Staten Island, NY — Restauranteur Peter Botros is on a roll. For the second year in a row, Botros was named Grand Prize “Pasta Bowl” winner, hosted by Community Resources (CR) on February 25, 2018, at the CR headquarters in Travis. However, this year it was Botros’ restaurant, Violette’s Cellar, that captured the coveted prize, whereas last year, it was Botros flagship restaurant, The Stone House that captured the pasta prize. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Meanwhile, the Second Place honors were garnered by Mario Gentile, popular proprietor of Mario’s on Richmond Road. Mario’s tied with Mona Lisa and Mario’s, which also walked away with the Chef’s Choice award, for the second year in a row. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Dana Magee, CR’s Executive Director with Leonardo Giordano of Mona Lisa, and Mario Gentile of Mario’s second prize tie winners
CR Chefs won Third Prize!
Tyler Larsen and Rosie McGrath at the Community Resources 2018 Pasta Bowl held on February 25, 2018, at its Travis headquarters. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
The Pasta Bowl is Community Resources event, now in its 16th year. Community Resources is a comprehensive service provider for Staten Islanders with an IDD or mental health diagnosis.
Meanwhile, the Second Place honors were garnered by Mario Gentile, popular proprietor of Mario’s on Richmond Road. Mario’s tied with Mona Lisa and Mario’s, which also walked away with the Chef’s Choice award, for the second year in a row. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Michael Arvanites, Trustee of the City University of New York and Executive Committee Member at Democratic Committee of Richmond County, at left, and Public Administrator Anthony Catalano, share a laugh at the Community Resources 2018 Pasta Bowl held on February 25, 2018 at its Travis headquarters. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
David Lehr and Fran Hogan enjoy the Community Resources 2018 Pasta Bowl held on February 25, 2018 at its Travis headquarters. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Marta Gomez, at left, Luis Gomez (parents of DaNoi proprietor Eddie Gomez), Sedat Bajrmi, and Cenon Diaz at the Community Resources 2018 Pasta Bowl held on February 25, 2018 at its Travis headquarters. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Rosie McGrath and Tyler Larsen of the CR Chefs
Carmen Garcia, at left, Alyssa Ryan, Victoria Ryan, and Sushila Garcia serve guests at the Community Resources 2018 Pasta Bowl held on February 25, 2018 at its Travis headquarters. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Left to right: Steve Kessler, Barbara Devaney, and Laura Kessler at the Community Resources 2018 Pasta Bowl held on February 25, 2018 at its Travis headquarters. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Xiomara Alvarez and Jennifer Golterman serve up delicious Jimmy Max pasta dishes at the Community Resources 2018 Pasta Bowl held on February 25, 2018 at its Travis headquarters. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Brian Kornbrekke of Taste of Honey served up pasta goodness at the Community Resources 2018 Pasta Bowl held on February 25, 2018 at its Travis headquarters. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Leonardo Giordano of Mona Lisa, who tied for second place with Mario Gentile of Mario’s.
Annie McHugh and Jimmy Ramovic represented A & S Caterers at the Community Resources 2018 Pasta Bowl held on February 25, 2018 at its Travis headquarters. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Guiseppe Balsamo and Jose Rodriguez serve up tasty pasta at the Community Resources 2018 Pasta Bowl held on February 25, 2018 at its Travis headquarters. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Luis DeLeon and Peter Botros, owner of The Stone House.
Tom Blancero, at left, and KC Hankins, both of the Young Democrats of Richmond County, volunteer at the Community Resources 2018 Pasta Bowl held on February 25, 2018 at its Travis headquarters. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Sarah Clarke, at left, Tatiana Mroczek, Miss Richmond County’s Outstanding Teen 2018, and Sheila Lewis at the Community Resources 2018 Pasta Bowl held on February 25, 2018 at its Travis headquarters. (Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
Dana Magee, CR’s Executive Director with Peter Botros owner of Violette’s Cellar on the far right, winner of the Pasta Bowl. Botros also owns the Stone House at Clove Lakes and soon to be open Corner House BBQ.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- At the James Beard House on Tuesday, Feb. 13,the menu featured spring rolls of chocolate-braised duck and mashed potatoes sweetened with white chocolate. This presentation came courtesy of the kitchen crew from Staten Island's Violette's Cellarand the Stone House at Clove Lakes Park.
