Hot chef: L’Apicio’s Gabe Thompson

Gabe Thompson’s fourth restaurant, L’Apicio (13 E. First St. 212-533-7400), features a number of classic and contemporary Italian dishes.

Superstorm Sandy couldn’t keep the new East Village hot spot L’Apicio down. “We were open for a week and then Sandy happened and then we were closed for a week,” says Executive Chef Gabe Thompson, who is the mastermind behind three other must-eat restaurants: Dell’anima, L’Artusi and Anfora. “But considering what others had to go through, we got off easy.” And judging from the crowds, it’s like they never had a setback so soon after launching. “[Being popular] has been a nice problem to have this early on,” he says humbly.

What are you especially fond of on the new menu?
I’m proud of our pasta program; I’m very happy with it. For the most part, the menu is pretty good. We still need a few more things to make it exactly how I want it to be, but we’re not rushing. We’ve learned that you need to take your time and not rush to fill it up too soon. You need to test dishes.

Your wife is pastry chef Katherine Thompson. You work closely, since she’s employed at all of your restaurants. How is that?
She’s my partner in crime. She is trained as a savory chef, but because she’s a perfectionist she became our pastry chef; all of our deserts have a slightly  savory element to them because of her background. I think she’s the most talented person on our staff.

You’ve been getting a lot of attention for your award-winning meatballs, which took home the prize at NYC Wine & Food Festival’s Meatball Madness before L’Apicio even opened. What’s the secret?
My wife and I went back and forth [about entering the contest]. We thought we shouldn’t because there are so many meatball spots out there. We figured we would just use this recipe we know. By some dumb chance, we won. We roast them and finish them in a tomato bacon sauce. The  secret might be the spices we put into them — but I’m not telling.

New at L’Apicio

The restaurant recently launched brunch, which features specialties like braised short rib hash with poached eggs and pickled chili as well as house-made brunch pastas.


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