Order Now

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.

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.


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.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Embattled Troy restaurant closed several months ago. And in its place rises a new, New Dorp restaurant -- Violette's Cellar, located in the subterranean space once home to long-running La Botte restaurant and its successor, House of Crabs.

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.

It was a night fit for a king!

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.

By FSR StaffMarch 2017Research

A teenage prodigy, 17 young adults roaring into restaurant careers while still in their 20s, and a collection of prime-time pros who have hit their stride and are rising fast, well before they crest the 40-year mark—these are the stars we hail as ones to watch in 2017.

As is often the case, young and driven stars first make their mark in large cities, and this list is heavily populated with those working in major markets like Chicago, Las Vegas, New Orleans, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and—of course—New York City.

Our story begins with a profile of one such chef: Esther Choi, who opened her first restaurant, m?kbar, in New York’s Chelsea Market and, in January, opened a second m?kbar in Brooklyn. Chef Choi fulfilled her teenage dream of owning a business by the time she was 30 in 2014, actually two years shy of turning 30, and since then she’s become the unofficial Korean food ambassador for New York City tourists and locals.

Peter Botros

Peter Botros has a knack for flipping the script. The Staten Island native is not only the chef and proprietor of The Stone House at Clove Lakes, but he is also a banker with the U.S. Mortgage Corporation. In less than three years, he’s managed to transform a once-private boathouse-turned-club into an egalitarian venue. Dubbed “Staten Island’s secret restaurant,” The Stone House takes advantage of its expansive property and scenic setting to host special events. In addition to the restaurant, Botros also hosts a Chef’s Loft with a special tasting menu that changes monthly.

But what separates Botros from the pack of young, ambitious restaurateurs isn’t his culinary and business savvy so much as his modesty, which belies a steely resolve. Botros, who lost his mother to cancer when he was a teen, was himself diagnosed with cancer in his mid-20s. Because of this, Botros realized he wanted to do more than mortgage banking.

“I was always passionate about food and the food industry, I decided that I would take the opportunity to incorporate that passion into my daily life,” he says. “I have a smile on my face every day because I do what I love while around people I love.”

While Botros is not one to spotlight his past struggle, he does work to help others in the community by regularly hosting charity fundraisers at The Stone House.

In his restaurant within a restaurant, Chef’s Loft at The Stone House, Chef Peter Botros offers a unique space and innovative menus……..