EXECUTIVE CHEF MASSIMILIANO (MAX) CONVERTINI
Driven by the powerful entrepreneurial flair and hospitality expertise of Darren Berman, Roberto Manfe and Executive Chef Massimiliano (Max) Convertini—who brings his unique culinary passion and creativity to their unique business partnership--Zio Ristorante has, since its opening in mid-2011, become one of the most dynamic and popular “go to” dining hotspots in NYC. Nestled into the heart of the Flatiron District on 19th Street—and just steps away from the Flatiron Building, Madison Square Park and Union Square—Zio excites adventurous patrons from all over the city with its lively atmosphere, cozy, inviting ambient glow and a delightfully diverse menu that changes from season to season.
Its ever-evolving selection of antipasti, dall orto, pizza alla griglia, Panini, primi, le carni and pesci includes the freshest seasonal ingredients and draws inspiration from the flavors of Italy and the Mediterranean, the home region of Chef Max, who grew up in Ostuni, a city of 32,000 located eight kilometers from the coast of the Adriatic Sea in the province of Brindisi (the Puglia region) on the heel of the “boot” of Italy. Since coming to live and work in New York, Chef Max has been acclaimed by food critics and patrons (who are always eager to post internet reviews) alike as the hottest, most talented and inventive chef on the competitive Manhattan restaurant scene.
The lunch menu includes paninis and grilled pizza specialties (with dough cooked just right on top of a grill), and everything from a traditional Caprese and Crudo Panini topped with prosciutto, stracchino cheese and arugula to homemade pappardelle with lamb ragu and a selection of tantalizing meat and fish entrees. Some of his signature dishes have included the Riso al Salto, a crunchy saffron risotto cake, bone marrow, and gremolata sauce, to the Polipo e Panelle, a grilled octopus, with chickpea cake and chicory. The majority of Zio’s pastas are freshly made and organic, and Chef Max enjoys making daily specials of antipasti, homemade raviolis or risotto or pasta along with his fish and meat specials. He believes that once patrons become regulars they can continue to enjoy the ongoing creativity in his selections.
In addition to the 90 seat main dining room and a bar area that can seat 50 plus, Zio offers private dining for parties of up to 45 in the Vineyard Room—perfect for business luncheons and birthday, anniversary or wedding celebrations. Chef Max creates a menu specially tailored to the tastes of the group. Zio also offers the very personal touch of “Tavolo di Max,” where Chef Max joins a table ranging from two people to ten and builds a personal tasting menu based on his trademark freshest local ingredients. He will create seven or eight courses of new dishes not on the regular menu based on the diners’ personal preferences.
With a charming Italian accent that invites people into the magical culinary mysteries of his homeland from the moment he says “Buon giorno,” Chef Max brings a fascinating personal history to every dish he imagines and brings to life at Zio. Known as the “White City,” Ostuni is a town perched in the hills, with a breathtaking view over the olive groves towards the Adriatic Coast—and just across the sea from Greece. Growing up helping out doing various behind the scenes tasks in the restaurant owned by his family, he quickly learned the value of thinking local when it came to creating a menu. “Our region was known for a unique mix of wildlife, from wild rabbits and roosters to lamb, and many of the dishes were products from the mountain,” he says. “Being near both mountains and the sea, Puglia is well known for its roasted lamb and fish, even octopus, and our meals favored a lot of peppers and tomatoes.”
Focusing naturally on his future career, Chef Max attended a culinary institute in his town for three years and later traveled throughout Italy to learn about its different sub cultures, their culinary distinctions, different techniques and special recipes. Moving to the U.S. in the late 90s, he attained his first position as Chef of Cuisine at Il Posto in Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. After a year, he followed his dream to New York to become a chef for several years at one of the locations of the world renowned chain Cipriani, whose locations include Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Venice, Italy. Chef Max was later chef at Bottega Del Vino in midtown Manhattan (known for their Veronese cuisine). He first collaborated with Darren Berman and Roberto Manfe when they worked together at San Rocco, also in the Flatiron District, several years before they upped their collective business and culinary games and opened Zio.
