The One Group’s Celeste Fierro Expands Her Empire

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In a very short while, One Group became a 100 million dollar restaurant empire, and the expansion of the brand is due in great part to the woman beside the man, Senior VP Celeste Fierro. She’s responsible for packing One Group venues with high-profile events and her celebrity friends. Celeste is credited with making STK, the crown jewel in the One Group Empire, female friendly. One Group head honcho Jonathan Segal relies on Celeste and her Blackberry, filled with bold face names, to manage day to day operations. With over a thousand employees and joints opening constantly, she’s a busy lady, one of those unsung heroes of hospitality that deserves at least the 15 minutes of fame I can give her.

Besides your own venues, which hotspots do you like to hang out at in NYC? I always like to check out our friends’ places to show support. Lately I’ve been stopping in at Lavo, Da Silvano, and the lounge at Provocateur.

What do you think it is about your venues that constantly brings the A-list crowd? It’s really all about the overall experience at our venues. We hire great staff to make the service top notch, our music program is fresh and fun, and the food is always delicious, whether you’re eating a steak at STK or indulging in our new Italian fare at Asellina.

The ONE Group is opening an STK in Las Vegas, Atlanta, and in Midtown NYC in the next few months. What’s different about each new location? STK has a signature look and feel (white horns on a white brick wall, crème/black banquettes) but then we tailor small parts to each city. I’d say it’s 75% STK, and 25% is catered to the city.

How have you paved your way in an industry dominated by men? Look, I’m friends with all these guys. I don’t put up with any shit. We all have fun and get the job done.

How does your team keep your restaurants thriving when some are already in their 5th year? Consistency is key, delivering the same great experience. People know what they’re getting. Great food, great experience.

You just opened your first Italian restaurant, Asellina. What has that process been like? Developing a new concept is always fun. Definitely intense, but the restaurant looks beautiful, so we’re really excited to see how everyone enjoys it. So far the feedback has been great. Our clientele from Meatpacking has followed us up here and we’ve tapped into this great new NoMad neighborhood.

When you have a night to hang out with your girlfriends, do you go to your own venues? Sometimes, sure. Other nights we’ll just get together for wine at home and catch up.

While Jonathan Seigal has Celeste I have Jodi Weiser. My assistant for almost a year, Jodi will admit to being 25 years old tomorrow, but as past assistants of mine will attest, 1 year with me is like 5 years with normal humans. So she will celebrate her 30 birthday at Juliet Supper club this Sunday.

Ronaldo Has a Trendy Pedicure, and Other Man-icures

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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has been spotted around town, popping into hot grub spots like Kenmare and Da Silvano with the mobile universe tweeting his and GF Victoria’s Secret angel Irina Shayk’s whereabouts, I can confidently write about him without having to include a Wikipedia-length entry to help me explain who the talented Portuguese footballer (cough, soccer player) is, and why it’s actually news that he was spotted with his nails painted noir. Perhaps in order to draw attention away from his Situation-esque abs (or is his Situation-esque game), the new daddy was spotted with the expressive pedicure while lounging at Soho House. The Daily Mail documents Ronaldo’s attempt at bringing what seems to be a manly brit trend to NYC: “As a new father, Cristiano Ronaldo might have been expected to have more important things to occupy his time. The footballer, who has a reputation for being in touch with his feminine side, was spotted with black painted toenails as he relaxed on holiday in New York. Judging by his expression, however, he quickly realized the enormity of his fashion faux pas.”

Ronaldo isn’t the first footballer to get in touch with his feminine side. The original metrosexual, David Beckham, first sported color on his tips way back in 2002. Then Becks wore pretty pink varnish at the christening of Liz Hurley’s baby, later switching to silvery-black varnish for a cover shoot for GQ magazine. image Becks for GQ

image Just last year, another Englishman—British royalty, no less—was photographed coming out of a nightclub wearing a lovely coral shade. One commenter commends Prince Harry’s trend setting ways: “My brother in law came back from Oz a few months ago nails painted. Now not just painted but with like little penguins on it and everything. And yes before you ask he’s straight and handsome total ringer for Colin Farrell.”

image Big in Britain, and with Colin Farrell look-a-likes sporting penguins in Australia, when will the trend come stateside? We need a few new trendsetting lads so we have someone other than Tori Spelling’s husband, Dean McDermott, to represent Man-icures.

Group Dinner Lottery

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Organizers of big group dinners have it rough. The individual is subjected to the whims of 5 to 15 people or more, often on an email chain where the last suggestion paired with a witty retort or clever anecdote about the level of attractiveness of the staff at such-and-such restaurant wins. Well, screw it. If you volunteer to organize a group/birthday/going away/welcome home dinner, use this new fool-proof method and eliminate haggling amongst potential dinner-goers. It’s not complicated. It’s a lottery, but unlike the New York state variety or credit card roulette, in this game of chance everyone wins. Write down each restaurant on the list below on a separate piece of paper, shuffle ’em around, and pull from a hat. First restaurant wins. It’s not complicated, it’s just science. Bon chance!

Bacaro Sit in the cavernous basement wine cellar for a candle lit evening that’ll mask the group’s escalating inebriation. Make a private party reservation if you have a large group and get your own Phantom of the Opera-inspired room.

Abe & Arthurs Sure, it’s a little sceney, but the menu is pretty easy for everyone. They have Spinach & Artichoke dip, fish, pork, steak and pasta, and salads for girls who don’t eat. It’s also a one-stop shop in that you can take the crew directly downstairs to SL. Just remember, no physical activity for 30 min after eating.

Scuderia Let’s face it, Da Silvano is for your parent’s friends. But during the summer, the outdoor sidewalk seating just crushes it (in terms of awesome-ness). Scuderia has a younger vibe and your friends will thank you after a night of 6th Avenue people watching and catching up.

Gemma Easy to book a biggun’ as long as you plan ahead. They’ll forget the ‘no reservations’ policy if you have a group of 12 or more, and they prefer to arrange a prix fixe menu for you and the gang.

