Coming soon, the irrepressible Maccioni family brings a Fellini style and generations of Upper East Side hospitality to Sirio Ristorante at The Pierre.
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Restaurateur Sirio Maccioni is a New York icon, best known for creating Le Cirque, the legendary temple of dining he opened in 1974 on 65th Street in the Mayfair Hotel (and later moved to the Palace and more recently to the Bloomberg Tower). These days, the next generation of Maccionis—Sirio’s sons Mauro, Marco, and Mario—is preparing to unveil the family’s newest venture, Sirio Ristorante, at the Pierre Hotel. We sat down with Marco to get the inside scoop.
Your father has said that he is a successful restaurateur because he tries to anticipate what people want. How do you plan to do that at Sirio?
My father says check your humility at the door. He is still around because he has been able to evolve with the desires of his customers. Sirio is going to be about feeling at ease in a place. It will emanate a certain chicness, but you don’t have to have a jacket and tie to be chic. It will be about casual dining in one of the most sought-after neighborhoods of New York. Step outside and you’ll have Central Park right in front of you.
What makes the Pierre the right venue for the restaurant?
The Pierre is one of New York’s most storied hotels, and one of its most beautiful. The relationship between the Maccionis and The Pierre spans more than 40 years, starting with when my father worked at The Pierre. He first arrived in the U.S. in the ’50s and, a few years later, took over the job of managing La Foret, the supper club in the Pierre at that time.
I hear the restaurant draws inspiration from the film La Dolce Vita. How are you planning to recreate that Fellini feel?
The Fellini-esque feel will, first and foremost, come from our family’s craziness. Not to mention, our hometown in Tuscany, Montecatini, was the site of two Fellini movies. La Dolce Vita means the good life, and more than anything we are lovers of life, as all Italians are. We will translate that at the table by providing a locals feel to the place. That’s what Le Cirque did in 1974.
What inspired the menu at Sirio?
Above all, the menu is going to be influenced by seasonality. Italian food lets the ingredients do the talking. We are Tuscan born, so there is going to be a Tuscan accent, but our executive chef, Filippo Gozzoli, is from Milano, and in Milano they don’t joke around about their cooking.
As beverage director, do you have big plans for the drinks menu?
In Italy there is a strong tradition of the aperitivo. Most of these drinks are based with Campari and vermouth, like the Milano torino and the negroni. Although those are cocktails that are not totally familiar to the American diner, they’re catching on, just like authentic Italian food.
On your day off, where do you go to eat? Sushi Seki (formerly Sushi Hatsu) up on 63rd Street and 1st Avenue. It’s a wonderful neighborhood restaurant that I started going to as a little kid. At that time, the only customers were Japanese. When I started to go more frequently, Chef Hatsu himself came over to my table one night and said, “You’ve been a bad boy.” As he was talking, my sake cup was switched out with a beautiful Venetian blown glass into which they poured this incredible sake. My soy sauce showed up in this beautiful vase, and you could see and taste the difference in the quality. And then, the raw sweet shrimp—the one that had always been sold out when I asked for it—was on my plate. “You’ve been a bad boy, the chef said again, and I asked what he meant. He said, “You didn’t tell me who you are. Your father is Sirio and your chef is Daniel Boulud. And you brought them to my restaurant.” I admitted that, yeah, I did, and ever since, the chef has been exceptionally accommodating to me. It’s that sense of familiarity—they work the same way that we do—that makes me love the place.