Where Celebs Go Out: Mario Batali, Mayor Bloomberg, Danielle Staub

Mario Batali at the opening of Eataly: My favorite places to eat are generally downtown in the Village: Pearl Oyster Bar, Spotted Pig, Grand Sichuan. My favorite thing to eat is anything anyone else makes! Da Silvano has an octopus salad and octopus grill that’s really beautiful. ● Mayor Mike Bloomberg at the opening of Eataly: There are 20,000 restaurants in New York City, and I try to eat at every single one of them. ● Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: wd-50, and in Brooklyn, Pacifico, the Mexican restaurant on Pacific St.

Drew Nieporent at Travel + Leisure‘s World’s Best Awards party: Restaurants that are owned my friends—Jean Georges, Daniel, Mario Batali, the usual suspects. And El Bulli in Barcelona. My favorite dish is anything that Mark Ladner makes at Del Posto. ● Bethenny Frankel at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: Trump Soho, Abe & Arthur’s, STK. ● Johnny Weir at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: Cipriani Downtown has the most amazing vanilla meringue cake. ● Tinsley Mortimer at her handbag launch party at Samantha Thavasa: Avenue and the Biergarten at the StandardBryan Greenberg at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: The corn, the tacos, and the margaritas at La Esquina. ● Danielle Staub at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: Cafeteria for the little sliders, the mac and cheese. For dessert, their Everything But the Kitchen Sink. ● Lamar Odom at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. ● Mick Rock at the Marc Ecko Cut & Sew fall collection launch party: Kenmare. ● Richie Rich at the Marc Ecko Cut & Sew fall collection launch party: At the The Lion, the champagne’s my favorite. I like the atmosphere and the food’s amazing. The energy’s amazing at the Boom Room Room.

Your Guide to the Best Rooftop Bars in New York

Every summer in New York, there needs to be a new drinking trend. 2009 was indisputably the summer of the beer garden. This year, bar owners are raising the stakes, literally. If you haven’t noticed already, the hotel rooftop scene in New York City has emerged as this summer’s top trend. And why not? It’s no secret we’ve got the most breathtaking skyline this side of a Fritz Lang movie, so why not take it in while chasing down that not-so-elusive buzz? More often than not, these bars are to be found in the city’s ever-expanding crop of trendy hotels. Here’s a list of some of out favorites.

Le Bain at Standard Hotel What It’s Like: Astroturf, pink waterbeds, and lawn chairs. The notorious Boom Boom Room on the 18th floor already set the, ahem, standard as the toughest door in town, and this should be no different. To get up here, you have to enter the first level, which has a 19-person hot tub. Take the stairs (decorated street graffiti style by Japanese artist Aiko), pass a vending machine selling Quicksilver bathing suits and bikinis (specially designed for the Standard), and enter a pop art wonderland. Views: Almost 360. Prime views of downtown NYC (with a viewfinder), The Hudson and that big building King Kong likes. Signature Drink: Fraise 76 (vodka, lemon, simple syrup, strawberry, top champagne) Scene: Models, hipsters, scenesters, fashionistas, b-list celebrities, friends of Andres Balazs, friends of hot wait staff.


Press Lounge at Ink48 What It’s Like: On the corner for 11th and 48th, the new Kimpton Ink48 hotel now offers 3,000 square feet of rooftop (opened in April) where people can absorb the sunset and linger for more cocktails afterward. It’s a far trek from the clubs, so the rooftop lounge is a destination in itself. Get there early: there’s only seating for 172 (believe us, they don’t last). Views: On the 16th floor, there’s unobstructed views of the Hudson River and Times Square to the east. But the real jewel on the horizon is Hoboken’s W hotel, standing tall across the river as a monument to bland, 21st century architecture. Signature Drink: Junmai Sky (Tanqueray 10, St. Germain, Tozai Junmai sake) Scene: Jostling for lounge chairs with Hell’s Kitchen locals and celebrities, including Jude Law, Donna Karan, Elie Tahari, and Kimberly Locke (many of whom have stayed at the hotel).