The staff cooked for a sold-out house that night. And the theme of the cocktail hour followed by a six-course meal headlined as "Dreaming in Chocolate."
The kitchen lead, Peter Botros, chose the theme with Fat Tuesday and Valentine's Day in mind.
Hors d'oeuvres included roasted beet bites topped with a whisper of fennel pollen over whipped cocoa goat cheese. Dinner started with warm mini cocoa croissants and guajillo-chocolate butter, then moved onto a burrata cheese with Valharona dark chocolate-balsamic vinegar with ancho chili oil, macadamia nuts, and granola.
Other dishes -- chocolate-ricotta topped with spicy sausage crumbles with Parmigiano-Reggiano cream sauce, a dayboat scallop with chocolate-chestnut cream and cocoa nibs plus filet mignon with white chocolate-whipped potatoes -- worked up to a banana empanada for dessert. The latter included a Mexican hot chocolate gelato that Botros had been tinkering with over at Violette's Cellar recently. And that was presented with a cup of sweet espresso spiked with Corzo Tequila Silver.
Each bit of food was presented with a wine or two to heighten flavors, pairings guided by Roberto Hernandez. Executive chef Antonio Vasquez Flores with sous chefs Erich Wiedemeyer and Jimmy Bosco turned out the food from the famous Beard House kitchen digs. This is a rather modest facility that looks like an island. Guests pass through the section while the staff prepares the food, much of it rather complex with a detailed plating composition.
"I want to emphasize the unbelievable teamwork that resulted in us moving in sync to pump out over 400 dishes and 600 pieces of passed canapes," said Botros.
He also had a hand from the seasoned service staff provided by the Beard House. And Staten Islander Camille Zarelli of Floral Sentiments designed and donated the flower arrangements for the evening.
For chocolate, Botros selected the Valhrona line with a dozen styles including nibs (accompanying a Dayboat scallop with chocolate-chestnut cream and crisped potato spiral) and whole cocoa beans as bedding for some hors d'oeuvres. And wines were donated by Bill Schlissel of Jackson Family Wines and Enrico Migliaccio from Touton Wines.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Peter Botros has been selected to cook at James Beard House in Manhattan at a February dinner, a great honor in the professional food world. He is among the very few Staten Islanders invited over the years to present in the famed kitchen.
Botros says he was vetted by representatives of the Beard Foundation who sampled his cooking.
The decadent menu just in time for Mardis Gras
Combining sweet and savory elements with chocolate, the menu will start with three canapes, one of the roasted beets, dark chocolate-whipped goat cheese, and a cocoa powder dusting. Additionally, Botros will present Crispy Black Truffle Polenta with shaved white chocolate and Locatelli cheese plus Sriracha Duck Spring Rolls with tangerine and chocolate drizzles.
Shoestring Curley fries dusted in cocoa served over Cocoa Puff gelato, hot fudge and chocolate whipped cream. (Courtesy of the Stone House at Clove Lakes)
After the cocktail hour, guests can expect miniature cocoa croissants with chocolate-whipped butter before four courses come to the table. Burrata leads the food procession with dark chocolate-balsamic reduction, ancho chili oil, macadamia nuts, and toasted granola. The second course includes "Chocolate Ricotta Ravioli" with spicy Italian sausage and Parmesan cream. Next up are seared day boat scallops with chocolate-chestnut cream, potato crisps, and cocoa nibs.
The fourth course will focus on filet mignon, rubbed in espresso and presented with white chocolate-whipped potatoes plus chocolate-port wine demi-glace.
For dessert, there will be a "Banana Chocolate Empanada" offered with "Mexican Hot Chocolate Gelato" and "Horchata Creme Anglaise."
The restaurant's moniker, Violette's, is a nod to Peter's mother, the late Violette Botros, who succumbed to cancer. A percentage of the venture's proceeds goes toward the soon-coming Comprehensive Cancer Center at Staten Island University Hospital, Seaview, an amount pledged at $250,000 over the next seven years.
Botros' next restaurant project will be a barbecue eatery. Negotiations are in the works and, if all goes well, the new place will take root mid-Island within the next year.
Botros cooks for not-for-profits around the Island. This is Stone House's ravioli entry for the 2017 Community Resources Pasta Bowl, Travis, which came stuffed with a meatball and topped with creamy ricotta cheese plus fried basil.
