JVNY reports the sad news that Fedora Donato, the owner and hostess of his self-named Greenwich Village Italian basement restaurant, died yesterday. She was 91.
Fedora ran her homey eatery, which didn't change much over the decades, until last year, when she sold the space to restauranteur Gabe Stuhlman, who now runs it as a chi-chi place using the same name. Fedora was the subject of my second "Who Goes There?" column, back in March 2008. Here's an excerpt:
Fedora is a refuge for Village lifers who want to be reminded how the world below 14th Street looked in the 1950s. As one three-decade regular informed me, "You don't come here for the food. You come for the ambiance." That cozy atmosphere includes small tables; a low tin ceiling; NPR on the radio; a rotary pay phone; and a framed napkin signed by Lauren Bacall. Also, a communal greeting for every familiar face that passes through the door; the warm presence of the white-haired, Italian-born Ms. Dorato herself; and a sassy, youngish waiter named Georgie who knew one diner would want a Bloody Mary right away and let the lone lady at the bar pour her own vodka and tonic (into a huge brandy snifter filled with ice!).