“Growing up in an Italian family that owned a restaurant, I really appreciate the whole family atmosphere we have created here, which begins with me, Darren and Roberto and extends to our wonderful customers,” says Chef Max. “It is always so delightful to watch them enjoy my creations and hear what they love best. The three of us did the original menu together so everything is something I created. I am asked what my favorite dishes are all the time and that is hard to answer. But I would guess the signature Riso al Salto con L’osso (crunchy saffron risotto cake, bone marrow and gremolata sauce) because everyone goes crazy about it. Then there’s the pasta, such as the pappardelle and the lobster raviolis. Ask me in three months, after the next change of seasons, and my response might be completely different.”
For Immediate Release
CELEBRATED BY L.A. WEEKLY AS THE CITY’S
“BEST URBAN WINE TASTING ROOM,” 3TWENTY WINE LOUNGE
PERSONALIZES AND DEMYSTIFIES THE EXPERIENCE VIA
HANDS ON CUSTOMER SERVICE, A MIX OF POPULAR
AND BOUTIQUE WINES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
AND SAMPLING FROM TWO CIRCULAR
Since Opening The Wine Tasting Restaurant In Mid-2011,
Owner and GM Edgar Poureshagh--A WSET Certified Sommolier—
Has Made An Extended Family Out Of Thousands of Patrons,
Educating and Sharing His Passion While Receiving Coverage
On Bravo, VH1, Style Network, Yahoo!, Mevio And Examiner.com
Since turning his lifelong passion for wine and insatiable quest to share it with the world into the supremely hip 3Twenty Wine Lounge (www.320southwine.com) in June 2011, Edgar Poureshagh has become as popular an attraction at his Mid-City Los Angeles hotspot as the ever-evolving blend of popular and rare, small production wines he offers—and the two large circular Enomatic systems from Italy that let everyone sample 1.75 ounce tastings (50 ml) before committing to a glass or bottle.
The sheer force of the WSET Certified Sommolier’s infectious personality and vast wine knowledge, combined with 3Twenty’s growing reputation as the city’s premiere wine tasting restaurant, has brought some major pop culture cache via appearances on Bravo’s “Flipping Out,” VH1’s “Basketball Wives” and The Style Network’s “Tia & Tamera,” and web video spots on both Yahoo! and Mevio’s “Corkscrew Interviews.”
In naming 3Twenty Wine Lounge as the “Best Urban Wine Tasting Room,” tastemaking publication L.A. Weekly calls Poureshagh’s ambient rich haven on S. La Brea “the perfect place to go when the craving hits and the gas tank is almost empty.” And amidst a sea of rave reviews by the most important critics of all—the satisfied, eager to return patrons--the ever-popular consumer ratings website Yelp! named it the city’s Best Wine Bar/Small Plates venue.
Poureshagh, who brings to his entrepreneurial venture years of experience working for wine distributors and as a personal sommelier and consultant for small high end restaurants and individual clients, is also an occasional guest wine and food columnist for the Park La Brea News/Beverly Press. He would no doubt contribute more often if he wasn’t occupied 100 hours a week running and building the business and working on his Doctorate at Pepperdine University in Organizational Leadership.
Many of the glowing write-ups and customer interest are being stoked by the exciting amount of wine and food offerings, along with some key foundational stats. 3Twenty Wine Lounge has from 250-300 wines at any given time, with 40 of them available in the Enomatic machines (16 in each circular machine, eight in the refrigerated wall machine). At any given time, they pour from another 12 bottles behind the bar – usually sparkling and desert wines – for a total of 52 wines available by the glass at any given time. They also carry a large selection of craft and imported fine beers. The wine program is designed this way to ensure a continual shift in the varietals that are available to sample from the machines – which in turn allows returning patrons to try new and exciting wines each visit.
What has been less emphasized to this point--but which is a driving force behind everything from 3Twenty Lounge’s hands on customer service to its wine selection--is the fact that it is family owned and run business. Poureshagh and his wife Beneta are the ones who came up with the concept—and his father Ninous came on board as a partner in the project. Poureshagh’s mothe and sister play smaller roles in the business. On the two days Poureshagh takes off for his studies and family time, Ninous is there, supervising the operations. Ninous, who taught his son the art of building a successful business by running his own accounting firm for years, handles the financial aspects of the lounge.
“We developed the business more on what we didn’t want it to be than what we wanted it to be,” says Poureshagh. “We didn’t want to open a traditional cheesy wine bar, where the owners buy bottles for six or seven dollars and resell them to consumers for 35 dollars a bottle. It bothered me that people spent so much money and didn’t get proper value. I also realized that the reason people go to wine bars as opposed to regular bars is to learn more about wines – and one of my goals is to personally educate them, to demystify the process of choosing and experiencing wines. That’s one of the things I never got to do when I worked for distributors and as a consultant. When we brought in the Enomatic machines and refrigerated wall unit, which keep wines for an extended period without spoiling, they inspired our founding mission to personalize wine pairing and offer premium wines while serving regionally sourced foods in an environmentally conscious way.
