On February 21, 1947, Lidia Giuliana Matticchio was born in Pola, Italy. A few days before her birth, the Paris Peace Treaty handed the Italian city over to Yugoslavia. In 1956, the family sought refuge and moved to Trieste where they lived in a refugee camp. When she was 12-years-old, Lidia and her family immigrated to North Bergen, New Jersey.
In 1971, Lidia and her husband, Felice Bastianich, opened their first restaurant in Queens, New York. Within a year, she began to train as the assistant chef in the restaurant.