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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.

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.

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."

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.

The Stone House is located in the heart of Clove Lakes Park in a historic building that sits right on its own little island with beautiful views. Inside the venue is the Chef's Loft, a restaurant that boasts an intimate setting for between 16 to 20 people.

The Chef's Loft at the Stone House is like a restaurant within a restaurant. It offers those interested in expanding their palette a unique five-course meal and wine paired with the dinner menu.

"We get far more creative and far more innovative with the food we serve up here," Chef Peter Botros said.

With dishes like a marshmallow lobster and chilled shrimp chipotle cotton candy, diners can quickly see why the Chef's Loft is getting a lot of attention.

"We've done an all-chocolate menu where there was a chocolate steak. We did a lobster ravioli with a white chocolate vanilla brown butter," Botros said.

The Stone House is located in the heart of Clove Lakes Park in a historic building that sits right on its own little island and offers beautiful views.

Just below the Chef's Loft is the main dining room, which features contemporary American food with a twist.

One of the signature dishes includes lamb meatballs served with herb yogurt, toasted almonds, and a tomato jam. Another fan favorite is the crispy wings, which are dipped in a garlic soy caramel sauce and tossed with sesame seeds.

A pan-seared salmon that is crusted with poppy seed served with roasted root vegetables and a pomegranate molasses glaze is another popular dish.

The Chef's Loft is one of the toughest places to get reservations on the Island and can be booked up two months in advance.

The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday and has live music six nights a week.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- I'm no food critic by any stretch but I do know when I'm having a nice night out after a long, hard week. And Saturday was unforgettable.

On April 1, my husband and I dined at the Chef's Loft at the Stone House, a picturesque restaurant nestled in a mirage-like sanctuary over a footbridge with sweeping views of Clove Lakes Park. It was an early birthday celebration for me.

I've been to Stone House for dinner many times with family and for innumerable work lunches or with girlfriends, but the Chef's Loft is in a league of its own. The crowd is intimate -- only up to 16 people per evening -- and the out-of-this-world food is prepared right in front of you by chef and owner, Peter Botros.

In short, it's an amazing and unique dining experience. I felt like a movie star with a private chef.

At $125 a head, will this S.I. restaurant concept work?

An open letter to the Stone House introduces an ambitious new dining experience to the borough.

What did we have for dinner? When we were seated -- at a cozy table with a bird's eye view of the sold-out main dining room (admittedly, I often looked down to see if I knew anyone in the crowd) -- there was already cheddar and chose biscuits with horseradish butter waiting for us.

It was followed by an asparagus salad with bocconcini and crispy prosciutto. I'd never had the Italian ham not on a melon before and not for brunch before. Delicious!

Opening a Restaurant ... Inside a Restaurant?

By Peter BotrosApril 2017Vendor Bylines

Anyone who has ever dreamt of opening a restaurant has also fantasized about growing into a mini restaurant empire. Unfortunately for the overwhelming majority of those who try their hand at the restaurant business, a fantasy is exactly how it remains.

It takes hard work, dedication, talent, and a sprinkle of luck to make it. But for those who are lucky enough and have worked hard enough to succeed, what's next?

For many of us, getting through the first year is a badge of honor, and if you're as crazy as I am, you start to think about opening your second location.

You convince yourself that you can duplicate the principles that made you successful in your flagship restaurant. Perhaps one of the most important lessons you learn is that the money going out is far more important than the money coming in.

Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency

To be a successful restaurant in New York City, it's a must that you maximize employee productivity, minimize waste, and generate as much revenue as possible with the space you have. Investing in Restaurant POS Systems will really help excel your restaurant to the next level.

After doing a pretty good job of all that I began looking for space for my second baby. While narrowing down my search, I had a moment of deep reflection. Who was I going to hire for this next project? Would I be as lucky as I had already been with staffing? Would I be able to manage both locations effectively?

One day, I walked out of my office to speak to my event coordinator. Her desk was in a second-floor storage area above our main dining room. That's when it hit me I was going to open my second location inside my first. I would turn the office space into an exclusive restaurant inside my existing restaurant.

