Feeding Frontline Medical Workers May Also Save A Family Business; How You Can Help

Luca, Ian, Isabella, and Kate Di Pietro.

By Lisa Kava

In the wake of Covid-19 where New York City has fast become an epicenter, one Upper West Side family is hard at work feeding frontline medical workers, in an effort to help the heroes and save the family business.

Luca Di Pietro, long-time Upper West Side resident and owner of Tarallucci e Vino, a popular neighborhood spot on Columbus Avenue at 83rd Street, established Feed the Frontlines NYC almost overnight along with his wife Kate, and college-aged children Isabella and Ian.

The organization delivers fresh, delicious and free meals directly to NYC hospital workers. Friends, neighbors and anyone who wants to help can log onto the site and click “Buy Meals.” The donations enable Di Pietro’s team at Tarallucci e Vino to cook, organize, package and deliver the meals to the hospitals.

Feeding the heroes.

The idea behind Feed the Frontlines NYC was planted by Adair Roberts of Toronto, a close friend of Kate Di Pietro who wanted to help both the restaurant and the medical workers. The Feed the Frontlines NYC website (www.feedthefrontlinesnyc.org), designed by Isabella Di Pietro, was launched on Saturday March 21st. By Sunday, March 29th, the organization had delivered 4,750 free meals to hospital workers throughout NYC, including NYU Langone, Mt Sinai (Main and West,) NY Presbyterian Weil Cornell, Bellevue, as well as The New Jewish Home for the Elderly.

Di Pietro had been forced to lay off 95 employees after Mayor de Blasio’s March 16th announcement that all NYC restaurants would be limited to takeout and delivery. At the time Di Pietro experimented with creative ideas to keep his business running (he owns four other Taralluci e Vino’s throughout Manhattan.) Since establishing Feed the Frontlines NYC, Di Pietro has hired back 27 employees as kitchen workers, catering managers and front-of-house personnel. Rehired workers are also packaging the food and helping with deliveries.

The entire Di Pietro family is involved in Feed the Frontlines NYC, each in a different role. Isabella, a senior at Harvard, answers the phone and emails and is in charge of the website and all social media. Ian, a freshman at Williams College, is monitoring emails, tracking purchases and meals delivered, and taking care of spreadsheets. Kate is busy with partnership and supporter requests and helping friends set up Feed the Frontlines organizations in other cities (Boston, Toronto and Marin County, California.)  Both Kate and Luca Di Pietro personally deliver meals to NYC hospital workers daily.

Luca and Kate in front of Mount Sinai West.

“This is definitely a family effort” said Di Pietro. “It means a great deal to all of us to see the outpouring of support from customers, friends, family and strangers, and to experience how grateful the health care workers are each time we make a delivery.”

Di Pietro is in conversations with other NYC restaurants in order to collaborate. So far he is working with Mesa Coyoacan, a Mexican restaurant in Williamsburg, which delivered 40 dinners to Elmhurst Hospital. “If enough people buy more meals, I want to bring back all my workers and bring other restaurants into this.”

For Isabella and Ian Di Pietro who found themselves abruptly and unexpectedly home from college mid semester finishing their school year with online classes, the opportunity to help both the medical workers and their family business has been particularly meaningful.

“So many of us are stuck at home right now, feeling anxious and helpless, and this is a way to make a real impact” said Isabella. “When I started telling my friends about the idea for Feed the Frontlines everyone asked how they could help. My talented friend Edith Herwitz helped build the website overnight. As soon as the website went live people started buying meals.”

“Like many college students I suddenly found myself at home last week with a lot of time on my hands. At least now I get to help my family out and contribute to this great effort,” said Ian.

Their eyes are smiling.

The Di Pietro’s have lived in their current apartment on the Upper West Side for over 20 years. When they were first married, Luca and Kate Di Pietro lived right around the corner from where Tarallucci e Vino is now.

“Tarallucci e Vino, like many NYC restaurants, faces an existential threat. And so Feed the Frontlines NYC was born out of necessity” said Kate Di Pietro. “But it was also born out of generosity. If we go down we will go down cooking, cooking for the health care professionals working hard, night and day, to save the lives of the people in our community.”

