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Savor Italian Flavors with Chazz Palminteri

Celebrated chef brings as much passion to the table as he does to the stage and screen

Savor Italian FLavors with Chazz Palminteri

The quintessential Bronx boy—not satisfied to rest on his laurels after enjoying success as an Academy Award-nominated actor, writer, and producer— Chazz Palminteri has shown yet again that he’s unwilling to waste even a single drop of his talent. And like his acclaimed story, “A Bronx Tale”—first a one-man show, then a film, and now a Broadway musical—Chazz Palminteri Ristorante Italiano {890 Second Avenue (New – 30 West 46th Street), New York; 212.355.5540; chazzpalminterinyc.com} is a true classic, transporting patrons back to simpler, arguably better, times. “From the moment they walk in to the moment they leave, their visit will be a unique, enjoyable experience,” says Palminteri of his bastion of Old-World elegance.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Set amid the towering office buildings and condominiums of Midtown East, Chazz Palminteri Ristorante Italiano is close to Grand Central Station, the Chrysler and Empire State buildings, and the Museum of Modern Art—along with most everything else Manhattan has to offer—due to its central location at 890 Second Avenue between 47th and 48th streets. Both the location and the person behind the restaurant attract professionals on business lunches, theater-goers, tourists, and locals alike.

THE ATMOSPHERE

The décor conveys traditional Italian elegance, with earthy reds, oranges, and browns mixing as comfortably as the patrons in the 140-seat space. Custom murals accent the walls, as do photos of Palminteri and some of his famous friends near the entry. A gold-accented bar of dark wood furthers the warm intimacy of the space, as does Palminteri himself, who is known to frequent the establishment—and even mingle and take selfies with guests. “I have always taken pictures with my fans,” says Palminteri. “As long as people are respectful, it is really not a big deal to me.” The personalized touches don’t end there, with waiters providing the kind of attentive and accommodating service that one would typically expect from only the most old-school Italian restaurants.

Savor Italian FLavors with Chazz Palminteri

THE EATS

It is the food that most of all reflects the restaurant’s omnipresent traditional vibe, and it’s no wonder. Palminteri and his family traveled throughout Italy—including to his ancestral home, Sicily—to find the best, most authentic recipes and learn the secrets of great Italian cuisine. “Use fresh, simple ingredients, and don’t overdo it,” says Palminteri of what he learned there, adding that he has brought those lessons back to the restaurant that bears his name. “We use only the best of everything.”

The Osso Buco, Pappardelle Bolognese, and Sogliola di Dover (Dover Sole), are among Palminteri’s favorite dishes at the restaurant. Homemade pastas take center stage in inventive dishes like the reliable standby Bucatini alla Carbonara or the more adventurous Duck Ravioli, which comes cloaked in a creamy sage cassis and is served with escarole. Meat and seafood dishes follow a similar format, with classics for the purists and more creative options for adventurous palates.

For pre or post-theater diners, the “A Bronx Tale” four-course prix fixe menu is sure to please, with entrée options including A Bronx Tail—a lobster tail accompanied by clams, mussels, and shrimp. Pasta Sundays consist of another four courses, which include comfort dishes like The Unusual Suspect—meatballs stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, and cream cheese, served with a medley of five short pastas in fresh tomato basil sauce.

THE DRINKS

Palminteri’s personal touch extends to the bar as well. His own BiVi Sicilian Vodka graces the craft cocktail menu in selections like the Sicilian Martini, with orange liqueur, amaretto, and a splash of orange juice; and the Strawberry 54, with lemon juice, simple syrup, and strawberries. “I was fascinated by the art of making my own spirits, and I found a great distiller in Messina, Sicily,” Palminteri explains of creating the country’s first vodka. The wine list is comprised of 250 selections, with many, unsurprisingly, hailing from the old country.

Chazz Palminteri Ristorante Italiano is a partnership with the Sinanaj brothers, proprietors of Ben & Jack’s and Empire Steak House, a longtime favorite of Palminteri’s. It comes as no surprise that his other top choices for dining out include Bronx eateries, with Roberto’s and Enzo’s making the list. Estiatorio Milos is another favorite in New York City.

When in New Jersey, Palminteri knows where to find the best food—his wife, Gianna Ranaudo, grew up in Hazlet, and he and his family previously made their home in Colts Neck. “DeLorenzo’s in Trenton has one of the best pizzas I have ever had,” Palminteri says. “Also, Windansea in Highlands has great water views and exceptional seafood.”

If one judges Palminteri’s recommendations by the quality of his own restaurant, his picks are undoubtedly must-trys. Overall, Chazz Palminteri Ristorante Italiano seems to prove that the talented man not only manages to wear many hats, but also wear them with style—and lots of good taste.

BY Jessica D’Amico

N.B.  The Chazz Palminteri Italian Restaurant is moving to a brand-new space just steps from Broadway at 30 West 46th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)! Don’t worry, we’re keeping all of our old-school charm and classic Italian dishes just the way they are! The move is planned for the last week of June, so please call to confirm our location.

Brunch at City Perch in Fort Lee NJ - iPIC Theater