Whitestone’s Green genius

Landscape maestro Salvatore Bacarella, one of the key players in restaurateur Giorgio Kolaj’s vision for the much-anticipated Valentino’s in Bayside, has nothing to do with food, but a lot to do with “atmosphere.”

Certified and accredited in “Green” landscaping, Sal, as he is best known, is taking a special interest in beautifying the grounds around the landmark building that has been home to silent film superstar Rudolph Valentino and former Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

“Sal is a genius – wait till you see what he’s doing for us,” raved Valentino’s senior partner Giorgio Kolaj, during a walk-through of the nearly-completed restaurant and catering hall overlooking Little Bay and the Clearview Golf Course.

Red Norway Maple trees line the sidewalk and the “green wall” around the parking lot that will improve the view for Kolaj’s new neighbors. Atlas Cedar and flowering plants grace the entrance, set in beds amidst dramatic stones.

The leaves of various crimson Maple varieties, in addition to having a hint of that color all summer, blaze red late into the fall – and they are known for keeping their leaves well into winter.

Extensive improvements of walkways to the restaurant and the 5,000 square foot raised patio overlooking a pond and woods meant that Bacarella had a blank canvass to keep colorful all year long.

Plants selected for their foliage, different flowering season and interesting shapes grace the margins of the paths and walls. They are contrasted by black river rocks, cedar mulch beds and the white stucco and green awnings of the restaurant itself.

“What Sal has planned around the patio and gazebo is amazing. He’s making Valentino’s more beautiful than even I imagined,” Kolaj raved.

“I just do the green stuff,” Bacarella responded modestly.