Charlotte and Vittorio Assaf: Serafina Power Couple
By Andrew C. Stone
Certain Restaurateurs whose establishments fill a fundamental niche are able not only to survive in any economic climate, but thrive. The Serafina Restaurant Group—five Serafina outposts, Brasserie Cognac, Geisha, the new Mexican hot spot Mañana, the Signor Ravioli pasta line and a forthcoming East Hampton Serafina—has done just that, offering patrons highbrow takes on Italian, Asian, French and Mexican cuisine in environments that are pitch-perfect in terms of comfort, service and sexiness.
The brainchildren of partners Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato, the eateries are made all the more inviting under the watchful eye of Assaf’s lovely wife, Charlotte, who serves as the company’s creative director, assisting her husband with menu creation, food critique and event planning. “When I met Vittorio, I didn’t want to be involved in the business,” she says. “But if I could give my advice to any other woman brave enough to date a restaurateur, I’d recommend getting involved in some way.”
Though the restaurants consume much of the Assafs’ time, and they are active philanthropically (supporting City Harvest, New Yorkers for Children and the Southampton Fresh Air Home), they know that family comes first, and that a happy marriage provides the foundation for success. “Vittorio and I both have a lot of energy and thrive on work,” Charlotte says. “But it’s our children [Vittorio and Valentino] who inspire us the most. Their enthusiasm for the little things in life, and their laughter and sweetness are the greatest motivations.” Visit serafinarestaurantgroup.com.
Photo of Charlotte and Vittorio Assaf
PHOTOGRAPH BY SARI GOODFRIEND