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

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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

Continue reading “Villagio On the Park … Bravo”


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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.


Make A Reservation Online


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.


Continue reading “Bait & Hook Seafood Bar Offers Designer Food & loads of Fun at Bargain Prices”