Has any Upper West Side restaurant ever had this kind of celebrity cred? Oprah’s former personal chef is working with Lady Gaga’s father to build a family-friendly Italian restaurant on 68th Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West, and the new spot is generating all sorts of buzz.

The restaurant was initially expected to open just before Thanksgiving, and then we were told it would open just before Christmas. Naushab Ahmed, the project manager, said yesterday that they now expect to open in January, although the exact date is still in flux. As you can see in the picture I snapped and posted below, the bar area looks like it’s ready to rock.

New York magazine’s GrubStreet blog talked to Chef Art Smith, who used to be Oprah’s personal chef, about the menu. He told them that the food would be traditional Italian fare, with a Southern twist. That means the caprese salad will have fried green tomatoes instead of the traditional fresh red ones, and grits will likely replace polenta as a side dish. Also get ready for Grandma Germanotta’s zucchini fritters, wedding soups and a whole bunch of pies and tarts. In short, don’t eat lunch if you’re heading there for dinner. Lady Gaga’s father, Joe Germanotta, also told me a few weeks ago that the restaurant will have a price-fixe menu.

Germanotta has been very hands-on with the restaurant’s renovation. Every time I’ve stopped by, he’s been in there working with the construction guys. Can you imagine Jessica Simpson’s dad or the Kardashian mom getting down and dirty with a construction project?

New York mag calls the place one of the most hotly anticipated New York restaurants slated for the new year. I’ve already had numerous Gaga fans ask me to help them get reservations. Oh, if only I had that kind of power…

Photos by Avi.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 2 comments | permalink
    1. Steve Mendoza says:

      Southern Fried Italian food..??? YUM… im there… Naushab…expect me soon…

    2. Robin says:

      My friends and I would love to come to Joanne at the end of January. Any chance it will be open then?