Michael White On Costata And His Upcoming Manhattan Upper East Side Restaurant

Last night, Danny Bowien hobnobbed with Dana Cowin and Scott Conant at Food & Wine's Best New Chefs party, and while Wylie Dufresne was rather close-lipped about his recent Alder opening ("It's been 10 years since I've opened a restaurant so I'm trying to dust off those muscles and see if there's any memory left," he told us), we got Michael White to open up about his expanding Altamarea empire.

So what's the status with Costata and that Upper East Side establishment he has planned? "We have quite a few projects on the way; we have 86th and Madison, which will be [open] the middle of summer, and we have Costata, which is my new steakhouse. It'll probably be open before that as well, because it's a restaurant that's pretty complete," White told us.

White's Altamarea Group already has some seven restaurants (with one in Hong Kong). Having just opened Nicoletta within the last year, this new expansion might be a surprise. "We're growing as a company and we have a great infrastructure of people and Altamarea Group is getting ready to capitalize on all the infrastructure I have," White said. "It's so hard to open restaurants in any city, but to do it with a group and to grow is really amazing."

As for why White decided to choose steak, it just so happened that he was missing out on that aspect of Italian cooking. "Grilled meats are a very important part of cooking in Italy, and I just love to eat steak as well," White said. "One of the great parts of the company is the fact that we have seafood and pizza and pasta, but I didn't have a steakhouse, so I needed a steakhouse."