Valentino’s on the Green set to open Sept. 1

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Valentino’s on the Green is taking reservations as the long-awaited Bayside banquet hall and restaurant plans to open its doors on the Cross Island Parkway late this summer.

Giorgio Kolaj, one of the restaurant’s three owners, said the former site of Caffé on the Green is in the process of being completely renovated and that Valentino’s will take its place by the end of the summer.

“We’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that everything is authentic and top of the line,” he said. “We wanted to build a place where the community wants to be.”

It is currently taking reservations for Sept. 1 and beyond.

Valentino’s, at 201-10 Cross Island Pkwy. in Bayside, is owned by Kolaj; James Canora, the executive chef; and Don Pintabona, a chef partner. The partnership is known as Friendship Restaurant Group, which also owns eateries in the five boroughs and White Plains, N.Y.

Kolaj said the project was originally estimated at $860,000. But structural problems with the building, which was once the home of silent film star Rudolph Valentino, forced him to shell out nearly $3 million in renovations.

The building will now include a restaurant on the ground floor that has three rooms with different themes that can hold 170 people, an outdoor area that can seat another 100 people and a second-floor banquet hall for up to 200 people.

Valentino’s will also have an exterior elevator that will provide handicap accessibility. The site will employ 70 to 80 people in permanent jobs, but also hire freelance workers for banquets.

Kolaj said he is still hiring at the restaurant.

The site’s first floor will house the Valentino Room, which will feature red velvet drapes, smoked mirrors, mahogany decor, French doors and energy-efficient air conditioners and ventilation.

“It’s very 1920s, very Valentino,” Kolaj said. “It’s a sensual room.”

Next door will be the Wine Room, which will include a wall with as many as 1,000 bottles, of which 60 percent will be from Italy, 20 percent from California and other U.S. wine regions and 20 percent from other parts of the world, such as Spain or Argentina, Pintabona said.

The third room on the ground floor will be the Fiorello Room, which will be decorated with candelabras as well as various shades of yellow, gold, tan and brown.

“This will be the formal dining room, where you’d bring your wife or your mother on Mother’s Day,” Kolaj said.

All three of the building’s first-floor rooms will feature a la carte dining.

Valentino’s will also have a 5,000-square-foot deck with a green design that will fit in with trees, shrubs, a pond and a golf course adjacent to the property. A bocce ball court made of crumpled oyster shells will eventually be constructed near the deck.

The second floor will hold a banquet hall that can provide space for two events at a time. It will have a granite dance floor and chandeliers.

Kolaj said he has also expanded Caffé’s 64-square-foot bridal suite for wedding parties into an 800-square-foot suite on the building’s previously underused third floor.

Its menu and prices will be similar to Caffé on the Green, featuring a combination of classic Italian dishes and recipes created by its two chefs. An average meal will cost between $50 to $65 per person, Pintabona said. Valentino’s will also have an on-site butcher and pastry chef.

The eatery’s lot will have 350 parking spots and free valet service.

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

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

Updated 5:55 pm, October 10, 2011
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