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Lady Gaga's Dad's Restaurant Will Put Upper West Side on Monster Map

By Leslie Albrecht | January 31, 2012 7:49am
Joanne, the new restaurant that Lady Gaga's dad Joe Germanotta is opening at 70 W. 68th St.
Joanne, the new restaurant that Lady Gaga's dad Joe Germanotta is opening at 70 W. 68th St.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

UPPER WEST SIDE —  They're hoping little monsters carry big wallets.

While Lady Gaga fans are eager to catch a glimpse of the pop superstar at her dad's new restaurant when it opens Wednesday, local businesses say they're looking forward to Joanne Trattoria for a more practical reason: foot traffic.

"It should be good for business," said Roberto Mariani, owner of Il Violino restaurant just down the street from Joanne, which is at 70 W. 68th St.

"We need restaurants more than we need clothing stores that no one goes into and Starbucks. I welcome it with open arms, but not because it's Lady Gaga — I would welcome any restaurant."

But Joanne isn't any restaurant. Lady Gaga fans have been panting with excitement since her father, Joe Germanotta, announced he was opening a new Italian eatery in the space formerly occupied by Vince & Eddie's.

Germanotta has said fans shouldn't expect to see Gaga — whose real name is Stefani Germanotta — at the cozy restaurant, but that hasn't stopped a barrage of media coverage.

After news broke that Joanne was accepting phone reservations, a besieged Germanotta tweeted, "Please ask everyone to stop calling. It has become a nuisance."

But for local business owners like Mariani, the attention could be a boon. Mariani said he's hoping Joanne will liven up a stretch of Columbus Avenue that's gotten too sleepy for his taste.

In the 1980s, the avenue was lined with so many sidewalk cafes it looked like Rome's restaurant-filled Via Veneto, Mariani said.

Now most of those eateries have closed, he said, and he was disappointed when he recently heard that an empty storefront on the northeast corner of Columbus Avenue and West 68th Street would become a clothing store, not a restaurant.

Evelyn Wing, general manager at 67 Wine, a wine store steps away from Joanne, said she wasn't sure if Joanne would bring her new customers.

"The type of people who follow (Lady Gaga) aren't necessarily wine drinkers, they're youngsters," Wing said.

But Wing said the restaurant's culinary cred would help the neighborhood. Joanne is helmed by chef Art Smith, who's cooked for President Barack Obama and was once Oprah Winfrey's personal chef.

Smith, who stopped into 67 Wine recently to pick up white wine for a recipe he was testing, runs well-regarded restaurants in Chicago, Washington D.C., Palo Alto and Atlanta.

"I think it will be a good restaurant, judging from what I've heard," Wing said. "I'm pleased, considering we have very few good restaurants on the Upper West Side."

Joanne isn't even officially open yet, but it's already provided a brush with celebrity for 67 Wine.

On New Year's Eve an importer for Mionetto prosecco stopped in the store on his way to a party at Joanne, where Lady Gaga was gathered with celeb pals.

After asking directions to the restaurant, the importer asked Wing if she carried double magnums of Mionetto. Ryan Seacrest, who reportedly attended the Gaga party, wanted some "for his personal use in his limo," Wing was told.

Unfortunately 67 Wine only carries regular sized bottles of Mionetto.

67 Wine once served high-profile customers like Lauren Bacall from the nearby Dakota, but that business has died down in recent years, Wing said.

"It's fun to see a celebrity in the neighborhood again," she said. "I think they're going to be very successful."