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The Couple

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THE COOKBOOK

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

THE CHEF

"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)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- When it comes to The Stone House's various components -- dinner, the nightly specials, lunch, and especially Sunday brunch -- owner Peter Botros takes everything personally -- very personally.

So, if any aspect of his handsome, Clove Lakes Park venue doesn't draw raves, he takes it apart and starts all over again.

Such a quick volte-face happened to the popular brunch buffet back in the fall. In early November, Botros ditched the sprawling feast served fireside in the Stone House's lofty front room.

Botros felt compelled to explain back in November: "We made the change because we felt a public buffet is not the best representation of the Stone House...buffets limit our creativity and generate a lot of waste. And, we want to be more conscious of food waste."

So, he went all-in on ala carte -- a prix fixe format that now costs $24.95.

And, brunch became an even bigger success.

Now served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., guests can linger over lox, omelets, and various options from the three-course menu. A complimentary cocktail is included, as are twists on classics and the basket of signature cheddar-corn muffins with chipotle-honey butter.

Take the bacon-egg-n-cheese. Peter's version starts with a butter dollop melted in a stainless steel pan and miniature croissants split open for the crisping in the butter. On top of that comes unctuous Applewood bacon slices, then a pair of poached eggs topped with smoked Gouda bechamel. The ribbon of yolk oozing its way down the side is just a plus that we get to witness.

Peter is a native Staten Islander who has, at times, taken on massive workloads and overcome a few challenges in life. A Port Richmond High School graduate, Peter earned Bachelors's Degree in Entrepreneurial Studies from Fairleigh Dickinson University, then a Double Major MBA in Marketing and Finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

He started out at Dominoes Pizza at 13, moved over to Miggy's Deli at 14, Bario's Pizza in New Springville at 15, South Fin Grill in South Beach at 19, Angelina's in Annadale at 23 and The Pepperjack Grill, Castleton Corner, at 25. All the while, from age 24 onward, he's been a mortgage broker.

With friends made along the way and with a following of former colleagues, The Stone House began in 2014.

Book-ending the bulk of his career thus far, Peter's Mom passed away from breast cancer when in his mid-teens. And, he, too, is a breast cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with the disease at 24.

As a further illustration of his tenacity and passion for the restaurant business, Peter started up The Chef's Loft, a concept of a restaurant-within-a-restaurant wine-and-food pairing for an arranged price of $125. Botros personally prepares the meals tableside in the upper portion of Stone House formerly used as a storeroom and office.

At a year into a concept to a dubious restaurant critic, the venture took off. Reservations now must be made months in advance for what is now dubbed as "The Flavor Series."

Says Joe Toth of Southern Wines and Spirits, "I'm impressed with Peter at the Stone House...he took the chance. This kid continues to raise the bar and be a success at everything he does -- God bless him."

So, here's how you voted in the "Best Brunch" category of 2017 Best of Staten Island Awards.

STONE HOUSE

1150 Clove Rd., Sunnyside; 1150 Clove Rd., Clove Lakes Park; 718-442-3600, TheStoneHouseSI.com

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Peter Botros, proprietor of the Stone House at Clove Lakes Park

The cocktail portion of the Cookbook contest, only two years in effect, is open to professionals. With that, kudos to former Cookbook winner Jennifer Lamonica, who competed against her son Frank Lamonica: Both put on a great demonstration at the Taste-Off.

It is Peter Botros who won the category, the self-made chef who competes against himself each week with his Chef's Loft concept at the Stone House. Here he runs off the rails from the restaurant's usual offerings and personally cooks for guests in a more intimate setting.

For this cocktail, says Peter, "The inspiration was the first 70-degree day we had in early 2017. It made me think of cocktails perfect for drinking on the outdoor patio." And a Negroni of herbaceousness and fruity refreshment was born.

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Peter explains the elixir's title: "'Cousins' was derived from the brand of Amaro I used for the cocktail, Montenegro Amaro. Although the brand is from Italy, it reminded me of all the people who I met in the restaurant industry who hails from Serbia and Montenegro. They were all hard workers and were very close to one another, often referring to each other as 'cousin.'" Cheers, Peter.

RECIPE: COUSIN'S NEGRONI

(Makes 1 drink)

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2-ounce Montenegro Amaro

1-ounce Brooklyn Gin

1-ounce peach nectar

4-ounce club soda

Ice

DIRECTIONS:

Shake together all the ingredients with ice. Pour into a highball glass and served with dried apricot.

-- Peter Botros, Sunnyside, Staten Island