The New York Post reported that co-owner Fabio Granata first just heard rumors from friends that a surprisingly familiar-looking place called Serafina NYC had popped up in Beirut. Then he saw photos of the restaurant sporting a logo remarkably like the one used at his five Serafinas-these establishments actually located IN New York-and a menu of Italian specialties, just like his own.
To be fair, the menu did credit Granato, who with partner Vittorio Assaf owns the five Serafinas along with the David Rockwell-designed Geisha, a Japanese concept that opened last year, and Lollipop, a tapas bar debuting this year off Madison Avenue. "In less than just seven years, Dr. Selim Jacobs and Fabio Granato have created a rapidly expanding empire in New York, based on the strength of their spectacular Italian cuisine and European allure."
Sounds impressive, except that Granato has never met the good doctor. His lawyer is investigating.
Ironically, the Post reported, Granato and Assaf faced their own identity crisis in 1995 when they opened their first restaurant, Sofia Fabulous Pizza, on Madison Avenue. Sofia almost immediately attracted supermodels, socialites and celebrities. Frank Sofia, who operated another restaurant called Sofia, apparently resented the success of the upstart operation and threatened to sue over use of the name; thus Serafina was born.