Consumed: What Janet Zuccarini, owner of Trattoria Nervosa and Gusto 101, ate last week
We're asking the city's top chefs and restaurateurs to document everything they eat and drink over the course of one week. Here, Janet Zuccarini, the owner of Trattoria Nervosa and Gusto 101
I wake up every morning around 6:45—I have a puppy, so even if I want to sleep in, I can’t. The first thing I do is turn on my espresso machine. My family has been in the coffee business for 60 years, so coffee’s very important to me.
6:45 a.m.: Turn on the espresso machine
Then I take Roma, my toy Australian shepherd, for a little walk and I get her breakfast going. She’s super-cute but a lot of work—it’s like I’m going to have a two-and-a-half year old for the next 15 years. I always make sure I give myself about an hour to enjoy my breakfast. Even if I have a flight at 7 a.m., I’ll get up at 4 a.m. and make myself a full breakfast—eggs and everything. Right now I’m trying to keep my sugar as low as possible. I want to see how my brain feels on ketosis. I’m opening five restaurants this year, so I’m looking for anything to help my brain function at its highest level.
7:30 a.m.: Egg white omelette with lentils
My breakfast this morning consisted of an egg-white omelette. I’ve become a little intolerant to yolk because I eat a lot of eggs—I can only tolerate organic, pasture-raised ones. I like to put lentils in my omelette. There’s this amazing lentil side dish at Gusto right now, so I just get a takeout order and keep it in my fridge. Then I add some avocado, a few organic grape tomatoes, and a side of double-smoked bacon that I get from the Brick Works Farmers’ Market, which I visit every Saturday morning. Lentils are a slow-burning carb, and I try to eat as much of that fuel as I can so I’m not thinking about food for at least five hours. I don’t want to be hungry and I don’t want to have cravings.
9:30 a.m.: Celebratory champagne
I had a meeting with our architecture and design firm, Partisans. They’re building all of my restaurants in Toronto. A big chunk of today’s meeting was about the expansion of Trattoria Nervosa, which will get started in 2017. The instruction I gave them was to keep the yellow house and build something crazy and modern around it. I think they came up with something super-progressive and beautiful. We also finally got a permit to build our Jamaican restaurant, Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen, so we popped a bottle of champagne. Getting a permit from the city is something to celebrate.
After, I went to Gusto for lunch and ordered the kale caesar salad with grilled chicken. I drank tons of water—it was really hot today—but I usually finish my meal with a single espresso.
12:30 p.m.: Kale salad with chicken at Gusto 101
Then I came home because I had a conference call with our interior designer, Wendy Haworth, and my chef and partner Evan Funke, about Felix, my project in L.A. It’s a hyper-local, hyper-seasonal Italian restaurant. We went over all the designs for the restaurant: making the final choices for wallpaper, light fixtures, and tables and chairs. I’m super-excited about the design direction. It’s going to be like an Italian home—kinda quirky, with wallpaper that you might find in a nonna’s kitchen, but still very modern and relevant.
After that, I went to my gym, Equinox in Yorkville. I did a vinyasa yoga class and then a steam to relax. I don’t typically work out at the end of the day—I’m usually a morning person.
8:30 p.m.: Branzino and kale salad at Trattoria Nervosa
I went to Nervosa for dinner and met with my head of operations, Demetrio Bianco, who’s been my right-hand guy for 20 years. When we have so many projects on the go, we tend to meet after hours. Tonight we were focusing on the Pai expansion, which I’m working on with chef Nuit Regular. I had the branzino, the kale salad and a glass of white wine. That took me to about 10 p.m., so I just came home, took the dog for one last walk and went to bed.
I woke up just before 7 a.m. and took care of my puppy. For breakfast, I had a three-minute poached egg with sautéed baby kale and wild mushrooms on the side and sriracha on top. I was inspired by a dish I love at Gjusta in Venice, California. As usual, I had a double espresso.
7 a.m.: Poached egg with baby kale and wild mushrooms
Then I went to a tennis club near my house in Rosedale. I started playing last July, and now it’s officially become an obsession. Then I had a pretty big meeting at my commissary kitchen and head office with Elio Zannoni, the executive chef of all my restaurants. We met about our newish catering business, Gusto 54 Catering, which we’re really ramping up this summer. It makes all the bread and pasta for our restaurants.
