The Academy Award-nominated actor Chazz Palminteri, famous for his roles in A Bronx Tale and Bullets Over Broadway, has a new act—and it’s very appetizing. Westchester county resident Palminteri has partnered with the Sinanaj brothers, of Empire Steak House fame, on a new Italian restaurant in Midtown, Chazz Palminteri Ristorante Italiano.
“I was a patron of the Empire Steak House,” Palminteri explains. “I thought it was the best steak in the city and I always noticed how perfectly they ran their restaurant. They are restaurateurs who really care about the customer and will do anything to make eating at their restaurant an incredible experience.”
Palminteri thought it would be great to have his own restaurant and was looking to create an old-school place where the customer was the top priority, the kind of place his old pal Frank Sinatra might have hung his hat. “We were friends and his stories made me envious to be born in that era,” he says. What were some of Frank’s words of wisdom? “Frank loved the idea of a classy restaurant but it should feel like a joint. A place where people could hang and have a good time. He did not like places to feel too stuffy,” he explains.
If he saw the new place, Frank would certainly approve. The cozy restaurant, which seats 140 guests, is decorated in a rich red and gold palette with touches of leather details and features custom murals and mirrored accents.
Still, being able to compete in the New York City restaurant scene is always a challenge. “There are many wonderful restaurants in New York,” he says. “Always being consistent is the way to shine, from the hostess who meets you when you walk in, to your waiter, great food and cocktails, good service and maybe spotting a celebrity or two. It all has to be a great experience.”
Aside from his signature vodka martinis (made with his own 100 percent Sicilian BiVi vodka, naturally), there are lots of crowd-pleasing entrees on offer, including “A Bronx Tail” (lobster tail with clams, mussels and shrimp over chopped leeks and peppers, served in a white wine saffron sauce), Salmone Selvatico “Palminteri” (grilled wild Salmon, with plum-chili sauce), seafood linguini nero and the rib eye steak.
When he’s not playing host at his eponymous restaurant, you can also find him at his old standbys: Empire Steak House and Roberto’s in the Bronx.
890 Second Avenue; chazzpalminterinyc.com