Calogero Lorenzo Palminteri’s name may not immediately ring a bell, but most folks know him as “Chazz.” The New York native is best known for his autobiographical story, A Bronx Tale, first conceived as a solo stage show and later adapted into a movie starring Palminteri and Robert DeNiro. Currently, his work is being told in song via composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater in the musical of the same name. Since November, it’s been playing to large and enthusiastic crowds at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre and has received critical acclaim from leading publications.
Across town, the Bronx boy is sharing a different story; one that expresses his culinary passion. Chazz Palminteri Ristorante Italiano, located in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan is a relaxing, posh spot where even peasants are sure to be treated like kings. Well-dressed servers in suits are knowledgeable, attentive, and observant of time constraints.
In honor of A Bronx Tale, The Musical,the Midtown East restaurant is offering a 4-course themed meal (Antipasti, Secondi, Entrata, and Dessert) for $79—and they even throw in coffee and tea! After slinking into a carbohydrate coma, diners can recharge and burn off their meals with a brisk, accessible walk across town to catch the performance.
Most menu items were up to par during a recent December visit: the Grilled zucchini with Roasted Peppers and Buffalo Mozzarella was a fresh start to the meal. Papardelle pasta in a simple, yet silky veal ragout sauce followed. Given the generous portions, that would have sufficed, but being a man with a large appetite, I persevered in my endeavor to achieve unabashed gluttony. A delicious chicken parmesan, topped with an ample amount of mozzarella, served as the main dish and offered the perfect balance of crispiness and juiciness. As Vanessa Williams’ sang in her 1992 signature song, they “saved the best for last” with their tiramisu. Each bite of these ladyfingers was like tasting a creamy, sweet cloud from heaven with a subtle touch of orange. Of course, like any Italian place worth its’ weight, a full bread basket welcomes you to this feast.
Not everything is “molto bene” (very good) at this upscale joint however. The grilled calamari? Fuggetaboutit. No, seriously. Forget about it. While its’ presentation was lovely, the squid was chewy, rubbery and relatively flavorless. Oddly, it was served beside a combination of string beans, mixed roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cherry peppers—all of which seemed a tad misguided.
Another disappointment was the angel hair pasta, suffocated in a creamy and cloying basil pesto sauce. Given the delicate nature of angel hair, a dairy based sauce of any type is an overpowering choice.
There are plenty of other options however on this broad prix-fixe menu and they also offer a comprehensive, international wine list and cocktail menu. Those wanting only pre-show cocktails can saddle up to the bar, tucked away in a cozy area of this spacious joint.
Most nights, Palminteri’s closes at 10:30 PM and 11:00 PM on weekends. After the show, zip back to the Second Avenue restaurant for a quick bite or a nite-cap. Sightings of Mr. Palminteri, along with cast members of the Broadway smash have been reported. As for the prix-fixe, my best advice can be paraphrased by Clemenza from The Godfather: “Leave the calamari. Take the tiramisu.”
Chazz Palminteri Ristorante Italiano is located at 890 Second Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets NY, NY. For more information, click here.