The latest restaurant by Bread and Butter Hospitality and owner Chef Peter Botros. Violette’s Cellar, named after Chef Botros’ mother, brings social dining to Staten Island with the curated subterranean space, inclusive of a 6-seat private wine room and Staten Island’s first speakeasy, The Button Room. The main dining room offers small plates of contemporary American cuisine mixed with Mediterranean and Spanish influences. On Mother’s Day, Violette’s will be offering a sit-down brunch for $34.95 for adults/$19.95 for kids with freshly baked croissants and mini muffins to start and main dishes, including Sally’s French Toast on Italian Bread and covered in unicorn sugar, as well as the French Onion Omelette which is made with aged gruyere, French onion compote, and ritz pretzel bread crumbs. The Brunch Buffet offers a good assortment of pancakes, turkey, pasta, and a grand dessert display. Info: 2271 Hylan Boulevard; violettescellar.com.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.
Well, here it is, ladies and gentlemen, Violette's Celler and its secret speakeasy called The Button Room — finally. After some kinks worked out on a "Friends and Family" test run and much tinkering with the menu, the subterranean, 300-plus seat restaurant has opened — 2271 Hylan Blvd., 718-650-5050, ViolettesCellar.com.That spot once long ago known as La Botte presents daily brunch starting at 9 a.m. followed by dinner service at 3 p.m.
Here's a taste of what's on the menu: A side of salmon for dinner comes with a ginger-miso glaze, scallions and toasted sesame seeds. It is served on a cedar plank.
Says co-owner Peter Botros, "We soak the cedar planks in apple cider and when it's time to bake the salmon with the glaze, the cider has imparted itself into the salmon."
Now, we know Peter from the Stone House at Clove Lakes Park.
The handsome, upscale eatery with its outdoor, lake-side seating also features a restaurant-within-a-restaurant concept, was a practice run for the entrepreneur.
And that Peter made a name for himself with dishes starring the poached egg. That North Shore property even won him a recent Advance Reader's Choice award earlier in the year.
(Staten Island Advance/Dr. Gracelyn Santos)
As a further preface to Peter's new venture at Violette's...
Keep in mind that Peter's restlessness in the restaurant business drove him to open The Chef's Loft, a restaurant-within-a-restaurant concept on the second floor of Stone House. Here Peter cooks for guests and comes up with ever-changing wine-paired courses reliant on the seasons.
So tuck that info away for this disussion of new Violette's Cellar.
Over an image of Chicken and Waffles — cheddar-corn waffles are paired with Southern Fried chicken with a DIY chipotle-honey drizzle — we'll talk about brunch first.
Says Botros, "For my partners and I, although nothing was easy, the most difficult obstacle we had to overcome to get to 'open,' was staffing. Staten Island restaurants have always had a tough time staffing, constantly in competition with the allure and the bright lights of Manhattan. Now an industry-wide shortage of talent hits Staten Island even harder."
Brunch hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Pretty French Toast!
Peter explained at length:
"In preparation for our grand opening, we decided to host a 'Friends and Family' day. The purpose of the day is to get feedback from friends and family on food, service, etc. This is common in the industry.
"We took it a few steps further, although we are certainly interested in feedback about the food and service, from my experience I’ve found that the staff 'movement' is also incredibly important. Server stations, prep areas, the cooking line layout are all imperative to a successful operation. However, unless the staff is under pressure the problems won’t rear their ugly heads. We purposely over booked our Friends and Family Day to create chaos and strain. Our very own stress test!
"After 300 guests and every inch of the venue crawling with people, we certainly saw lots of problems. Some menu items were too difficult when the restaurant was busy, some server stations needed revamping and we needed to do a better job explain the small plates concept to our guests. After diagnosing the problems, we were able to make changes to prime the restaurant for success."
He says the first night of business, Monday, Nov. 6 went off without a hitch.
A glass of wine would go nicely with that.
Also on the menu: Philly Cheesesteak and Eggs is a dish made with shaved rib-eye steak, caramelized onions, truffle goat cheese, and a fried egg. Best wine for the pairing, says Roberto Hernandez, is the restaurant's sommelier, are Violette's Cabernet selections by the glass.
