MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa in the Seychelles Becomes “BEYOND All-Inclusive”

MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa in Mahé, Seychelles introduces the new “BEYOND All-Inclusive” concept beginning November 1, 2014. This new approach includes a myriad of services such as a dedicated butler, high-speed Wi-Fi, complimentary laundry service, all daily meals, soft drinks and premium alcoholic beverages as well as food a la carte on a “Whatever, Wherever, Whenever” basis. Additional activities introduced include morning Yoga or Qi Gong, non-motorized sports plus unlimited scuba diving.

Located on 30 acres of award-winning gardens on the main island of Mahé, MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa features 30 private villas, all with 180-degree uninterrupted sea views. While staying at MAIA guests can choose between two villa categories, the “Ocean Panoramic” villas or the “MAIA Signature” villas. Designed by leading architect Bill Bensley, each villa offers guests the perfect escape while vacationing at MAIA.

   Dotting the hillside are the nineteen Ocean Panoramic villas, each offering guests exquisite views of MAIA’s lush gardens and the blue waters of the ocean below. Additionally, the eleven “MAIA Signature” villas are located closer to the shore and provide guests direct access to the surf and sand. Guests booking the “MAIA Signature” villa also enjoy additional inclusions like early check-in and late check-out, their choice of Champagne as well as in-villa offerings such as daily private yoga, one-time mani-pedi, and a specially prepared barbecue.

Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

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The Landmark Building “Pavilion Restaurant” Opens in Union Square Park, with a Menu that Showcases the Bounty of the Greenmarket, Dazzling Décor and a Stellar Kitchen


20 Union Square West
New York, New York  — 10003

Located at the North End of Union Square Park at 17th Street, Across From Barns and Noble.

BRUNCH 11:30-5PM

LUNCH- 10:30AM-5PM

DINNER- 5PM- Closing at Midnight

Click Here To Visit the Website or Make a Reservation

Some things are truly worth the wait. This spring New Yorkers were thrilled to see that the iconic colonnaded pavilion in Union Square once again features an exciting new indoor-outdoor restaurant. The Pavilion, whose menu showcases the bounty of the Union Square Greenmarket, welcomed the public.

For nearly 170 years Union Square has been a gathering place for commerce, for entertainment, for labor and political events, and for recreation. The 1928 Greek revival structure at the north end of the park has featured a restaurant since 1994. Today, The Pavilion, run under the direction of the hospitality group Chef Driven Market continues the over 150-year-old tradition of having restaurants and food concessions in New York City parks. The name Pavilion is a simple, classic one that respects the building’s rich history. Open seasonally from April until late October, The Pavilion seats 90 people indoor and 90 outside and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and weekend brunch. It is also the best restaurant in any NY City park, but regardless of location, its is generally excellent with a first rate kitchen, well selected wines and beer, a serious mixologist and attentive service.

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At the helm are three rising stars on the city’s culinary scene: Executive Chef Mario Urgiles, previously at NYC French eatery Maison delights diners with an innovative market-driven menu – his pantry is the Greenmarket, just steps away. Pastry chef Terri Dreisbach who worked for Bobby Flay and Philippe Chow delivers her signature creative confections incorporating fresh ingredients while master mixologist Joel Cruz shakes up cocktails also inspired by the nearby market. All three are known for their tasty dishes that are always home made from scratch.pavion soup

Highlights from Chef Urgiles’ menu that underline his market-driven approach include: Tomato Soup with sourdough crouton & herb crème fraiche; Farm Goat Cheese and Tomato Tart with baby dandelion salad; Organic Salmon Green Pot Au Feu with fennel pearl onion, baby carrots, shitakes, tomato and Roasted Organic Chicken with fingerling and purple potatoes, broccoli rabe. Even the steak is a fine piece of meat, beautifully seared, with a lovely garnish of fresh vegetables. But the entrée winner is the restaurant impossibility: a stuffed fish with barely wilted vegetables and a light sauce. Perfectly prepared.

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Pastry Chef Terri Dreisbach is known for both her clever recipes and her artistic presentation. Some of the desserts she offers include: Raspberry Ginger Beer Float with coconut ice cream, raspberry sorbet, vanilla whipped cream and a ginger cookie; Devil’s Food Cake with pistachio mousse, raspberry and pistachio gelato; her signature Summer Berry Verrine with buttermilk panna cotta, summer berries, almond crumble and pistachio gelato (a must) and a Chocolate Beet Cake with blackberry-beet meringue, creme fraiche, cassis, blackberries and beet sorbet.

