Cooking is nurturing, so it's no surprise mother-child teams thrive in the restaurant business. Not that it's always easy on the principals -- "There's a learning curve," says chef Lidia Bastianich, who freely mixes family and business. With Mother's Day approaching, it makes sense to patronize mom-centric places that produce delicious results.
1 DO HWA
WHAT Just your normal Korean family restaurant -- a mother, a daughter ... and Quentin Tarantino. The famous filmmaker is an investor in the business, which is run by Jenny Kwak and her chef-mother, Myung Ja. (The Kwaks' previous spot, Dok Suni, was a staple in the East Village for 15 years.) Don't miss the ojingo bibimbop, a rice dish topped with spicy squid. The family puts a big emphasis on wine and cocktails, even offering discounts if diners say a secret password (check the website); it could get you a jalapeño-tequila margarita with muddled cucumber for $6.
WHERE 55 Carmine St.
INFO Average entree $21; 212-414-2815, dohwanyc.com
WHAT Lidia Bastianich -- famed Italian chef, author, TV star -- is partnered with her children in all of her restaurants to varying degrees. Felidia, which turned 30 last year, has a special place in her heart, since it was her first NYC venue; her daughter, Tanya, is her on-site right-hand woman. Working with your children isn't always easy, Lidia says, "but they really appreciate what I do." The family rapport creates an easy shorthand. "When she's breaking my chops, I tell her," Bastianich says. "And when I'm being a nagging mom, she lets me know." She's partnered with her son, Joe, and superchef Mario Batali in several places, including Del Posto, and jokes that the filial vibe has rubbed off: "Mario is like an adopted child."
WHERE 243 E. 58th St.
INFO Average entree $30; 212-758-1479, felidia-nyc.com
3 I TRULLI
WHAT A hardworking Italian mamma making fresh pasta is a classic image, and Dora Marzovilla lives it daily at I Trulli. Her specialties hail from her home region of Puglia: cavatelli and orecchiette. She came to the United States when she was 34 and first worked as pasta maker at Tempo restaurant in the '80s -- run, like I Trulli, by her son Nicola. "Sometimes, it can be interesting," he says of working with mamma every day. Nicola may be the boss, but sometimes she asserts her primacy: "For mothers," he says, "that never changes."
WHERE 122 E. 27th St.
INFO Average entree $24; 212-481-7372, itrulli.com