Valentino’s – the long-awaited successor to Caffé on the Green on the grounds of the Clearview Golf Course – is moving closer to reality,
With interior improvements nearly completed and the new elevator shaft under construction, local residents have few clues that a long-time favorite venue is about to be reborn. “The changes to the outside are so subtle as to go unnoticed,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski of the construction work.
The grounds are another story. Renderings show extensive tree plantings in a “green wall” surrounding the venue and on islands within the parking lots, more plantings on the grounds and more handicap-friendly pathways. The existing gazebo will be relocated and a new, larger one will replace it.
“We’re spending hundreds of thousands on landscaping alone,” said restaurateur Georgio Kolaj, who has promised that Valentino’s will surpass memories of its beloved predecessor.
For one thing, extensive improvements to the second floor mean easier access and mobility for the handicapped; much more room for brides and their attendants to prepare and a more unified space for 200 to 220 people.
For diners beneath, structural steel and sound dampening technology mean that even the merriest of celebrations won’t spoil the intimacy of the Valentino Room, with the preserved bar, woody tones and piano, or the revamped main dining room, named after the manse’s other famous resident, Fiorello LaGuardia.
Between these two elegant rooms, diners and parties will be able to choose from up to a thousand bottles from the wine wall that sets off the tasting room, featuring bench seating for parties and meetings. “It’s going to be a unique dining experience,” Kolaj said. “We want to bring the romance back.”
The mark of the family business behind Valentino’s is that “we’re religious about quality,” Kolaj said. The case can be made that Kolaj is sparing no expense; although the Parks Department’s bid request called for spending approximately $850,000 to bring the place up to snuff, the price tag on Valentino’s four times that amount.
We want the community to be happy with the result. If Valentino came back – he’d be proud.”