Donatella Meatball


 Mia Dona

  • Cuisine Regional Italian
  • 206 E 58th St, New York NY10022 40.760596 -73.966524
  • (Btwn 2nd & 3rd Ave)
  • 212-750-8170



Donatella Arpaia re-opened Mia Dona in late 2009 as a tribute to the “cucina povera” of her mother’s native Puglia. She is also the owner of Anthos in New York, the co-owner of Kefi in New York and EOS in Miami. Her first cookbook Donatella Cooks: Simple Food Made Glamorous was released on April 13, 2010.

Mamma Maria’s Meatballs, one of the most popular items on the menu at Mia Dona, are available al fresco on Donatella’s Meatball Wagon on the patio of this popular Pugliese trattoria. The first take-out outpost for the restaurateur, The hours of the wagon are 12pm to 2pm or when the freshly made meatballs run out. donatella DSC_3050[1]  

Donatella’s Meatball Wagon offers Mamma Maria’s Meatballs in two variations –

as both a sandwich and in a dish. The meatballs – based on Donatella’s mother Maria’s handed down family recipe – are slow braised in ragu, smothered in Caviocavallo cheese with a burst of arugula and sandwiched between two squares of homemade potato-ricotta foccacia. A take-away dish of four meatballs is available. They are offered in regular or spicy version. The wagon will also offers sparkling Italian sodas.

“Our meatballs have become an obsession at Mia Dona,” says Arpaia. “But we realize not everyone has time to sit and eat – hence the Meatball Wagon idea was born. We think it’s a great way to cater to the lunch crowd on the run and a fun use of our outdoor space.”

We delighted in both versions of the meatballs, but Mia Dona ain’t just meatballs.Stroll inside and you find a real charmer.


               Mia Dona, The RestaurantMIA DONA interior

On many counts, Mia Dona is the perfect neighborhood restaurant. A series of three long rooms creates the comfortable feel of a downtown hideaway with white washed walls, hung with eye-catching memorabilia and attractive framed prints, wainscoting, wood beamed ceilings, and chairs cloaked in white linen slip covers. Friendly service (overseen by Jesse McTiernan, previously of Union Square Cafe) by waiters wearing black T-shirts with the logo “You Need Balls To Be In This Business” and an inexpensive cocktail list (all mixed drinks are $11), but unfortunately omits the price. The wine list may offers plenty bottles under $50 and sufficient glasses from $9 to $13. We enjoyed a bottle of Feudi Rubrato Aglianico 2006 from Campania ($45). It was soft, with balanced fruit and a coca finish. At about a reasonable markup over retail price, the value was there.

Terrific bread and “Taralli,” a sort of pretzel and an Italian snack food, common all over the southern half of the Italian Peninsula,  are set on each table with a small pot of a zesty spreadable cheese concoction. Lovely! In the antipasti department, look no further than those meatballs, but go easy. There is is very good food here and dining Italian fashion, meaning a pasta course, followed by entrees and dessert is our suggestion.

While most food critics used to say that main courses were the weakest area in Italian restaurants in America, we now find pasta most disappointing. At Mia Dona, they are fabulous. We sampled two and both were noteworthy. Fettuccia Con Sugo Di Arrosto Pomodoro E Stracciatella  or fresh fettuccia with roasted tomato sauce & stracciatella was home-style cooking at its best: simple and bursting with flavor.For me, Zia Rosa’s Orecchiette Con Ragu Domenica, Brasciole E Ricotta Salata orecchiette with slow cooked Sunday ragu, brasciole & ricotta salata was even more spectacular. I love brasciole and rarely see it on a restaurant menu these days. Executive chef, Brenden Nevelle, knows the meaning of al dente and its is neither just a bit toothy, nor crude, meaning almost raw. Perfect pasta!