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At the bar Head Mixologist Joel Cruz makes his own magic with classic and contemporary cocktail creations many featuring fruit and herbs he sources from the market for syrups and garnishes. At brunch for example the Bloody Mary mix is highlighted by Holy Schmitt’s horseradish direct from the Greenmarket. Cruz is also bringing back frozen cocktails like everyone’s favorite pina colada made with fresh coconut milk, pineapple juice and dark rum.

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Some of Cruz’s other signature cocktails include: Pavilion ‘75’ with New Amsterdam Gin, honey direct from the Greenmarket, thyme syrup, and sparkling wine; the Metronome featuring New Amsterdam Orange Vodka, vanilla, white Vermouth and Aztec chocolate bitters; the Park Side including light and dark rum, fresh mint, lime, guava “foam,” and local pollen; and The Rialto made with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, InfiniTEA Syrup, pineapple and Peychaud’s Bitters. The olives in the martini are worth a visit.

The Pavilion also serves rosé sangria, the perfect warm-weather beverage as well as a number of craft beers and cider from NY area breweries. The wine program offers a list of 40 wines by the bottle and 12 by the glass predominantly from New York State wineries who focus on sustainable and biodynamic techniques.

The Pavilion’s décor seamlessly blends the lush greenery of the park with a chic yet casual dining experience. The result is a beautiful restaurant  that could feel as home in the South of France or an exotic island. Hanging gardens adorn the walls, palm trees add to the bucolic setting and overhead round glass orb lighting harkens back to open-air restaurants of the past. Modern touches like subtle lighting under the floor and unobtrusive ceiling heaters insure diners are always comfortable and there is a wonderful feeling of professional informality.

Furthermore, as an integral part of the New York City community, The Pavilion, in collaboration with KMNY Consulting and the Union Square Partnership, will add family-friendly programming to the Union Square Partnership’s already popular Summer in the Square series with “Tuesdays @ThePavilionNYC,” a weekly drop-in series. Programming will take place on the main level inside The Pavilion. A great idea!

“We are proud to be a part of the Union Square community,” says Simon Oren, CEO of Chef Driven Group and owner Marseille, Nice Matin and  Barbounia. “We look forward to welcoming the community to this new public amenity in the park.”

Some of these programs include weekly children’s book readings, musical performances, and cooking instruction. Chef Driven Market will also provide internships, partner with local food charities, host fundraising events, and partner with GrowNYC, which oversees the Greenmarket program citywide, on numerous nutrition and wellness initiatives, as well as source products used in their daily menu offerings from participating Greenmarket farms.

For an out-of-the-ordinary dining experience, The Pavilion brings a new twist on fine dining to New York and is already a roaring success. Walman Report Rating: A+

Copyright 2014 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.


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Valdo Rose Brut Is An Affordable Charmer


Just tasted the current version. Just delightful!

Originally posted on The Walman Report:

Nerello Mascalese Hi-Res

Valdo’s Philosophy: “Prosecco” is the distinguishing factor on the regional level- refined aromas, balance and overall quality are the key features Valdo
focuses on to produce unique and unrivalled products.

Valdo was started in 1926 by the Societa Anonima Vini Superiori & purchased by The Bolla Family in the 1940’s. Over 80 years of continuous
innovation with an ongoing quest for quality and devotion to respecting the vineyards & wine-making traditions of the region.

The Spumante Rosé is created from the perfect blend of two typical Italian vines, the Sicilian black berry Nerello Mascalese, from Sambuca Sicily in the province of Argiento which is 300 meters above sea level, and Glera, the fruity grapes from the Veneto region in the province of Treviso at 80 meters above sea level. The vineyard that grows the Nerello Mascalese has clay and limestone soil and the Glera vineyard is alluvial clay.

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NYY Steak Scores a Home Run In The NYC Steakhouse Arena

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7 West 51st Street (Between 5th & 6Th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019
(646) 307-7910
Click Here To Visit The Website

Click Here To Make a Reservation Online

Owners: Hard Rock International & New York Yankees
Fred Thimm (COO), Raul Adorno (GM)
Executive Sous Chef: Elin Garcia
Cuisine: American Steakhouse
Address: 7 West 51st Street
New York, NY 10019
Phone: 646-307-7910
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube & Google+: NYYSteak
Hours of Operation: Weekdays: Lunch and Dinner 11:30am-11pm; Pinstripe Power
Hour 4-6pm and 9-11pm
Saturday: Dinner only 5-11pm
Sunday: Dinner only 5-10pm; Pinstripe Power Hour: Monday – Friday 4pm – close.

