Violette’s Cellar: Subterranean speakeasy, restaurant opening soon
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Embattled Troy restaurant closed several months ago. And in its place rises a new, New Dorp restaurant — Violette’s Cellar, located in the subterranean space once home to long-running La Botte restaurant and its successor, House of Crabs.
Partners in this venture are threefold with Peter Botros, tender of the Parks Department food contract at Stone House at Clove Lakes Park and its restaurant-within-a-restaurant, Chef’s Loft. Marc Zurlo joins him along with Philip Farinacci, part-owner of former restaurants Tosca of Grasmere and Aqua Night Club, which eventually became Grotto Steakhouse in Dongan Hills.
The maze of rooms at new-and-coming Violette’s has been picked fairly clean as the prior restaurateur’s furniture, kitchen equipment, small-wares and bar were stripped and sold for auction. Peter, Phil and Marc gave a tour of the space at 2271 Hylan Boulevard that’s been vacant for about three months.
Step down stairs and to the left Phil points to an alcove that will be an intimate dining spot in a wine room for up to four guests.
“It’s going to be fully glassed-in to show the wine storage,” explains Peter.
Go straight past the wine room, behind a heavy door left over from LaBotte and find the dining room proper primed for 75 seats. The bar in this area will be an L-shape and have room for 12. Its granite top will be purple and have “violet veins,” says Phil. To the opposite end of the room where three arches have form-fitted mirrors, Peter says there will be salt blocks stacked into the archways all back-lit in purple.
Back on that restaurant tour: At the wine room, hang a right to a private party room or a left through a corridor with gothic arches and pass the bathrooms awaiting an overhaul. Well past the loo, in a room formerly an office, Violette’s makes way for a “private dinner room for 15,” says Phil. And, continue past that room to see a “speakeasy” intended for up to 50 guests.
Additional seating comes with Violette’s Terrace, an outdoor, concrete patio between the sidewalk and parking lot overlooking Hylan Boulevard.
“So we’re going to do a seven-day a week brunch,” explains Peter, the food brains, so-to-speak, behind Violette’s operation. “And then we’re going to flip it to a small plate-themed dinner where a majority of the menu is going to be small plates meant for sharing.”
Items on the menu will be French toast-bread pudding with maple sausage and Bourbon vanilla marscarpone plus “Green Eggs ‘n’ Ham” which is a cilantro-egg quiche paired with mole-sauced pulled pork and a cilantro-lime “crema.” A “Phillie” Cheesesteak ‘n’ Eggs will be a rib eye plated with truffled goat cheese, a fried egg and caramelized onions.
To the small plate tenor, Peter says, “We’ll have lobster roll sliders and that’ll be chilled lobster salad with shallot-tarragon whipped cream and celery dust.”
“It’s celery seeds,” he says.
“Then we’re going to have Duck Spring Rolls — braised Long Island duck, dark chocolate and mandarin orange glaze,” says Peter.
Cocktails specials will be spins on classics like Manhattans, Sidecars and Martinis.
“We are going to have a lot of select wines,” says Peter. “The sommelier’s name is Roberto Hernandez. He works for me at Stone House and now he’s going to craft the list here. Right now he does the pairings in the Chef’s Loft.”
Phil predicts that Violette’s Cellar will open in mid-September.
“The name Violette is Peter’s mother,” Phil says. “So the restaurnt’s name is memory of her.”
Marc’s father, Ralph, is a two-year cancer survivor and Phil’s mother Sally is a 35-year survivor of cancer. Peter is cancer-free but was diagnosed with cancer six years ago when he was 26.
A portion of the restaurant’s proceeds will go toward cancer research.