The Smith East Village American Brasserie with a photo booth in back! Just in case you get bored with the seating arrangement.

Barbuto Groups of ten or more can reserve the kitchen table and sample the chef’s tasting menu. Way cooler than the way the proletariat does it.

Freemans Reservations for 6 or more, and nothing says celebration like escaping the city rush up Freemans Alley and stepping into Narnia/Hogwarts/The Wardrobe/Whatever mythical realm you prefer.

Dumont For groups up to 15, the Williamsburg hotspot reserves the breathtaking terrace, and if you’re smart, you’ll request the ‘treehouse’, that rises above the garden and gives your party a little more privacy.

Los Feliz Tri-level taquería has plenty of room to accommodate your rowdy group, plus their lounge stays open until 4am, so the odds of getting kicked out early are nearly impossible. There are also 150 tequilas in stock here, in case you want to set some sort of record.

Alta The seasonal tapas menu is extensive, and there’s no food envy as everything’s share-able. If you’re feeling aggressive, order “the whole shebang” for $420. It is one of everything on the menu, and no one will go home hungry. Request the upstairs area through the kitchen for super secluded private dining.

Industry Insiders: Franklin Ferguson, Montauk’s ‘Navy’ Seal

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Freshly shorn of the mountain man beard that kept him warm throughout the desolate Montauk winter, as he worked to painstakingly remake a former bayside dive into a beachfront restaurant retreat, Franklin Ferguson now sports only a couple of day’s worth of stubble. After months of hands-on hard labor he’s looking much like his soon-to-open project, comfortably weathered but ready for the sunshine. “I wouldn’t mind if I never touched another paintbrush,” says Ferguson, who himself moved from Manhattan to Mountauk to oversee reconstruction of the Sunset Saloon, transforming it into his new venture, Navy Beach.

When the property, sitting on a pristine and remote stretch of Montauk beach alongside what had been a Naval base with a rich history dating to World War II, presented itself Ferguson and co. couldn’t pass it up. But, after signing the lease in late December, they had to move quickly to make a May opening (hence his winter regimen): “We came out, took a look at it, and six months later, we’ve got a restaurant.”

After serving in senior beverage posts for China Grill, Sushi Samba and others, Ferguson, a member of the International Sommelier Guild for six years and an instructor for four, takes the helm at Navy Beach, along with partner Frank Davis and a team that includes his fiance Leyla Marchetto of Scuderia (which sits across the street in the West Village from her father’s Da Silvano). Ferguson says he has been doing openings for about ten years, and that Navy Beach is his seventh. He sums up his role in past as openings simply: “I’m the guy who gets stuff done.”

While in the past his challenges were more on the order of the logistics behind trying to get an elephant into Times Square for an opening, he found the problems posed by the outer limits of Long Island in the doldrums of the dead season more mundane if no less daunting. “UPS and Fed-Ex, for freight, deliver here once a week. That’s it. Regardless if you pay for two-day shipping,” he says. “You can’t go to the store and just buy a butane lighter.” The experience was his first taste of the area, but as a brand-new year-rounder, he seems to have eased into its rhythms, and used it as an excuse to grow that beard.

“Basically what we tried to do was build something like a 1950s yacht club, and super-impose it into today,” he explains, cautioning he doesn’t mean the yacht clubs of ascots, white loafers and toy poodles, but more of a casual easygoing feel. Vintage bathing suits pinned to the walls, and framed photos of era celebs like Marylin Monroe coupled with nautical touches capture the mood. Then there are the beams, made of salvaged wood from the former Naval base just a few seagull swoops from the restaurant’s deck.

When looking for a meal in the dead air that is January to March in Montauk, Ferguson, with his months’ growth of facial hair and paint-spattered clothes, found comfort in local go-to spots O’Murphy’s and Shagwong. “If you’re feeling like you want a really nice dark room and a massive calamari salad then you to Shagwong. If you want to talk to [O’Murphy’s owners] Chet and Jan [Kordasz], then you go to O’Murphy’s and hang out there.” He also calls out the Chowder House, which he says “has great oysters–and they’re cheap–and the bartenders are great.” Besides these, and the occasional barbecue run to Townline, Ferguson’s main local nightlife and dining option has been the IGA supermarket, from where he’d procure the fresh Florida corn he roasted up on the grill in his backyard in the snow. Quite a change from New York, where besides Da Silvano he frequented the Gramercy Tavern (“The bartenders are second to none; Jeremy and Ashley take care of you”), and La Pizza Fresco (“The best Neapolitan pizza I’ve had in my life, smokin’ wine list, and the gnocci is like the tears of Zeus”).

In Montauk friends and family means something entirely different than it generally does in Manhattan. The friends and family previews for Navy Beach were full of the local tradesman and craftsman who helped with construction, Ferguson says, “and the guy at the hardware store, and the guy at the drugstore and the guy at the liquor store.”

New to the area, Ferguson was not well-versed in Long Island vineyards, but as soon as the weather perked up, they certainly found him. “People started showing up like crazy, like at the front door, and I’m sitting here in carpenter’s clothes looking like a woolly mammoth. So, we are doing a bunch of local wines,” he says. But the focus of the wine list, which is concentrated on $100-$70 and under bottles, is to provide an esoteric selection from around the world (to complement the coastal cuisine) alongside local selections from Bedell, Macari, Lieb and others. Ferguson says his goal was to find “little gems.” “You may not recognize nine of the grapes in the wine,” he explains of one such ideal, “but it tastes fantastic, goes well with the food, and is $28.”

Which is not to say the beer list has not come in for some careful consideration as well. And again, it is nothing if not eclectic. Brooklyn and Peroni on tap anchor a lineup that includes Chimay, Pacifico, Corona, Heineken, and the local’s favorite. “You have to do Bud Light,” says Ferguson. This became clear “after debates with the people at Liars’ Saloon about alienating the locals … If you go anyplace that’s packed on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, it’s all fishermen and locals and it’s Bud Light across the bar. Bottles, never tap. And they always put it in a glass.” Then he says, getting his Midwest up, “I’m a Miller guy.” So High Life will be represented as well.