For more information and to help by purchasing meals for hospital workers  go to www.feedthefrontlinesnyc.org, @feedthefrontlines on Instagram, or @feedthefrontnyc on twitter.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 27 comments | permalink
    1. Bob Lamm says:

      This is wonderful. I applaud all the Di Pietro’s and everyone working with them.

    2. Ethan says:

      Yay! Fabulous! And Tarallucci e Vino is a gem of the neighborhood. We go for lunch about twice a week in normal times. We long for a return to normal times so we can visit them again.

    3. Donna says:

      Great idea. Happy to donate to help a local business and our awesome Frontline workers!

    4. We will be donating. Thank you! Wonderful idea.

      A neighborhood gem hoping will survive as well.

    5. Mark Loder says:

      Genius & compassion born of crisis! We live in Portland,OR with a daughter providing nursing care at NYU Langhorne. This helps us do something to help her & her healthcare providing peers. Thank you Kate Felsen D., Luca, Isabella & Ian!

    6. NYYgirl says:

      Wonderful, thank you!

    7. EM says:

      What an awesome idea! It a win-win, you have found a creative way to help everyone.

    8. Laura says:

      I love this story!!! Heartwarming!!
      More restaurants sign up to assist?

    9. BiancaNeve says:


    10. Loraine Gardner says:

      Thanks you, WSR, for bringing us so much news – including this opportunity to boost the Di Pietro’s great effort.

    11. UWSladyloo says:

      Donated!! Thanks for sharing, such an amazing cause.

    12. CHRIS says:

      Let’s all put our $ where our applause is- and contribute
      asap. Please.

    13. Janice says:

      This is AWESOME! I’m gonna donate!

    14. google.com says:

      Useful information. Lucky me I discovered your site
      by chance, and I am stunned why this accident didn’t came about earlier!

      I bookmarked it.

    15. dc says:

      Great idea! Donated.

    16. jem says:

      Great news.
      This is also being done in Oakland California.

    17. Cristine Haft says:

      So wonderful!!

    18. JRo says:

      This is wonderful! Mel’s Burger Bar on Broadway bear 110th is doing the same, and asking for donations in increments of just $5.00, so you can give a little or a lot. Applause to our local restaurants for being incredibly generous and innovative.

    19. Judith says:

      Great reporting! Thanks.

    20. sharon Derrickson says:

      Thank you so much for all of your efforts…we never really know a hero until we see them in action and you all are my heros

    21. Karen Rosenthal says:

      Want to let everyone know that Jacob of Jacobs Pickles is also generously doing his part for the city. He has been feeding FOR FREE the workers of West Side Campaign Against Hunger— our first responders who are continuing to supply our 22,000 customers with emergency food. Please support these generous restauranteurs as well as WSCAH.org which is continuing their work, but with an increase in costs of $15,000 per week…..

      • lynn says:

        Just a note to add to this. If any of you are using Amazon to get food and supplies during this time (or any time) you can help support West Side Center For Community Life Inc by using AmazonSmile.com and adding them as your charity. : )

    22. Emily says:

      Gladly donating and sharing with some others, too. Can’t wait to visit them again and sit outside. Thank you <3

    23. Barbara K Stowe says:

      Wow! You guys are great, as I have always known! Congratulations for an amazingly wonderful and generous project! Love to you all, Barbie Stowe

    24. Ruta Smithson says:

      Great idea filling a great need. I’m donating in honor of Jill Guthrie’s niece.

    25. Kim bendheim says:

      Can I volunteer to help cook and package the food
      I’m also an upper west Sider of many years and a Harvard grad like the family’s daughter

    26. Eyeglasses/contact lenses/coronavirus
      Jeffrey’s Manhattan Eyeland

      During this crisis we have the ability to make and ship prescription eyewear and contact lenses. We have a lab on premise to cut lenses. So if need be we can cut lenses into your current eyeglasses.

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      Everybody stay safe and healthy

      Jeffrey Erber