notes Libby, “using a wide mix of textures was also important in achieving the restaurant’s theme.” Oversized iron sconces, designed by Langdon and custom made from antique wrought iron gates, punctuate the newly burnished walls. Artful displays of antique farm tools are mixed with authentic Italian photographs. Libby and the owners selected all stones framing the arched wines bins. The eight-foot chandelier at the rear of the restaurant was also designed by Libby. The fixture features three antique wagon wheels with a total of 30 lights.
Libby’s design presents an outstanding blend of rural Italian style, nostalgia and charm. The perfect setting for La Masseria’s exceptional cuisine.