The D’Amico Touch

Everything Richard D’Amico touches turns to gold. The trick, the Naples restaurateur says, is to never hold back.

“We’re going to do a French restaurant—we just need to find where to do it,” Richard D’Amico says, not realizing he might have just caused my brain to short circuit.  News bombshells like that don’t get served up all too often in my line of work, especially nonchalantly after a quick how-do-you-do. But D’Amico is a restaurateur of almost mythic quality, at once so plugged into the zeitgeist but with a social compass of yesteryear that’s wired to be unfailingly gracious and kind. His statement was a reminder that, with the D’Amico & Partners restaurant group, you should expect the unexpected.   We were meeting on a hot July day in the chic Old Naples flat he shares with his wife, the artist Amy Brazil D’Amico, to dissect his creative process. Over sips of chilled Pellegrino, in intentionally mismatched, etched crystal glasses, I planned to pick his brain on how he does what he does. For instance, how did he assemble the place to see and be seen this year? Their nouveau-jazz speakeasy, The Club Room, debuted in January as an offshoot of the enormously popular Campiello. But I wound up getting a front-row seat to his mood boards, preliminary sketches on torn-off paper tablecloths and layers of tracing paper taped over architectural renderings for his eventual next venture (he says he’s planning on naming it La Vieille Amie). There are also sketches of his three Third Street South restaurant operations, the authentic yet thoroughl
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