But the Beard House is a huge honor for Botros.
Botros will be one of only a handful of Staten Islanders who have cooked and presented for guests of the Beard Foundation.
In 1995, Chef Martin Mendoza of the former Biscotti restaurant, New Dorp, was the first Staten Island chef to be the main performer at the Greenwich Village townhouse. He orchestrated his menu with Italian food expert Anna Teresa Callan, who oversaw Italian food events at the house back then. Mendoza's Staten Island counterpart at the dinner included Lisa Simon, co-owner of Biscotti.
Biscotti co-owner Fran Simon told the Advance at that time: "While the menu in our restaurant has some influences from Asia and Mediterranean countries in general, we concentrate on Italian."
Mendoza's Beard House feast saw items such as mushroom risotto cakes, polenta tartlets topped with portobello mushroom salsa and oven-roasted tomato, crostini topped with roasted peppers, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, and mascarpone cheese, and miniature pastries filled with three sauces — eggplant, sweet pepper, and lobster mousse.
In October 2003, Carol Frazzetta of the former Carol's Cuisine and Cooking School in Dongan Hills cooked at the Beard House.
She told the Advance's Jane Milza at the time: "I learned to be eclectic in my style... "Getting all of the logistics in place is the most difficult part of the planning."
The menu consisted of five appetizers, a salad, pasta course, two entrees, and an assortment of homemade desserts. Some items, according to the Advance, included, "Maple-Roasted Stuffed Bacon Rolls, followed by Spicy Italian Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms, the chef's prized Miniature Lump Crabcakes with a Sherry Wine Sauce, Sicilian Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Barbecued Duck with Ginger and Sesame Seeds."
And those were just the starters.
Ms. Frazzetta added the Beard honor to her already impressive resume that includes work at La Varenne, the Cordon Bleu, and the Culinary Institute of America. She is retired after closing her restaurant and cooking school at the end of 2016.
Rick Laakkonen, celebrated by the James Beard Foundation in the early 2000s, did a tour at the former Pasticceria Bruno, now called Bruno's NYC Bakery and Restaurant, in Dongan Hills. The Finnish-born Culinary Institute of America grad worked over the years at l'Ecole Le Nôtre in France, Alain Ducasse's Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo, and eventually in Manhattan's Petrossian and Luxe. He also owned Ilo in the Bryant Park Hotel, where he earned enormous accolades.
In 2002, Patricia Reardon Radicevic, a Staten Islander from New Brighton who married restaurant owner Branco Radicevic, was bestowed with the "America's Classic" Restaurant Award from the James Beard Foundation for the family's eatery Three Brothers Serbian Restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisc.
"Running one restaurant is an extreme challenge by itself, but running multiple restaurants at the same time causes those challenges to intensify exponentially. At the root of these challenges is maintaining consistently a high standard of food and hospitality. This is key to longevity and success. One way we address the aforementioned challenge is to train our kitchen staff on how to prepare our dishes, right after I've developed the new dish. Even if it's not a dish typically prepared from that person's station. To further aid our team, we created a recipe book with pictures and a description for each and every menu item. Some members of our team suggested that we should consider releasing this book as a recipe book. Some of them said it was so detailed and well-written that other people should be able to have a copy. It's something that we've not thought about before, but after one of our team members suggested looking for some self-publishing companies, we've been thinking about it. We never thought about self-publishing a cookbook, so we'll do some research and see what happens. Maybe it would be a hit, some of our recipes are pretty good! One of the things I value most is creative freedom amongst our team. An environment that is conducive to creativity will ultimately be an incubator for unique and exciting dishes as well as elevated service ideas. How to do this? In one word - LOVE !! Some people rule by fear, some people rule by respect, but when you truly love your team, they love you back! Love is the greatest driver for someone to do the right thing and take pride in their work. I want people to experience, a dining experience that marries the warmth of a cozy stone cottage with gourmet contemporary American cuisine and impeccable service. I live for creating dishes that are innovative and unique. There is nothing more satisfying for me than presenting food in a way that someone has never tried before and watch them discover its deliciousness." ~ Peter (Chef & Owner @thestonehouseatclovelakes)
by Pamela Silvestri of the Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Like a jigsaw puzzle, Violette's Cellar in New Dorp is coming together with one little piece at a time -- literally -- as workers position 10,000 wine corks along the walls in between wooden slats of varying purple shades.