Top of the Strand at Strand Hotel What It’s Like: Gen-exers are drawn to this chic boutique’s rooftop lounge designed by Lydia Marks (set designer for both Sex and the City movies) and the setting for pop reality shows like MTV’s “The City”. There’s plenty of potted green and glass roof to give it an endearing “greenhouse” effect. Views: The Empire State building is literally in your face. Three blocks away, there’s no rooftop scene as close to it as this. Signature Drink: Top of the Strand Martini (Creme de Violette, VeeV Acai spirit, Marashino liqueur, fresh lime juice) Scene: If this was the 80s, you would expect to see the diverse cast from The Breakfast Club (Ally Sheedy post-makeover).


Upstairs at the Kimberly Hotel What It’s Like: The swanky Upstairs has been tweeted, blogged about, and gossiped over since it opened exclusively for private events last December. Thankfully, it recently gave in to the public two weekends ago. The staff is outfitted by The Blondes, there’s a fully retractable glass roof in the main area (with heated wooden floors, no less), a private media room, and a separate, lush terrace area complete with fireplace. Views: East River and Chrysler Building Signature Drink: Summer cocktail list to come (they will all feature organic juices) Scene: After-work crowd, no riff-raff (“dress code” lightly enforced), and Upper East Siders — but it’s got enough hype to attract curious downtowners.

Coming Soon Fashion 26 Despite the uncreative name (it’s in the Fashion District on 26th street), the rooftop at Fashion26 is destined to be a swelling scene of models (Ford models get exclusive rates at the hotel), FIT students, locals and industry folk. Not only will it have a retractable roof and views of the downtown skyline, but small, juicy burger bites will be catered by Rare, the hotel’s restaurant. It opens July 4 weekend.

Bar d’Eau at Trump Soho Opening “this summer,” this terrace on the seventh floor spa level will include a full-sized bocce ball court, blue Italian, mosaic-lined pool with cascading waterfall and cabanas. To make up for the lack of commanding views, we’re expecting the crowd to be chockfull of suit-and-tie trust-fund babies, guys that watch Gossip Girl and random appearances by The Apprentice cast.

Gansevoort Park The first “urban oasis resort” in New York City will feature a multi-level rooftop scene open to the public at night. Think over-the-top: wrap-around terraces, various event spaces, transparent floors, indoor/outdoor fireplaces, and views of the Empire State building. Expect scenesters, hipsters (thanks to the emerging NoMad area and the Ace hotel) and affluent hotel guests (who will have priority access). Opening July 19, 2010.

NYC Openings: cityhouse, Kastel, Gant Rugger

cityhouse (Midtown West) – Power breakfasts and wood-fired steaks at the Park Central Hotel. ● Kastel (Soho) – Quattro peeps drop a sexy, grown-up lounge at Trump SoHo. Yes, they’re serving quintuple-distilled Trump Vodka. ● Gant Rugger (West Village) – Swiss clothier raids its archives for classic Americana.

Kastel Opens in Trump SoHo

The first thing that struck me about Kastel, the new bar/lounge in the Trump Soho property is the richness of the Rockwell Groups design. After that I was awed by the calm, the lack of urgency and mayhem normally associated with places about to be birthed into the chaotic New York City social scene. Kastel is masculine, warm and ultra sexy. As a designer I looked for the little things, the brilliant details and wondered how David Rockwell’s team did this or did that. The place is stunning. I became very envious because I know they spent a ton of money. As a designer with too many friends, I often find myself designing places with very low budgets. I often want to put a sign outside that says something like “designed by Lewis and Dizon for a mere $85,000.” $85,000 was spent in 45 minutes here. The sign outside this Soho property says “Trump”—that tells you they spent money to make money. There was no sense of urgency when I sat down in a lounge amid gorgeous Fendi furniture and Taschen books to meet with Quattro/Kastel co-owner Nicola Siervo.

The quiet confidence of Nicola and indeed everyone at the property makes me believe that this place might be the realio dealio. I was watching Charlie Bronson the other day in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western masterpiece Once Upon A Time In The West. In the opening scene 3 bad guys are meeting him at the train station and Charlie observes there are only 3 horses and asks the gunslingers about it. The toughest guy stares at him and with a laugh answers “looks like we’re shy 1 horse.” Charles looks at him cool, soft and hard and replies “you bought 2 too many.” Then he guns them down. As I sat chatting with Nicola Siervo I kept wondering if he was a “Charlie Bronson” talking softly yet confidently with the big guns of the adjacent restaurant Quattro and Kastel, about to take over the wild wild west side of Manhattan.

