In the vibrant city of New York, two Albanian entrepreneurs, Mariglen Dine and Alban Jakupaj, have embarked on an extraordinary culinary journey. Driven by their individual paths that led them to the heart of this vibrant metropolis, they envisioned an Italian restaurant that would revolutionize the dining experience. With an unwavering passion for hospitality and a shared determination, they set out to create an establishment that would leave an unforgettable mark on the city’s gastronomic scene.
Mariglen Dine’s adventure began amidst the pulsating beats of his DJ career. With a remarkable ability to read the crowd and curate unforgettable moments, he developed a deep appreciation for the art of hospitality. Fuelled by his desire to offer a unique experience, Mariglen decided to broaden his knowledge by pursuing a business management course in New York City. This immersive experience provided him with a solid foundation, equipping him with the skills to bring his vision to life.
The convergence of the two ambitious Albanian individuals laid the foundation for their extraordinary collaboration. Joined by chef Vilfrid Hodaj and partner Sammy V. Gashi, they applied their collective knowledge with meticulous care.
Duomo51, their brainchild, transcends the definition of an Italian restaurant. For Mariglen Dine and Alban Jakupaj, the realization of their dream represents the culmination of their love for the industry, the invaluable lessons they’ve learned, and the transformative journey that led them here.
To delve deeper into the inspiring story of Mariglen Dine and Alban Jakupaj, and to discover the passion and dedication that have made Duomo51 a culinary destination, continue reading the full interview in Albania Economia conducted by Besara Kaja.
As founders and friends, how do your individual strengths and skills complement each other in running Duomo51?
As founders and friends, our individual strengths and skills seamlessly complement each other in running Duomo51. Each of us brings a unique set of talents and experiences to the table, creating a dynamic and well-rounded team that drives the success of our restaurant.
First and foremost, we value open communication and trust within our partnership. This foundation allows us to effectively leverage our strengths and collaborate towards a common goal. By understanding and respecting each other’s expertise, we maximize our collective potential.
Ultimately, our partnership at Duomo51 is founded on mutual respect, trust, and the understanding that our individual strengths and skills are stronger together. By capitalizing on our unique abilities, we create a formidable team that drives the success of our restaurant and ensures the fulfillment of our shared vision.
Duomo51 has been praised for seamlessly blending Italian tradition and modernity. How did you achieve this balance in your restaurant’s concept and menu?
At Duomo51, our commitment to seamlessly blending Italian Tuscan tradition and modernity is at the heart of our restaurant’s concept and menu. We have strived to create a dining experience that pays homage to the rich culinary heritage of Tuscany while incorporating contemporary elements that appeal to the discerning tastes of our guests.
To achieve this delicate balance, we embarked on a journey to immerse ourselves in the essence of Tuscan cuisine. We delved into the region’s culinary traditions, exploring the time-honored recipes, authentic ingredients, and cooking techniques that define Tuscan gastronomy. This deep understanding of Tuscan tradition became the foundation upon which we built our concept.
Our menu is a carefully curated by chef Vilfird Hodaj witch is a blend of classic Tuscan dishes and innovative interpretations that reflect modern culinary trends. To infuse a touch of modernity, we introduce contemporary elements into our menu. This can be seen in our creative use of locally sourced ingredients, innovative flavor combinations, and artful presentation. We seek inspiration from global culinary influences while ensuring that the core Tuscan flavors and techniques remain the focus.
Forbes recently featured an article about your restaurant, highlighting its unique qualities. How has this exposure impacted your business and brand?
The exposure and recognition from Forbes featuring our restaurant have had a significant impact on both our business and brand. The article served as a powerful endorsement of our unique qualities and brought attention to our establishment on a global scale.
First and foremost, the Forbes article elevated our restaurant’s reputation and credibility within the industry. It showcased our commitment to excellence, innovation, and the exceptional dining experience we offer. As a result, we have witnessed a surge in interest and a growing number of diners seeking to experience what Forbes has acclaimed.
The exposure in Forbes also helped expand our reach to a broader audience. The article reached a wide readership, including food enthusiasts, industry professionals, and potential investors. This increased visibility has translated into a higher volume of inquiries, reservations, and foot traffic to our restaurant.
What sets Duomo51 apart from other Italian restaurants in New York City? How do you create a distinct experience for your customers?
What truly sets Duomo51 apart is our commitment to providing an extraordinary experience. From tableside preparations to breathtaking views, rooftop dining, personalized service, and a focus on authentic Italian flavors, we create a distinct atmosphere that captivates all the senses. It is this attention to detail and dedication to creating lasting memories that make dining with us an unparalleled experience in New York City.
Duomo51 offers an extensive wine list. How do you curate your wine selection, and how does it complement the dining experience?
At Duomo51, we take great pride in our extensive wine list, which has been thoughtfully curated to complement and enhance the dining experience for our guests. We believe that a carefully selected wine can elevate the flavors of our cuisine and create a harmonious pairing that delights the palate.
When curating our wine selection, we collaborate closely with experienced sommeliers and wine experts.
Our wine list is a celebration of both Italian wines and international offerings. We pay homage to Italy’s rich winemaking heritage by including a wide array of Italian wines, representing various regions, grape varietals, and winemaking traditions. From iconic Barolos and Brunellos to crisp Pinot Grigios and aromatic Chiantis, our Italian wine selection showcases the depth and breadth of Italy’s viticultural treasures.
Looking ahead, what are your future plans for Duomo51?
Looking ahead, our vision for Duomo51 extends beyond our current success. We have ambitious plans to expand and establish the name Duomo51 as an international brand synonymous with exceptional Italian dining experiences.
In the years to come, we aim to open additional Duomo51 locations in key cities around the world. Our goal is to bring our unique blend of Italian Tuscan tradition and modernity to new audiences, sharing our passion for culinary excellence and unforgettable hospitality on a global scale.
Given your success in New York City, have you considered leveraging your experience to invest in your home country?
Thank you for your insightful question. As proud Albanians, we hold a deep love and appreciation for our home country and its rich culinary heritage. We are indeed considering leveraging our experience and success in New York City to invest in Albania and bring the essence of Duomo51 to our fellow Albanians.
Our desire to invest in Albania stems from a genuine passion for showcasing the authentic flavors of our homeland and contributing to the culinary landscape in Albania. We believe that our extensive experience in the restaurant industry, coupled with our understanding of Albanian culture and cuisine, positions us well to create a remarkable dining experience that resonates with our fellow countrymen.
In our efforts to connect with the Albanian community, we are actively seeking to engage important figures within the Albanian community. By collaborating with influential individuals, organizations, and media in Albania, we aim to generate excitement and awareness about our restaurant and its unique offerings. Our intention is to bring as many Albanians as possible to experience the flavors of Duomo51 and create a sense of pride and connection to our culinary heritage.
Moreover, we are committed to opening a Duomo51 location in Albania, serving as a beacon of Italian Tuscan tradition and modernity within our home country. This venture would not only allow us to introduce Albanians to our exceptional cuisine but also contribute to the local economy, provide employment opportunities, and promote the vibrant food scene in Albania.
By: Besara Kaja, Albania Economia Magazine