Lidia Bastianich

Lidia Bastianich

Whether it’s because of the “flavor-of-the-week” direction that many food critics take nowadays or because they burn out, very few cooks have the longevity that Lidia Bastianich has enjoyed throughout her career. Born in then-Italy (now Yugoslavia), Lidia and her family were uprooted and brought to New York in 1958. Lidia began her culinary journey in 1971 working as the hostess at the restaurant she co-owned with her husband, Buonavia in Queens. A year later, Lidia began training as the assistant chef, and her knack for traditional Italian cuisine quickly became apparent. As Buonavia experienced success, Lidia took more of a central role at the couple’s second restaurant, Villa Secondo, giving live cooking demonstrations and earning the attention and praise of local critics.

In 1981, Lidia and her husband Felice spent every dime they had to open Felidia, and the gamble paid off: The New York Times gave Felidia three stars, and Lidia’s career rose to new heights. In 1993, Lidia’s son Joseph convinced his parents to open Becco in Manhattan’s Theater District; the result was a rousing success that led to Lidia appearing on Julia Child’s cooking show and, eventually, a friendship with Mario Batali. In 2010, Lidia and Joseph partnered with Mario and Oscar Farinetti to open Eataly; that same year, Lidia launched her Lidia’s Kitchen line, her own cookware line.

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Specialties & Resources

Though many chefs have mastered the art of Italian cuisine, very few have achieved the level of intrinsic understanding and passion for Italian cooking, and Lidia is one of those few. The menu at Becco includes classic Italian fare while also taking advantage of seasonal vegetables to ensure the offerings remain fresh and exciting.

The menu at Becco includes items like insalata mista (baby greens, Tuscan beans, red onion, sunchokes, and fresh tomatoes tossed with extra virgin olive oil & shallot vinaigrette); panzanella (arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion & day-old bread with red wine vinaigrette); Papa Pomodoro (Italian tomato summer soup thickened with bread); soft white polenta with melted Montasio cheese & crispy prosciutto; mussels steamed in garlic with onions & fresh green beans, seasoned with savory breadcrumbs; fried mozzarella “in carrozza” (house-made mozzarella sandwiches, fried and served with fresh pesto and oven-dried tomato puree); pan-seared salmon with braised cauliflower; cubanella peppers stuffed with beef, pork and veal braised in tomato sauce with grana Padano and spinach spaetzle; pan-seared calf liver with caramelized onions, bacon and crispy polenta; and grilled swordfish with grilled summer corn, chanterelles, cherry tomatoes and arugula.