Signature Dishes: 27 oz. Char-Grilled Long Bone Rib Eye, 28 oz. Porterhouse, 16 oz.
Prime Veal Chop, Berkshire Double Pork Chop, New York Strip,
Onion Ring Stack, NYY Steak 151 Volcano
Signature Cocktails: Yankeetini, Bronx Bomber
Interior Design: In-house
Capacity: 16,000 square feet / 220+ seats / Private Dining areas
Credit Cards: All major credit cards
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Nearest Subway: E at 53th Street and 5th Avenue, M at 53th Street and 5th Avenue, 6
at 51st Street and Lexington Avenue, N/Q/R at 59th Street and 5th


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Baseball fans and steak connoisseurs unite in midtown Manhattan at the city’s second NYY Steak. NYY Steak assembled a team of culinary and hospitality experts with years of fine dining experience to oversee its newest location. The team is lead by Fred Thimm, an established steakhouse specialist having spent 15 years with The Palm, where he served as President and COO and NYY Steak’s General Manager, Raul Adorno, who previously worked with Morton’s the Steakhouse for 16 years and opened locations worldwide as a General Manager and Director of Operations.

The spectacularly beautiful restaurant is  partnership between Hard Rock International and the Yankee Global Enterprises, the 16,000 square foot restaurant is housed in a former bank and stretches over three floors, featuring two private dining rooms, including an intimate 16 seat room housed in the old bank vault itself.  A pair of mirror image open kitchens, stacked one on top of the other, enables guests to see all the behind the burner action, whether dining on the main floor or the upstairs dining room.  The 200+ seat restaurant proudly boasts its signature autograph wall, featuring the autographs of retired New York Yankees legends.

One of NYY Steak’s main focal points is the glass enclosed butcher’s shop located on the lower level of the restaurant where the finest cuts of USDA Prime meat are aged and on display for beef enthusiasts to ogle. The MVP of the menu is the 27 oz. Char-Grilled Long Bone Rib Eye, which pays homage to the Bronx Bombers’ 27 World Series Championships.  Guests in the know can even ask to have the bone personalized on this well marbled cut – whether you want to say congratulations or monogram the bone for a company dinner, the kitchen team will make the Rib Eye bone just as memorable as the tender meat, which is one of the best in the city.

The all star line up also includes a 28 oz. Porterhouse, a Prime Veal Chop, and the New York Strip, all of which are dry aged for 21 days in signature NYY Steak style.

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Other star attractions include the Steak Bacon starter, served as thick-cut slabs in a maple glaze, topped with wilted spinach which will undoubtedly leave you begging for more while the Maryland Lump Crab Cake, served with roasted chipotle corn salsa and a caper remoulade, adds a spicy note to a steakhouse classic. The RAW BAR SAMPLER (FOR TWO 55 | FOR FOUR 95) offers fresh Alaskan king crab, lobster, colossal shrimp,
lovely East and West Coast oysters & clams. (Go easy on th e excellent warm bread, a rarity for steak houses).

A seemingly innocent Baby Iceberg Salad with tomato, bacon, egg, scallion, creamy blue cheese and French dressing is innocent no more as each order comes with a shot of vodka and a blue cheese stuffed olive, a playful nod to the “Mad Men” style martini and steak power lunches. Carnivores can continue to indulge in the Berkshire Double Pork Chop served with whole grain mustard spaetzle, tangy braised red cabbage and a savory pork jus, or sink your teeth into the beautifully crafted chili, garlic and herb rubbed Braised Short Rib Ragu with sweet cherry tomatoes, served over fresh pappardelle pasta.

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 Fish fanatics can opt for the Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna with teriyaki stir-fry vegetables, micro greens and a mandarin-orange sesame sauce or the fresh Catch of the Day.  The signature Lobster Mac & Cheese is made with sizeable pieces of fresh buttery lobster served with orecchiette pasta that delightfully holds up to the rich cheesy sauce.  Wisely choosing an order of the Onion Ring Stack will have fellow diners drooling in envy as a foot high totem pole of thick and crunchy coated onions come barreling at you, served with a homemade zesty balsamic ketchup and ranch dipping sauces.

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Before rounding home plate, diners would be remiss not to dabble in a bit of sweetness including two tableside options: the Crème Brûlée with chocolate coated pretzel rods sprinkled with fleur de sel, caramelized tableside, or the NYY Steak 151 Volcano, vanilla bean ice cream covered with Heath Bar crunch and expertly flambéed tableside using a shot of 151 Rum, the perfect treat to share with the whole table. And the Carrot Cake is the best you’ll ever taste.

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An expansive glass wine case built into the back wall houses the restaurant’s extensive globally infused wine list, along with 27 wines by the glass. The cocktail list is a mixture of classic and seasonal, offering guests everything from the Yankeetini, a mix of Vodka, Blue Curacao and White Cranberry Juice with a blue rock sugar rim to the Bronx Bomber, a twist on a Manhattan with Templeton Rye, Combier Cherry Liqueur, Antica Carpano Vermouth, Orange Bitters and Orange Peel.  NYY Steak’s “Pinstripe Power Hour” runs Sunday 5-6pm and 9-10pm as well as Monday thru Friday, 4pm-6pm and 9pm-11pm in both the bar and lounge, offering specialty bites from the bar menu. Fans of all sports can indulge both their palates and their passion any night of the week, taking in the big game on one of the televisions perched around the bar and lounge area.


