Villagio On the Park
40 Central Park South
New York, NY 10019
Tel: (212) 369-4000 Fax: (212) 369-4005
Saturday: 11:30am – 11:30pm
Sunday: 11:30am – 11:30pm
Main Dining Room
Credit Cards: Visa/MasterCard and Amex
Original Restaurant Established: 1995
Owner: Alex Kalas and Thomas Billante
General Manager: David Fuentes
Executive Chef: Paul Johnston
Cuisine: Al Fresco Italian
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.
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.
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.
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.
Copyright 2014 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.