How did you get into the restaurant industry?
DIMITRI PAULI: I always felt extremely lucky to have my parents work in the restaurant industry while I was growing up, there was never a bad meal and always a family member nearby to enjoy it with. When my father, Hans Pauli, moved to America to establish Sant Ambroeus in New York in 1983, he boldy decided to incorporate into one store the several successful concepts he had developed in Milan - for example, the gelateria, the confetteria, the pasticceria, the espresso and cappuccino bar and of course, the restaurant. Following my family's success with Sant Ambroeus, and the love they had for all things culinary, I decided to join the family business in the management of our family-owned, internationally recognized, Sant Ambroeus on Madison Avenue.
GHERARDO GUARDUCCI: My culinary roots are uniquely privileged. Growing up Tuscan, surrounded by the Mediterranean, wineries and farmlands. The local fishermen and farmers would bring their daily offerings to our home and nothing was more important or passion filled than our lunch and dinner table which was prepared by local chefs and cooks. My College business degree from the top entrepreneurial program in the country helped me to combine passion with business. The restaurant industry demands skills that stretch much beyond food. We must be part chefs, designers, entrepreneurs, life coaches, psychologists and financially very savy. I love this industry for how it demands one to be present and dynamic on all these different levels.
2) What are the most popular dishes at Sant Ambroeus and what is your favorite?
D: Since the opening of our Madison Avenue location 30 years ago, the coffee bar at Sant Ambroeus has always been a destination in itself. For coffee lovers, Sant Ambroeus offers its unique blends of the highest quality coffee to accompany Sant Ambroeus' delicious desserts, including Italian cornetti, gelato, cakes and cookies, all baked daily by Sant Ambroeus. Certainly we see that each destination's clientele have slightly different tastes, however Sant Ambroeus has always had a very loyal take out espresso, cappuccino and pastry customer. My favorite dish is Ossobuco with risotto Milanese
G: We have tailored the menu at each Sant Ambroeus location to suit the needs of our guests, with a personal touch from each chef's native Italian background, however, each restaurant location offers diners a selection of our most celebrated and beloved dishes, including Cotoletta alla Milanese and Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. One of my favorite dishes on the menu is the VITELLO TONNATO
3) How do you stay successful within such a volatile and competitive industry?
D: The original Sant Ambroeus opened its doors in Milan in 1936, and quickly acquired a devoted following in northern Italy's cosmopolitan capitol. The original pasticceria and confetteria became the meeting place of the local intelligentsia, who began their day with Sant Ambroeus legendary cappuccino and sweet cornetto, savored crusty panini at lunch, and enjoyed evenings of refined Milanese cuisine in the restaurant's elegant dining room. Today, we have made it our priority to translate these old-world sensibilities from the original Sant Ambroeus location to appeal to modern-day diners, importing rich Italian culinary traditions to a selective group of stylish New York neighborhoods.
G: I think it is the combination of great, authentic Italian food, drinks and coffee, a chic setting and fantastic locations. Most important, it is our brand culture of valuing people's expectations whether working for the brand and company or enjoying it as a guest.
4) How important does the design/architecture of your restaurant play into its success?
D: All of our Sant Ambroeus restaurants incorporate the bold flare and artistic energy of Italy's eternal fashion capital, and inspired by the Italian style of the 1960's and 1970's of Milan. When opening a new restaurant, we have always made sure that the design of the restaurant reflects the warm hospitality for which the brand is known and beloved for.
G: We have dedicated a lot of time and effort into the design of our restaurants. The design component is extremely important to us and we want to ensure that our guests not only enjoy their food, but appreciate their surroundings. For example, at Casa Lever, modern art and timeless architecture set the stage for a traditional Milanese dining experience. Once inside guests dine surrounded by one of the world's largest collection of original Andy Warhol paintings, this is a unique factor to our restaurant and one of the only restaurants in Manhattan that offer this exciting opportunity. To me, these artistic components are a major reason why our guests keep coming back.
5) What is your life motto?
D: The big secret to life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you're willing to work.
G: Find out who you are, stand up for your values, work tirelessly and get lucky with timing.
6) How important is location in selecting the creation of a new restaurant?
D: Besides a delicious Italian meal, location is key, especially for New Yorkers. Dining enthusiasts are always looking for a vibrant culinary destination to complement their authentic meal. We have been thrilled to have the opportunity to open restaurants in Manhattan's most stylish neighborhoods, it has definitely played a huge role in our restaurant's success.
G: Location is of great importance on the viability of a restaurant's business. We have been very fortunate to have loyal customers who frequent the restaurants often, and include everyone from fashion executives, editors, actors, actresses and most important, families: we are now serving four generations of family members. With the opening of Sant Ambroeus Soho, and our first take-away concept, Sant Ambroeus Coffee Bar at Loews Regency Hotel, we have locations on Madison Avenue, in Southampton, the West Village, FIDI.. Truly some of New York's most family oriented neighborhoods as well as fashion, art, and financial districts.
7) What is your go-to travel destination and why?
D: Whistler for the amazing skiing and nature, the great food and the laid back West coast vibe.
G: The Tuscan coastline is my favorite.
Il Pellicano Hotel captures my love of food, sea, wine and Tuscan culture with Italian hospitality.
8) What's next for the Sant Ambroeus Group?
D: Sant Ambroeus originated in New York on Madison Avenue, where the restaurant recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, and quickly expanded to locations including, Southampton, which simultaneously celebrated its 20th anniversary, and the West Village, which celebrated their 10th anniversary. In addition to these milestone anniversaries we were thrilled to have the opportunity to unveil our fourth location in Soho and our first to-go concept, Sant Ambroeus Coffee Bar at Loews Regency Hotel. We never planned to open a new Sant Ambroeus restaurant every 10 years, however it surprisingly happened. Now, we are focused on providing our guests the warm hospitality which Sant Ambroeus is known for, and offering them a dining experience that is quintessentially Italian.
G: Our vision is to continue to honor the legacy of the Sant Ambroeus brand as exemplified in our current locations across Manhattan. Each restaurant captures our strong origins, and it is important for us to continue to build upon the time-honored traditions while also broadening Sant Ambroeus' clientele and vision for offering a contemporary interpretation of traditional Milanese and Tuscan cuisine, along with warm and elegant hospitality in a family friendly atmosphere.
This celebrated pasticceria and confetteria became the meeting place for the local intelligentsia, whether beginning their day with Sant Ambroeus’s legendary cappuccino and cornetto, savoring panini at lunch, or spending their evening enjoying refined cuisine in the restaurant’s elegant dining room.
We translated these old-world sensibilities of Sant Ambroeus to modern times, and imported our rich culinary traditions to three New York neighborhoods: the West Village, the Upper East Side, and Southampton. Each of our restaurants remains authentic to our Milanese origins, and we continue to serve our culturally inspired delectables in a casual yet elegant environment