The wine list is not only well chosen, but affordable and there are unique wines by the, including Behrens Family Winery ‘Behrens & Hitchcock’ The Heavyweight, Napa Valley, 2010 at $34 the glass ($136, by the bottle). Service is seamless, smooth and beautifully orchestrated by Diego Betancourt and Alex Sariyan.

We loved NYY STEAK, and believe they are here for a long and successful run. Rating: A Major, By The Walman Report.

Copyright 2014 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.


Cuba Restaurant in the West Village Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary and Is A Delight

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Cuba (Photo Credits: David Lindo)

222 Thompson Street between Bleecker and W. 3rd streets,

Click Here To Visit The Website


Open for dinner, Sun-Thu from 4pm-11pm, Fri-Sat, 4pm-midnight. Lunch is served Mon-Fri 11:30am-4pm; brunch, Sat-Sun from 11am-4pm; happy hour, Mon-Fri 4pm-7pm, live Cuban music, Fri and Sat @7:30pm (see website for schedule), cigar roller on site Mon, Thu and Sat evenings. Catering and private party rooms are available.


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Cuba Restaurant in the West Village Celebrates Its 10-Year Anniversary

Cuba restaurant is a rarity. For ten years, the team behind Cuba—including owner Beatriz de Armas,cuba chef Executive Chef Mario Garcia, manager Viviana Cabrera and head bartender Eduardo Tavares, as well as many of the servers and other staff—have worked together in a labor of love. As a result, Cuba restaurant is like a family, their loyalty and satisfaction directly translating to the guest experience, creating an atmosphere of fun, friendliness and all-around Cuban hospitality that is unparalleled.

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For 10 years, the restaurant has been capturing the spirit of Old Havana with live Cuban music, swaying palms, tropical fruits, strong signature mojitos and daiquiris, and authentic cuisine. It’s a singular and charming escape, a Little Havana on Thompson Street. Oversized automobiles and curvy dancers moving to a salsa beat are just some of the images of Cuba conjured and captured in the colorful paintings that decorate the exposed brick walls. At a table in the hammock-draped Terrace Room, you can watch the resident cigar maker hand-rolling Cuban-style cigars. Or plan a getaway to the subterranean speakeasy-like Hemingway Hideaway, or the intimate Family Room, ideal for group dining.

Cuba born and raised, Beatriz de Armas draws inspiration from her native Cuba and iconic places notoriously frequented by Ernest Hemingway, such as La Bodeguita Del Medio (famous for the mojito) and El Floridita (perfector of the daiquiri), as well as Latin influences and places she has lived including Valencia, Spain—the spark behind the menu’s list of paellas. Together with Chef Garcia, who trained under Chef David Martinez of the world famous Hotel Nacional in Cuba, the two have become a dynamic team encompassing the quality, tradition and essence of the Cuban sabor. They have collaborated on a menu that not only expresses Cuba’s primary culinary influences from African slaves and Spanish settlers, but also includes other, complementary Latin flavors.

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Chef Martinez is not only highly trained, but produces a high-level cuisine with a contemporary twist. For the tenth anniversary, he has created several new dishes, while also keeping many of the popular standards. New appetizers include a remarkable “Chicharron Prensado,” delicious braised pork belly with a parchment-crispy balsamic glazed skin, accompanied by congri—a blessed combination of rice and beans enhanced by a layer of nicely spiced Spanish chorizo and green peas, for an addictive flavor combination. There is also a changing selection of ceviches—the newest is the Ceviche de Langosta—tender, sweet lobster tossed with an enlivening mix of lemon juice, mustard, sesame oil, cilantro, cucumber and orange peel. But equally wonderful is the CEVICHE MIXTO: shrimp, calamari, scallops marinated in lime juice, cilantro, red onions, and avocado

For main courses, the new poultry dish, Pato con Salsa de Tamarindo, is a revelation: tamarind-glazed duck leg confit with a complement of mashed sweet plantains, sautéed spinach and oyster mushrooms. Really elegant and recommend. New to the seafood section is Salmon, a wonderful blend of textures: pan-seared with a caramelized crust, topped with tender shrimp, with creamy lobster sauce and coconut rice. The traditional Ropa Vieja, shredded skirt steak braised in salsa criolla, peppers, onions and tomatoes, is a classic favorite, but the Vaca Frita, pan-fried skirt steak with garlic mojo, soy sauce, onions, parsley and lime, is a house specialty, a traditional Cuban dish rarely seen on menus in NYC. For Beatriz’s homage to Spain, paellas include Paella Vallenciana, prepared with saffron rice, baby back ribs, monkfish, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, peppers, string beans and peas, as well as seafood and vegetarian versions.