Where Celebs Go Out: Marc Jacobs, Amanda Lepore, Adrian Grenier, Emma Snowdon-Jones

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At David Barton Gym annual toy drive: ● MARC JACOBS – “In Paris, there’s a small club called Montana, and there’s a restaurant called Thiou. Bars I really don’t hang out in. Oh, there’s this great club that happens once a month in Paris called Club Sandwich. And it’s at the Espace Cardin. And everyone gets super dressed-up, so it’s really, really fun. I try to go whenever I’m in Paris, if it’s going on. And we stay out all night and just dance like crazy. And in New York, my favorite restaurants have always been the same. I love to eat at Pastis. I love the Standard. I love Da Silvano. I eat in the lobby of the Mercer a lot, the hotel. I usually go to Pastis for lunch, and there’s a sandwich that was on the menu, but they don’t make it anymore, but I always insist that they make it for me. And it’s really fattening, so I shouldn’t eat it, but it’s chicken paillard and gruyere cheese and bacon. And it’s so delicious. It’s really good. And it’s my weakness. It’s just like the most perfect sandwich.”

● DAVID BARTON – “Oh, I can’t think where I like to hang out in Seattle except my new gym! There’s a great place that just opened up in New York, up on 51st, called the East Side Social Club. Patrick McMullan is one of the partners there. He’s co-hosting with me tonight. Great place; really cool. It’s very old world, kind of like going to Elaine’s, kind of little cozy; sit at a booth; very cool. Love a little place called Il Bagatto, over on 7th between A & B — little tiny Italian place, East Village, kind of a neighborhood place that I go to. What else? I don’t know restaurants. I’m very casual. I’m so not that into food. I mean, I could eat cardboard — I’m just not into food! I like people. I like atmosphere, but I’m just not that into food.” ● AMANDA LEPORE – “I definitely like Bowery Bar and I like Hiro. Boom Boom Room. Just anywhere where everybody is, I guess! [laughs] Novita, I like, my friend Giuseppe. Any favorite dishes? I try not to eat too much! ● PATRICK MCDONALD – “My favorite restaurant in New York is Indochine. It’s been around for 25 years. Jean-Marc, I adore. I love the bar at the Carlyle. I don’t drink, but I like to go there for tea in the afternoon. And I love Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon on Gramercy Park. I love Pastis, Odeon, and everywhere. I like the French fries at Pastis.” ● PATRICK MCMULLAN – “I love going to Waverly Inn downtown. Boom Boom Room is fabulous. That’s really a new, great place. SL, on 409 W. 14th Street, down below is nice. Of course, I have the East Side Social Club that I’m involved with, and that’s great for hanging out in, for eating. Favorite dishes anywhere? Oh, I don’t know, just anything that people recommend. I usually go with what people recommend ’cause most people know what’s good — the waiters know, so I think that’s the best thing. Red wine is good to have to drink sometimes. They have a drink called the Eastsider at the East Side Social Club that’s really good; any of their pastas; their ravioli is great there. What else do I like? That new place that’s open, the English place, on 60th in the Pierre — Le Caprice, that’s a nice place. At the Waverly Inn, I like the macaroni and cheese. It was funny because the macaroni and cheese is about two dollars less than a room at the Pod Hotel, which is where the East Side Social Club is! The Monkey Bar is fun. There are so many cool places in New York. I just go where people tell me to go.”

At elf party for Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe:

● JENNY MCCARTHY – “In Chicago, I would have to say Gibsons Steakhouse still; in Los Angeles, Katsuya, still love that sushi; I’m addicted to it. And in New York, Koi. I’m very trendy and boring, but, hey, that’s where the good food is, so …” ● PERI GILPIN – “In L.A., we like BLT a lot. We have five-year-old twins, so we’re like in bed by nine o’clock — pretty boring. Corner Bakery for soup.” ● CANDACE CAMERON BURE – “L.A., hands down, our favorite restaurant is Gjelina, which is in Venice. And we love Craft; love Michael’s in Santa Monica. Here, in New York, my favorite restaurant is Lupa, which is a Mario Batali restaurant; love it here. And I don’t go to clubs anymore, nightclubs; I don’t ever! At Gjelina, they have a burrata with prosciutto and, usually, a warm pear or a warm peach. I love that! I really love tapas. I enjoy getting a lot of appetizers, more than just a main dish. We, actually, have had our own wine label, Bure Family Wines, for two years, which is at several restaurants, so matching the food and the wine is a big part for us. We’re big foodies” ● DEAN MCDERMOTT – “There is a great bar, Ye Coach & Horses in L.A., on Sunset. I’m so bad at this stuff! Oh, Katsuya, in the Valley, awesome sushi. It’s our favorite place. We go there like three times a week.” ● KEN BAUMANN – “In New York, my favorite restaurant is Il Cortile. It’s in Little Italy, and it’s run by this guy named Stefano, and it’s incredible, phenomenal food. In Los Angeles, my favorite restaurant’s gotta be Cut, which is in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.” ● SHAILENE WOODLEY – “Honestly, I’m not really a club kinda girl. I’d rather go to a local bar with some friends and hang out there. Or just go back to my house and have people come over. I’m more of the congregate-at-my-house kind of chick. I’m 18, so I don’t drink, so I don’t go to bars. There’s a place called the Alamo, which has karaoke and it’s a bar, but we go and karaoke there probably once a week.” ● FRANCIA RAISA – “I’m not a big club person. I really like bars and lounges. In L.A., I like to hang out at Buffalo Wild Wings, watching sports and drinking beer with my friends. I really don’t go out that much. I hang out at home and have my own glass of wine, watching Grey’s Anatomy. Oh, I just tried this restaurant yesterday at Gramercy Park Hotel. It’s a new, Italian place — Maialino. It was amazing. And again, I’m very simple, so I like pizza, and John’s Pizza out here is amazing to me, too. And hot wings I like at Planet Hollywood. I’m obsessed with them!”