The aim for this new venture is a late fall opening, just after one of Violette's owners, Peter Botros, makes a Food Network debut.
"I got my air date!" enthused Botros as construction continued around him. His episode of Guy's Grocery Games is slated for Sunday, Oct. 22.
But Violette's construction, a project with Phil Farinacci and the Zurlo family, mainly occupies his thoughts right now. And Botros is excited to share details of his second restaurant, an off-shoot of Stone House in Clove Lakes Park which has maxed out on its capacity for parties. Violette's will allow some over-flow. The subterranean space also serves as a creative outlet for Botros who is restless to create new dishes and food concepts.
With that, how does one explain Violette's, a tornado of food, drink, exclusivity, and fun house-frivolity that unwinds through a few rooms?
Let's start with the restaurant's name -- a nod to co-owner Peter Botros' mother who passed of breast cancer in 2000. The moniker inspired an altruistic component to the restaurant which will see a $250,000 donation of its sales over seven years will go toward Staten Island University Hospital's new Comprehensive Cancer's Center.
Highlights thus far include a flower mural outside by Scott Lobaido, who additionally will present a "secret sculpture" at the Grand Opening. Under construction is a private wine room with rentable wine lockers, an intimate meeting room, a banquet room, the main dining area lined with plush banquettes, and a speakeasy dubbed "The Button Room" due to its button-bespeckled bartop. Amongst all this, imagine 50 antique mirrors throughout the spaces, pieces harvested from the Waldorf Astoria at a recent furniture auction.
"We think they will be a good luck charm and give us the longevity that the Waldorf enjoyed," said Peter.
And as the name suggests, the color violet reigns with multiple degrees of hue.
Purple streaks through a glittery constellation on a black bar top in the main dining area while a lighter shade of grape marks the walls, mingles with grey on velvety chairs, and turns up its brightness on tufted cushions around various rooms.
The expansive kitchen space will turn out brunch seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A "Small Plates" menu goes into effect after that daily regimen.
Evening hours run through 10 p.m. each night and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The Button Room, the resident speakeasy hidden behind a door covered by a sliding bookcase, will be accessible by invite only. The exclusive section will be open Thursday nights with piano or jazz entertainment and revelry planned until about 1 a.m.
There are two menus for Violette's at the moment.
"Small Plates" features five sections: Charcuterie, Sea, Land, Vegetables, and Cheeses.
Dishes bob and weave through various cuisines with ravioli, meatballs, empanadas, Spanakopita "cigars" and Oysters Casino. Since Violette's opens in fall, there is a decidedly autumnal theme from the Wild Mushroom Potpie with roasted 'shrooms, leeks, and sherry cream sauce to an Acorn Squash Agnolotti dish presented with chestnut cream, crushed hazelnuts, and apple cider gastrique.
Cheese like brie might be flamed in Amaretto and served with Turkish figs. The burrata is promised to be house-made and Mac & Cheese is baked with smoked Gouda.
On the dinner-ish menu, there is a section called "Large Format." Oversized dishes include a 48-ounce ribeye, a trio of sauces, wild mushrooms, black truffle-soy butter, and spicy peanut Bechamel set at $89 and a four-pound Maine lobster presented with bacon-lobster ravioli, lobster roll sliders, and lobster oreganata. There is also a massive platter of mashed potatoes on the roster.
Violette's layout, with two sets of stairs as means of egress, has been grandfathered and it is not wheelchair accessible. Opening day is planned for Wednesday, Nov. 1.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Well, here it is, ladies and gentlemen, Violette's Celler and its secret speakeasy called The Button Room — finally. After some kinks worked out on a "Friends and Family" test run and much tinkering with the menu, the subterranean, 300-plus seat restaurant has opened — 2271 Hylan Blvd., 718-650-5050, ViolettesCellar.com.That spot once long ago known as La Botte presents daily brunch starting at 9 a.m. followed by dinner service at 3 p.m.
Here's a taste of what's on the menu: A side of salmon for dinner comes with a ginger-miso glaze, scallions, and toasted sesame seeds. It is served on a cedar plank.