For something really special, go for the amazing  RABO ENCENDIDO: tender braised oxtail, in tomato and red wine, kissed by sweet plantain, and succulent rice and beans. Here’s a dish that brings Cuban  cosine into the world-class arena.

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The luscious desserts include an ethereal Flan de Leche, custard with caramel sauce and fresh berries that somehow manages to be light and rich at the same time, as well as the sweet treat of Empandadita de Guayaba, guava and cream cheese filled turnovers, served with ice cream and raspberry sauce.

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At lunchtime, you’ll also find traditional sandwiches such as the classic favorite, the Cubano, roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, pressed and toasted until crispy on crusty bread. Other tasty choices include Pan con Todo, pan-fried shredded skirt steak sandwich with sautéed onions, arugula, tetilla cheese and garlic mayo, and the Miramar, fried scallops, romaine lettuce, tomato, chipotle mayo and garlic mojo on toasted Cuban bread.

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Brunch also features many of the savory staples as well as Cuban takes on traditional brunch dishes, such as Cuba Libre Torrejas, cream cheese and guava French toast; Tortilla Cubana, an omelette with Spanish chorizo, manchego cheese and spinach; and Benedict Habaneros, two poached eggs, sweet plantain quinoa cake, smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce. Brunch also features all the Mimosas, Sparkling Mojitos, Sangria, Cuba Bloody Marys or Capirinhas you would like during a period of one and a half hours.

The cocktails, of course, are a key element in transporting guests to Old Havana. The list is composed by veteran head bartender Eduardo Tavares (his prior experience was at Victor’s Café 52), and he takes the time to do it right, muddling the lime, mint and sugar for the 45 seconds required for a proper mojito, and preparing purees and infusions in house. Summer specials in honor of the 10th Anniversary include the Frozen Mojito, all the fresh ingredients of the classic mojito—in a refreshing, frothy-thick iced version, and the Pasion Picante, built with Don Diego reposado tequila, passion fruit, mango puree, fresh lime juice, muddled cilantro and a kick of jalapeno. In addition to the classic mojito, Tavares also mixes up an incredible tropical mojito in a range of fruit flavors. A favorite is jackfruit, refreshing, creamy, tangy and not too sweet. Other special mojitos include Mojito 23, smooth, dark and rich with Zacapa 23-year-old rum. The Hemingway is prepared with house-infused ginger rum, muddled mint, fresh limes and Cava. Not to be missed is the Daiquiri de Cuba, a beautiful frozen confection built with Santa Teresa Claro rum, lime and strawberries. Wines hail from Portugal, Chile, Argentina and Spain—a great match for the Cuban, Latin and Spanish flavors of the food.

Like fine rum, this Cuba restaurant improves with age. Service is friendly and the reception by the attractive young woman at the reception is welcoming. (And don’t forget to checkout those cigars).

Copyright 2014 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.


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Villagio On the Park … Bravo

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Villagio On the Park

40 Central Park South
New York, NY 10019
Tel: (212) 369-4000 Fax: (212) 369-4005

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Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday: 11:30am – 11:30pm

Saturday: 11:30am – 11:30pm

Sunday: 11:30am – 11:30pm

Capacity: Bar

Main Dining Room

Lower Level

Private Room

Credit Cards: Visa/MasterCard and Amex

Original Restaurant Established: 1995



Twitter: @VillagioRisto

Owner: Alex Kalas and Thomas Billante

General Manager: David Fuentes

Executive Chef: Paul Johnston

village  Lobster ravoli w shrimp

Lobster Ravioli

Cuisine: Al Fresco Italian

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Click Here For The Website

Alex Kalas and Thomas Billante, owners of a profusion of restaurants in Miami and one in Chicago, have transformed the space that was once home to Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant & Bar (40 Central Park South) and opened the new Villagio On the Park, a  refined Italian restaurant that allows al fresco dining with views of Central Park. Villagio On the Park boasts a modern aesthetic built on marble and wood.

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The design by Jeffrey Beers international includes Rustic pizza paddles that line the walls, and hundreds of illuminated crystals that hang from the ceiling and reflect off one another to cast a ubiquitous glow . While the first of a series of rooms is the most overtly attractive, the back areas are quieter and offer a respite from the roar of the crowd that has made Villagio On the Park one of the hottest and most coveted restaurant reservations in Manhattan.