Next up on the menu are the "Small Plates."
This is Seared Ahi Tuna with Japanese spicy mayo and avocado mousse plus that crunchy helping hand brought to you by pork rinds.
Now, the dinner menu begins at 3 p.m. each day. Closing time for dinner is 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9 p.m. on Sundays.
Like to have your brisket and eat short ribs, too?
Well, there's an item for that at Violette's, like the Brisket and Short Rib Sliders made with a 50-50 split of ground meat. Three sliders come with spicy tomato jam and provolone.
Paging Mr. Fred Flintstone...
Fred's not here right now but instead, there's the 48-ounce tomahawk steak in the house. For $96, the hungry man (or woman) can feast his (her) paws on a 21-day dry-aged prime cut served with a trio of sauces -- truffle soy, wild mushroom, and spicy peanut bechamel.
A picture of the beautiful chicken and waffles.
The design of Violette's is interesting.
Tables at Violette's are made from reclaimed wood. The color of the linen napkins, of course, is purple and various shades thereof.
Like Stone House and its moving parts, Violette's features many different pieces to its jigsaw layout.
The main dining room seats 100 including the bar while the adjoining banquet room seats 150 guests. An outdoor pavilion will have room for 60 patrons. A wine room features a dining section for 8. There is a private room for 18. This is The Button Room.
It takes its name from the bar which sports thousands of buttons in its epoxy top. The Button Room is open two nights a week and is accessible by pass code only. The secret word is?....shhh, you'll have to sign up on the restaurant's social media accounts to get the answer each evening.They overhauled the New Dorp space from the bottom up.
Partners in Violette's Cellar are, from left to right, Ralph Zurlo, Peter Botros and Philip Faranacci.
The build-out included a mural by Scott Lobaido. There are about 50 antique mirrors throughout the cellar spot, pieces harvested from the Waldorf Astoria at a recent furniture auction.The restaurant will donate $250,000 of its sales over seven years.
The recipient of such generosity is Staten Island University Hospital's new Comprehensive Cancer Center. The altruism stems from struggles owners Botros and Farinacci's family members (and Peter himself) have had with cancer. The restaurant is named for Peter's mom Violette who passed away from the disease.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Over 50 shades of restaurants threw open their doors on Staten Island in 2017. Then suddenly, in all its purple glory, Violette's Cellar struck the scene in late fall with a daily brunch format and decidedly eclectic dinner repertoire.
The New Dorp restaurant lives in a subterranean space. Once home to La Botte and Troy, it is now a maze of intimate eating spaces awaiting discovery, most notably a "speakeasy" hidden behind a sliding bookshelf unlocked, curiously, only by secret code. Wine corks and crates make the wallpaper backdrop for banquettes and plush chairs fitted into the space.
Violette's is a collaboration among three friends: Peter Botros, Phil Farinacci and Mark Zurlo.
It is complex, to say the least -- layer upon layers of frivolity and detail that build upon Botros' inaugural restaurant endeavors, The Stone House at Clove Lakes Park, and its subsequent off-shoot called "The Chef's Loft."
Now, with another new venture in the works with his fellow entrepreneurs -- "The Corner House BBQ," slated for a spring opening in the former digs of the long-running Corner House -- let's call Violette's Cellar the "Baroque Period" of this moment in Chef Botros' Staten Island cooking career.
FROM BROKER TO IRON CHEF: Botros did not go to culinary school. He is a self-made kitchen man, a mortgage broker by trade, who soon will debut as guest chef at The James Beard House. One might say he plays "Iron Chef" with Violette's menu, feeling his way through classic dishes while applying trills of texture and contrasting tastes. On the whole, the food at Violette's ushers a patron into an exciting journey of the senses and, particularly when Botros personally presents and explains the dishes, one can appreciate the obvious passion and decisiveness in their construction.
Take the "Chorizo Egg Scramble" at brunch, a riff on a dish that defeated Botros on "Guy's Grocery Games." The eggs fold chorizo, bell pepper and caramelized onions into tidy curds topped with crunchy fried wonton bits -- a dark-looking but delicious dish.