Says co-owner Peter Botros, "We soak the cedar planks in apple cider and when it's time to bake the salmon with the glaze, the cider has imparted itself into the salmon."
(Dr. Gracelyn Santos/Staten Island Advance)
Now, we know Peter from the Stone House at Clove Lakes Park.
The handsome, upscale eatery with its outdoor, lake-side seating also features a restaurant-within-a-restaurant concept, was a practice run for the entrepreneur.
And, we know Sunday Brunch is big at the Stone House.
As a further preface to Peter's new venture at Violette's...
keep in mind that Peter's restlessness in the restaurant business drove him to open The Chef's Loft, a restaurant-within-a-restaurant concept on the second floor of Stone House. Here Peter cooks for guests and comes up with ever-changing wine-paired courses reliant on the seasons.
(Courtesy of Peter Botros)
So tuck that info away for this discussion of the new Violette's Cellar.
Over an image of Chicken and Waffles — cheddar-corn waffles are paired with Southern Fried chicken with a DIY chipotle-honey drizzle — we'll talk about brunch first.
Brunch, yes, is seven days a week.
Says Botros, "For my partners and I, although nothing was easy, the most difficult obstacle we had to overcome to get to 'open,' was staffing. Staten Island restaurants have always had a tough time staffing, constantly in competition with the allure and the bright lights of Manhattan. Now an industry-wide shortage of talent hits Staten Island even harder."
Brunch hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Pretty French Toast!
How did Violette's prepare for the opening?
Peter explained at length:
"In preparation for our grand opening, we decided to host a 'Friends and Family' day. The purpose of the day is to get feedback from friends and family on food, service, etc. This is common in the industry.
"We took it a few steps further, although we are certainly interested in feedback about the food and service, from my experience I’ve found that the staff 'movement' is also incredibly important. Server stations, prep areas, the cooking line layout are all imperative to a successful operation. However, unless the staff is under pressure the problems won’t rear their ugly heads. We purposely overbooked our Friends and Family Day to create chaos and strain. Our very own stress test!
"After 300 guests and every inch of the venue crawling with people, we certainly saw lots of problems. Some menu items were too difficult when the restaurant was busy, some server stations needed revamping and we needed to do a better job explaining the small plates concept to our guests. After diagnosing the problems, we were able to make changes to prime the restaurant for success."
He says the first night of business, Monday, Nov. 6 went off without a hitch.
(Courtesy of Violette's Cellar)
A glass of wine would go nicely with that.
Also on the menu: Philly Cheesesteak and Eggs is a dish made with shaved rib-eye steak, caramelized onions, truffle goat cheese, and a fried egg. Best wine for the pairing, says Roberto Hernandez, is the restaurant's sommelier, are Violette's Cabernet selections by the glass.
(Courtesy of Violette's Cellar)
Next up on the menu are the "Small Plates."
This is Seared Ahi Tuna with Japanese spicy mayo and avocado mousse plus that crunchy helping hand brought to you by pork rinds.
Now, the dinner menu begins at 3 p.m. each day. Closing time for dinner is 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9 p.m. on Sundays.
Like to have your brisket and eat short ribs, too?
Well, there's an item for that at Violette's, like the Brisket and Short Rib Sliders, made with a 50-50 split of ground meat. Three sliders come with spicy tomato jam and provolone.
Paging Mr. Fred Flintstone.
Fred's not here right now but instead, there's the 48-ounce tomahawk steak in the house. For $96, the hungry man (or woman) can feast his (her) paws on a 21-day dry-aged prime cut served with a trio of sauces -- truffle soy, wild mushroom, and spicy peanut bechamel.
There are salads, too.
(Courtesy of Violette's Cellar)
The Chocolate Jar features a double chocolate mousse, devil's food cake, shaved white chocolate, and a chocolate wafer straw.
The design of Violette's is interesting.
Tables at Violette's are made from reclaimed wood. The color of the linen napkins, of course, is purple and various shades thereof.
Like Stone House and its moving parts, Violette's features many different pieces to its jigsaw layout.
The main dining room seats 100 including the bar while the adjoining banquet room seats 150 guests. An outdoor pavilion will have room for 60 patrons. A wine room features a dining section for 8. There is a private room for 18.
Let's take a look behind the bookcase.
This is The Button Room.
