Over the past few years, New York City has indulged its obsession with ‘old-style’ Italian red-sauce joints trying hard to look like they sprung fully-formed out of central casting. Although it only opened October 2015, Chazz Palminteri Ristorante Italiano meets the mark effortlessly.
The foyer of this 140-seat restaurant features photos of the big man with his celebrity friends, including Cher, Sharon Stone, Robert De Niro, and Billy Crystal. Tables are filled with businessmen tired of the steakhouse, bridge-and-tunnel families, and ‘wise guys’ enjoying dinner over a few laughs. The dark wood walls absorb the din, and low lighting tempers the conspiratorial mood.
In addition to a full bar, they offer a very civilized collection of Classic Cocktails, several featuring Palminteri’s own BiVi Sicilian Vodka. A Classic Manhattan ($13.95), with Michter’s Straight Rye, Italian Sweet Vermouth and Angostura bitters, was mixed by an expert hand. They also offer a 250-bottle wine list, with an impressive roster of by-the-glass options.
Palminteri takes pains to feature dishes from his native Sicily, especially seafood. An appetizer of Calamari Fritti ($12.95) showcased lightly-battered rings of squid with zesty marinara, and a special appetizer of creamy Burrata ($13.95) was a riff on the classic Insalata Caprese.
A hearty selection of risotto and pasta dishes includes Linguini Nero (MP), lobster and mixed seafood over al dente black linguini. A Bronx Tail ($49.95) —a mammoth 16 oz. lobster tail with clams, mussels and shrimp over chopped leeks — basks in a white wine saffron sauce. Some midtown Italian restaurants charge a pretty penny for a tiny nest of pasta; this place delivers entrees big enough to satisfy the manliest of men.
If you’re lucky — as we were — you may even encounter Palminteri himself, unobtrusively dining with a friend, occasionally rising to take selfies with ‘the usual suspects.
BY TIME OUT COMMUNITY REVIEWER: WINNIE MCCROY