A native of Venice, Antonucci personifies the entrepreneurial zest without which success in the unforgiving restaurant trade is often elusive. In 1987, he opened the original Remi restaurant on East 79th Street, which he later moved to a larger space on West 53rd Street, and another Remi in Santa Monica. In 1993 and 1994, he opened his third and fourth Remis, in Mexico City and Tel Aviv. Eventually, he began downsizing, selling the final remaining Remi on 53rd Street in 2005 and opening Antonucci Café, which now commands one of the most loyal followings in the city.
Antonucci has many of the virtues of his native town: he is festive, stylish, good-hearted, and unflappable.
The great French gastronome and wit Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826) cited four essential elements for any good restaurant: “an elegant room, smart waiters, a choice cellar and superior cooking.” No restaurant satisfies these criteria better than Antonucci. Its space is bright, cozy, and whimsical mélange of paintings and knick-knacks.
Over the years, many New Yorkers and out-of-town friends go to Antonucci for lunch or dinner—financiers, philanthropists, writers, editors, scholars, lawyers, priests—and they have all leave besotted not only with the food, drink, and service of the place but with its charm, grace, and warmth.
(credit to Edward Short, continued here).