It takes its name from the bar which sports thousands of buttons in its epoxy top. The Button Room is open two nights a week and is accessible by passcode only. The secret word is?....shhh, you'll have to sign up on the restaurant's social media accounts to get the answer each evening.
Voila! The Button Room.
There are three partners in the Violette's-on-Button Room project.
They overhauled the New Dorp space from the bottom up.
Partners in Violette's Cellar are, from left to right, Ralph Zurlo, Peter Botros, and Philip Faranacci.
The build-out included a mural by Scott Lobaido. There are about 50 antique mirrors throughout the cellar spot, pieces harvested from the Waldorf Astoria at a recent furniture auction.
The restaurant will donate $250,000 of its sales over seven years.
The recipient of such generosity is Staten Island University Hospital's new Comprehensive Cancer Center. The altruism stems from struggles owners Botros and Farinacci's family members (and Peter himself) have had with cancer. The restaurant is named for Peter's mom Violette who passed away from the disease.
STATEN ISLANDER OF WEEK INCORPORATES CHARITY INTO BUSINESS MODEL
By Lisa Voyticki
It sits on one of the borough's most tranquil landscapes.
The Stone House at Clove Lakes Park attracts customers looking for a peaceful meal on the water.
"We have a beautiful venue and I feel like it would be a sin not to use it to its fullest potential," said Peter Botros, our Staten Islander of the Week.
For restaurant owner Peter Botros, that means welcoming nonprofits from across the borough.
"It's a mid-week day and we're able to fill it with 300 people to support a local charity," he said.
Botros isn't just committed to serving his customers, he's also dedicated to supporting those in need.
On Thursday, the restauranteur hosted a Country Brew and Barbecue fundraiser for Michael's Cause.
The nonprofit is dedicated to funding medical research for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Botros provided his lakeside venue to the group free of charge.
"It's incredibly important as a business owner on Staten Island to support the local charities," said Botros.
Michael's Cause founder Robert Capolongo says Botros's contributions are invaluable.
"What Peter did here today we know that we have people on our side," he said.
In just under three years, Botros has raised more than $30 thousand for local charities.
When he opens up his new restaurant Violette's Cellar this fall, he's pledged to donate a portion of his sales to Staten Island University Hospital.
He says it's all part of his mission to leave a lasting mark on his community.
"To be able to better somebody's life or to be able to raise awareness for any of these great charities," he said.
And so, for making it his business to serve neighbors in need, Peter Botros is our Staten Islander of the Week.
Everyone knows the old adage, “Nice guys finish last,” and unfortunately that is too frequently the case. Often, kindness is taken for weakness, and people tend to take advantage of the weak. Sure, I’ve been burned for being a “nice guy” but my upbringing and morals could never allow me to be anything but a decent, caring, human being.
At the age of twenty-six, I was shocked to hear that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Being a man—a very young man—I never thought that breast cancer was even a possibility. Needless to say, a life-threatening event like that has the power to change you.
After beating breast cancer I made two new promises to myself. My first promise was that I would follow my dreams and make every effort to achieve my goals, and the second was that I would always do my best to help people that are in need.
At the time of my diagnosis, I was a thriving mortgage banker. I was financially stable and poised to build a life of financial freedom. The problem was, mortgages were hardly my passion. Since I was a young boy, I always loved food, cooking, and in particular, experimenting with different flavors. Since I could remember, I wanted to own my own restaurant. Luckily, I had squirreled away some money, and with the help of loans, family, and friends, I was able to buy a fairytale restaurant. The grounds are set in the center of Clove Lakes Park in a historic stone building. I named it “The Stone House at Clove Lakes,” and about one year later I opened a restaurant within my restaurant, “Chefs Loft at The Stone House.” I was happily fulfilling the first promise to myself.
My second promise led me to get involved with local charitable organizations and make an impact however small it may be. Being that I had a great venue to host events, I decided to use the venue to raise money for some great organizations. We would throw themed events and donate the net proceeds. The organizations also had the opportunity to sell raffle tickets, fifty-fifty, and to further raise funds at the events. Although it wasn’t the reason I started hosting these events that I noticed that there was a tremendous amount of goodwill generated for the restaurant.