Entrees were no less well executed. We loved a special (actually an appetizer we asked to be re-directed), of seared scallops in cauliflower and cream puree. A classy dish, without pretention, it should become a standard. The signature Roasted Free Range Chicken with Farro, Pancetta, corn and Pecorino may read a bit busy, but the flavors were beautifully balanced and the chicken was delicate, moist and delicious. Not to be missed is Eggplant Parmigiana with Buffalo Mozzarella. Normally this Italian-American hodgepodge is thrown together, sloppy and the consummate example of  what’s not to love about Italian food in America. But we’ve come a long way baby and Mia Donna’s rendition is a light, soufflé-like takeoff that separates each layer and coats the whole in a  delicate tomato sauce, gently kissed by the cheese.  Fava Bean Puree with Escarole and Crispy Potatoes with Lemon Zest, Garlic and Toasted Sea Salt are prima.

Pineapple Carpaccio was not only refreshing, but a positively elegant conclusion and the perfect foil to wonderful Zeppole di Nonna (Fried Dough with Lemon Cream filling and Sugar coating).

Mia Dona is the ideal neighborhood restaurant for today’s life style. If these prices hold, it’s also an outstanding best buy. We think you’ll like it.





Copyright 2010 by Punch In International. All Rights Reserved.



Rodale to Release DONATELLA COOKS: Simple Food Made Glamorous on April 13th

Acclaimed restaurateur, entertaining and culinary star Donatella Arpaia is set to unveil her own kitchen secrets with her first cookbook, DONATELLA COOKS: Simple Food Made Glamorous on April 13, 2010. As a New York power woman with a personal style that is more Missoni and Marni than "mamma mia," Donatella has rolled up her sleeves in the kitchen to serve up straightforward, beautiful recipes designed to add sparkle to a dinner table that has lost its gleam thanks to the quick fix trend. The book, published by Rodale, is available for pre-sale on Amazon.com, BN.com, Borders.com, and Indiebound.com right now.

Preview cookbook here:


“I’m relating to people who are savvy about food and enjoy going out to eat, but were never taught in the kitchen,” says Donatella. “I believe I’ve created recipes that are non-intimidating and easy to follow, but with results that will totally impress even their most sophisticated friends.”

With her Italian heritage always simmering in the forefront, Donatella’s cuisine is rooted in fresh, timeless ingredients to which she adds her secret touch – like turning a basic bowl of popcorn into a sizzling treat that sparkles when it is laced with truffle oil and sprinkled with edible gold dust. Likewise, a simple Macaroni and Cheese dish is transformed into a fluffy epicurean delight with the light addition of egg whites, and a creamy cucumber, yogurt and dill soup comes alive with the addition of crab. And proving that superior ingredients, whether from the specialty store or the farmer’s market, need little embellishment to become showstoppers, few of Donatella’s recipes call for more than 6 ingredients. For example, a whole branzino becomes a rich delight with the simple addition of fresh thyme and sizzling hazelnut butter and a recipe for Gemelli Principessa bursts with color from fresh basil and bright asparagus. Recipes are also grouped by seasons, so that the perfect meal can be created with what foods are in season at the time.

And as the proprietor of a string of successful restaurants, Donatella knows how to create a memorable impression in the dining room. So, in addition to sharing trade secrets and technique, Donatella – who’s spent her career in the kitchen with many other great chefs- divulges tips on how to make an impression with stunning food presentation (serving on cool slates and cute Le Creuset side dish containers) and what essentials to keep on hand in the pantry (kitchen “bling” like sanding sugars or gourmet marshmallows). As an expert shopper as well, Donatella divulges her favorite online shopping discoveries and destinations, which is perfect for the busy home cook.

Donatella Arpaia is the trailblazing attorney-turned-culinary mogul who has become one of the most influential forces in the world of food. Donatella opened her first restaurant, Bellini in 1998 and then subsequently opened a string of successful and highly acclaimed restaurants in New York City including the newly re-opened Mia Dona, as well as davidburke and donatella, Anthos, Kefi and Miami-based EOS. Zagat’s crowned Donatella as "The Hostess with the Mostest," Crain’s named her one of their "40 under 40" and the New York Post named Donatella one of the "Most Powerful Woman" in Manhattan. Recently, Donatella became head judge on the Food Network programs Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef.


