Miracolo On 34th Street: Fine Italian Comes to Macy’s

As long as you’re blowing a few hundred million on a renovation, you might as well class up your commissary. That’s the thinking at Macy’s, which is lifting the quality of life for shoppers with some serious Italian on the sixth floor. The Patina Restaurant Group (Summer Garden, La Fonda del Sol, et al) will lay out Neapolitan favorites at Stella 34 Trattoria, while Florentine gelato masters Vivoli will cover dessert.

Jonathan Benno of Lincoln Ristorante (another Patina property) has worked up a menu that leans on a trio of wood-burning ovens. There’s a Master Piazzaiolo Napoletano in the kitchen, turning out pies made with Caputo flour, San Marzano tomatoes, and water synched to natural springs in Naples. The Napoli focus carries through to the salumi starters, small-plate antipasti, and house-made pastas like the “priest strangler” (strozzapreti, named for its addictiveness, not any ecclesiastical scandal). The wine list is a hundred strong and Italian chauvinistic all the way. This being a trattoria, you’ll also find Negroni and Aperol cocktails. A “cibi ronda” does take-out, a major boon in the lunch wasteland that is Herald Square.

In this interminable winter, the hope of gelato seems more mirage than oasis, but frozen awesomeness is also coming to the same Macy’s space (both venues open next Monday, March 11th). Florence’s Vivoli Il Gelato is unveiling its first satellite location, Vivoli New York. The family business dates to 1929 and still follows the Italian way with top ingredients and an emphasis on craft. Gelati and sorbetti are made fresh daily. Old-country faves like Riso (arborio rice pudding) and Crema (cream custard) carry over, joining the likes of hazelnut and honey. Sorbets keep it pure, using only fruit, water, and sugar. The results will be more than ample reward for slogging through a One-Day Sale.

The modern interior of Stella 34, and its custom art by Robert Risko, will have plenty of competition from views of Broadway and the Empire State Building. This sixth-floor space was long relegated to storage, with windows blacked out to protect the goods. As Macy’s brings in more high-end brands, it’s fitting that they’re opening up to the glamour of the skyline, and adding fine dining. After all, a $400 million renovation should be good for something. 

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Fake It To Bake It: What Men Are Faking On V-Day

Oh yeah? You thought only women faked it? Well when it comes to doing the deed in the kitchen, men have got their act perfectly rehearsed. This Valentine’s Day, guys are ordering their romantic “home-cooked” dinners for their dates from homey Italian spot Casa Nonna. For $500, the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant is offering an “Ultimate Guide to ‘Faking’ It” dinner kit, complete with a four-course meal, sommelier-chosen bottle of wine, candles and placemats, and a pre-dirtied – yes, already dirty ­– apron and cookware. Does it come with brow sweat and chopped onion-induced tears, too?

Here’s the restaurant’s reasoning:

 “Rather than a dinner and a movie or a phone call, dating has resolved to a text, a drink after 10pm, or a “group date” with buddies. Casa Nonna wants to help bring romance back for those culinary challenged through their Ultimate Guide to “Faking It” deluxe dinner kit for two.”

What happens when the date finds the Nonna receipt and tupperware labeled “Faking It” stuffed under the bed? What will she think of her guy standing there against the oven in his apron that’s been pre-smudged in a kitchen far, far away? If relationships are about reciprocating, than I can guess what she’ll be doing later…

Find all the info about Casa’s Faking It dinner here, and follow Bonnie on Twitter.