Nicola is a wonderful operator. Accessible, classy, smart and experienced. He slayed me with cool water confidence and a clear plan. Kastel will find its niche as a place to be after dinner and before the bedlam of nightlife. While the other places fight for the night, they will provide a sweet spot for the evening. With partners Karim Masri, Rony Seikaly, Nicola Schon and a beautiful and manageable room close enough and yet far away enough from everything relevant, they seem ready to rock and roll. In fact that’s what Nicola and I were chatting about. In what may be the first mistake of the new joint’s existence, they have asked me to bring in my old tracks and tricks and play rock, rock and more rock, as a DJ at the opening party tomorrow night. My pal Stretch Armstrong, a real DJ, will be along to really DJ. The festivities start at 10pm and I think you should make arrangements in advance as this figures to be a very swanky affair. I e-mailed Karim and Nicola a bunch of questions to help inform you. These are the answers I got back.

What is the concept behind Kastel? Kastel is a Bar and Lounge that is open between the hours of 4pm until 2am, nightly. It serves the purpose of hotel bar form 4-10pm and goes to a door policy from 10pm onward, with a separate entrance on Varick.

What is the venue’s relationship to the hotel and to Quattro? Kastel is operated by the same operators of Quattro—KNR Restaurant Group—but is a distinct outlet with totally separate areas and design.

Tell me about the design of the venue? Rockwell Group designed the venue. It’s an intimate space with raw and rich finishes—sleek armchairs, scattered velvet ottomans, leather banquets. The environment is relaxed but chic.

Do you have any events lined for opening week? We have our grand opening on Tuesday and we have Rosario Dawson and Yellow Fever’s joint Birthday party hosted with Jamison Ernest on Thursday. Last night we had the after party for the Versace Versus Party, which was at Milk Studios.

Who is your clientele? Our clientele will be friends, hotel guests, neighbors and will serve as an after-dinner drink spot for Quattro.

Nightlife in NYC these days seems to be centered around hotels. How does being located in a hotel effect your approach, door policy? You have to be a little more flexible and try to accommodate the hotel guest as best you can.

Tell me what attracts you to this particular location? The beauty of the property is its location, the food at Quattro, the one-stop-shop factor—dinner and drinks all under one roof.

Many people wanted this property. What occurred between you and Mr.Trump to have you get it? Ownership picked our group because, with Quattro as an anchor, we have a very strong New york following, Miami following, as well as a European and strong celebrity-client base. We are restaurateurs that can also do nightlife, which is not typical. In the case of KNR, we do it all—manage the banquet and catering facilities at Trump Soho as well as the room service, pool bar and deck and, the soon to open 45th floor event space called SoHi.

Tell me about the differences, similarities between opening a venue in Miami and New York? In Miami there is no such thing as a purple lounge in terms of nightlife. In Miami, people expect a venue to be full of energy and DJ-driven with dancing on the couches, because it’s a resort destination, people really let loose and go wild. Where as in NY, we are doing a true ultra lounge that is not DJ driven—although we have a DJ—and the music is played at a lower volume to allow mingling and socializing. Such an approach doesn’t work in Miami nightlife.

Are you interested in opening in other cities? We are going to do more in NYC that is restaurant and hotel related. Also more in Miami—for the time being we want to focus on those markets. We are only interested in going to cities that we enjoy visiting. It is very important to maintain a quality of life while we work. Los Angeles would be a logical expansion. London as well, as we have a very strong European following. We have plans in the works to open in Rio in time for the World Cup and the Olympics.

Where do you see the future of nightlife heading? Smaller, more intimate venues where like-minded people can hang together without having to deal with the stress and aggravation that some large venues cause with large crowds and rough door treatment. Smaller clubs with a more personal approach, whether in Miami or NY.

NYC Previews: Jour et Nuit Restaurant & Lounge, Trump SoHo, Quattro Gastronomia Italiana

Jour et Nuit Restaurant & Lounge (Tribeca) – Frederick Lesort re-takes Tribeca. ● Trump SoHo (Soho) – Midtown master infiltrates the western fringe of Soho with lux condo-hotel living. ● Quattro Gastronomia Italiana (Soho) – The Donald brings slick South Beach Italian south of Houston.

