2023 Chefs

Fortunato Nicotra


Saturday, May 20, 2023 at the Grand Tasting

After earning Michelin stars at two restaurants in Sicily before his 30th birthday, Fortunato Nicotra arrived in New York City where he worked as the Executive Chef of Lidia Bastianich’s award-winning Felidia for over two decades. The restaurant earned three stars from Ruth Reichl from the New York Times only three months after his arrival. Again in 2006, Frank Bruni wrote a second raving review with a three-star rating. Wine Spectator named Felidia one of the “Top Ten Italian Restaurants in the United States”, and USA Today named it number #2 in its year-round up of restaurants around the world.

Felidia closed in March of 2020 due to COVID-19. Chef Nicotra then began conducting both virtual and intimate, outdoor cooking classes for several months before becoming Executive Chef of Babbo Restaurant in the fall of 2020. In September of 2021, he assumed the role of Corporate Chef of the Washington, D.C. based Fabio Trabocchi Restaurant Group, overseeing the kitchens of Michelin Star Fiola, Fiola Mare, Del Mar, and Sfoglina Pasta Houses. After working with multiple locations for almost a year, he decided his true passion was running one high-end Italian kitchen. He joined owner Paolo Sacco as Executive Chef of Washington, D.C.’s Tosca restaurant in September 2022.

Along with Lidia Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali, Chef Nicotra co-authored the cookbook Felidia: Recipes from My Flagship Restaurant, published by Knopf in October of 2019. He has also been featured in several publications including Time Out New York, New York Magazine, Cooking Light, Bergen Record, and 201 Magazine.

Nicotra has appeared on several television food segments including Lidia’s Kitchen and Lidia’s Italy and Food Network’s Iron Chef. He prepared meals for Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis I during their visits to New York.