Each event would garner plenty of media attention, and the charities would market the events to thousands of supporters through their email lists and social media channels. The events are always held mid-week so it never takes away from our busy days, and the staff gets to work more and put a few more bucks in their pockets. The events are a huge benefit across the board. First, they generate funds for organizations that help the community, second, they bring new guests and great exposure to the restaurant while warranting significant media coverage, and lastly, they are a great way to keep employees working and happy.
Restaurant owners and chefs can flex their creative juices in planning festivals, special dinners, or theme nights to benefit a local charity. When creating these events, they should reach out to all local media outlets and community leaders to maximize awareness and ultimately, the success of the event. Creating a memorable experience for the guests, generating money for a local charity, and spotlighting your venue as a force for good, are all positive outcomes you can expect.
I'm incredibly lucky and thankful to be able to do what I love and be successful at it. Being a “nice guy” certainly played a big role in that. If you have the opportunity to use your space for good, the goodwill comes back to you tenfold.
Peter Botros is a chef and entrepreneur who owns and operates The Stone House at Clove Lakes as well as Chef's Loft at The Stone House. Peter has spent his entire life working in the foodservice industry, from pizzerias to high-end restaurants and event spaces. Food and hospitality are his passion.
Partners in this venture are threefold with Peter Botros, tender of the Parks Department food contract at Stone House at Clove Lakes Park and its restaurant-within-a-restaurant, Chef's Loft. Marc Zurlo joins him along with Philip Farinacci, part-owner of former restaurants Tosca of Grasmere and Aqua Night Club, which eventually became Grotto Steakhouse in Dongan Hills.
The maze of rooms at new-and-coming Violette's has been picked fairly clean as the prior restaurateur's furniture, kitchen equipment, small wares, and bar were stripped and sold for auction. Everything will need to be replaced and while the kitchen area won't be seen by the public, it will probably be the most costly part for the new owners as they will need to get industrial Nella Food Equipment, redesign the preparation area, and fix the refrigerators that got damaged in the clear out. This could be a good thing though as they will know the equipment will be reliable and won't have to worry about any breaks or repairs. Although the restaurant still has to be prepared in case some kitchen equipment does need repairing or replacing. Luckily, companies like NBS sell kitchen equipment such as Hobart mixer bowl guard replacement parts, so the restaurant could contact them if replacement parts were needed.
Peter, Phil, and Marc gave a tour of the space at 2271 Hylan Boulevard that's been vacant for about three months.
Step downstairs and to the left Phil points to an alcove that will be an intimate dining spot in a wine room for up to four guests.
"It's going to be fully glassed-in to show the wine storage," explains Peter.
Go straight past the wine room, behind a heavy door leftover from LaBotte, and find the dining room proper primed for 75 seats. The bar in this area will be an L-shape and have room for 12. Its granite top will be purple and have "violet veins," says Phil. To the opposite end of the room where three arches have form-fitted mirrors, Peter says there will be salt blocks stacked into the archways all back-lit in purple.
BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photo by Arthur de Gaeta The Kings of Staten Island.
Hundreds gathered at Staten Island’s elegant Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 South Avenue, as over 20 men were honored at Star Network’s annual “Kings of Staten Island” event.
The event held on Wednesday, May 10, gave attendees opportunities to network, fundraise, and acknowledge and celebrate each other’s work and accolades.
“I love to bring recognition to people who make a difference in their communities and every one of you tonight has made a difference,” Victoria Schneps, Schneps Communications/Star Network co-owner, told the honorees. “It is our honor and our pleasure to honor you and let you and the community know how much you are appreciated.”
