Donatella Arpaia knows a thing or two about entertaining. The Iron Chef America judge is the owner of New York City hotspots including Kefi and Prova, and she recently expanded her empire by opening Swanky Dog, a gourmet hot dog pop-up eatery in the Chelsea neighborhood. Whether she’s eating pasta or frankfurters, however, Arpaia says she’s always happiest when she’s eating outside—and nothing helps set an al fresco dining scene quite like the right music.
“Whenever I host a dinner party al fresco,” Arpaia says, “I time the evening with a playlist and transition the music so it matches whatever course we’re eating.”
In the warmer months, Arpaia says she might pair cold Tuscan appetizers and Prosecco with Andrea Bocelli, a grilled steak and homemade spaghetti would go along with Frank Sinatra and dessert would be paired with Jay-Z. “That’s the cue for the Limoncello and espresso to come out,” she says.
Below, Arpaia shares her favorite songs to accompany a summer al fresco dinner. “I always have this dream of turning my home into an Italian villa—just giving friends the experience of good food and music,” she says. “What can I say? I’m your typical Italian girl.”