Mmmm, That’s Italian! Part 1: Bottega Americano

By Wendy Lemlin

   It seems I’ve been craving Italian cuisine lately. There’s something about spring that has me jonesing for the rich green taste of pesto, fresh tomato sauces with their acid/sweet balance, silky homemade pastas, and local seafood and produce kissed by olive oil and wine. The redolence of garlic, the interplay of herbs like oregano, rosemary, and basil, and oh, the cheeses!

So, with my palate salivating at just the thought of all that deliciousness, I have sacrificed my waistline to embark on a tour of some of my favorite Italian restaurants, and share my experiences.  This is the first in a series of articles; each one will showcase a different restaurant, or chef, or particular dish.

Buon appetito!

BA IMG_9157

Thomas Schoos designed interior

Bottega Americano

This is not your quaint, classic checkered-tablecloth Italian bistro.  Step through the doors of this buzzing East Village restaurant/market/ and café, and the Thomas Schoos designed interior is modern and chic, but at the same time organically comforting. There are seating options for every type of diner. Want an intimate, tucked-away table?

Chef Andrea creating a pizza masterpiece.

Chef Andrea creating a pizza masterpiece.

Got it!  Prefer to dine with a group in the middle of all the action?  Got that, too.  Love watching the activity in the open kitchen or talking to pizza chef Andrea Mancinelli as he prepares his creations for the unique, double sided brick oven? Well then, you have a choice of sitting at five different interactive food bars, and being thoroughly entertained as you dine. The crowd is comfortably chic, too, but there is nothing pretentious or off-putting about the atmosphere.  Diners are seen sporting anything from jeans to dressed-up-for-an-evening-out attire. In fact, the convivial ambience and energy of Bottega Americano is one of its best features. Continue reading

The Culver Hotel: The Rebirth of an Icon

By Wendy Lemlin

003    Like every fascinating lady, she has a past.  In her youth, she was loved by some of the hottest movie stars of the time. Such legends as Buster Keaton, Clark Gable, Ronald Regan, and even Joan Crawford, Judy Garland and Greta Garbo all sought her out. Many slept in her embrace, or even lived with her for a time. She was Charlie Chaplin’s for a while, who, legend has it, lost her to John Wayne for $1 in a poker game. Her iconic shape, her fun, yet sophisticated personality, her reputation as a gracious hostess, all kept her in high demand. But time marched on and, as so often happens to once-lovely ladies “of a certain age”, fresher faces took her place, until she found herself old, neglected and abandoned. In the 1990s, she briefly rallied, but ultimately failed to completely regain her faded glory.
011That is, until 2007, when hotelier and fashion industry insider Maya Mallick took a liking to her, recognizing her beautiful “bones” and stately potential, and set about to make the Culver Hotel once again the popular beauty she had been. Continue reading