Q+A: George Lati of Punto Bianco
Nestled in the corner of 20 Jay Street, Punto Bianco, a sweet family-owned-and-operated Mediterranean restaurant holds two great things: fresh food and an owner with a rich history of DUMBO that he loves to talk about anytime. Here, DUMBO BID fellow Rachel Hamburger sits and chats with George Lati, owner of Punto Bianco.
With all this history, Punto Bianco is not your first venture in DUMBO I take it?
It is not. I was originally in textiling and when I came to DUMBO in 1991 I fell in love. DUMBO, back then was a hub for textiles and manufacturing and home to many designer products such as Calvin Klein. I used to work in 55 Washington Street (now home to Etsy, Breakfast, Amplify & more). Jane’s Carousel used to be in my warehouse! That was many years ago. I have witnessed first hand the evolution of this neighborhood, which is why I have come back to open Punto Bianco.
Yes, tell us about Punto Bianco.
We are a Mediterranean Café, which has been open for three years now. We are entirely family operated; my wife Shela does all the cooking and the kids help out as well. We named our café Punto Bianco as it is a colloquial expression meaning “bright spot” because it has a special energy, a beautiful feel. I have had my eye on this space for over 15 years actually. Back in the day I wanted to open a show room here but buyers were afraid to come here. Imagine that.
All of our food that we serve is bought daily as we treat this café as our own dining room. Everything is organic and everything is fresh. Our meat is kosher – no antibiotic fed meat or mistreatment of animals – and the flavor is delicious. Have you ever tasted kosher meat? There is nothing like it. We also have vegan and vegetarian options for those who do not eat meat at all.
Punto Bianco is a café, but it is also more than a café. What is the future of Punto Bianco?
We have something unique to DUMBO and want to offer something for the evening hours. We can make ready to go sandwiches and coffees but we really want to be known for beautiful ingredients and beautiful food. We want to be DUMBO’s living room. We want to be a comfortable place for DUMBO’s residents, DUMBO’s workers and DUMBO industries. We want to play matchmaker. We want to create an interactive creative space. If there is an artist who wants to show work here – we are more than happy to show them. We want to promote all of DUMBO -- to DUMBO for DUMBO!