In his heyday, the tenor Luciano Pavarotti could probably have recited the telephone directory in a monotone, and people would have paid to hear it. The chef Michael White is in a similar enviable position: anything he opens is instantly popular, for no other reason than his association with it.
White’s New York career began at Fiamma, where over a decade ago he earned three stars, working for Stephen Hanson of all people. His career really took off when he left in 2007, taking over two upscale Italian places (both now closed) in partnership with Chris Cannon. After an intervening soap opera, he finally wound up with an empire called Altamarea Group, which includes ten restaurants in two U.S. states and on three continents, including five in New York City alone.
That track record guarantees attention, but not acclaim. His pizza place, Nicoletta, got terrible reviews; it’s still open, but gets almost no press. There are no such worries at Costata, his Italian steakhouse in the former Fiamma space. Most of the pro critics haven’t filed yet, but I believe they’ll agree: it’s a hit.