"Prosciutto and Fig Flatbread" is fantastic, a rainbow of flavors connected by fig jam, a whipped version of ricotta cheese, prosciutto, arugula and balsamic reduction. It's tough to say which is a better flatbread; the aforementioned fig concoction or roasted eggplant version blended with ricotta cheese topped with parmesan shaves.
Brunch starts with warm mini-croissants on a plate served with a ramekin of whipped butter. It could escalate from there with sides of smoked macaroni and cheese, brown-sugared bacon strips, maple sausage, french fries or engaging steel-cut oats, which are simultaneously creamy and briny with a satisfying chewiness.
About two dozen brunch items bob and weave through the menu: Poached eggs on proteins like "Zucchini-Egg Frittata" and a cheesesteak made with shaved rib-eye steak.
Shrimp is displayed with grainy oats plus ham gravy. Spring rolls are made from lump crab meat and empanadas are the crust for chicken pot pie.
"Chicken and Waffles" is served with an excellent chili-honey that pleasantly pokes into other dishes.
"Artichoke Bread Pudding" might be characterized as a perfect hangover food that might well be what brunch was meant to be. That unctuous thing sees a block of savory broiche-bread pudding sprinkled with artichoke, then bathed in spinach-flecked bechamel -- tasty yet perhaps a prototype to something even better down the line.
Dinner offerings -- oh, where does one begin?
There are brisket sliders, filet mignon satays, cheeses and meat boards to share. From a z-tray to pluck, there are delicious duck tacos with mole sauce-soaked shredded meat in fried wonton shells. There is a platter of dry-aged Tomahawk ribeye steak to savor with truffle-soy butter and mushroom trimmings, a "Lobster Tasting" with lobster roll sliders betwixt bacon-lobster ravioli and lobster oreganata plus an "Everyday Sauce" which is a version of "Sunday Sauce" and cavatappi pasta offered daily.
Because of its organization, the menu seems frenetic with categories like "Land," "Vegetables," "Salads" and "Large Format."
There are items like burrata cheese as an appetizer -- two balls of chilly burrata topped with granola, almond slivers and a saccharine chocolate-balsamic reduction -- a potentially thrilling dish that currently takes on the taste of a milkshake, for better or worse.
FOR YOUR PALATE PLEASURE: Working through this menu to find winning selections -- think great sensations on the palate and a nice depth of flavor -- with spinach salad and crisp bacon crumbles, blistered cherry tomatoes and gorgonzola dressing capped by a ripe, sliced avocado half. Roasted cauliflower (also presented fried) comes with cumin-garlic aioli to dunk. And "Charred Spanish Octopus," while it could use some splashy color on the plate, was a treat with black bean puree, bacon and chipotle oil.
The recommended list: Partake of drinks -- fizzy cocktails, loaded bloody marys, a sangria marked by blueberries or apple cider, "Adult Iced Coffee" or gourmet coffee presented in a French press for two or more.
And stay for desserts like the sweetly juvenile "Huckleberry Spring Rolls" served warm with Fruity Pebbles-spiked gelato, milk 'n' cereal at its best. Housemade gelato is delicious, especially a chili and spice-infused chocolate gelato slated for the Beard House dinner. Violette's creme brulee, seared with "Unicorn" sugar, carries through the purple-ness of the place with lavender buds in the creamy, vanilla custard.
And speaking of purple, the color nods to the restaurant's moniker and Peter's mother, Violette Botros, a victim of cancer and a source of inspiration for another cause: The ownership has pledged $250,000 to the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Staten Island University Hospital over the course of its lifetime.
At Violette's, the service is quite good with a knowledgeable staff who appear to take pride in the details of the restaurant, especially with the wine list.
For Staten Islanders wary of Italian food and the grind of ordinary sit-down dining, there is Violette's to discover. Stay for the ride and let's see what surprises it brings.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- At the James Beard House on Tuesday, Feb. 13, the menu featured spring rolls of chocolate-braised duck and mashed potatoes sweetened with white chocolate. This presentation came courtesy of the kitchen crew from Staten Island's Violette's Cellar and the Stone House at Clove Lakes Park.
The staff cooked for a sold-out house that night. And the theme of the cocktail hour followed by a six-course meal headlined as "Dreaming in Chocolate."