Summer Nights: Changing of the Guard

A game of musical chairs is being played by most of the major promotional entities as the summer roof season is upon us. While the highly successful 230 Fifth will still dominate this market just as the Empire State Building dominates its incredible view, some places remain unsettled or don’t have a clear opening date due to a myriad of problems. Highbar is getting a quick polish, while the roof at the Stay Hotel is still under construction. Mixed reports come from Cabanas and The Park, and the highly-touted Above Allen will finally get to open its windows amidst hopes that the sound spill doesn’t disturb too many hotel guests and nearby residents. Daemon O’Neil, Rose Bar’s patient, sweet, and very good-looking door guru (not to be confused with Damion Luaiye), is packing his clipboard and heading over to the Bazaar Bar at the upcoming Trump Soho hotel. The economic downturn, a weak dollar, and a laundry list of safety issues make travel abroad a lot less attractive this season. I hear reports that Hamptons summer rentals are sluggish, yet the Surf Lodge in Montauk is riding high.

I caught up with super duper and uber owner/outdoor space promoter Jeffrey Jah of 1Oak and other fabulous places, and he told me he was bringing back the “changing of the guard” at Groovedeck at Hudson Terrace this summer. “With Groovedeck, we’ve assembled an insane team from Bijoux (Dimitry and Francois) to Pavan and the 1Oak team. We’ve booked the Hamptons Magazine summer kick-off party as well as Lydia Hearst hosting the last International Film Premiere event.” I asked Jeffrey how the whole outdoor summer club thing started for him.

It’s pretty simple … the first real outdoor parties were “Groove on the Move,” with Mark Baker and I back in the early 90s, moving from the Central Park Boathouse to Tavern on the Green, and then permanently at Bowery Bar with Eric Goode and Serge Becker. There really were no other outdoor parties; then in 2000, I moved to Pier 59 Studios and created the deck with Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva — that’s where Remi Laba and Aymeric Clemente were given their fist taste of club promotions. They were low-level maitre d’s. In 2003, we were forced to move it to BED (the same team), and then they tried to get smart, and Baker, Remi, and Karim sold them on a cheaper deal without the 1Oak crew, but they were done after four weeks. We missed two seasons, and we’re now back at Hudson Terrace.

I asked Jeffrey if the problems with international travel these days, the weak dollar, and pandemic diseases would keep people closer to home. “Yes, the economy will keep people here. New York is the capital of the world. What’s more important is that Europeans will venture more to America with the weak dollar and get more value for the buck. We will see a lot of Euros this summer. New York is resilient, we’ve seen worst times apres 9/11. People want to blow off steam, and if the product is good, they will come again and again. A lot of people are not taking houses in the Hamptons this summer because institutional money and jobs evaporated over the last half of 2008 and first quarter of 2009. Hence I’m betting that we will see a much stronger city summer.”

I also asked Hudson Terrace co-owner Michael Sinensky about the economic impact. “If you can build one of the nicest venues in New York City, people will come out to escape what’s going on in the world. In this economy, you have to really service the customer and think outside the box to keep your patrons entertained, happy, and feeling satisfied enough that they’ll come back. I don’t think it’s all about having the best promoters and DJs and strictest door anymore — I think that’s a formula to stay open 6 to 12 months. Hudson Terrace wasn’t built to follow the models-and-bottles formula and meet their steep table minimums. Instead, we’ve taken pages from our other successful eating and drinking establishments such as the Village Pourhouse, Sidebar, and Vintage Irving, with offerings like pitchers of sangria and margaritas.” They’re pitching a happy hour concept from 5-7 p.m. I’m proud to say that Hudson Terrace was designed by my partner Marc Dizon.

The roof parties and a stop-start economy will get us through the heat of summer. An added value is that outdoor parties are generally blessed with quieter music, as sound travels and Manhattan gets more crowded by the minute. The music played in most clubs theses days — especially the clubs catering to these particular crowds — has stagnated. The isolation of Hudson Terrace and Jeffrey’s commitment to play it a little forward should educate a crowd to new tastes. Steven Greenberg’s 230 Fifth bans hip hop altogether in favor of mostly rock fare. This space is the highest-grossing joint in New York nightlife history. I know only a little about music made in this century, but I do know this: The crowds I DJ to these day are growing, and my CD collection isn’t. I play almost an entirely rock set, and there seem to be a lot more people interested in it than a year ago. Oh, if you want to hear me DJ or toss an egg or discuss clubdom, I’ll be at 38 Howard Street off Broadway tonight; I go on at 12:30 a.m., right after the bands.