Sebastiano Cappitta has been building an Upper West Side empire over the past several years, working his way uptown as property values and rents climb. “I keep moving up,” he says. “I like to be pioneering.” His seven restaurants — which include Acqua, Bettola, Bettolona, Buca, Coccola and Isola on Columbus — span a stretch from 79th to 139th Streets, and his newest spot Arco (886 Amsterdam Avenue) falls smack in the middle at 103rd Street.
This spot, says Cappitta, is “more of a cafe and then a restaurant in the evening. We have breakfast in the morning, things like croissant, biscuits, and cake.” The menu then shifts full tilt into Sardinian fare, paying homage to the Mediterranean island influenced by northern Africa and southern Europe. “Sardinian food is not well represented here,” says Cappitta, who was also attracted to the fare because he wanted to do something different from Buca, which is right around the corner and serves pizza.
Chef Roberto Ruiu is a native of Sardinia (Cappitta is from Sicily, though he grew up in Malta), and he’s turning out a menu steeped in seafood, fresh pasta, sausage, a traditional Sardinian mussel dish, and Pane Frattau, a thin Sardinian bread with tomato sauce, parmesan, and a poached egg. For dessert, look for items like fresh ricotta with honey. “It’s very hearty,” says Cappitta. “And we’ll change the menu often.”
The restaurant is pairing that menu to a wine list also culled from Sardinia as well as a short beer list and a board of fresh juices.
Cappitta chose this address for its history and location close to the hospital. “There’s no place around there for the people who work there,” he says. “I wanted to open something that wasn’t a deli.” The 40-seat space will open up to 20 additional outdoor seats when the weather warms up.
So does Cappitta have plans for more restaurants in the neighborhood? “At the moment, I need some time off,” he says. “This is my seventh restaurant, and on the seventh day, you rest.”
Arco is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
Hit the next page for a few photos.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 27, 2014