The kitchen lead, Peter Botros, chose the theme with Fat Tuesday and Valentine's Day in mind.
Hors d'oeuvres included roasted beet bites topped with a whisper of fennel pollen over whipped cocoa goat cheese. Dinner started with warm mini cocoa croissants and guajillo-chocolate butter, then moved onto a burrata cheese with Valharona dark chocolate-balsamic vinegar with ancho chili oil, macadamia nuts, and granola.
Other dishes -- chocolate-ricotta topped with spicy sausage crumbles with Parmigiano-Reggiano cream sauce, a dayboat scallop with chocolate-chestnut cream and cocoa nibs plus filet mignon with white chocolate-whipped potatoes -- worked up to a banana empanada for dessert. The latter included a Mexican hot chocolate gelato that Botros had been tinkering with over at Violette's Cellar recently. And that was presented with a cup of sweet espresso spiked with Corzo Tequila Silver.
Each bit of food was presented with a wine or two to heighten flavors, pairings guided by Roberto Hernandez. Executive chef Antonio Vasquez Flores with sous chefs Erich Wiedemeyer and Jimmy Bosco turned out the food from the famous Beard House kitchen digs. This is a rather modest facility that looks like an island. Guests pass through the section while the staff prepares the food, much of it rather complex with a detailed plating composition.
"I want to emphasize the unbelievable teamwork that resulted us moving in sync to pump out over 400 dishes and 600 pieces of passed canapes," said Botros.
He also had a hand from the seaoned service staff provided by the Beard House. And Staten Islander Camille Zarelli of Floral Sentiments designed and donated the flower arrangements for the evening.
For chocolate, Botros selected the Valhrona line with a dozen styles including nibs (accompanying a Dayboat scallop with chocolate-chestnut cream and crisped potato spiral) and whole cocoa beans as bedding for some hors d'oeuvres. And wines were donated by Bill Schlissel of Jackson Family Wines and Enrico Migliaccio from Touton Wines.
Botros is among the very few Staten Islanders invited over the years to present in James Beard's preserved kitchen.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Like a jigsaw puzzle, Violette's Cellar in New Dorp is coming together one little piece at a time -- literally -- as workers position 10,000 wine corks along the walls in between wooden slats of varying purple shades.
The aim for this new venture is a late fall opening, just after one Violette's owners, Peter Botros, makes a Food Network debut.
"I got my air date!" enthused Botros as construction continued around him. His episode of Guy's Grocery Games is slated for Sunday, Oct. 22.
But Violette's construction, a project with Phil Farinacci and the Zurlo family, mainly occupies his thoughts right now. And Botros is excited to share details of his second restaurant, an off-shoot of Stone House in Clove Lakes Park which has maxed out on its capacity for parties. Violette's will allow some over-flow. The subterranean space also serves as a creative outlet for Botros who is restless to create new dishes and food concepts.
With that, how does one explain Violette's, a tornado of food, drink, exclusivity and fun house-frivolity that unwinds through a few rooms?
Let's start with the restaurant's name -- a nod to co-owner Peter Botros' mother who passed of breast cancer in 2000. The moniker inspired an altruistic component to the restaurant which will see a $250,000 donation of its sales over seven years will go toward Staten Island University Hospital's new Comprehensive Cancer's Center.
Highlights thus far include a flower mural outside by Scott Lobaido, who additionally will present a "secret sculpture" at the Grand Opening. Under construction are a private wine room with rentable wine lockers, an intimate meeting room, a banquet room, main dining area lined with plush banquettes and a speakeasy dubbed "The Button Room" due to its button-bespeckled bartop. Amongst all this, imagine 50 antique mirrors throughout the spaces, pieces harvested from the Waldorf Astoria at a recent furniture auction.
"We think they will be a good luck charm and give us the longevity that the Waldorf enjoyed," said Peter.
And as the name suggests, the color violet reigns with multiple degrees of the hue.
Purple streaks through a glittery constellation on a black bar top in the main dining area while a lighter shade of grape marks the walls, mingles with grey on velvety chairs and turns up its brightness on tufted cushions around various rooms.
he expansive kitchen space will turn out brunch seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A "Small Plates" menu goes into effect after that daily regimine.
