One latest morning, within the bustle of Florence’s historic central market, Silvano Marchetto, a stout 76-year-old man with a mane of white hair, sat nursing a Negroni as he thought-about what he wished to prepare dinner for dinner. The butchers and fishmongers who walked by threw respectful nods his manner.
The silver bracelets on his wrists jangled as he polished off his drink. Shuffling previous meat shows and fruit stands as he went deeper into the market, he grunted reminiscences about his outdated life in New York Metropolis, again when he ran a star haven in Greenwich Village, Da Silvano.
“Lou Reed all the time stated I served the most effective branzino.”
“Rihanna beloved my taglierini contadina.”
“Anna Wintour’s ex-husband used to like my rabbit.”
Mr. Marchetto favored the look of some recent porcini, so he resolved to prepare dinner monkfish with mushrooms. His subsequent cease was a vegetable stall. Its operator, Elena Popa, gave him a glance.
“Are you well-known or one thing?” she requested in Italian.
“I ran a restaurant in New York referred to as Da Silvano,” he stated. “Closed now.”
“As a result of. The lease. My knees. Divorce.”
“If it was profitable, couldn’t somebody have simply saved operating it for you?” she requested.
“Another person run Da Silvano?” he stated. “Completely not!”
In sure New York circles, Da Silvano wants no introduction, and neither does Mr. Marchetto, who for 4 many years ran his trattoria as one of many metropolis’s reigning downtown canteens for the artwork, vogue, movie and media crowds.
That reign ended when he closed Da Silvano with little warning in 2016. Then Mr. Marchetto vanished from public view.
This summer time, after I began making calls in an effort to trace him down, among the suggestions I heard had been outlandish: He was on the run within the South of France; he’d opened a seashore pizzeria in Cyprus; he was working a tiny, one-man trattoria in rural Italy; a Vogue photographer I spoke with had heard he was lifeless; and the designer Isaac Mizrahi, a onetime common, stated he had “no thought what occurred to him.”
“Da Silvano now represents a misplaced period of downtown New York, and he was its rustic host,” Mr. Mizrahi stated. “I’m nonetheless mourning it, and I nonetheless look at its outdated tackle each time I am going up Sixth Avenue and suppose, ‘The place did he go?’”
Mr. Marchetto opened the restaurant in 1975 with the concept of serving New Yorkers the country delicacies he had grown up with in Tuscany. Italian high-quality eating within the metropolis was then typified by spaghetti and meatballs served with Chianti from straw-covered bottles, so his preparations of liver crostini and tripe stew proved revelatory.
“I used to be simply cooking what I knew to prepare dinner,” he stated as he drove from the market again to his villa within the Tuscan hills. “Early on, I even served birds off-menu. I purchased robins at a pet store on Thompson Street and served them roasted with bacon.”
The artwork sellers Leo Castelli and Mary Boone had been beginning their galleries in SoHo across the identical time that Da Silvano opened, and so they quickly made it their hangout. “Castelli used to go loopy for my polenta,” Mr. Marchetto stated. Steadily, the patio tables beneath the yellow awning turned prime seating for many who wished to be seen. Paparazzi posted as much as doc Sarah Jessica Parker consuming steamed artichokes and Jay-Z and Beyoncé on certainly one of their first public dates.
The crowd got here to incorporate Calvin Klein, Yoko Ono, Lindsay Lohan, Joan Didion, Harvey Weinstein, Madonna, Salman Rushdie, Uma Thurman, Stephanie Seymour, Susan Sontag, Graydon Carter and Larry Gagosian. Whereas Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Pitt had been engaged in 1997, they left notes in Da Silvano’s visitor ebook: “Thanks for letting us smoke,” she wrote. “And smoke and smoke,” he added.
Da Silvano additionally supplied infinite fodder for The New York Put up, which lined the trattoria as if it had been the White Home. A typical 2013 item from its Web page Six column reported that the artwork supplier Tony Shafrazi shouted at Peter Brant and Owen Wilson, whereas Wilson ate a dandelion and heirloom tomato salad, as a result of they hadn’t been returning his calls. In 2014, whereas Rose McGowan was having a meal, a person emerged from a subway grate and tossed a smoke bomb at Bar Pitti, the Italian restaurant subsequent door. The tabloid speculated that the incident was linked to the feud between the trattorias.
“Web page Six lined us a lot individuals requested if I owned The New York Put up,” Mr. Marchetto stated. “However it was good for Da Silvano, no matter they wrote.”
Mr. Marchetto turned a downtown celebrity in his personal proper, and a cartoon brand of him sporting sun shades was branded onto Da Silvano’s espresso cups and olive oil bottles.
He lived a block away along with his spouse, Marisa Acocella, a New Yorker cartoonist and graphic novelist, and he went house for noon naps. He parked his Ferraris ornamentally exterior the restaurant. He wore scarves, yellow pants and Hawaiian shirts. He employed younger Italian waiters who flirted with the fashions and actresses.
However as blogs and social media started to rival Web page Six as a supply of celeb gossip, his restaurant lost a few of its luster. And as smartphones ushered in an period wherein a star’s nightlife indiscretions might be documented, the machismo-fueled occasion at Da Silvano started to look just a little dated. In 2013, a rival Italian restaurant, Carbone, opened close by to reward from critics, who welcomed the swing again to red-sauce recipes, and have become a haunt for Drake, Jennifer Lopez and a number of Kardashians.
Across the identical time, Mr. Marchetto’s life turned tumultuous. A manager at his storage filed a sexual harassment suit, claiming that Mr. Marchetto had grabbed his genitals after dropping off certainly one of his Ferraris; waiters filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming that he had withheld wages. Mr. Marchetto denied the allegations, and each cases had been settled out of courtroom. In 2016, after 12 years of marriage, his spouse filed for divorce, leading to a contentious trial.
