Monday, February 27, 2006

Mario and R.E.M.

Having been in the NYC area for several years now, I've always wondered how it is that I never see any celebrities. Well, this past weekend I had an awesome celeb sighting!!! I saw Mario Batali at a bar/restaurant in the Meatpacking District. It was at a place called 5Ninth (owned by Zak Palaccio - who coincidentally also owns Fatty Crab).

It was about 1AM and some friends and I had just finished up dinner and drinks at POPBurger. We couldn't think of where to go next so someone suggested 5Ninth, right around the corner. I'd never been before, but it's such a nice, homey and rustic place with a working fireplace and three stories. It feels like someone's home.

Anyway, the second we ascended the stairs to the third floor, I immediately noticed him sitting in the corner of the room. He was with a group of 4-5 younger looking guys. (Maybe apprentices?) They were having wine and Mario was eating something...I couldn't tell what it was since the room was a little dark.

I wanted soooo badly to go over and talk to him, but I was too nervous and didn't want to interrupt his fun get together with friends. Also, I noticed another person go over to talk to him and she handed him his business card, etc. and I just didn't want to keep bothering him. But I really did want to at least tell him I was a big fan. (I know...cheesy...but I love his cooking!)

About 10-15 minutes after we arrived, his party got up to leave. I thought to myself. Okay this is my chance. I'll just quickly shake his hand and say hi. But right when he was passing me, I noticed him stumble and realized that 1) he was a little drunk and 2) he was rushing to leave. So I lost my courage and just watched him leave screaming to myself "YOU MISSED YOUR CHANCE!"

Anyways, it was such an awesome treat to spot him. Besides that one other person who went over to him, it didn't seem like that many people noticed him, or rather I guess they didn't want to bother him? I also heard later from the waitress that he was with Michael Stipe from R.E.M. Apparently they are good friends.

Maybe they were in the area because they were checking out Mario's new restaurant, Del Posto, a couple streets over? It was a funny coincidence because we had all wanted to try either Spotted Pig or Fatty Crab (Batali and Palaccio affiliated places) for dinner that night but of course couldn't get seats because both were too packed.

I don't even know if anyone checks this blog anymore, but just wanted to document the sighting!


  1. OOO That's exciting. But I think it's better you didn't go up to him. Mario's never striked me as a particularly nice or friendly man. I'd be afraid he would've said something nasty! Funny you didn't recognize Michael Stipe.

    I want to try 5 Ninth! Especially since Fatty Crab is so good.

  2. I have no clue what Michael Stipe looks like! And also apparently he was sitting with his back to us the whole time.

    I agree that maybe it was better not to go up and talk to him. I have a feeling that's why his group left so quickly after the other person went over and talked to him. Maybe he was afraid his cover was blown.

    From what I saw, he did appear friendly to the girl. But then again, it was probably because she was attractive!