This year’s Kings of Staten Island were Joseph Maffeo (Posthumous Community Valor Award recipient); Robert DeFalco (Owner, Robert DeFalco Realty/S.I. Mortgage Group, Inc. and Excellence in Real Estate Award recipient); Lawrence Ambrosino (Owner, Residential Home Funding); Steve Argentine (Owner, All Boro Maintenance); Anthony “AJ” Basile (Financial Specialist, National Financial Network); Peter Botros (Chef/Owner, Stone House Restaurant); Barry Crupi (Co-Owner/Barry’s Auto); Theodore Ericson (Executive Director and Founder, Crossroads Unlimited, Inc.); Robert Fanuzzi, Ph.D. (Associate Provost & Director of Civic Engagement, St. John’s University); Howard Farber (Second Vice President/Branch Manager, Richmond County Savings Bank); Bobby Giurintano (Key Account Manager, TGI Office Automation); Gurdev Singh Kang (Cultural Society, Richmond Hill); Steven J. Korkowski (President/CEO, Sweetbrook Nursery & Garden Center); Matthew Langella (AVP/Branch Manager, Investors Bank); Frank P. Lettera (Managing Director, Hanley Funeral Home); Brian Licata (Deputy Director of Workforce Development, United Activities Unlimited); Dominick Mancino (Actor, Screen Actors Guild); Brian McGowan (Director of Marketing, Casandra Properties); Frank Morano (Radio Host, AM 970 The Answer); George Joseph Passariello (Co-owner/Chief Technology Officer/The VON Agency); Nicholas Pesce (Owner, La Bella Market Place); Anthony Rapacciuolo (Partner, PRcision LLC); Michael Scarimbolo (Branch Manager, Advisors Mortgage Group LLC ); and Will Smith (President/Operating Partner, Staten Island Yankees).
Along with a VIP reception, cocktail hour, and ceremony, the event debuted a special award, the Joseph Maffeo Community Valor Award, sponsored by Staten Island University Hospital/Northwell Health, which was accepted by Linda and Keith Manfredi, founders of the Joseph Maffeo Foundation. Maffeo was a firefighter for Ladder 101, who lost his life on September 11, 2001.
Manfredi and her husband Keith started the foundation to improve the community and commemorate him. “My brother was a very unique and giving man,” she said. “Because of his work during his short years of life, my husband and I try to take a proactive approach in life felt it was important to keep his legacy alive.”
Linda and Keith were presented with the First Annual Joseph Maffeo Award as singer Danny Rodriguez dedicated a performance of “Proud to be an American” to them. “I’d like to thank Vicki for being such a great role model for all of us in this community,” Linda added, as she acknowledged all the other recipients for their contribution to the community. “It’s really the community at large that affords us the opportunity to build a foundation and its mission of truly making a difference and making the world a better place. I’d like to congratulate all of you. Whether you do it for children, adults, or community at large, it’s people like you who truly make a difference and allow our youth to see who they need to be and who they need to emulate in future generations.”
One hundred percent of the raffle proceeds went to the foundation.
The Kings who attended were thrilled to be a part of the evening.
“When you look around the room and see some of the past honorees, it’s definitely a humbling experience and honor to be here with these gentlemen,” said Langella. “I was born and raised here. When you live on Staten Island, you see a lot of grassroots organizations like Michael’s Cause and Emergency Children’s Help Organization, and to be able to give back and help those organizations be successful means a lot to me and the island.”
“It’s an honor to be nominated with this group of fellows who have been in business for years and people that are at the peak of their profession,” added Licata. “For me, this is kind of a new experience. I’ve only been doing this for the last few years. Overall, it’s great that someone actually thought enough to put me in this class.”
“It’s a great honor to be a part of Star Network and receive this award,” Scarimbolo said. “You work very hard to get where you have to go in life within a business and the community. Networking is part of that, and to receive this award and be recognized for all the hard work you put in is a great honor.”
Exhibitors were also delighted.
“It’s a great event that’s honoring great people on the island,” said George Chicolo III, director of business development and partnerships for the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. “We are proud to be here and be a sponsor. We are really happy for all of the honorees. They’ve all done great work for the community. Staten Island is such a small, tight-knit community and everybody treats each other like family. A lot of these people have done great things for the community.”
“We are here to honor all the Kings and it’s a great place to get our name out as a bank,” added First Vice President of Empire State Bank Jeanne Sarno. “It’s always a great turn-out and we love to support it. We’ve been a part of these events from the beginning.”
During the award ceremony, each honoree got to walk down the red carpet to receive his trophy. NY1 News anchor Natalie Duddridge served as the event’s emcee.
This year’s sponsors were Staten Island University Hospital/Northwell Health, Investors Bank, Empire State Bank, Richmond County Savings Bank, JetBlue, Broadway Stages, Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, and Med cast Plus.
1150 Clove Rd Staten Island, NY 10301 718-442-3600
Monday – Thursday: 11:30 AM – 9:30 PM Friday: 11:30 AM – 11 PM Saturday: 11 AM – 11 PM Sunday: 11 AM – 9 PM