The Donatella Project

By: Victoria Phillips
Donatella Arpaia

What's it take to run a successful restaurant? Good food, obviously. Great customer service. An attractive space that customers want to spend time in. It's not as easy as it sounds...

Owner of ten successful restaurants throughout New York City and Miami (including namesake restaurant, Donatella in NYC) and Iron Chef America judge Donatella Arpaia gets a new gig as restaurant consultant in Cooking Channel special The Donatella Project this Sunday at 8pm ET.

Restaurant owners using frozen ingredients instead of fresh, or eyesore decor that completely overpowers the restaurant experience -- these are just a few of the dining disasters Donatella will coach her clients away from. Whether she’s putting a new chef to the test or updating the décor from drab to fab, Donatella's coming to the rescue of restaurants in need of her skillful guidance on all issues, big and small .

From the beginning of Donatella’s restaurant career, her mother and father Maria and Lello Arpaia have been essential to her success. “My dad’s been in the business for 50 years,” she says. “And my mother is the biggest inspector of them all. Their opinions and critiques are always spot on.”

Check out Donatella's father Lello Arpaia's recipe for Neapolitan Linguine alle Vongole below, from his New York City restaurant Fiorini. Clams, white wine and fresh zucchini make this light pasta the perfect dish for upcoming spring.

And catch The Donatella Project this Sunday at 8pm ET on Cooking Channel.

Serving Size: 2

3 1/2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped
2 dozen manila clams
3 ounces clam juice
3 ounces white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
8 ounces linguine
1 tablespoon of coursly chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 oz. finely diced zucchini

Heat 2 ounces of the extra-virgin olive in a 12-inch skillet over moderate-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and saute until golden brown. Add the clams, clam juice, white wine, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and red pepper. Cover and steam until the clams open,about 2 to 3 min.

While the clams are cooking, cook the pasta in salted boiling water in a deep pot for 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and add the pasta to the clams. Stir and simmer.This can simmer while you sear the zucchini.

Heat a 6-inch skillet with 1 ounce of extra-virgin olive oil. Sear the zucchini for 1 to 2 minutes. Make sure they keep their natural color. Sear the zucchini at the very end.

Toss the zucchini with the clams and pasta.

Plate in a large bowl, keeping some clams in the shell for presentation. Finish with fresh parsley and the remaining extra-virgin olive oil.

More Italian Inspiration:

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