“The machines allow us to pour rare and exotic and hard to find wines,” he adds, “the kind you read about in popular wine magazines, and give our customers the opportunity to try them without spending money on a whole bottle. We give out open tab cards and then at the end of your ‘excursion,’ take the card back and charge the total. Because we’re a family owned establishment, it made sense to feature primarily wines from family owned wineries. That’s what guides my purchasing process. When I was a consultant, I specialized in rare boutique wines, and I bring some of those here. But I also deal with larger, more renowned family owned wineries, such as the Napa Valley based Cakebread, Dominus and Shafer wineries.”
Another of Poureshagh’s trademarks is his attention to “typicity”—identifying the most optimum wines produced in a certain region and year under the conditions that defined that time. “I’ve become good at choosing examples of what wines should taste like based on where they come from…for instance, what was the best thing that came out of a specific village in Burgundy in 2008, a really cold year. I’m specific about this, as I am specific when I ask new patrons questions about their food preferences to determine their wine palates, simply because I want to give them interesting experiences each time they come here.”
Another hugely important feature of the 3Twenty Wine Lounge is the food selection; most of the selections fall between “tapas” and “entrée” in portion, much like a Spanish “racion.” With the culinary expertise of Chef Nicole Ball—whose resume includes positions at the famed Bar Americain in NYC and L.A.’s Sunset Towers—the lounge features an assortment of cheeses and charcuterie, composed salads and small plates made for sharing. Featured items include fresh burrata with olive tapenade and garlic confit; baby beets with Roquefort and candied pecans; tiger prawns wrapped in bacon with paprika oil; steamed mussels with garlic and ale; seared scallops in jade sauce; braised lamb and goat cheese poutine; as well as nightly specials..
“It was dad’s idea to bring in the food and hire a group of chefs, including Chef Ball, to design the perfect menu,” says Poureshagh. “My background in pairing food with wine as a consultant lends itself perfectly to this concept, and I love going over the pairing possibilities with patrons—whether they’re asking me or not! That’s one of the ways we differentiate ourselves from the typical wine bars in town. None are selecting wines the way we are and none of them give you the truth wine pairing experience. That’s why we call ourselves a wine tasting restaurant. We’re also more reasonably priced, in between the retail value of a bottle and the typical restaurant price. A bottle you would buy for $20 and a restaurant would sell for double that, we sell for $30.”
The ambience at 3Twenty Wine Lounge is on the dark side and intimate, perfect for everyone from married couples and groups of friends to couples on their first dates, breaking the ice over the Enomatic machines. Poureshagh and his family have also made a commitment to support the Los Angeles cultural community by featuring a different local artists’ work on the walls of 3Twenty Wine Lounge every month, sponsoring the Miracle Mile Art Walk and events at The Geffen Playhouse and other art-related non-profit organizations.
“Since we opened,” he says, “I’ve never been more stressed out in my entire life – nor have I ever been happier. I love being the master of my own destiny and love the fact that people come here to enjoy my business, be in my company and spend their hard earned money on wine that I have personally selected. I also enjoy having the opportunity to teach people about wine and share my passions with them. We actively dissuade pretense here, and we’re always checking up on them to make sure they’re having a great time. They know it’s because we really care.”
PREMA HAIR SALON – NYC
Many years ago, visionary hair and beauty industry entrepreneur Francesco Ruggerino traveled to India and learned of a powerful Sanskrit word for “love” that would change his life. In 2004, when he launched his first state of the art, cutting edge salon in Bondi, an eastern suburb of Sydney, Australia, “Prema” was the perfect name for the aesthetic behind his multi-faceted creative playground.
Built on the foundation of passion, skill, personal and professional development, Prema – which expanded to a second thriving location in the inner city suburb of Surry Hills, one of Sydney’s most artistically vibrant neighborhoods, in 2009 - soon became a vehicle for inspiration, achievement and excellence in salon, education, editorial, runway, design and production. With a total staff of 70 covering the two locations, the Prema salons are driven by an outstanding team of hairdressers and “creatives” who have worked all over the hair fashion world. They perform at a high level while serving a large portion of Sydney’s beauty community. The Bondi location is currently one of the busiest in the country.
