The Vibe Whisperers: cb5 Launches Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse
Backlit Onyx table at Greenwich’s Gabriele’s
Oh, how I love cb5 Restaurant Group, a team of restaurant consultants, who, as far as I can tell, have the coolest jobs on earth. They drop into a locale—say, Miami, LA, or Greenwich, Connecticut—and suss out the particular needs of its dining community. Sure, they have data and market research and all of that crap, but essentially they look around and say, “Hey, this bitch needs a tequila bar!” And then they come up with an ingenious script: “A tequila bar? Let’s do a Robert Rodriguez movie, with projected film scenes out front to set the perfect mood. Inside, it’ll be all Mexi-Gothic with loads of prayer candles and crosses, and then we’ll offer customers a tequila-laced amuse bouche that we serve over dry ice so it pours smoke over the table. Finally, when they leave, diners will get temporary biker tattoos—because nasty, dirty ink just happens when you drink tequila.”
Sazerac at Gabriele’s hearth warmed bar
Of course (for those of you haven’t been paying attention), that restaurant was Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar in Byram, Connecticut, which cb5 owns and designed. Now, cb5 is re-conceiving a local institution, the former Luca’s of Greenwich in Greenwich, Connecticut—which has been taken over by Danny Gabriele, who, with his father, also owned Luca’s. According to Jody Pennette, cb5’s movie-obsessed president, if Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse were a film, “it wouldn’t be the Godfather; it’d be Goodfellas,” with a sprinkle of Bobby Vinton and lots of fun, verve, and excess. Look for swank, moneybags dishes like a $120 seafood tower for two and a $62 bone-in ribeye, all mixed in with two-pound lobsters, clams oreganata, and rigatoni alla “Sunday gravy.” You’ll find no stuffy, tux-clad service, and none of the weighty grandeur of Del Posto or the Godfather movies. This is a place to visit hungry and prepared for big, loud fun (ideally, without Joe Pesci asking, “Funny how?”).
I should probably note that cb5’s resident mixologist, Patrick Camoro, whips up killer, on-trend drinks like this delicious Sazerac (my personal crack). Also, suavely scruffy sommelier Matthew Hebdas—nicknamed “Shaggy” by one wit—was poached from power-broker haunt The Capital Grille to manage Gabriele’s cellar. Gabriele’s wine program offers delicious picks that mine the happy intersection of wads of money and love of the grape, but the killer component is managing partner Tony Capasso, formerly of Valbella, whose Rain Man trick is running trivia games for each table. Hedge-fund managers suck down steaks and Old Fashioneds, while competing against each other in genres like sports, movies, and music. Our table roared with laughter as we shouted answers—Capasso is a treasure, and worth a visit on his own.
While the large dining room is fine, we were big fans of Gabriele’s hearth-warmed bar, and absolutely loved the wonderful excess of the wine room’s backlit, onyx dining table. And here’s the coolest part of cb5—they get to leave! That’s right, as restaurant consultants, they do all the fun stuff, then hand over the keys to the owners. Cb5 already is looking to its next local project: China White in Purchase. Probably named for a refined sort of heroin, China White will offer the addictive street foods of China—dumplings and noodles—in a high-style environment. Folks, let’s just say I got my works and chopsticks all ready to go.
St. Patrick’s Day Events
Look, I’m part Irish and I don’t know why some guy who got the snakes off Ireland is a saint. Did he branch out to the Isle of Man and Britain? Because those islands don’t have snakes, either. Personally, I think snakes are not indigenous to that particular geographic region, but then the nuns smacked me around a lot because I was a mouthy little git. Here’s where to celebrate St. Pat’s.
Corned beef! And cabbage! All at the most Irish of Westchester’s Irish bars.
Corned beef! And cabbage! Plus some very welcome shepherd’s pie and $5 pints of Sly Fox O’Reilly Stout.
The Lazy Boy Saloon
The great thing here is that they’re not forcing you to drink that light-blocking Guinness. Look for $4 Narragansett beer all through Happy Hour, and some very delicious, non-corned-beef-and-cabbage chicken wings.
Burke’s Restaurant and Bar
True, there is corned beef and cabbage, but they claim it’s the best in Yonkers. Dollar draughts from 11:30 am until 3pm. You’ll also find Eileen Fogarty and her full Irish band playing until 7pm, then Rattlin Hum, Irish rockers, from 8 pm until you stagger out and vomit in the gutter. Don’t say we didn’t warn you: the site shows a midget in a leprechaun outfit.
Hitting a Plateau: the Seafood Tower at Gabriele’s
Okay, you pretty much had me at deep-bellied oysters, king crab, fat ol’ lobster tails, and freakishly large—like Japanese horror-flick large—shrimp. But when the thing arrives in a two-tiered tower that burbles dry ice smoke onto a backlit onyx table, I just want to get on my knees and genuflect toward the Neptune. And while so many of these platters come with wan, Red-Lobster-style cocktail sauce, Gabriele’s offers a chili-spiked topper that strikes best compromise between a drop of Tabasco or the drop of mignonette. Mmm…..wait, were we supposed to share?
Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Starts Today!
Check out the HV Restaurant Week site for info on all the local participating restaurants who are offering fab dinners for $28, and lunches for $20.