Meet the Powerhouse Mother-Daughter Duo Behind Settepani Harlem

This Mother’s Day, meet Bilena Settepani and Leah Abraham—the forces behind the second-oldest restaurant on Lenox Avenue.

Kymani Hayden
May 10, 2024

From to seasonal pasta parties, to local philanthropy, to their now viral crookie, Settepani is a local family business you should know that is constantly reaching for new heights. The success of the business can be attributed to a formidable mother-daughter duo: Leah Abraham and Bilena Settepani (fondly known as the "Pannetone Princess"). 

Just in time for Mother's Day, Columbia Neighbors spent the day with Settepani and Abraham as they walked us through the origins of this beloved family business, discussed the importance of community, and told us what the future holds next for them.

You can watch our visit here:

“We go out of our way to use the best ingredients in everything that we do, one because we want to offer the best but also, we eat every single thing here," said Settepani.

Settepani Harlem opened in 2000 after Abraham was inspired after finding herself in the neighborhood on a drive down from Westchester County. The Brooklyn-based Settepani Bakery location was already well underway in an Italian-American corner of Williamsburg where Abraham's husband, Chef Nino Settepani, grew up after emigrating from Sicily as a child. 

After Sylvia's, Settepani is the oldest restaurant on Lenox Avenue in Harlem (196 Lenox Avenue) and remains a staple in the community today.

In recent years, a love for Abraham's East African background and global experiences abroad paired with Settepani's passion for content creation and natural ability to connect with others has blossomed into a home for creative cuisine, gatherings for social clubs, and a place for people looking to have a good time Uptown. 

A pile of decorative pizza boxes on display.

"The three pillars of success for any family business are love, communication, and open-mindedness," said Abraham.

When Abraham isn't traveling the world or working at Settepani Harlem, you can find her on the board of the 125th Street Business Improvement District.

When Settepani isn't whipping up rainbow cookie croissants or organizing social media giveaways, you can find her leading the next pasta and limoncello night or attending fundraiser galas to give back to organizations in need. 

What's next for Settepani? Redesigning a business model that is efficient enough to run smoothly for future generations. 

Learn more about Settepani and check out our newest Instagram Reel here.  

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