Toasted with the Children 2014

Tonight was a good night. Spent some good money on charity for the Children of Bellevue, a non-profit organization that is devoted to “leveling the playing field for New York City’s vulnerable youths” as they say but I see it as an opportunity to just spend some time (and money) with children that just don’t have the parental or monetary support in the NYC community.

Tonight was the Toast to the Children 2014 event at the Riverpark Restaurant, all the way out on the FDR, but where no normal cab knows how to get to….

It was a smaller venue than the previous location I’ve been to, which was Mandarin Oriental NYC hotel. Riverpark is more intimate but this year had definitely less people in attendance; and I’ve noticed a much “cheaper” clientele…

Venue was modern but a sort of functional labyrinth for the event, however, no one seamed to mind. The wine and food were great as usual (thank you Tom Colicchio and Staff for putting this together!). My favorites were Jonathan Waxman’s contribution of grilled shrimp with beans and grains (Barbuto), the octopus from Frankies Spuntino, the Rappahannock River Oysters, Peasant’s take on razor clams, and Colicchio & Sons (or maybe it was Craft’s) tapioca pudding… Honorable mention to Fairway market for their cheese, charcuterie, oils and spreads table which of all the tables besides Pearl Oyster Bar’s lobster roll table, had the lines.

Wine was on point this year (I wish I had a list as the french table wines were excellent) and I’m happy they had a mix of hard liquor (I took on the bourbon, skipped the vodka and gin) and beers for the event.

I was a little disappointed in the turn out for the silent auction… this year they did a digital display “silent auction” which everyone could log into via their smart phones and bid, however, response was lack luster. My recommendation of the developers, is that you need to post ALL the bidders (as if you’re looking at a clip board of who’s voted) and you can gauge if 1 person has bid or 30, but at least it gives a bit of competitive nature to the process…

I won tickets to The Killer play that I had never known about until today… I hope its good, however, even if it’s not, happy my donation goes to the Kids.

I say that the response was lack luster this year because there wasn’t the crowds I had been used to, there wasn’t demand at the live auction (Tom had to bid on his own item to get the price up! fuck you guys!), and man of the people I met had made it through donated tickets and thus those that paid didn’t show or were given access.

I hope the event continues for many years of success and look forward to several more. If you are in NY (or even if you’re not) please spend some time looking into supporting this very beneficial charity:

Rocco Ristorante

Italian food and culture is rooted everywhere in New York. Rocco Ristorante is one such traditional Italian joint, operating in the Greenwich Village since 1922 that not only has years of history still worn on their unchanged walls but was also a starter kitchen for the Mario Batali. An establishment of this age and character usually caters to die-hard regulars, neighborhood locals and a few well-researched tourists as a walk by doesn’t sell the uninitiated on the traditional style. Fortunately the family style decor and friendly service are still as much a priority as the quality southern Italian food typical 90 years ago today.

Legend has it Anthony “Tony Bender” Strollo operator of several illegal gambling parlors and nightclubs in Greenwich, ordered a hit here back in 1952. While dining in old restaurants such as this in New York, you can’t help wonder what illicit activities and patrons frequented their front and backrooms. Dean Martin and the Rat Pack crew may have graced Rocco’s doors, taken a card game in their backroom or indulged in a traditional meal at the very table you’re eating your Penne Arrabiata and Veal Piccata.

“Nel blu dipinto di blu” (“In the Blue Painted Blue”), popularly known as “Volare” (Italian for the infinitive form of the verb “to fly”) was originally sung by Domenico Modugno, and is the only non-English language song that has reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in America. Modugno became the first Grammy winner for the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1958 for this recording. Here’s Dean Martin’s version, probably sung in one of Tony’s clubs in the Village.

Dean Martin – Volare (Nel blu dipinto di blu)

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Get Noticed

With the Superbowl approaching, I hear more discussion around New York about the advertising than the actual game this Sunday. With the Jets out and both teams equally distant from the city, the Advertising is the only game people will be attentive too. So with that I’d highlight some cool outdoor ads from