I went to Gusto for lunch and ate by myself—I just put my head down, looked at my phone and got caught up on emails. I had the grilled octopus and then I tried a new side dish of grilled little gem lettuce. I always make sure to try the new dishes.
1 p.m.: Grilled octopus and salad at Gusto 101
It was a gorgeous day, so I went to see my buddy Dave Sidhu, who owns all the Playa Cabana restaurants. I have an old-school Vespa, but I don’t drive it often because I think it’s quite dangerous. Playa Hacienda is so close to my house that I’m comfortable driving my Vespa there. I’d really like to open something with Dave, and we’ve been talking about it for years. We just get together and talk shop—I think he’s such an awesome guy.
4 p.m.: Visit with Dave Sidhu at Playa Hacienda
For the second time this week, I went to Le Pavillon, the pop-up restaurant at the Hearn Generating Station. I was a guest of my architect, Alex Josephson from Partisans—he did all the work for Luminato. He put a table together of serious foodies including his uncle, Josh Josephson, who owned the Cookbook Store in Yorkville. Alex requested that we each bring one great bottle of wine but some people brought extra, so at a table of seven people we ended up with 15 bottles of really ridiculous wine. We had the oyster and shrimp platter, white asparagus cooked in green asparagus jus, ham brought in from Joe Beef, duck foie gras, lamb, horse tartare and snails. The dinner went until 1:30 a.m. The whole room was full of all my buddies in the restaurant business—it was one of the best, most memorable dining experiences I’ve ever had.
11 p.m.: Dinner at Le Pavillon
I had to wake up at 6:30 a.m. to take care of the dog. My breakfast was the usual: an egg-white omelette with sautéed baby kale, avocado and double-smoked bacon. And a double espresso.
6:45 a.m.: Walk with the dog
7:00 a.m.: Another omelette for breakfast
At 8:30 a.m., I had another tennis lesson. Then I had a meeting with the president of our company, Juanita Dickson, and Jeff and Nuit Regular about Pai’s expansion. Right now we have two new restaurants under construction, so we went to both locations to check on the progress.
8:30 a.m.: Checking in on Pai’s expansion
Then I went back home, and Claudio Aprile stopped by for an espresso. We just caught up and talked shop—I can talk about the restaurant business all day long.
11 a.m.: Espresso with Claudio Aprile
After, I had to do a cooking demo for our restaurant’s social media. This particular video was about how to cook the perfect steak, according to me, of course. So I told our social media guru, Jessica Bronstein, that when it was done we’d eat it for lunch. I used a dry-aged ribeye from our commissary kitchen, where we have a butcher on site, and I cooked it over high heat with salt and pepper. I also made a simple salad with amazing greens from Cookstown Greens, and then added some avocado, toasted pine nuts and organic tomatoes.
1 p.m.: Steak and salad for lunch
For dinner, I went back to Pai with Juanita. We often hold our meetings at our different restaurants to check in with our partners and managers. Nuit wanted to prepare some new dishes for us, so we tried a bunch of them: sautéed morning glory, pad Thai with glass noodles, green chicken curry with noodles, laap salad with ground chicken, and miang kung (stuffed betel leaves). Nuit’s cooking is just the best. We had some red wine, too. I know we should have had beer or white wine with those dishes, but Juanita and I always gravitate to red.
6:30 p.m.: Dinner at Pai
After our meeting, I went back home to pack up my dog up because my sister was coming to get her. She’s taking care of her while I’m in New York for the next few days.
I woke up with no pup in the house, so that was a real timesaver. I had a super-quick breakfast before leaving for the airport: toasted rye bread, smashed avocado, Kristapson’s cold-smoked salmon, organic grape tomatoes, micro greens and organic olive oil from my family’s company—and a double espresso, of course.
5:30 a.m.: Pre-flight breakfast
Then my first Uber drive from hell—we got lost on the way to the airport. When I finally got there, I had a matcha green tea latte—half soy, half water—from Starbucks. There’s nothing good for me in that.
7:00 a.m.: A Starbucks latte at the airport
The plane didn’t take off for two hours. And of course this was the first trip in my life that I didn’t pack snacks for. The flight attendants came by, and I asked if there were nuts or anything and they said they only had complimentary pretzels. I don’t really eat pretzels, so I didn’t take any. An hour later though, I had to go back and get the pretzels.