At Zeno “Hot Spot” launch party @ MTV Studios:

● SKY NELLOR – “I am a huge sushi fanatic, so I just had Katsuya three times in two days in L.A. What is it about Katsuya? It’s the baked-crab hand roll in a soy-paper wrap. It’s just so yummy. I want one now! In New York, I have a fixation with Bagatelle. I just love the fish and the veggies. Nightclubs, nightlife, oh, my God! Apparently, I’m a really good bowler, so I hang out at Lucky Strike everywhere — Miami, L.A., Kansas! We just had a bowling party, and I won, so … Oh, they didn’t let me see my score. I just kept getting strikes to the point where they were, like, ‘Give her more shots! We have to stop this girl!’ And the drunker I got, the better I got. Clubs — if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out to dance. And I’m going to go where the DJ is playing. I don’t care what club it is. I went to a dive in L.A., at a party called Afex, just because some of the best DJs were playing that night. Like, I don’t care about the crowd. I don’t care about the scene. I care about the music. I don’t think the venue has a name. I think it’s called No Space. They just move the party around.” ● SUCHIN PAK – “I have a great place. It’s called Broadway East, and it’s on East Broadway. And I love it because it’s a beautiful space, but also it’s literally across the street from my house. That always helps. And then there’s a really fantastic place called Bacaro. Oh, it’s amazing! It’s downstairs. It’s almost a dungeon-like place. The people that used to do Peasant, the wine bar there, moved to this place. I like to say the Lower East Side on East Broadway is where the grown-up hipsters go. For a true Lower East Sider, it may not be true Lower East Side, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved more south than east, and I keep trickling that way.”

At charity:ball for charity:water:

● ADRIAN GRENIER – “Brooklyn. Fort Greene. Habana Outpost — it’s run mostly on solar power, and it’s a sustainable business.” MARK BIRNBAUM “Well, if I do say so myself, Abe & Arthur’s on 14th Street; SL, the new club underneath it. I still love Tenjune. And I like hanging out at home other than that. What about places other than your own? So I shouldn’t say the Chandelier Room, in Hoboken? I really like going to Bar and Books in the West Village — that’s our spot. You know where else I like to go? Miami — the new W South Beach is unbelievable, by far the best hotel down there. The design is incredible; the pool area is very nice; they have good restaurants there — there’s a Mr. Chow’s and the other one is good; the rooms are really nice; it’s very well done; it’s just very fresh, the entire thing; and the artwork is incredible. You don’t feel like you’re in South Beach — not that there’s anything wrong with it — but it’s really, really, really, well done.” ● NICOLE TRUNFIO – “I just found this really cool jazz club in Paris where they still dance to old, rock-and-roll music in partners. It’s a location undisclosed. I don’t remember what it’s called. It’s in the Saint-Michel — it’s just off it. You can jump into a taxi, ‘cause we went to a jazz bar called the Library, but that was closed. So we asked the taxi driver, and he took us to this place. So, I’m sure lots of local French taxi-drivers would know the place.” ● LAUREN BUSH – “Oh, gosh, I’m like so uncool! It’s such an obvious question, it’s so hard … I’m a vegetarian, so I love Blossom restaurant. They have a good, quinoa-tofu dish. It’s like gingery. It’s really good. ● EMMA SNOWDON-JONES – “I love Le Bilboquet because it’s consistent, and mainly wherever your friends are it makes the place. It’s on 63rd, between Park and Madison. I’ve gone there since I was in boarding school. I’d come into the city on the weekends, and I’d go there. I think anyone that’s been in New York as long as I have knows it. That’s a really, bloody long time, sadly. As good as my Botox is, it’s too long!” ● KRISTIN CHENOWETH – “I am an old-fashioned girl, and I still love Joe Allen’s. I go there all the time. And right next-door above, is a place called Bar Centrale, and I go there, too. I was just there last night for three hours. I like the manicotti at Joe Allen’s. It’s excellent!” ● JULIAN LENNON – “Probably the Jane bar and the Rose Bar in New York.”

At launch of S.T. Dupont in-store boutique @ Davidoff on Madison Avenue:

● RON WHITE – “I love the bars in Glasgow, Scotland. You could go sit in a bar by yourself and in five minutes, you’d be talkin’ to 10 people because they’re so curious about anybody that walks in that’s not normally in there. They just want to go talk to ’em and find out what they’re about. They’re just as friendly as they can be. I was there for the British Open, or the Open Championship, as it’s called. And if you go to a bar in New York City, you can sit there for the rest of your life and not meet another person because they’re not really gonna come up to you and go, ‘Hey, what’s up? What are you doing in town?’ That just doesn’t happen here.”

Where Celebs Go Out: Wes Anderson, Emmy Rossum, Charlotte Ronson, & More

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At Lucky magazine’s Lucky Shops:

● KATRINA BOWDEN – “I love Café Mogador in the East Village. It’s Moroccan, and they have these great fish and chicken kebabs and really cool dishes and olives and bread. It’s really good. And they have this fish soup that’s amazing, on special sometimes.”

● ANA ORTIZ – “I’m a very local person right now because I don’t have a lot of time away. So there’s this really groovy little place across the street from me called the Speak Low bar and it’s in Dumbo in Brooklyn, and it’s just underneath Rice. It’s a really funky, hip little bar. And they have the most delicious cocktails. As soon as I was able to drink after giving birth, I went down there. They have the best martini I ever had!”

At The Fantastic Mr. Fox press day:

● WES ANDERSON – “There’s a place in Los Angeles called Nishimura that’s a sushi place. That’s a great place. I would recommend that one.”

At launch party for Yoga Wii by Dreamcatcher Interactive Inc.:

● ANJA RUBIK – “Right now — it changes, of course — right now, I’m addicted to Matsuri. It’s a Japanese restaurant in the Maritime Hotel. I just love the food there. It’s incredible and the atmosphere they create there is so beautiful. I love it there. I love the Cipriani’s uptown. I love it. The food is so great. And it also has an incredible atmosphere. Da Silvano is great. Bar Pitti is amazing. It has Italian food, which is fantastic. I love Gobo. It’s all this organic food, vegetarian. It’s on Sixth Avenue near Eighth Street or Seventh Street.”

At Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars:

● SIMON DOONAN – “I love Il Cantinori. It’s around the corner from my house. The risotto primavera is killer!”

● EMMY ROSSUM – “I really like David Burke Townhouse. I love that lollypop tree that comes out at the end. There’s like a cheesecake lollypop tree. It looks like a lollypop, but it’s a ball of cheesecake on the end of stick and it’s in this holder that makes it look like a tree. I really like eating sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, at like 4am.”

● TOMMY HILFIGER – “Rebecca’s in Greenwich, Connecticut. Incredibly delicious. It’s simple, but it’s really, really high-quality food and always well done — consistent. It’s prepared very well.”

● MARK RONSON – “My favorite restaurant in New York is, probably, Gino’s uptown on 60th and Lex. The angel hair with the secret sauce. They call it that. ‘Cause when you’re a kid, and anyone tells you something’s secret, of course, you like think it’s amazing. In the whole word, I don’t know. I wish — I’m really good at answering these questions, but not on the spot.”

● DITA VON TEESE – “I love going to London to eat. I love China Tang at the Dorchester because I love the Art Deco Chinese interior. I love the Wolseley in London. And I’m not familiar with New York restaurants. It seems like they’re ever changing, so …”

At Purgatorio pop-up club:

● JOSH LUCAS – “Oh, the old school — Raoul’s is one of my all-time favorites. And there’s a place right down in my neighborhood, called Broadway East, which is a really interesting new kind of organic, sexy restaurant I like a lot. Also, down by my place, Les Enfants Terribles, you know that place? A good, little fun one. Those are my three that come to mind immediately.”

● SIMON HAMMERSTEIN – “That’s a hard question. I kind of like the 18th floor of the Standard — the bar on the 18th floor. I think he’s done a really good job with that.”

● CHRISTIAN SIRIANO – “In New York, I love the Cooper Square Hotel. We have dinner there a lot, hang out there — really, really fun. But, like hang out, hang out spots — where do we go? Oh, Bagatelle, very fabulous. I’m pretty low key, so I feel like — my couch, that’s where we go to hang out and have a party.”

At Motorola’s party for Droid phone with Verizon service:

● PATRICK HEUSINGER – “I just went to Delicatessen for the first time. I really enjoyed that. We watch Sunday and Monday football at Brother Jimmy’s on the Upper West Side. Yeah, it’s great. We’ve been going there since I was in college because I went to college here in New York, too. And then, I go to the bar, Niagara, on the Lower East Side a lot. That’s one of my haunts. I probably go there once a week. One of my best friends works there, so — it’s on 7th and Avenue A.

● JUDAH FRIEDLANDER – “I don’t drink or anything. I’m a role model for children. But I do eat. The place I really crave is called Sarajevo. It’s in Astoria — Bosnian owners. It’s basically Yugoslavian food. Awesome. That’s the place I crave more than any place. Cevapcici is the main thing. It’s kind of like ground beef and lamb on skewers, and you serve it in this fresh, homemade bread. And there’s this spread called Kajmak. It’s kind of like a sour-cream spread, except a million times better. And then you put ajvar on it, also, which is a like a tomato, red pepper, eggplant spread. And then you put raw onions on it, and you’re in heaven, baby! And you got power! And you’re ready to kick ass! It’s good stuff. The other thing they have is stuffed cabbage with tomato sauce, which they call sarma. It’s in Astoria. It’s on 34th Avenue and 38th Street. It’s so good. That’s my favorite food. I like all the ethnic, little take-out type places. Those are my favorite places.”

At launch of fashion game Style Savvy for the Nintendo DS and DSi:

● CHARLOTTE RONSON – “I love Bar Pitti on 6th Avenue. It’s nice and easy. You can sit outside when the weather is nice. You always run into someone you know. For movies, the Anjelika is nice. It’s clean. I’m drawn to movies that play there. In London, I love Holland Park, Kensington High Street — great area with lots of good shops and walking distance from my parents’ home. La Famiglia is a great restaurant.”

At launch party for Scupltz shapewear and legwear:

● ROBERT VERDI –Le Singe Vert on 7th Avenue. It means the Green Monkey. I was born in ’68, the year of the monkey. I love it. Novita, on 22nd Street, off of Park Avenue. It feels very insider; the food is fabulous. There’s a scene, but it’s not sceney. Da Silvano, because I feel like a big schmaltz when I go there ’cause I’m treated better than I really am. He’s really sweet. I’m very good friends with his wife, Marisa, who treats me like family. Since I grew up in a restaurant family, it’s a feeling I like to have when I go out to eat.

Ryan Adams & Yoko Ono: What Lies Beneath

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In a world of trash heaps and disposable art, digital-only records and flashback culture, it’s comforting to know that we still walk among mythic artists. Yoko Ono is one of those artists. Her observations are so direct, so simple and so devoid of bullshit that they constantly remind me to reevaluate my perceptions. Her art reduces; it is a solvent for over-thinking. The proof of this is that, for the past 10 years, I’ve opened Grapefruit—her influential, heart- and mind-altering conceptual art book—whenever I start a new project. This has been a busy year for the 76-year-old legend. She re-formed the Plastic Ono Band with help from her son, Sean Lennon, and released Between My Head and the Sky, an album of powerful, modern music that startles one minute and soothes the next. Her voice, erotic and ghostly, tangles with the album’s reflective instrumentation. Listen for rhythms that recall ticking clocks, piano chords lilting in a far-off room and the soft purr of rainfall.

I’ve been captivated by this record because it’s very dreamlike. Do your dreams inform a lot of your compositions? Yoko Ono: It’s not specific like that. I just let my spirit or soul roll around and the music is the result of that.

I love the piano parts of the record. I got very emotional the first few times I heard them. That’s Sean. They are so beautiful, so incredible.

