When chef and Food Network superstar Mario Batali wants to go out late at nightas he is famously wont to dohe has no shortage of people to keep him company. His inner circle includes the New Yorker staff writer Bill Buford and R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, but his most frequent cohorts are the players in his New York City restaurant empire. They are Joe Bastianich, his business partner; Jason Denton, his partner in Lupa and Otto and proprietor of 'ino; Mark Ladner, chef at Lupa and a partner in Otto; and Andy Nusser, chef at Babbo. A typical outing with the shorts-wearing Mario involves stops at several downtown restaurants. "I used to hit six or seven places a night, minimum," he says. "But now that I've been almost everywhere, I'd rather go to the spots I like best and camp."
9:45 pm | Do Hwa Mario and Joe sit down at the L-shaped bar in the vaguely glamorous Korean restaurant; an old Orson Welles movie plays on a wall next to a DJ mixing Talking Heads. Mario likes eating at the bar: "When you work in the restaurant business all day, the last place you want to sit is the dining room," he says. Jason and Mark show up just as the dishes begin to arrive: crisp zucchini-and-scallion-laced pancakes, pan-fried kimchi mandu (kimchi, pork and beef dumplings) and Mario's favorite, deji kalbi, spicy garlic-and-ginger-infused pork ribs that he orders every time he visits Do Hwa. "It's a welcome change from Italian," he says. "And this place has a great downtown vibehighly unusual for a Korean restaurant."What Mario Ordered
11:00 pm | Giorgione As Mario and his crew take the 10-minute walk from Do Hwa to Giorgione, the popular Italian restaurant where Mario's long-time friend Jody Williams is the chef, a few people on line to get into a nearby nightclub stare at them; one of them yells, "Mario, make me some pasta!" "Please," adds another.