Under the helm of Executive Chef Paul Johnston, Villagio On the Park makes its own pastas and imports many of the essential ingredients from overseas, such as Portuguese octopus and calamari from Europe. The food is generally excellent and while purists may be surprised by some bows to Florida, which included the most delicious lobster, stuffed with crabmeat I’ve ever tasted, the quality is superb and the preparations exhibit a deft hand.

Signature dishes include a “gondoletta,” stuffed with spinach and ricotta in a truffle mushroom cream sauce that is to die for, and zucchini flowers, (pictured below),have been harvested in Palm Beach, filled with smoked mozzarella and prosciutto, lightly battered and sautéed.  (Heaven on a plate). Burrata a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream (the outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream), sided by gorgeous tomatoes and prosciutto, was as good as it gets.

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Specialty Dishes offer Mozzarella Caprese, Slices of fresh homemade mozzarella, with tomatoes and basil; Pollo Milanese, Chicken breast lightly breaded topped with tricolore salad with fresh diced tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar., Pizza Pazza Mozzarella, fresh arugula, Parma prosciutto and virgin olive oil, Salmone A Letto, Fresh Atlantic salmon pan sautéed in virgin olive oil topped with roasted garlic over a bed of spinach, Nodino, Veal chop simply done on the grill, Scaloppini Portobello, Veal scaloppini sautéed with sliced Portobello mushrooms in a marsala wine sauce,  Risotto Frutti di Mare,Carnaroli rice in safran sauce with an array of fresh fish, shrimp,mussels, clams and calamari.

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Pizzas are baked in the wood-burning oven, and gluten-free options are on the menu. Even the ubiquitous Lasagna is out of the ordinary, with its homemade pasta, layered with a light bechamel and a delicate meat sauce (all the tomato based sauces are excellent as well).

The gratis focaccia  is terrific, and oh the fresh chopped cherry tomatoes that accompany it. The wine list has sufficient wines by the glass at easy prices and some top bottles for the big spenders. And check out some Italian beer that are a welcome respite from the pleasant Peroni and complement  the food.

By all means don’t skip the perfect desserts. I especially like the light-as-air semifreddo (half cold) dessert, with the texture of frozen mousse because it is produced by uniting equal parts of ice cream and whipped cream. The Chocolate Soufflé ….  was served with a rich vanilla ice cream and Tiramisu (Layers of ladyfingers dipped in espresso and amaretto,
topped with mascarpone cheese and dusted with cocoa powder) was everything it should be.

The dashing G.M,, David Fuentes, oversees the operation with precision and the service staff is young, energetic, highly efficient and helpful. Villagio On the Park ,  40 Central Park South, is the new restaurant kid in town. If you wonder why New York needs another Italian restaurant, check it out. You’re in for a pleasant surprise.

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Copyright 2014 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.


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Tira Misu

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Chef’s Table

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The Writing Room

1703 Second Avenue, (between 88th and 89th Streets).


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Fifty years since the original Elaine’s opened to droves of celebrities, screen writers, New York notables and locals alike, Upper East Side restaurateurs Michael & Susy Glick usher in a new wave for this booming neighborhood with the opening of The Writing Room. Studio Bohen founder Lindsey Bonime designed the restaurant, which seats 120 with an additional 20 at the bar. The design concept of The Writing Room, which includes an open kitchen flecked with subway tiles, will take diners back to a simpler time while paying specific homage to the former Elaine’s and the literary following the place inspired. Bonime utilized raw materials evoking both a vintage and industrial feel and restored the facade of the restaurant to resemble the Elaine’s exterior, complete with the famous awning that stretches out to 2nd Avenue, this time in a charcoal gray. The main dining room features reclaimed oak floors, walnut tables, rich leather banquettes accented by custom-made pendant lighting above, and textured red brick walls. A photo wall in this main room is adorned with about 150 framed photos of famous authors, vintage typewriters, and even some of Elaine’s in all it’s glory. Moving into the back room dubbed “The Study,” there’s an old school vibe with a modern edge. Vintage black and white tile floors meet the sleek fireplace and built in bookshelves teeming with 1,000+ books curated by Thatcher Wine of Juniper Books. Fabric panels on the wall behind the bar will be used as pin-up boards and guests are encouraged to add quotes, insights and notes, creating an ever-evolving work of literary art.

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Keep your eye on the young Executive Chef Lucas Billheimer. He has an inventive mind, a deft hand with seasoning and is sure to become a super-star. (Chef Lucas is also that rarity: a chef that is “hands on” and was actually in the kitchen the night of our visit). Billheimer has spent years studying the rich history of regional American cuisine and has been applying his prowess and passion since the opening. Menu signatures have since been decided by the masses, including the signature a knockout Rotisserie Chicken and the crispy and juicy herb brined Fried Chicken, plated with terrific slaw and a fluffy biscuit. Homemade pastas have also become a must for the neighborhood regulars, especially the Ricotta Cavatelli teeming with rapini, artichokes, green garlic and nutty Pecorino.