Sean was my neighbor in New York. He seems like he was such a prodigy. Was he a precocious child? He made himself, by himself. John and I never wanted to push him into music, so I was prepared that he might become an archaeologist or something. John didn’t even want to tell him that he was a Beatle. Sean found out from someone else. One day, he even asked John, “Were you a Beatle?” But he was always there when I recorded something. I think it started when John and I did Double Fantasy, and John would say that Sean should come. After John’s passing, Sean was always there at my recordings. And he experienced it—he remembers that I used this instrument or that instrument. Later, when Sean was in his twenties, I found out that he knew all of the Beatles’ songs, all of John’s songs and all of my songs—every lyric.

Your father played piano, too, didn’t he? I grew up in a very musical environment. My father was always playing piano. He would make me sing some songs and he’d accompany me. But he was not just a piano player—he was always listening to incredible music. I studied music from when I was about four or five years old. I was put into a school that teaches early music education, where I was taught perfect pitch and harmony. Music has always been a part of me.

It’s nice to hear you and Sean working together on this album. I didn’t think it was going to be great because they usually say, “Oh, a mother and son recording together—that should be very difficult.” But when Sean said, “Mommy, let’s do this record,” I said okay. There were some difficulties—little, tiny things—but the experience actually helped us to deepen our understanding of each other and the music we were making. I didn’t know that he was so good at music, actually. I was surprised.

When I used to play music with him just for fun, he was never really assertive about his ideas. He is very sensitive and very careful. That’s the difference between his dad and him, in a way. His dad was more arrogant. Sean is just as complex as John, but he has a kind of sensitivity that makes him not arrogant. While we were recording, I remember watching Sean and thinking, “Is that my son in there?” Whenever I’m talking to him—I can’t help it—he’s still my 5-year-old son. He’ll say, “I’m not 5 years old anymore, mommy,” and I’m like okay, whatever. But this time around, he made a big jump into becoming a very experienced and talented musician. That helped this record, in a different way than I ever could have imagined.

Are you guys going to do some shows together? We did a show in London at the Royal Festival Hall. There was this big crowd, like 2,000 people—ugh, we were all very nervous. But it went very well.

Did your nerves subside once you got out there to play the gig? I’m one of those people who gets very nervous. It’s very easy to agree to perform a year before a big concert, but when it gets to be like a week before, I always think, Why did I say yes?

Do you have any rituals that you do before you play a concert? I always change my shoes three times, because it calms me down. Nothing calms me down. I just try to drink sparkling water and then when I get on the stage I forget about the fact that I was nervous—it’s strange that way. But before that, it’s terrible.

Are there any new bands that you like? I don’t listen to too many new songs because—and I’m sure you’re like this, too—when you’re a singer-songwriter listening to other people’s music you think, “Well, they shouldn’t have done that in the intro, it’s a bit too loud and the mixing isn’t good. Why did they master it that way? I would never have done it so flat!” I’m very critical.

It’s the same as a chef walking into someone else’s kitchen. For relaxation, I listen to old Indian music. It’s so beautiful and just keeps going on and on. I listen to John’s music sometimes because I’ve had to, for business reasons.

I’d like to ask about your sunglasses. Do they make you feel less shy? Well, I used to wear sunglasses when John was still around, but after his passing I wore them because I wanted to hide a little bit. And then it became a very practical thing, say, if I’m in a press conference where there are so many people flashing lights to take photos.

YOKO’S FAVORITE PEOPLE WATCHING SPOT: DA SILVANO, NEW YORK CITY

Photography by Cleo Sullivan. Styling by Michel Onofrio. Hair by Frankie Foye @ Photo Op Management. Makeup by Jim Crawford for Shu Uemura. Photgrapher’s Assistant: Olivia Malone. Location: Hudson Studios.

Moises de la Renta: Fashion Scion Gone Solo

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Moises de la Renta could very well be a reality television icon by now. With Fashion God Oscar de la Renta as his father and a velvet rope lifestyle, he certainly fits the I-wish-I-was-him credentials. But Moises opted for a real (and respected) career in design/photography. And if his recently launched, painfully hip website for his bad ass womenswear fashion line MDLR is any indication, his career choice was wise. We met up to chit-chat for what I thought was drinks at the Thompson Hotel, but to my surprise, I was greeted by the man about town in a room full of models getting ready for their close-ups in an MDLR photo shoot featured on Whatswear.com. It was all lights, cameras, and action, mixed with plenty of cigarettes, blaring background noise of the sub-par performances of MJ’s classics from the previously aired BET Awards, sexy leather biker jackets complete with gilded MDLR zippers — and, in true rock star form, an Iggy Pop vs. David Bowie debate.

Let’s cut right to the chase. Why should people care about MDLR? I want to bring something a little different to the table. My aspiration is to show people almost a beautiful and glorious gloom — that it’s OK to be melancholy. I want to speak for the lady in the corner of the club, you know what I mean? She’s just chilling, doing her thing.

I’m going to need you to specify on the type of club girl though — not a Marquee girl, I hope. You’ve ever been to the Roxy in 1985? That type of girl.

What inspired you to start the line? The situation here is that, you know, it’s about having fun … creating. That’s all it is for me. What got me into this was really advertising, looking at old Jil Sander ads and stuff, and just looking through the magazines — that’s kind of what got me into photography. Inadvertently what made me get into fashion was that it was a way I could do photography. But it’s cool for me … it’s just a way I can create a world.

The newly launched MDLR website has a music section. What does music have to do with your collection? Music is definitely my inspiration — rock ‘n’ roll. The reason I came here to New York was listening to all that old time jazz — Iggy Pop and Patti Smith and all of that. It was good stuff when I thought that was how New York was gonna be … and it’s not. It’s a bunch of posers.

So is that why you chose DJ/model/musician/all things It-Girl Lissy Trullie to model for your look book? You know, Lissy Trullie to me — especially with her album, Self-Taught Learner, check that out, that’s good stuff. It’s exactly that — self-taught learner. That’s our generation. It’s just about doing your thing, going out there, not being scared, bringing something to the table. And just being you. That’s it, man.