I arrived at my sister’s place on the Upper East Side, dropped off my bags, then hopped on the 6 train to meet up with a couple of friends at a restaurant in the West Village called Via Carota. I went to university in Rome with one of them, and her husband is going to be one of my wine suppliers for Felix. We shared everything we had: a fennel salad, grilled orate, sautéed kale with crispy pancetta, and buffalo mozzarella with eggplant caponata and zucchini. We drank water—we didn’t have wine even though we were talking about it.
2 p.m.: Lunch at Via Carota
After lunch, I had a meeting with a woman named Camilla Marcus. She worked for Danny Myer’s restaurant group, Union Square Hospitality—I’m really intrigued by that restaurant group. We grabbed a coffee at Third Rail in the West Village and sat in Washington Square Park. I felt like I met my kindred culinary spirit—she has her MBA and studied in Rome, just like me. She’s starting her own business, and usually when people want to meet with me, they want me to invest or something, but she didn’t want any help. It was like I was meeting myself 20 years ago. Keep an eye out for this one, she’s up to big things.
4 p.m.: Coffee in Washington Square Park
My sister and I had planned to have dinner at the SoHo House, but she called and said “Do you want to do that, or do you want to go see Amy Schumer?” So I jumped on a train to meet my sister at Madison Square Gardens. Amy’s the first female comedian to perform there—and she killed it. She’s so, so good.
7:30 p.m.: Amy Schumer at Madison Square Gardens
It was pretty late and we ended up eating closer to where my sister lives. We went to a newish restaurant called the East Pole, which was opened by the people behind the Fat Radish, a cool, hipster restaurant on the Lower East Side. It’s kind of interesting to see this type of spot move into neighbourhood. My sister is mostly vegetarian, and she loves their macro plate of brown rice with pickled cabbage, heirloom carrots, cippolini onion, adzuki beans, tahini purée, squash, Tuscan kale and pickled cucumbers. So I gave that a try and it was pretty good. I like vegetarian food, but it’s never my choice when I go to a restaurant. She raved about this though, so I had to give it a shot. And I had one glass of Italian pinot noir.
10 p.m.: East Pole’s macro plate
I woke up at 8 a.m., which is actually a sleep-in for me. My breakfast was the same as always—my sister had stocked her fridge with breakfast stuff that she knows I love, so I really didn’t have a choice. This time I had my egg-white omelette with Daniel Boulud’s excellent smoked salmon and some avocado. I also had a double espresso and a smoothie made with Athletic Greens. I can’t bring it into Canada, but I keep it in my house in L.A. It’s made of an amazing array of ingredients, and I feel great when I drink it.
8:30 a.m.: An omelette and some superfood
A bit later on, we drove out to the Hamptons. This weekend was a celebration because it was my brother-in-law Edward’s birthday. We had lunch at Townline BBQ. It’s owned by the same people behind Nick and Toni’s which is an institution in Manhattan. I had the combo plate: pulled chicken, beef short ribs, collard greens and grilled asparagus. It was all so delicious.
1 p.m.: Lunch at Townline BBQ
After lunch, we went to my sister Jennifer’s beach house, but Jennifer and I left shortly after to get a coffee at Jack’s in Amagansett—I had a double macchiato. Then we did a course called SLT—strengthen, lengthen and tone. It’s basically pilates on steroids. On the way back we stopped at Vicki’s Veggies to pick up eggs, herbs, vegetables and, as it was the last week of the season, some strawberries. I love going to farmers’ markets so I can buy the best produce possible. When we got back to the house, I relaxed by the pool and went over emails.
3 p.m.: Grocery shopping at Vicki’s Veggies
For dinner we went to a restaurant called Moby’s. It started out as a pop-up in Montauk with picnic tables, six items on the menu and one wood-burning pizza oven. Now they have a 250-seat restaurant. It’s the place to be—everyone driving in from New York City stops in at Moby’s for dinner. We threw down everything on the table and shared it: tuna crudo, burrata, farro salad, pappardelle, spaghettini and two pizzas. Dessert was tiramisu lemon curd, and we had two bottles of the excellent house rosé.
