Just under a month ago, restaurateur Alex Kalas — who owns a slew of restaurants in South Florida plus one in Chicago — and his business partner Thomas Billante popped open the doors to the Villagio on the Park (40 Central Park South), a sleek Jeffrey Beers-designed spot that’s serving a menu of refined Italian food.
“We understand that the city doesn’t need another Italian restaurant, but we try to achieve a market segment for good quality for the price,” says Kalas. “That’s our goal. We offer a reasonably priced menu and a good-sized wine list.”
Villagio makes its own pasta, says the owner, and it imports a number of ingredients from overseas. Dish highlights include a bomboletta stuffed with spinach and ricotta in a truffle mushroom sauce, and zucchini flowers, harvested in Palm Beach, that are stuffed with smoked mozzarella and prosciutto. A wood-burning oven allows the kitchen to turn out pizzas, and the team is also selling whole branzino plus Portuguese octopus and calamari from Europe.
In addition, says Kalas, “all desserts are made in the house, and the semifreddo as light as foam.”
As for the space, the address formerly belonged to Micky Mantle Restaurant and Bar, and it’s been refitted with a modern aesthetic built on marble and wood. Pizza paddles line the walls, and Kalas calls out Brian Atter’s lighting work; the designer hung 637 crystals from the ceiling. When 137 of those are illuminated, they reflect off the rest.
Within the next month, the Villagio will also open its outdoor seating, though you can catch views of the park, Kalas says, from every seat in the dining room. The team is also working with a pair of private event spaces, which can accommodate about 60 people.
Kalas, a native of Greece, decided to open in New York City because “we saw the area and thought this would be a market for us. A lot of New yorkers have been to our restaurants in Miami.” Billante is Italian, says his partner, and is the driving force behind the menu.
The Villagio is open daily from 11:30 a.m. until 11 p.m., though the bar remains open later, until midnight or 12:30 a.m.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 29, 2014