With the opening in August 2014 of the Prema Hair Salon on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the company -- and its unique and dynamic, forward thinking aesthetic -- has not only gone international, but positioned itself as a potential game changer in the NYC fashion world.
Located at 101 Stanton Street between Ludlow & Orchard Street, the salon, with four hairdressers and eight chairs in a 700 sq. ft. space, is cozier and more intimate than its predecessors in Sydney, with an all-black interior, a ceiling of wooden beams and pipes, and bright backstage-type make up lights at each station. The effect, says Dale Delaporte, Prema NYC’s main stylist and Creative Director, “makes our clients feel like they are superstars getting their hair done.” After their initial haircut, women can enjoy a complimentary “blowout service,” 20 minutes of premium blow dry and full styling. After men’s hair is cut and dried, they enjoy a complimentary facial, involving facial cleanser, a hot towel, toner and moisturizer.
“We have a very engaged, dedicated team of people working together, pushing each other to perform at a high level of service,” says Ruggerino, a business graduate of the University of Technology Sydney and graduate of The Australian School of Philosophy and of Landmark Education who was acknowledged as the inaugural Hair Expo Australian Hairdressing Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006. “Education and training have always been a huge priority for us, and as in Australia, our commitment is to assemble a group of top career hairdressers. I like the challenge of the hard work it takes to create something good, and doing it on a world stage as only New York can provide is extra exciting.”
Delaporte, the lone member of the NYC staff born in Sydney, launched his hairdressing career straight out of high school, spending seven years assisting top hair stylists and gaining invaluable experience in the editorial, runway and the hair fashion world. His work is included in some of the country’s top fashion magazines and the international celebrities he’s coiffed include Cate Blanchett, Collette Dinnigan and Miranda Otto. Later joining Australia’s prestigious “The Names Agency,” Delaporte looked after some of the world’s most famous locks, including Geri Halliwell, Paula Abdul and Dita Von Teese. His work appeared in Marie Claire, Catalogue and Elle and he was an integral part of the hair team for “The Voice Australia” for two seasons.
In February 2014, he traveled between Sydney, NYC, London, Milan and Paris building his experience backstage on shows for Mara Hoffman, Prada, Dior and Dolce & Gabana; here he worked alongside the biggest names in the hair-fashion industry, including the world renowned Nick Irwin and Guido Palau. Delaporte later directed the Prema team for Phoenix Keating’s second season show at Sydney’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. While serving as a vital part and proven leader in the Prema Hair Salon editorial team – and now Creative Director of the NYC location – Delaporte is also directing a Fashion Week show for designer Charles Youssef.
“Our team is extremely high skilled in the salon, editorial and fashion environments,” Delaporte says. “Our vision for Prema’s New York location is to create a go-to place for men and women here who want the best salon experience in the city while continuing to do some of the biggest hair and fashion work in the world. We want to build a strong team that works across the salon and the fashion world as well. Our clients know that we deliver great hair in a friendly, dynamic environment they can enjoy. We’re current with all the trends, so if someone sits in my chair they will get a high quality, long-lasting, professional up to date trend-worthy style, and they’ll even be ahead of the trend!”
For Immediate Release
BETTIE PAGE CLOTHING
LEGENDARY 50’s “QUEEN OF PINUPS”
HAS INSPIRED KATY PERRY, MADONNA,
RIHANNA, THE PUSSYCAT DOLLS—AND
THE DYNAMIC HUSBAND AND WIFE
TEAM BEHIND A GROWING WORLDWIDE
Launched By Commercial Financier Jan Glaser and
Russian Born Fashion Designer Tatyana In 2007, Bettie
Page Clothing Has Boutiques In Las Vegas, Hollywood,
San Francisco and San Diego—And Sells Its Line To
Boutiques In 57 Countries Around The World
First famous in the 1950s for her fetish modeling and pin-up photos, Bettie Page died in 2008 in her mid-80s, but her youthful, sexy image (including jet black hair, blue eyes and trademark bangs) continues to captivate millions of men and women worldwide.
Tying in perfectly into America’s obsession with all things 50’s-60’s retro via events like the annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender and the TV smash “Mad Men,” Page has inspired millions of women around the world to want to dress the “Bettie Page way.”
