Valentino’s to open next week

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The long-awaited Valentino’s on the Green is scheduled to finally open its doors Wednesday for a grand opening dinner and will begin serving lunch later in the month, one of the Bayside banquet hall and restaurant’s owners said.

Valentino’s, which is at 201-10 Cross Island Pkwy. in Bayside, is taking reservations for its debut following $3 million in renovations that included a restructuring of the building. The banquet hall and restaurant’s site formerly housed Caffé on the Green and was once the home of silent film star Rudolph Valentino.

The new eatery is operated by Giorgio Kolaj, executive chef James Canora and chef partner Don Pintabona in a partnership known as Friendship Restaurant Group, which also owns restaurants in the five boroughs and White Plains, N.Y.

“There’s tremendous excitement,” Kolaj said. “We’ve been getting a ton of phone calls from the local community. People want to book events or come here for dinner. We’re very close to opening.”

Valentino’s has hired 85 people, most of whom are from Queens, to work as floor managers, bartenders, back waiters, sous chefs, line cooks and a variety of other positions. The staff is being trained this week.

The site has also brought in celebrated sommelier Don Castaldo and its wine list will include more than 200 bottles, most of which are Italian.

Its menu and prices will be similar to Caffé on the Green’s, featuring a combination of classic Italian dishes and recipes concocted by its two chefs. An average meal will cost between $50 to $65 per person, Pintabona said.

The catering hall, which will have 350 parking spots and free valet service, will begin serving lunch Sept. 20. It will have an on-site butcher and pastry chef, who is from Whitestone.

Valentino’s is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the city Parks Department for Tuesday that will include elected officials from northeast Queens.

The building features a restaurant on the ground floor which has three rooms with different themes that can hold 170 people, an outdoor area that will seat another 100 people and an upstairs banquet hall that can fit up to 200 people.

It has an exterior elevator that can provide handicap accessibility. The first floor houses the Valentino Room with red velvet drapes, smoked mirrors and mahogany decor with the addition of energy-efficient air conditioners and ventilation.

Next door is the Wine Room and the third room on the ground floor is the Fiorella Room, decorated with candelabras as well as various shades of yellow, gold, tan and brown.

The building has a 5,000-square-foot deck with a green design and its second-floor banquet hall provides space for two events at a time.

The Blue Diamond Group is the general contractor for the site.

“The landscapers have done a tremendous job here,” Kolaj said. “We’ve put in full fencing with ivy where there was formerly wood lattice. It looks really beautiful. And we’ve acquired a set of solid mahogany doors from the period in which Valentino lived. The experience will be authentic for that time period.”

Caffé on the Green closed Jan. 1, 2009, after the Parks Department decided not to renew the contract of concessionaire Joseph Franco. The city later picked Friendship as the new concessionaire.

To reserve seats at the restaurant, call 718-352-2300 or visit

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 6:01 pm, October 10, 2011
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