By W. A. Muller
Alex Kalas and Thomas Billante, owners of a profusion of restaurants in Miami as well as Chicago, have transformed the space that was once home to Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant & Bar (40 Central Park South) and opened the new Villagio On the Park, a refined Italian restaurant that allows al fresco dining with views of Central Park. According to Alex, both he and Thomas decided to open a restaurant in New York City because, “the many New Yorkers who have been to our restaurants in Miami have had wonderful dining experiences. Now they can be on their home turf and enjoy our authentic, fresh taste of Italy in one of New York City’s finest neighborhoods.”
The stunning interior was Designed by Jeffrey Beers International, who also created the unique looks of New York restaurants including db Moderne, Villard Michel Richard and Towne, Villagio On the Park boasts a modern aesthetic built on marble and wood. Walls are lined with rustic pizza paddles, enhancing your experience of an authentic slice of Italy, while hundreds of illuminated crystals hang from the ceiling and reflect off one another to cast an ubiquitous glow.
Under the helm of Executive Chef Paul Johnston, Villagio On the Park makes its own pastas and imports many of the essential ingredients from overseas, such as Portuguese octopus and calamari from Europe. Signature dishes include a gondoletta stuffed with spinach and ricotta in a truffle mushroom cream sauce, and zucchini flowers, which are harvested in Palm Beach, filled with smoked mozzarella and prosciutto. Pizzas are baked in the wood-burning oven, and gluten-free options are on the menu. All desserts, such as apple pie al la mode, tiramisu, panna cotta, chocolate soufflé and crème brulee are created on the premises.
If you have not visited Central Park lately, it is perfect weather to get out there and revisit. Cap the opportunity for a stroll with a meal at Villagio. The experience is certain to provide you with the excuse to stroll the park again soon. •
Villagio on the Park
40 Central Park South