Chef's Loft at The Stone House was born. Chef's Loft is a boutique restaurant that is incredibly intimate and boasts a five-course wine-paired tasting menu that is prepared in the room while guests look on. The menu changes each month and features uniquely innovative dishes, expertly paired with wines that complement the dish's flavors. We adorned the walls with a mosaic compilation of wine corks and broken-down wooden wine boxes. It also houses a show-stopping, two-ton illuminated Himalayan salt wall. The list of reasons why this was a good idea just kept growing. Much of the fear and uncertainty vanished. I could eliminate the need to sign my life away to rent another location. I could eliminate the need to undertake an extremely pricey and time-consuming build-out. That's hundreds of thousands of dollars saved. I wouldn't need to go out and hire an entire staff, and I could avoid all the growing pains that go along with that process. It is also a great idea to do some price comparisons for your business's energy bills. A friend told me they used websites such as Usave to find some wonderful quotes to keep outgoings down.

Who says you can't be in two places at once? With the opening of the new restaurant, now I can be.

On top of all the benefits I already mentioned, maybe the most important aspect is the all-important buzz. New restaurants can have amazing food that is kept fresh by fridges from websites similar to https://www.altarefrigeration.com/expert/, impeccable service, and great ambiance, but if there is no buzz created, no one will be there for the experience. New restaurants can have amazing food, impeccable service, and great ambiance, but if there is no buzz created, no one will be there for the experience.

Being bold in the restaurant biz always garners attention and publicity. The key is to go all in. Own the concept whole-heartedly. There needs to be a concrete differentiation between your existing restaurant and the newly minted entity. A new name, a new concept, and a new menu. Your menu has to be unique to your restaurant and what you want to showcase to your customers. Something similar to this restaurant guide should help you to create a memorable and everlasting menu. The social media and web presence need to mirror that sentiment.

In my case, the buzz generated by opening Chef's Loft far exceeds our capacity. We are currently 8 to 10 weeks out for reservations all while building a book of permanent reservations that will result in the "Rao's" effect by the end of 2017 if we continue at our current pace.

The question now is what will I do for my third location?

Owner | Peter Botros
Seating capacity | 500
Signature dish | Tuna Tartare
Peter’s Favorite Dish | Cookie Butter Mousse
Hours of operation | Monday – Thursday: Noon – 10 pm; Friday & Saturday: Noon – 11 pm;
Sunday 11 am – 9pmAt
At the Stone House at Clove Lakes, guests can treat themselves to a fine-dining experience and an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Situated right on the water in Clove Lakes Park, the tranquil setting invites patrons to unwind while they indulge in an elegant meal. When owner Peter Botros took over the restaurant last year, under an agreement from the Parks Department, which owns the land, he immediately went to work to improve the breathtaking building that houses the restaurant.
Now, with resurfaced wooden beams in the main dining room around a built-in fireplace and new gazebos that bookend the outside seating area just feet from the lake, the natural beauty of The Stone House’s architecture has been enhanced to let diners take full advantage of one of the most unique restaurants in the borough.“Most of the things we did, I’d call them restorations, not renovations,” says Peter, who has about 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry. “Food-wise, we’re contemporary American, and everything is made from scratch. We only change our menu three or four times a year. We try to take dishes people are comfortable with and play with the way they are presented, but not be intimidating.”With a diverse set of appetizers ranging from pear and bleu cheese empanadas to tuna tartare, a fully-stocked raw bar, and various fish, lamb, and steak entrees, The Stone House’s a la carte menu offers the perfect meal for diners to celebrate a special occasion or treat themselves to a fancy day out. Live entertainment is performed every day, with salsa and dance parties held on Wednesdays and Thursdays during the summer months. Borough residents who are looking to take fine dining to another level might be interested in booking a reservation at a newer section of The Stone House: The Chef’s Loft, only open on Saturday nights, where Peter and his staff put their creative twists on their menu.
A short trip up the spiral staircase to the Chef’s Loft places you in a whole different culinary world. A backlit Himalayan sea salt wall and candle-lit tables create a welcoming ambiance inside the intimate 20-seat room, where Peter and his staff cook the five-course meal in front of their guests.“In the Chef’s Loft, every course is paired with a wine, and we get very creative with what we cook and offer, with the way we present the food and the combinations of ingredients,” Peter says. The menu for the Chef’s Loft changes monthly and reservations are required.
The Stone House also offers off-premise catering and can host events and parties for all occasions, with a fully customizable menu.

To partake in a relaxing and upscale dining experience with an unmatched ambiance in Staten Island, book a reservation at The Stone House.


The Stone House at Clove Lakes is happy to announce the launch of our new website. As, we continue to strive to give our patrons food, service, and views that are top-notch, we upgraded our website to better reflect what you can expect from us on your next visit as well as provide information on the various party menus and private party and wedding accommodations that we offer. We look forward to serving you, and can't wait till your next visit.