Zagat: Chazz Palminteri Combines Love for Sicilian Heritage and Classic Italian Food

Zagat editor Billy Lyons checks out a Midtown East eatery whose owner you may have seen before, Bronx-born actor and director Chazz Palminteri. He filed the following report for NY1.

Actor Chazz Palminteri is known for starring in “A Bronx Tale” and “The Usual Suspects,” but a love for his Sicilian heritage and classic Italian restaurants inspired him to add another credit to his storied career.

"I was always infatuated with the old restaurants of the past,” says Palminteri, partner at Chazz Palminteri Ristorante Italiano. “Those great places where the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra, and a lot of celebrities would go, and I said ‘Wow, if we could kind of recreate that.’"

Homemade pastas, grilled octopus and lobster served over fettucine are a few dishes awaiting diners.

"We have some of the staple food like growing up the chicken parmigiana, the veal parmigiana," Palminteri says.

He holds a special place in his heart for martinis, which are made using the actor’s own brand of Sicilian vodka, Bivi.

"B-I-V-I, which means drink in Sicilian dialect, is the first Sicilian vodka in the world,” Palminteri says. “This is the Frank Sinatra martini. I got to know Frank Sinatra really well and I was at his house. So he was drinking a martini and then he took out a toothpick and said, 'Chazz, want to share my olive?' I said 'What?' He said, 'Come on, share my olive.' And he never did that to me. He said 'Are you ready?' and I said 'I'm ready.' and I popped the olive in my mouth and he took his olive, and then he hugged me and said 'I love you, you're a really good kid' he called me. And he said, 'You're invited to my home anytime.' That was the sign of a great friendship, that the Rat Pack would drink martinis and then share their olives with each other, and I thought what a great thing to honor Frank Sinatra and have like a Frank Sinatra martini."

Whether you’re sharing olives or osso buco, the Midtown East eatery is a place where celebrities and families can dine side by side for a taste of New York nostalgia.

You get so much food, you have to share it. It's not just about sharing the martini and the olives.

“When you have all this food like here, yes, you have to share,” Palminteri says.

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