A RESTAURANT DEBUTS IN NEW DORP, COMPLETE WITH A GOURMET MENU AND RESERVATION ONLY WINE BAR
BY JESSICA JONES-GORMAN PHOTO BY DAVE GIORDANO
Over the past three years, Chef Peter Botros has earned a reputation on the Island restaurant scene for doing things differently. After taking over the decades old Lake Club, renaming it The Stone House at Clove Lakes Park, and reinventing its outdated space, the mortgage banker turned restaurateur wowed foodies with e Chef ’s Loft a restaurant within a restaurant that regularly sells out its Saturday night seating, serving monthly gourmet tasting menus sprinkled with Wagyu beef and crystallized cilantro salads. Now, the innovative cook is making an impact on borough diners once again with the opening of Violette’s Cellar.
“We define it as a social dining experience,” Botros said, offering details of the six week old eatery. “Our menu features contemporary American small plates that the entire table should experience as a group. It’s not exactly family style, but the way it’s designed encourages guests to order together and get everyone at the table talking about the food.”
Located on Hylan Boulevard in New Dorp in a quaint basement site that used to house La Botte and then Troy, Violette’s Cellar is marked by a chic underground design.
“The décor is very eclectic, with an emphasis on repurposed materials,” Botros said, describing the interior overhaul which took three months to complete. “We used a lot of reclaimed wood and recycled wine corks; we also took old wooden wine boxes, broke them down, and used them as panels on the wall.
Lighting is via Edison bulbs, and the flooring is crafted out of decorative concrete that has been cut, polished, and stained. A dedicated reservation only wine room seats six and features its own bottle paired dinner menu, while a speakeasy called the Button Room is hidden behind a book shelf.
“There’s a keypad on the door and a password is required for entrance,” Botros said with a smile. “We went with an old school vibe in there, lining the walls with mirrors from the Waldorf Astoria and designing a bar that’s completely made out of buttons. That room has a separate cocktail list, each beverage a twist on a classic speakeasy recipe, just modernized.”
Intricate craft cocktails flow in the main restaurant as well, and its wine list is overseen by a full time sommelier, but it’s the cuisine, crafted by Botros himself, that is the unquestionable star.
“Everything is intricate and innovative, and if we do something traditional, it always has a twist,” explained the chef, listing Artichoke Bread Pudding, Charred Spanish Octopus, Seared Ahi Tuna and Chicken Pot Pie Epanadas as guest favorites. “Our Tomahawk Rib Eye is dry aged and served with three different sauces: wild mushroom, black truffle soy butter, and spicy peanut béchamel, and our fried calamari is served with pine nuts, lemon basil aioli, and fried basil.”
And while the majority of the menu consists of small plates, with a suggested ordering ratio of two to four small plates per person, there are also large dishes made for sharing.
“We do a great salmon, and there’s a spicy marinara sauce served over cavatappi pasta and topped with our signature meatballs,” Botros said. “They’re all great dishes for the entire table to share.”
There are also multiple event and party spaces within Violette’s Cellar, one of which can accommodate 160 guests.
“We can also host intimate dinner parties for 15,” Botros said. “And will also have an outdoor dining space ready for this spring.”
The majority of the restaurant’s guests during its first two months of business, the chef explained, have been groups who desire to sit and socialize.
“Dinner here consists of several different experiences,” he said. “People start with cocktails at the bar, then eat in the main dining room and often retreat to our button room for an after dinner drink,” adding that he has sold out every weekend since the grand opening.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Botros said. “I knew this concept would be successful, but I never thought success would come so quickly.” And, because he and his partners have all been affected by cancer in some way, the restaurant also features a vigorous charity component.
“I am a cancer survivor and my two partners both have parents who have survived cancer,” Botros said. “My mother, Violette, passed from it when I was just 14. Truth is, the disease is far too prevalent on Staten Island.
”So, Botros has pledged a quarter of a million dollars to Staten Island University Hospital’s comprehensive cancer center, which is currently in development.
“A portion of our profits will be donated to SIUH over the next seven years,” he concluded. “Everyone in the borough is affected by cancer, so this is our way of giving back to our hometown.
2271 Hylan Boulevard / 718.650.5050