Best Second Act - 2004
Nineteen steps. That's what it takes Frank Bonanno to get from his first restaurant, Mizuna, to his second, Luca d'Italia. He can do it in the blink of an eye -- and does, several times a night, moving from the classy, comfortable fare of Mizuna to the complicated, unbelievably delicious Italian menu at Luca. From lobster-spiked mac-and-cheese to gnocchi in a crabmeat-and-lobster gravy and back again, over and over, all night. Fitzgerald once said that American lives have no second acts, but Bonanno has proven this old saw false with the continued popularity of Mizuna and the success he's seen bloom at Luca. That he's done so despite the loss of his partner, Doug Fleischmann, in a tragic car accident last summer makes the success of both restaurants even more remarkable, if bittersweet. So here's to you, Frank. We don't know how you do it, and we don't envy you the miles you run every day overseeing these two fabulous houses. But we're glad you're up to the task -- because we'd never want to see either place without you.