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Chef Billheimer is putting to good use his smoker and vertical rotisserie, churning out a Smoked Carrot & Beet Salad with toasted flax and pumpkin seeds, mint, lemon and maple yogurt and a rotating roster of roasted wonders including a steak house quality GRILLED BONE-IN 14OZ PRIME STRIP with Grilled Broccoli, Roasted Shallots and Garlic Herb Butter. Regulars clamor for the “knife and fork style” Baby Spinach Salad, with Garlic Croutons, Parmesan, a divine Smoked Trout Deviled Egg and a unique Smoked Caesar Dressing.

The star appetizer on our visit was a house made Charcuterie plate with fantastic home-cured pork and the best rillettes I’ve tasted outside of France. The grilled country bread (like all bread products, including a knockout parkerhouse version, created by Pastry Chef Andrea Bucheli) was delicious, as was the homemade beer-mustard.

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While Chef Billheimer certainly throws his heart into taming any type of meat, the Steamed Lobster and Wild Clams with red potatoes and drawn butter and a Grilled Yellowfin Tuna with white asparagus, arugula and a lemon ginger vinaigrette are perfectly satisfying on the seafood front. From roasted meats to fresh Spring vegetables and delicate fish, the menu is a mouthwatering kaleidoscope of regional American cooking met with today’s farm to table sensibility. The Writing Room’s Pastry Chef Andrea Bucheli has created confections at some of the finest kitchens across the city, including Geoffrey Zakarian’s Country and Town restaurants, Olives by Todd English, and Le Cirque 2000 before joining Billheimer and the Glicks at Parlor Steakhouse in 2008.

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Diners will start their meals with warm salt topped, pull apart Parker House Rolls and enjoy Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits with dinner, while the desserts will sweetly seduce right up to the end with Caramelized Rhubarb Rice Pudding with homemade crème fraîche ice cream, Creamsicle Pops dipped in chocolate and served with a warm hazelnut brownie, Cast Iron Local Peach Pie for the table and a playful throwback Funnel Cake, amped up with a zesty Meyer lemon mousse. The eclectic wine list features approximately 150 bottles ranging from American to New World vintages. A curated cocktail program dabbles in updated classics as well as new age concoctions, with a focus on homemade bitters, syrups, sodas, etc. “Johnny’s Gun” uses Ancho Reyes Chili Liqueur for a spicy update to a classic margarita with Herradura Blanco, Grand Marnier, lime and a spiced sea salt rim while the “Up in Smoke” relies on the smoky essence of Montelobos Mezcal, grapefruit, simple syrup, lime, Aperol, Egg White and Rhubarb Bitters to liven the mood. The bar also features an extensive scotch and bourbon list in addition to locally crafted brews on tap and in bottles.

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The classic Martini is well treated here, and there is an excellent wine by the glass program, offering two choices (3 or 6 ounces). The prices are fair and the product is fresh. By all means go for the miraculous red Italian masterpiece: Tenuta Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato Bolgheri ($10, $20 by the glass); $78 a bottle. Intense, rich, elegant and memorable.

Service is friendly, easy going and highly efficient. The Writing Room is a beautifully managed, professional restaurant for grownups who are not against have a bit of fun, excellent food in a convivial atmosphere at affordable prices. Highly recommended! Rating A+

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Copyright 2014 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.


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Bait & Hook Seafood Bar Offers Designer Food & loads of Fun at Bargain Prices


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Bait & Hook Seafood Bar
Cuisine: Seafood
Dining Style: Casual
Location: 231 Second Avenue, at 14th Street, New York, NY 10003
Phone: 212.260.8015
Twitter/Instagram: @baithook
Consulting Chef: Dave Martin (
Chef de Cuisine: Angela Dimino
Seating Capacity: 49 total, including 10 bar stools; plus, 49 sidewalk seats, weather permitting
Reservations: Yes, and by phone
Delivery/Take Out: No/Yes
Credit Cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa b&hcrowd
Hours of Service:
Monday – Wednesday, 3pm – 11pm
Thursday, 3pm – 12am
Friday – Sunday, 12pm – 12am
Daily Happy Hour, 3pm – 7pm
Price Range:
Raw Bar/Starters: $2.50 – 13
Chowda’ & Greens: $8 – 11
Sandwiches & Burgers: $15 – 22
Larger Plates: $16 – 18 (Average $17)
Sides: $5 – 6
Dessert: $5 – 6
Signature Cocktails: $12
Beer: $6
Wine: $8 – 12/glass; $33 – 36/bottle
Kung Pao Calamari $9
New England Style Clam Chowda’ $8
B&H Fish Sandwich or Fish & Chips $15
Dave’s Lobster Mac $18
La Pera Bros Free Range Chicken $16


