The Restaurant Red Flags Donatella Arpaia Looks Out For - Exclusive

Few people know more about the ins and outs of the restaurant industry than Donatella Arpaia. As a second-generation restaurateur, Arpaia grew up listening to conversations held by her father, Lello Arpaia, and soaking in all of the insider knowledge that comes with it.

Now, Arpaia has spent the past decades building an impressive career that started with the front of house management at David Burke and Donatella. She has since earned a culinary degree, opened several restaurants, and acted as a judge on cooking shows like "Iron Chef America." With all this going for her, it is no wonder Arpaia is able to get a read of a place in under a minute. 

"I usually can walk into a place and kind of know if it's going to make it or not within the first 30 seconds," Arpaia said in an exclusive interview with Tasting Table. With this ability, Tasting Table inquired what the biggest red flag customers should look for in a restaurant.

Simple and clean

According to Donatella Arpaia, the red flags start from just the general concept. 

"Sometimes the biggest problem is when there's a lack of identity," Arpaia said. "It doesn't know what it wants to be, and it's trying to cater to too many things." 

This can show up in many ways, such as a menu that is a mile long. Sometimes simple is the best thing a restaurant can be.

"If you go to a burger joint, you want a good burger," Arpaia said. "The restaurant needs to tell a story of what it is and then perform what it's supposed to be. If there's that disconnect, that usually means it's not going to work out."

Of course, there are some other indicators as well that will be easy for anyone to see, like cleanliness. It is not just the physical health of a place, though. Arpaia also says it is important to have a well-treated and knowledgeable staff. If a customer notice any of these red flags in a restaurant, it may be time to walk back out.

Donatella Arpaia's Noma Beach at Redfish is open now. To learn more about the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, visit their website.