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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Happening this week, the NYC Wine & Food Festival ranks among the most prestigious chef showcases in the world. Now, for the third year, Peter Botros will present at the celebrity-studded affair with carefully curated noshes at three separate events.

Lucky ticket holders can score a taste in person at Pier 86, home of the Intrepid Museum located in Hudson River Park. If not, Botros normally features the items in his establishments after the NYCWFF.


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A prestigious tasting event on June 13 hosted by Citymeals on Wheels features 40 top chefs from New York City. The not-for-profit selected two from Staten Island to be on the roster — Joseph Settepani from Bruno’s NYC Bakery in Dongan Hills and Peter Botros, representing the Stone House at Clove Lakes Park and Violette’s Cellar in Grant City.


Between the holiday season and Valentine’s Day, engagements are in full effect. With the excitement comes the planning, and there will be a few fun celebrations to coordinate before the big day! From the engagement party to the bridal shower, to the rehearsal dinner, finding the right space that speaks to who you are as a couple while setting your event apart is important.

Although you probably won’t have a firm guest list together, it is a good idea to have a rough guest count, that way you’ll be able to decide whether you need a larger or smaller size wedding venue.

The next decision and there are many, is the type of affair do you want. Whether it’s your engagement party, rehearsal dinner, or wedding, what are you looking to create? If you want something timeless and elegant, rustic, shabby chic is a popular choice. The rustic theme has a slightly worn, home-made feel and exudes effortless style.

If you’re considering a rustic theme for your wedding or any one of the many celebrations that come along with your engagement, these few simple ideas will help you get started planning your event. The rustic theme is sure to look great at your venue of choice. Whether that's somewhere like Brookwood Camp or our The Stone House at Clove Lakes, this theme can work at any location.


Depending on the time of year you’re getting married, consider wedding sites with outdoor grounds. You wouldn't want the wrong wedding site to mess up that beautiful dress you bought from somewhere like WINNIE COUTURE, so choosing the right wedding venue and site might be a good idea. The possibilities are endless when you find a location that will allow such options as an outdoor ceremony, a gazebo, for not only exchanging vows but also for those romantic wedding shots you know you’re a photographer’s going to be aiming for. Once a boathouse in the 20th century, The Stone House at Clove Lakes in Staten Island is nestled in the heart of Clove Lakes Park and offers impressive grounds that can be transformed to fit your vision. We even offer a rustic wedding menu as one of their package choices.

If utilizing outdoor grounds doesn’t fit into your plans, our sister location, Violette’s Cellar also located in Staten Island, offers up a rustic interior décor, where you can recreate that outdoor feel right inside. From their vintage-inspired feel to the warm lighting, wood décor, and reclaimed furnishings from the original structure built in the 1930s, the possibilities on the space are endless.

Color Palette

When it comes to color opt for warm tones and build from there. The use of wood, whether it’s already in your location’s décor, or from the things you bring in, will blend nicely with pastels and earthy tones. Try and stay away from the bolder hues as it’s all about that soft look. Another great way to infuse color is through your flowers, which includes both your bouquet and any other floral arrangements you choose to decorate with.


One of the great things about a rustic look is the endless personal touches you can include. From wood signs like an arrow directing your guests to a specific location, to the use of a chalkboard to include fun sentiments of love, the ideas to create a personalized touch are endless.

Stationary - Invitations/Response Cards/Wedding Programs

Whether you choose to order these from a vendor or make them part of your DIY, there is no limit to the creativity you can achieve. Focus on earth tones and infuse the colors you plan on bringing into your wedding. If it’s the engagement party, bridal shower, or even rehearsal dinner that you’re planning right now, bring a hint of the colors you plan to showcase at your wedding to give your guests an idea of what’s to come without revealing too much. When it comes to the types of materials available to achieve that rustic look, burlap, twine, vellum, manila tags, and embellishments (ribbon, beads, buttons, lace, fabric) are just some of what’s available for creating these unique pieces that set the tone for your big day.

And remember, think outside the box; anything goes, it’s your day. Plus, you can even create these DIY ideas at home but pick and choose a select few and leave the rest up to the vendors of your choice. When you’re in the thick of wedding planning you’ll be thankful you did.

