La Dolce Vita

Restaurateurs offer insider tours of Italy.

By Amy Mulvihill - March 2016

La Dolce Vita

Restaurateurs offer insider tours of Italy.

By Amy Mulvihill - March 2016

Mary Ann Cricchio and Chef Masood Masoodi pose at Da Mimmo's Restaurant -Photography by Christopher Myers

Customers have come to expect a certain elan from Da Mimmo’s Restaurant. In addition to its famously succulent veal chop, the Little Italy mainstay founded 32 years ago by Mary Ann Cricchio and her late husband, Mimmo, prides itself on extending every conceivable comfort, from complimentary limo service to a swanky cocktail lounge replete with a baby grand piano. It’s all part of what Cricchio calls the “Da Mimmo experience.”

Four years ago, that experience went international when some customers asked Cricchio to organize and lead a tour of the Amalfi Coast for them. As she is fluent in Italian, has visited the region for 35 years, and has owned a home there since 2005, she dove right in, harnessing her myriad connections to craft a 10-day trip covering the coast’s many highlights, including the luxurious town of Positano, the isle of Capri, and the ruins of Pompeii. But unlike a typical package trip, Cricchio’s tour was full of insider experiences and first-class accommodations, such as private yacht service for the journey to Capri and exclusive cooking classes with Italian celebrity chef Salvatore De Riso.

“It’s not a canned trip,” says Cricchio. “It’s authentic experiences.”

Cricchio is joined on the excursions by Da Mimmo’s executive chef Masood Masoodi, who is a native of Iran but became an honorary Italian after Cricchio sent him to Positano and Siena for culinary training once he took over kitchen duties after Mimmo’s death in 2003.

The all-inclusive trip is so popular that it’s now offered several times a year. And this year, Cricchio and Masoodi are adding a Tuscany version (August 12-22) to coincide with Siena’s storied horse race, the Palio—for which Cricchio and Masoodi have secured 22 tickets. The sojourn also will take in Florence and the Italian Riviera towns of the Cinque Terre—in style, naturally.

“My reputation, her reputation, Da Mimmo’s reputation is more important than anything else,” says Masoodi. “It would be a shame on us to take anybody’s time and money and not give them 150 percent of what they expected.”

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Mary Ann Cricchio and Chef Masood Masoodi pose at Da Mimmo's Restaurant -Photography by Christopher Myers

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