Mr. Marchetto abruptly closed Da Silvano on the night time of Dec. 20, 2016. His clarification was easy: The lease had spiked to $42,500 a month. “A fortune, I couldn’t deal with it,” he told The New York Occasions that week. “Everyone is gloomy; it’s been 41 years and 51 days precisely since I opened, however I don’t care.”
Celebrities mourned its closing. A couple of stayed in contact.
“I visited him in Florence as a result of I used to be enjoying a present, and he was dwelling exterior the town along with his olive bushes,” Patti Smith stated. “I believe Silvano’s coronary heart was damaged when he needed to shut his restaurant, so he wanted to depart New York. Once I noticed him, he appeared like he was discovering happiness on the market.”
Once I lastly reached Mr. Marchetto in Italy by telephone, he unexpectedly defined that he hadn’t obtained my quite a few messages as a result of he does “probably not examine e mail,” and instructed me to fulfill him exterior Florence’s prepare station in three days.
That afternoon, he drove me to a hilltop lodge, Villa San Michele. A doorman, Paolo Greco, greeted Mr. Marchetto and introduced him to a younger hostess, saying: “Have you learnt who that is? He’s a fantasy. Again in New York, he knew all of them: the angels and the scoundrels.”
Within the courtyard, Mr. Marchetto savored a vermentino and described his life now: “I let the times go by. I’ve a drink for lunch. I am going house and nap. Then I am going out once more. I’ll sit in a piazza for hours. I develop figs and bottle olive oil from my bushes.”
Do you look again?
“As soon as in a blue moon. I miss the motion, however I by no means really feel sorry for myself.”
“Donald Trump got here in as soon as. Wished spaghetti and meatballs. I stated, ‘We don’t try this right here.’ He stated, ‘However that’s what I eat.’ So we made it for him.”
Do you bear in mind your final night time of service?
“I purchased two kilos of caviar and handed it to individuals,” he stated. “I instructed them, ‘Tonight is our final night.’ They checked out me like I used to be joking, however I used to be crying inside.”
Coldplay blared as we drove to his hillside villa close to Bagno a Ripoli. Whereas he took a nap, I perused the relics of his outdated life: a framed letter from Barack and Michelle Obama wishing him a cheerful seventieth birthday; some Da Silvano enterprise playing cards; a portrait of him from the Seventies in Greenwich Village wherein he has flowing darkish hair and is driving a Honda bike.
That night, at a restaurant on a lonely piazza, he was joined by an outdated pal, Aldo Antonacci. Over Sangiovese, they reminisced about how heads would flip when Monica Bellucci walked into Da Silvano, and Mr. Antonacci stated he nonetheless dreamed concerning the fiori di zucca.
For dessert, Mr. Marchetto ordered Gorgonzola. Then he leaned ahead to inform Mr. Antonacci: “Did you hear about my restaurant in Cyprus? It was un on line casino.”
The Italian time period un on line casino means a catastrophe.
The exact particulars of the latest reboot of Da Silvano on the island of Cyprus are considerably opaque, as a result of the restaurant is now closed and its existence was barely publicized. However for a second Mr. Marchetto obtained again into the sport this summer time, opening a beachy model of his trattoria in Ayia Napa, a resort city identified for its nightlife.
For 4 months, Da Silvano Cyprus served British and Swedish vacationers and younger women who stopped in for Instagram selfies earlier than going clubbing. The cartoon brand of Mr. Marchetto appeared in an indication above the doorway and was branded onto menus and place mats. The restaurant provided Da Silvano hits like spaghetti puttanesca.
Based on Mr. Marchetto, the restaurant got here into being after a longtime former Da Silvano common, Stephen Conte, a radiologist from New Jersey who holidays in Cyprus, pitched him the concept.
“He stated he might make me good cash if I lent my title, so I figured why not,” Mr. Marchetto stated. “So I went to Cyprus to show them make osso buco and my signature pastas. I seen issues, prefer it was exhausting discovering good components and cooks, however I used to be simply excited to get again right into a restaurant.”
By midsummer, Da Silvano Cyprus was struggling. There have been kitchen staffing troubles, and the restaurant began promoting largely pizza.
“We tried doing one thing this summer time, it didn’t work out, but it surely was an honor working alongside Silvano,” Mr. Conte stated. “I plan to strive opening once more subsequent season.”
“It’s not straightforward operating a restaurant,” Mr. Marchetto stated. “The expertise jogged my memory I ought to comply with what I’m good at extra. If somebody requested me to open a spot tomorrow, now I in all probability would.”
After the subsequent day’s afternoon nap, Mr. Marchetto poured himself a Montepulciano and began making ready the monkfish with porcini. Because the glow of a sundown crept into his villa, he chopped the mushrooms and skinned the fish, setting apart its head for a stew. He swatted away a fly as he tossed the porcini right into a scorching pan stuffed with the monkfish fillets, grape tomatoes and shallots.
As we ate at his kitchen counter, he took out his telephone and pulled up a video posted to Da Silvano’s Fb web page in 2013. It confirmed Rihanna, sporting sun shades and a baseball cap throughout a busy night time on the restaurant.
“Good day Mr. Silvano, it’s your favourite buyer, Rihanna, wishing you a cheerful thirty eighth anniversary,” she stated. “You’ve been right here since 1975. That’s a giant deal to be right here in New York Metropolis on the identical spot. This place is famous. I really like coming right here. And I’ll all the time come right here so long as you might be right here.”
He smiled because the clip completed. Then he poured himself one other glass of wine and stepped exterior to absorb the silence of the Tuscan night time.