Evening hours run through 10 p.m. each night and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The Button Room, the resident speakeasy hidden behind a door covered by a sliding bookcase, will be accessible by invite only. The exclusive section will be open Thursday nights with piano or jazz entertainment and revelry planned until about 1 a.m.
here are two menus for the Violette's at the moment.
"Small Plates" features five sections: Charcuterie, Sea, Land, Vegetables and Cheeses.
Dishes bob and weave through various cuisines with ravioli, meatballs, empanadas, Spanakopita "cigars" and Oysters Casino. Since Violette's opens in fall, there is a decidedly autumnal theme from the Wild Mushroom Pot pie with roasted 'shrooms, leeks and sherry cream sauce to an Acorn Squash Agnolotti dish presented with chestnut cream, crushed hazelnuts and apple cider gastrique.
Cheese like brie might be flamed in Amaretto and served with Turkish figs. The burrata is promised to be house-made and Mac & Cheese is baked with smoked Gouda.
On the dinner-ish menu, there is a section called "Large Format." Oversized dishes include a 48-ounce ribeye, trio of sauces, wild mushrooms, black truffle-soy butter and spicy peanut Bechamel set at $89 and a four-pound Maine lobser presented with bacon-lobster ravioli, lobster roll sliders and lobster oreganata. There is also a massive platter of mashed potatoes on the roster.
"Because everyone loves mashed potatoes," offered Botros.
Violette's layout, with two set of stairs as means of egress, has been grandfathered and it is not wheelchair accessible. Opening day is planned for Wednesday, Nov. 1.
Botros additionally owns The Stone House at Clove Lakes Park -- 1150 Clove Rd., 718-442-3600 -- and a restaurant-within-a-restaurant concept in Stone House called The Chef's Loft, open on Saturday nights by reservation only.
Violette's Cellar is located at 2271 Hylan Blvd., 718-650-5050, ViolettesCellar.com.
For the first time in five years, Manhattan Digest has found itself all the way in Staten Island. Yes, it may come as a shock to some Manhattanites but there is good food outside of our abode, and sometimes it’s worth getting off our lazy butts to see what else is really out there. Take for instance Violette’s Cellar, chef Peter Botros's latest spot that will make you yearn for a fast ferry ride on the path to deliciousness.
Violette’s Cellar happens to be named after Peter’s mother, who tragically passed away many years ago, so there is an emotional element to his brand new restaurant which only opened a couple of months back.
The space itself goes beyond what you would normally expect out of a restaurant, as there are many components to it outside the beautiful dining space where several people were gathered that night. For instance, if you are looking to have a private event there, they have you covered in many different capacities.
The Tosca Room is great for anyone who is planning on a big wedding, sweet 16 or something along those celebratory type events as space itself reads perfect for it. If you are looking to get a little more intimate, their Wine Room only seats up to six people and is incredibly cozy and beautiful as well.
If you are looking to host a birthday party and want it to remain private outside of the general seating area, then their Crate Room is a great space as it’s colorful and fun. If you are in more of a speakeasy kind of mood, their Button Room is a great place inside to wind down after a long day’s work with a beer or glass of wine.
Chef Peter’s menu options are scrumptious, tasty, and unique as I tried things that I have never had before. For instance: Crab Cake Spring Roll. Sure, I’ve had spring rolls stuffed with other components before, but never a crab cake and it was simply superb with a side of their Saffron-mustard Aioli.
Another item that surprised me in a great way was their Artichoke Bread Pudding, which came with brioche for the bread portion. Hearty and yummy, this is something that will be my new favorite each time I come back as I never thought of putting artichoke and bread pudding together, but it works.
They also provide a great deal of land and sea options that are designed to share. Forgot to mention that earlier: a lot of these items are shareable with the people that have joined you at Violette’s Cellar. So order up, because everything is that darn good.
Whether it’s their Fried Shrimp in a garlic soy caramel, Violette’s Meatballs with whipped ricotta on top, or Fried Calamari with their lemon-basil aioli, rest assured that Peter and Violette’s Cellar has you covered in terms of taste, flavor, and execution. Don’t fear the commute, head to Staten Island and see what all the fuss is about.