MDLR captures the vibe from the youth of old downtown New York. Is New York an inspiration for you? New York is a young city. It’s always about the youth. This is where it all began. This is the city of liberation and freedom — creative freedom. I want to represent the independent woman — she’s cool, she’s chilling, doing her own thing, having a good time. She may go out on her own. She doesn’t need her girlfriends, she doesn’t need her guy to pay for the bill. She’s just an independent, modern woman just doing her thing.

But more geared to the pretty faces rocking vintage concert tees in the smokey basement of Lit than Sex and the City, right? Rock ‘n’ roll is a big part of my life. I just woke up and listening to Green Day’s Dookie, just a side note … But anyhow, it’s definitely for the girl who likes to have fun, for the girl who feels like a rock star even though she may not be. My clothes are just about having fun and being comfortable with oneself.

Speaking of a pre-Giuliani New York, what do you miss about it? New York used to be about coming together. It didn’t matter about how much money you had. I think there’s a little more of a commercialism. Obviously we do live in a time that is somewhat dictated by money, but at the end of the day, I think on the flip side of the recession is that it brought people together — it brought creative people together, and a lot more people are willing to collaborate. It’s more about just creating good things, man. It’s not really about the commercial appeal of making money, because there’s not really any money out there. So people just wanna have fun and have a good time, so I think that’s great.

So where do you party nowadays? I miss Beatrice … we want it to come back, but I don’t think it will. Jane’s cool … I’ve been hanging out a lot there. Chloe’s alright. Avenue is a cool little bar.

I’ve seen you prep it up and get all vintage rock star. How would you describe your personal style? Lots of black and jeans. I don’t know … comfortable American I suppose. I just like to be comfortable, so for me that means a nice pair of 511 skinny worn-in black jeans — it doesn’t really depend on my mood. Most of the time I’m wearing the same thing. I have five black jeans and who knows how many black tees.

Where do you shop? I like vintage stores. I like Tokio7, Barneys. I like What Goes Around Comes Around. And I like Jeffrey’s.

What Goes Around Comes Around and Jeffrey’s? That’s like saying you like Jessica Simpson and the Rolling Stones (which is totes cool in my book, by the way). (Laughing) No, Jeffrey’s is where I get my candles and all that Diptyque shit. Not clothing, but sometimes shoes.

Describe your perfect date. A bottle of red, St. Marks, some sushi. Maybe a film at the Angelika.

Favorite restaurant? Westville’s pretty cool. But I like to go to Cipriani’s. (laughing) Just joking. But I do like Da Silvano. I love it there … actually, I like Bar Pitti better — it’s lighter.

I’ve seen the Polaroids scattered all over your studio, and I know you enjoy shooting your interesting friends. What inspires your photography? Life and death. My favorite photographers are Annie Leibovitz, Bill Brandt and Irving Penn.

MDLR is a far cry from your father’s sophisticated feminine gowns. What does it take to be considered a rebel? I don’t really consider myself to be a rebel. But Stephen Hawking’s a rebel. Anyone who’s willing to challenge the current state of being is a rebel to me … anyone who stands up for change, stands up for others, for what’s right is a rebel.

So you’re a rebel in the making. Is there a fine line between making bold choices and trying too hard (a.k.a. a poser)? I hope one day I can change certain things about the fashion industry and maybe be a rebel myself. I don’t know, I just try and do my thing … that’s all. And hopefully, by staying true to myself, some changes will be made. And yes, there is always a fine line. If something’s not you, don’t rock it because the clothes pick the person, ya dig? So if you’re rocking an outfit that you don’t feel, you’re probably trying too hard and should throw on some jeans and a button down. Less is more anyway — simple is chic.

It’s your Fashion Week show. What music will you be playing, and who do you want front row center? I’d like Iggy Pop to be playing. They’re both great but Bowie bit a lot from Iggy when he first came to America and was trying to be all “raw” and “rock ‘n’ roll.” Iggy Pop is fucking raw power man, and Zombie Birdhouse is one of the best and most underrated albums ever, but so was Bowie’s Low. But Iggy still tops it in my book. It’d be cool and kind of a diss to be playing Iggy but have Bowie in the front row.

Industry Insiders: Alessandro Bandini, Scuderia’s Front Man

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If you’ve ever visited New York Italian restaurant powerhouse Da Silvano, you’ve probably rubbed elbows and shared a laugh with manager Alessandro Bandini. The gregarious Florentine has put in his time in kitchens and dining rooms at Italian restos around the world, and he’s recently invested his wealth of knowledge in new project Scuderia. Situated across the street from Bar Pitti and Da Silvano on Sixth Avenue, the modern, fresh trattoria serves delectable Italian comfort food in an open, casual environment. We met with Bandini at the new spot and chatted about the menu’s influences, why women love Italian, and the legendary Da Silvano/Bar Pitti feud.

How did the idea for Scuderia come about? We started to think about the possibility of taking over this place because we thought that the location is great, and we have a beautiful sidewalk. The choice fell also because this is our turf. I’ve been working at Da Silvano for 11 years, and I know the people. So Leyla, Fabrizio, Silvano, and myself decided to make a young restaurant with moderate prices, Italian comfort food, to attract neighborhood people and young people in an economy like this. We wanted to compete with maybe Bar Pitti or Lupa, or Morandi, and do something more affordable and younger, that doesn’t have to compete with Silvano. The initial idea was always to do something for everybody. We planned to be open for breakfast from the beginning, but we haven’t done it yet because we want to first concentrate on lunch and then progressively add more and more. We’ve been averaging 200 people a day since we opened so we think it’s working.

Describe the clientele. Many, many ladies come here. Maybe 70%. The female customers love meatballs and pizza. They definitely love fish and the whole fishes like the branzino. We host a lot of large parties with many, many ladies. We love it.