Bottoms Up! Why You Should Create a Signature Cocktail, Or Two, for Your Next Event.

The event is set, whether it's a wedding, engagement party, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, milestone birthday, whatever the celebration, consider creating a signature cocktail, or two, to make your special occasion even more memorable. Adding these types of personal touches lends a unique twist that will have your guests talking long after "the last call."

When deciding on what type of cocktail you'd like to create there are a variety of factors to take into consideration. The best place to start is by looking at what you enjoy. Are you a lover of wine, whisky, vodka, or maybe you prefer a cold brew. Would you need to think about reducing the amount of alcohol that you use so that the younger guests won't have to worry about getting a fake ID in time for the occasion? Does that mean that a mocktail is on your horizon instead? Coming up with ideas can be tricky so if you find that you're struggling you can always ask your caterer or wedding/event planner to help out.

Ideas for the perfect signature cocktail for your wedding

If it's a wedding you're planning, why not create two signature cocktails, one that represents both the bride and the groom. If it's a family event, consider non-alcoholic options as well which you the youngster can drink without needing a fast fake id. There is no right or wrong way to go about the process. Remember, it's all about adding another layer of personalization to your party. To help you get started here are some fun tips and ideas to get you thinking.

A Catchy Name

If your drink of choice doesn't already have a fun name, come up with one. Keep it simple, creative, and witty. Consider taking inspiration from a memorable moment or incorporating the theme of your event into the name of your signature drink.


This is everything; you want to go for the WOW factor. From the glass it's served in, to the garnishes used, these are the touches your guests will be talking about. If you're planning a rustic wedding, why not serve your drink in a mason jar? If beer is your drink of choice, instead of serving it in a stein, think of creating a fun label to put over your favorite brew.

Color Scheme

Whether you're hosting an engagement party, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, milestone birthday, or wedding, color always comes into play. Consider the dresses you choose for your bridesmaids, the table linens, flowers, even the decor of your catering hall or restaurant. For example, if your color of choice is red, think red wine, sangria, cherries, pomegranates. At Violets Cellar, the in-house sommelier is available to work with you on choosing just the right wine that will comprise your favorite cocktail.

A twist on the classic cocktail

If you're having trouble coming up with a unique idea why not put a spin on one of the classics. Talk to your bartender(s) about swapping out some of the traditional ingredients in a classic cocktail with something fresh, that way you'll be putting a new twist on your favorite drink.

Consider the season

Think about the season you're hosting your party and tie that into the cocktail. If your wedding, engagement or birthday party is going to take place in the colder months, what about a spiked hot chocolate bar? Or how about a margarita snow cone? Two classic childhood favorites with an adult upgrade. If you're planning a bridal shower brunch consider something refreshing like a lemonade or pina colada mimosa. These two options would pair nicely in the warmer months and with locations like The Stonehouse at Clove Lakes that offers an outdoor, park-like setting, complete with a gazebo and waterfront view, there's a ton of inspiration to draw from.

Weave in some history

If it's a wedding or engagement party you're planning, how about incorporating a little bit of history; do you have a favorite place you like to visit or was there something specific you drank on your first date? If you love to vacation by the beach, think pina colada. If Florida holds a special meaning, incorporate orange juice. If you're throwing a milestone birthday party, what about serving your favorite cocktail from back in the day?

The choices are endless when it comes to creating your signature drink; just remember, think outside the box, let it speak to who you are, and drink responsibly!

By Gracelyn Santos

Violette’s Cellar, Peter Botros, at right, and Antonio Vasquez.

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)

Mario Gentile, the owner of Mario’s, won Second Prize.

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.

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.

Botros is among the very few Staten Islanders invited over the years to present in James Beard's preserved kitchen.

The Couple

When does the last kiss feel like the first, and the first feels like it was only just yesterday? Happy Saturday @CouplesCookbookFam!


House Made Burrata - Rosemary Honey Balsamic Drizzle, Garlic Crostini, Basil Oil

Lamb Meatballs - Almonds, Golden Raisins, Herbed Yogurt, Tomato Jam

Seared Yellowfin Tuna - Avocado, Citrus-Ginger Marmalade, Cilantro

Crispy Wings - Garlic Soy Caramel Sauce


"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.

"Because everyone loves mashed potatoes," offered Botros.

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."