If you are craving serious seafood without the fuss, look no further than Bait & Hook Seafood Bar, a newly revamped, casual bar/restaurant where seafood is the star. After two years of providing the neighborhood with an accessible seafood shack, the owners of this busy corner space reached out to Chef and Consultant Dave Martin to kick-up the concept. Dave, a Top Chef Alum, who has his own product line, Dave’s Homemade, and works on food and retail projects nationwide, enthusiastically accepted the challenge to bring Bait & Hook’s menu to a new level. The everyday seafood bar now offers the complete package – a relaxed vibe for a quick, satisfying bite, affordable date or group gathering at friendly prices.

It also offers one of the best martinis in Manhattan: 10 ounces of liquid heaven, served in a beautiful glass at $12 for Grey Goose Vodka,

Located on the north edge of the East Village, Bait & Hook (49 seats, including 10 at the bar) is the ideal destination for tasty seafood in a cozy environment. Whether you’re chilling with a cool cocktail or wine at the bar, you’ll always feel welcome in the laid-back atmosphere. Hang out and enjoy an ice-cold brew while watching your favorite game on one of the big screens, or enjoy full table service along the windowed street side. Sidewalk seating (49 seats) will be available weather permitting.


The chef has created a fun menu at Bait & Hook that will reel in diners and keep them as regulars. There is no compromising when it comes to ingredients; the menu has been created using quality fixings, such as chicken from La Pera Bros, sustainable seafood from Bronx Fish, and American Wagyu from DeBragga. All of Bait & Hook’s sauces are made in-house, and the menu offers several gluten-free options, as well as organic ingredients in the selections.


The Old School Lobster Roll, above, ($22) combines Fresh Lobster with your choice of Roasted Garlic Aioli or Drawn Butter in New England Style Hot Dog Bun with simplicity and perfection. Never had better in Manhattan.


The seafood driven menu begins with crave-able starters, like the signature Kung Pao Calamari, pictured below, ($9) with Spicy Sauce, Peanuts & Dried Chillis. If you like it hot, your name is written on this dish (don’t miss it). His unique New England Style Clam Chowda’ ($8) is made with Lobster Stock and Zero Flour. From the Sandwiches & Burgers, guests will love his B&H Fish Sandwich or Fish & Chips ($15) – Line Caught Cod, Served Pan Roasted or Fried on a Brioche Bun; as well as B&H Wagyu Burger ($15) with Irish White Cheddar. Larger Plates include Dave’s Lobster Mac ($18) – Fresh Lobster, Fontina, Romano, Shallots, Sherry & Slow Cooked Cream. A must order! Other larger options, such as Ginger Organic Salmon ($18) with Apple, Shallot & Brandy Glaze could hold court in a restaurant with far higher prices (truly elegant); and La Pera Bros Free Range Chicken ($16) – Buttermilk Marinated Fried Chicken with Spicy Hot Sauce (fried to order; the chickens come from Local Farms and are Free Range and Veggie Fed) are served with a choice of two tasty sides, such as Creamy Parmesan Grits ($5) and Garlicky Spinach ($6), making it a complete meal.

For those seeking a lighter bite, fresh East Coast Oysters ($2.50 each) with Pomegranate Mignonette and House Made Cocktail Sauce are as fresh and briny as it gets ; and Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail ($13) are excellent Raw Bar options. Bait & Hook’s Street Tacos are also crowd pleasers, coming three to an order with either Roasted Shrimp ($10), Baja Style Fish ($9), or Free Range Chicken (9). The fish tacos are our recommendation. Awesome Finger Food, such as Fried Free Range Chicken Thighs ($10) with choice of Kung Pao or Spicy Hot Sauce served with Groovy Gorgonzola for dipping, offer ultimate comfort on a plate. Finish up with The Sweet Stuff, including Memma’s Triple Chocolate Brownie ($6). 


Bait & Hook’s bar program features Signature Cocktails, such as Cabin Boy ($12) – Patron Silver, Cointreau, Fresh Lemon& Lime Juice with Prickly Pear Puree. Select bottled and draft beer ($6 each), including its own private house brew, Bait &Hook Lager, are available, plus a small, approachable international wine list ($8-12/glass; $33-36/bottle). Daily Happy Hour offers $1 oysters, $3 fish tacos, $5 beer, $6 mixed drinks and more!


Bait and Hook is open daily for lunch and dinner. Whenever you check it out, you’re in for a good time, no phony attitude and gratifying food. A real NY experience and especially recommended to our out of town and foreign readers.

Copyright 2014 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.


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