Katie lounges on her sofa with her collection of vessels in the background.

Katie Parla Writes Best-Selling Cookbooks From This Vintage Italian Coffee Table

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What makes a purchase “worth it”? The answer is different for everybody, so we’re asking some of the coolest, most shopping-savvy people we know—from small-business owners to designers, artists, and actors—to tell us the story behind one of their most prized possessions.

Who?

Katie lounges on her sofa, with her collection of vessels in the background.

David Alvarado

Katie Parla always wanted to live in Rome. Growing up in New Jersey with restaurant-industry parents, she fell in love with Italian food at an early age and set her sights on the pasta capital of the world. “I decided as a teenager that when I grew up I’d move here and live here forever,” she remembers. “That was the one thing that I knew to be true in my future.”

Two decades later, Katie is a widely recognized authority on Roman cuisine, a New York Times best-selling cookbook author, cohost of an Italian food podcast, and a popular culinary tour guide. She even launched her own Rome-based publishing company to produce her own titles locally, like the recently released Food of the Italian Islands.

“I’m obsessed with Italian artisanship,” Katie explains. “I love that a lot of things are still made here, and I love telling stories without having to polish the edges to fulfill the romantic vision that a lot of people have of Italy, so I wanted to have creative control.”

As an extension of Katie’s passion for Italian craftsmanship, the creative chose to rent a classic 1950s apartment in Rome’s Monteverde Vecchio neighborhood. The charming two-bedroom home is clad in walnut millwork that reminds her of a boat interior and provides plenty of storage for her collections of books, colorful vessels, and cookware.

Where?

Although many Roman rentals come fully furnished, Katie got lucky that her flat only included a marble-topped dining table (which happens to be ideal for rolling out pizza dough). She was able to curate the rest of the furniture herself, which she did primarily by shopping for midcentury Italian treasures at nearby vintage store Spot Gallery.

“It was, like, 400 euros or something,” Katie remembers. “I’ve seen it on 1stDibs for 2,700 [euros], and so I was like, ‘Okay, that’s cool. Do you deliver?’ They wrapped it in a lot of bubble wrap, put it in their car, and carried it up into the apartment. And ever since then, it’s been my desk.”

David Alvarado

What?

Katie’s favorite secondhand shopping find is a vintage Ico and Luisa Parisi for Cassina coffee table from the 1950s with an original dark rosewood frame and a new glass surface. “It’s in really wonderful condition,” she says. “I love the intersections and the recesses and the different planes that things are working on. It has very clean lines. It’s visually interesting and it looks different from different angles.”

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