In the Resy Questionnaire, we play a game of 20 questions with the industry folks behind some of our favorite restaurants. What’s your most memorable restaurant experience? Your favorite food movie? What restaurant would you want to time-travel for?
In this edition, we talk to Joe Isidori, the chef-owner behind Arthur & Sons, a deeply personal and nostalgic tribute to the Italian red-sauce joint he grew up in that his family owned here in New York.
The Resy Questionnaire
1. Favorite thing you’ve ever cooked?
I love to braise all types of meats. It’s a soulful process with a comforting and satisfying final product.
2. Kitchen tool or equipment you couldn’t live without?
A Japanese chef’s knife, and preferably a Deba, because you can’t do much without that.
3. What pantry items would you bring on a desert island?
5. Favorite cookbook?
Flavor by Rocco DiSpirito.
6. Your drink of choice?
7. Favorite food movie?
8. Your ideal dinner party guest, dead or alive?
9. What restaurant industry person do you admire the most?
I admire all my industry colleges. We work hard. We are who you should call when you want to get stuff done!
10. The greatest restaurant experience of your life so far?
Eating a Walter’s hot dog. It’s a nostalgic memory of mine, my mother would take me as a child. To this day, it is my benchmark for all hot dogs, not to mention one of the best in the country. Look it up!
11. Your greatest professional achievement?
Arthur & Sons. It’s personal and all about my family’s three generations of New York City chefs and restaurateurs. It stems from my memories of being an Italian American kid in New York, working as a prep cook in my family’s restaurant with my headphones on, listening to Wu-Tang Clan. I would pound out chicken cutlets for that night’s service while Sinatra played in the front of house. It’s born of pure nostalgia and love — of being a 90’s kid, born and raised in a red-sauce joint, and that’s the experience I want to evoke for guests.
12. What single dish best describes your personality?
13. If you could go back in time, which restaurant would you dine at?
Nemo Restaurant in Miami’s South Beach in 1999. Nemo was my first real chef position. It was 1999, when the world was just great! The staff was cool, the customers were cool, and the place just rocked. It was also when South Beach was still raw and untouched. It had real soul and the food I cooked there, I still cook today, and receive rave reviews. Imagine South of Fifth being more like a hood than a playground for the rich and famous. We had real neighborhood people outside hanging out on the streets, while celebs like Mariah Carey hung at the bar eating oysters and drinking martinis. The vibe was one of a kind.
14. Your favorite meal from childhood?
15. Your wish for the restaurant industry?
16. What do you wish you did better? What do you do well?
18. The one thing you can’t resist splurging on when you go out?
19. What do you value most in restaurants?
The overall gestalt. It all has to make sense.