Why do you think you get so many women? I don’t know. I think that the place is kind of — I don’t really like to use this adjective, but — sexy. Since it was designed partially by Leyla, it has a female touch. I also think it’s because of the pricing. On ladies night, the ladies may not want to spend too much. Maybe I’m wrong, but if you go to a nice restaurant, usually it’s the man that takes the tab.

The cuisine is Italian comfort food? We decided to concentrate on what we know about Italian food, which is based on simplicity, first with fresh ingredients, and using the staples like pizza, pasta, and sandwiches with a little twist. We’re using seasonal ingredients and concentrating on what people really like. I love the Ceviche au Scallops. We do some unusual pizza with bleu cheese, speck, and fig jam. In general, people come here and they eat richly.

What are the Florentine and Tuscan touches on the menu? The Tuscan touch is the use of olive oil and the use of game, rosemary, and fresh herbs. It’s also seen in the simplicity of the preparation. There is a fusion of Northern Italian bistro foods with an eye to the American palate. We have a burger made of brisket of beef, so it’s very fatty and juicy. We have staples, like pesto made like they do in Genoa with stringbeans and potatoes. We also have lasagna; a Bolognese dish.

Locally grown products as well? Yes. For instance, now ramps are in season; we use them. Fidela ferns are in season; we use them. Fava beans are in season; we use them. We’ve been serving, when it’s available, local Atlantic sardines, as opposed to sardines from Portugal. Whatever the market offers; we use it — especially in the daily specials.

What happened with your chef, Claudio Cristofoli? Claudio has been, like, a little disappointment because I thought he didn’t believe in the project as much as we tried to make him believe in the project because we have ideas of expansion. If this goes well we would like to replicate the brand. So he could have been part of something greater if he only was a little bit more patient. Unfortunately, he wasn’t.

And do you have ideas for a replacement? We’re evaluating people now. I’m in charge of the back of the house. I try to work with the strong guys that I have, which are very good executors of our menu, which I almost completely designed with Silvano. So it’s not difficult. You don’t need really a metagalactic chef to execute our menu. We just need someone organized.

You have a long history with Silvano. How did you cross paths in the beginning? Silvano used to go to hotel school in Florence with my parents in the 60s. I came here for the first time in 1990 on vacation, and I met Silvano then. I worked for him for a week as a cashier, just to make a couple of extra bucks, and I really liked what he was doing as a host-chef. He inspired me. When I came back to the states in 1996, I started working as a waiter at Da Silvano to make some money. It’s an amazing place, with an amazing clientele — celebrities, beautiful people, beautiful customers — in a trattoria setting. That was the magic about Da Silvano. For 11 years, I worked as a manager there.

How are people in this neighborhood reacting to Scuderia? We have many, many people from the neighborhood. Many curious people wander over from Bar Pitti and Da Silvano. People really like the atmosphere. People also organize little private events in our mezzanine in the back. And now we have this beautiful sidewalk that is really wide and surrounded by trees. I think the place has all the cards. We have a full bar, and so, lots of potential. I think it’s going to be a promising, good summer

How does Scuderia change the neighborhood restaurant dynamic? Are you attracting clientele from Bar Pitti? I think that it would be pretentious to believe that we could steal customers from such an established place like Bar Pitti, but I have noticed Bar Pitti clients and customers coming here. I believe that this place is definitely more fun than Bar Pitti. The food is really good, and we are definitely improving. But Bar Pitti has an amazing amount of regulars that it has built over the years. I see people crossing the street when they have to wait too long. So, instead of having 50 people waiting at Bar Pitti, now they may have 25 because people come here. We are good enough, and we have a young, fun wait staff. The service has been defined as breezy, warm, and friendly. That’s the idea that we want to impose. The food is tasty, but the environment is really nice. The place is very airy with high ceilings.

Is it true that Giovanni Tognozzi from Bar Pitti chased you down 6th Avenue last year? Yeah, it’s true. And it’s funny, really. You should laugh at these things. And I did. I don’t hate Giovanni. I think that Giovanni is a great worker and, unfortunately, I got caught in between him and Silvano. They’ve had this feudal relationship, and it’s a little silly because they’re both making money off each other. You put two Italians — two Tuscans — ten feet away from each other, and it’s not an easy task to keep them calm and quiet. If you know Tuscan people, they’re very argumentative and opinionated, and that’s what created this feud. I got caught in between because I was Silvano’s manager and Giovanni first threw me out of the restaurant and told me I wasn’t welcome in 2004. Last year, I accidentally entered Bar Pitti. I saw an old friend I hadn’t seen in awhile, I went into the terrace, not even inside. I was talking to my friend for less than a minute. Then I left and I didn’t notice Giovanni, so he came after me, around the corner, chasing me. And he told me if I ever, ever tried that again he was gonna have someone shave my head. I wanted to see if you can really do that sort of thing in 2008, without having consequences. I called the police and I went in front of the restaurant and tried to stir the waters a little bit. I kept asking, “Can he do that?” Because I never ever hurt the guy in any way.

Any other stories of the feud? Giovanni threw Fabrizio [Sotti], our partner, out after he was spending tons of money at Bar Pitti. He used to go between Da Silvano and Bar Pitti all the time. Once he found out that Fabrizio would be a partner here with me and Silvano, he kicked him out. It was done ungracefully — he kicked him out in the middle of a meal. Giovanni is a little rough around the edges. He has a few problems. Every single employee at Bar Pitti is forbidden to go to Da Silvano, even in their private life. They will face consequences from Giovanni. They can’t wave or say hello to anyone at Da Silvano. On our side, this feud doesn’t exist. People who work here are free to do whatever they want. Giovanni really wants to keep the feud going. I know friends of Giovanni who are looking for jobs who found out that Silvano was involved at Scuderia, and cannot apply here because they would lose Giovanni’s friendship. I always ask, “Does he pay your rent?”

Who else does it right? I love Al di Là Trattoria in Park Slope. It’s a Venetian trattoria. The menu is small, but has exceptional staples. I like Blue Ribbon Sushi, Aquagrill, and almost anything in this neighborhood.