7:30 p.m.: Dinner at Moby’s
I woke up at 7:45 a.m. and had the same breakfast as usual, but by the pool this time!
8:15 a.m.: A poolside omelette
Then my sister and I did a yoga class in Amagansett then stopped by Jack’s again. I had a cortado.
11:00 a.m.: A cortado at Jack’s
Cavionola’s Gourmet recently opened up. It’s full of delicious cheese, so we bought some. Then we stopped by Round Swamp Farm, which is part market stand and part store. We picked up groceries and a bunch of prepared food to take back to the house where we ate lunch under the gazebo: oven-fried chicken, broccoli and a kale salad with almonds, cranberries and apples, roasted cauliflower salad, avocado. And we had some rosé, too.
1 p.m.: Shopping at Round Swamp Farm
After lunch, we went for a walk on the beach followed by a quick bike ride. By then, it was almost time for dinner. Chef Shannon Pallen came to the beach house—she caters a lot of my sister’s parties. For appetizers she served a cheese plate and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. Then she made marinated skirt steak, local red snapper, zucchini asparagus salad, broccoli. The standout dish was definitely the skirt steak—it was in some kind of brine with an amazing chimichurri sauce. Edward pulled out this giant magnum of 1988 Sassicaia, my favourite wine. It was amazing, so I had two glasses of that, followed by vanilla ice cream and a slice of cherry pie my sister brought from Manhattan.
7:00 p.m.: A chef-catered dinner
Sunday was an extremely ambitious day. Both my sister and I had work to do, so we both woke up at 6 a.m. I had her favourite breakfast of Anita’s Coconut Yogourt. It’s made in Brooklyn, and that’s the only place you can get it—they don’t add any stabilizers, so it can’t be transported. My sister said I had to try it because it’s “next level” yogurt. It’s super-high in fat and very low in sugar which is right up my alley, but I added sugary things to it, like granola, lots of seeds and nuts, some banana and a little bit of almond milk. I drank two double espressos—it was a late night and I had to get up early, so I put the equivalent of four single espressos into my body. After breakfast, I went for a quick run on the beach and then we both went for a short bike ride.
6:15 a.m.: “Next-level” yogurt for breakfast
7 a.m.: A run on the beach
I got back to my hotel in Nolita at around 11 a.m. and met Juanita, who had just flown in from Toronto. We walked over to this great espresso place called Happy Bones for a cortado.
11:30 a.m.: A cortado at Happy Bones
I wanted to check out a matcha place that just opened up called Cha Cha Matcha Café. I ordered a matcha green tea latte with coconut, but I only took two sips of it because I had just had the cortado. My sister really likes their branding and thought I would be inspired for my new Jamaican place. Even if I never go into the matcha green tea latte business, I like to keep my finger on the pulse of what everyone’s into.
12 p.m.: Cha Cha Matcha Café
We jumped on a train and headed to the Fancy Food Show at the Javits Centre. We’re getting ready to launch a pretty full product line of my family’s organic olive oil, our pasta sauces, our pesto sauces, salt and things like that. I wanted to go to the show to see if we could get any new product ideas, if there are potential partnerships, check out labelling and just sample new things.
1:00 p.m.: The Fancy Food Show
We left the show and went to the latest Miss Lily’s, a Jamaican restaurant on the Lower East Side. I had the ackee and sailfish that came with fried plantains and callaloo, and I also had an arugula salad with goat cheese, cashews and jerk chicken in a red-wine vinaigrette. Because I’m opening a Jamaican restaurant, I wanted to check it out.
2:30 p.m.: Lunch at Miss Lily’s
My sister was doing a private shopping event, she has a lingerie and clothing line called Fleur du Mal. Some friends wanted me to pick them up some things, and I got some stuff for myself as well. I always like to stop by her studio to see what she’s doing.
4:30 p.m.: Shopping at Fleur du Mal
It was a friend’s birthday, so I made dinner reservations at La Sirena, Mario Batali’s newest restaurant. We shared fluke crudo, crispy branzino and some spicy rapini. And we had some white wine—it was a really interesting varietal that the sommelier picked out. I got back to the hotel around 11:30 p.m., and that’s all she wrote.
8 p.m.: A birthday dinner at La Sirena
more of what chefs eat