Sample Dinner Menu (Some of the Dishes Have Changed)

Ostriche Con Limone Candito E Finocchio oysters with candied lemon and fennel

Bruschetta Di Fagioli Con Insalata Di Radicchio Grigliato white bean bruschetta with grilled radicchio salad and pinenuts

Insalata Di Dente Di Leone, Carciofi In Olio Extra Vergine, Olive Nere mixed green salad with artichoke, cured olive & parmigiano with house vinaigrette

Insalata Di Rucola E Limone Con Alici Marinate rocket & preserved lemon salad with marinated anchovies

Polpo Alla Griglia Con Insalata Arancia E Finocchio citrus fennel salad with grilled octopus

Capocollo Fresco, Coppa Stagionata, Salame Finocchietto, Asparagi Sott’olio E Olive Di Cerignola mixed cured meats with pickled mushrooms & cerignola olives

Mama Maria’s Polpette Con Salsa Di Pomodoro mamma maria’s meatballs braised in tomato sauce

Zia Rofinella’s Panzerotti fried mini-calzones with mozzarella, tomato & basil

Zia Laura’s Zuppa Di Cavolfiorl Con Pesto cauliflower soup with arugula pesto

Hand Made Pasta

Fettuccia Con Sugo Di Arrosto Pomodoro E Stracciatella fresh fettuccia with roasted tomato sauce & stracciatella

Ravioli Di Spinaci E Ricotta Con Burro Acido E Pecorino spinach and ricotta ravioli with brown butter, lemon, and pecorino

Zia Rosa’s Orecchiette Con Ragu Domenica, Brasciole E Ricotta Salata orecchiette with slow cooked sunday ragu with brasciole & ricotta salata

Cavatelli Con Cozze, Vongole, Gamberi E Polpo fresh cavatelli with mussels, clams, shrimp & octopus

Gnocchi Di Ricotta Con Fonduta Di Caciocavallo E Salsiccia sheep’s milk ricotta gnocchi with caciocavallo cheese sauce, sausage & bread crumbs


Melanzana Alla Parmigiana eggplant parmigiana with buffalo mozzarella

Branzino Con Schiacciata Di Patate, Carciofi E Capperi branzino with crushed potato, artichokes & capers

Pesce Selvatico Alla Griglia Con Pomodori, Capperi E Olive grilled market fish with sauteed tomato, capers & olive

Zuppa Di Pesce Con Ceci seafood stew with branzino, calamari, mussels, shrimp, and chick peas

Arrosto Di Pollo Con Peperoni E Cipolline In Agro-Dolce roasted baby chicken with roasted peppers & sweet-sour cipollini onions

Trippa Al Pomodoro Con Crostini D’aglio tomato braised tripe with grilled garlic toast

Filetto Di Maiale Confit In Olio Extra Vergine Con Bietola Saltata pork tenderloin confit with sauteed swiss chard and radicchio slaw

Bistecca Di Manzo Alla Griglia Con Patata Fritta E Salsa Verde grilled hanger steak with crispy potatoes and salsa verde

Zia Donata’s Brasato Di Manzo Con Salsa Al Primitivo E Polenta braised beef short rib in a primitivo sauce with polenta and horseradish gremolata

Sides $6

Purea Di Fava Con Cicoria fava puree with chicory

Broccoli Di Rape braised broccoli rabe

Cavolfiori grilled cauliflower with raisins and pinenuts

Giardiniera pickled vegetables


Zeppole Di Nonna fried dough with lemon cream

Carpaccio Di Ananas pineapple sweetened with cinnamon, star anise & mint with house-made lemon sorbetto

Zia Donata’s Torta Di Ricotta ricotta cheesecake infused with limoncello

Torta Di Cioccolata Con Sorbetto molten chocolate cake with house-made raspberry sorbetto

Gelato Fatto In Casa (Choose 3) coffee, chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, fiore di latte

Sorbetti lemon, raspberry, plum

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