Debra Ente personifies Little Italy’s charm, kitsch, and ‘authentic inauthenticity’

Jan 19, 2022 224

BY: Vanessa Anderson

On a late summer night in August, I met Debra Ente for the first time. She was adorned with pink glitter, I was adorned with splotches of red wine and marinara. We met at the Little Italy mainstay, Puglia, where Debra can be found most nights singing to throngs of recently graduated Big Ten alumni, mid-tier JPMorgan execs, New York first-timers, and Yelp hobbyists.

As they pick at haphazardly assembled Caesar salads and slurp red sauce, Debra entertains them with the musical stylings of Sinatra, Bennett, and ABBA. Paralegal by day, entertainer by night, Debra has been singing at Puglia for 15 years along with her co-entertainer Jorge Buccio, who’s clocked in a 35-year residency on Hester Street. The pair encapsulates everything I love about Little Italy.

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