Those who live in or near Las Vegas, Hollywood, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury and San Diego’s Gaslamp District have had a big advantage in making this happen since Jan Glaser, a commercial financier, and his brilliant Russian born fashion designer wife Tatyana launched their Bettie Page Clothing (www.bettiepageclothing.com) boutiques.
Upon her passing, MTV wrote that without the “Queen of Pinup”’s generation hopping influence, a whole slew of contemporary icons would have different looks. Katy Perry would not have those rocker bangs and throwback skimpy jumpers. Madonna’s “Sex” book and fascination with bondage gear might not exist; Rihanna could be obsessed with other things besides leather and lace and second skin binding. Page is also a huge part of Uma Thurman’s style in “Pulp Fiction,” burlesque actress Dita Von Teese’s entire career, and the look and vibe of The Pussycat Dolls.
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who chose her as one of his earliest Playmates of the Month, once said, “She was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society.”
Opening their first store in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood on the Strip in Vegas in 2007, Glaser and Tatyana have tapped into this widespread divine madness and created a phenomenon that seems boundless. Beyond the current locations, including the Fashion Show Mall in Vegas and the Gaslamp store, which opened in October 2010), there are future expansion plans in the works for locations in some of America’s premiere tourist destinations: Newbury Street in Boston, Manhattan, The Twin Cities’ Mall of America and South Beach.
The first store opened with 20 distinctive women’s dress styles designed by Tatyana; the stores now carry over 200. Bettie Page Clothing also carries T-shirts and lingerie designed by famed cheesecake/erotic/pinup artist Olivia De Berardinis, whose work has graced the pages of Playboy for years--and whose “fantasy” Bettie Page art helped lead to a resurgence of interest in the model’s life and career in the late 80s and 90s. The stores also sell originals and first editions of classic Bettie paintings by Olivia.
Beyond the U.S. retail locations, the Bettie Page Clothing brand has gone global, with boutiques in 57 countries around the world selling its products. According to Glaser, it’s exceptionally popular in Australia, the UK, Europe and Canada. This universal acclaim for Tatyana’s retro fashions is all the more incredible when the businessman reveals the fascinating truth that when the couple first conceived the idea of launching a boutique in Las Vegas, their goal was simply to have an outlet for Tatyana’s classic styled clothes. The licensing for Bettie Page’s likeness and name came later when they ran into a roadblock trying to lease a location in the Miracle Mile Shops.
“We didn’t even think of her designs as specifically retro, we just loved them,” says Glaser. “We were simply seeking a way to brand her products. It was a great investment and we knew we were taking a great leap of faith. We didn’t have the Bettie Page name until long after we decided on the concept, which was vintage, plastic style dresses. But mall ownership wouldn’t lease to a store that was a stand-alone and brand new. They agreed to lease to us, however, if we could come up with a recognizable brand name. Realizing that a lot of women who wore retro dresses were big into that resurgent rockabilly scene, we Google’d ‘rockabilly icons’ and Bettie’s name came up. We made a simple business inquiry on the Bettie Page website, and it was a fairly easy process to license her name for our fashion enterprise. Bettie Page Clothing now has exclusive rights to using the name for fashion worldwide.
“What’s ironic is that, as our business took off, we realized that only 20 percent of our customers were from the rockabilly community,” he adds. “The other 80 simply like Tatyana’s styles, which truly sell themselves. They fit beautifully, are moderately priced at an average of $120, and are very unique. You can’t find dresses like this anywhere else. People tell us they buy here for different reasons. Some say it’s because her dresses remind them of what their mothers wore. Others love the way they hug their curves without being vulgar. Anytime Tatyana wore them somewhere, people would stop her and compliment the dress she was wearing. Very quickly, we knew we were onto something.”
Tatyana grew up in a small village in Russia and studied art, dance fashion and music at the University of Culture in St. Petersburg before pursuing a career as a fashion model. While modeling mostly Russian designers, she was also working at the Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg, where she first met Glaser; the two married and she moved to the U.S. Growing up in Russia, she saw many American movies from the 1950s, loved the styles and wondered why women in the modern age weren’t still dressing like that. She first learned about Bettie Page when she moved here and realized that people associated her with the luxury of the 1950s lifestyle.
“When I began my career as a designer in the U.S., my goal was to create fashions that would appeal to those who loved the styles from that era,” Tatyana says. “I realized that people were tired of seeing the same dresses that all look alike in every store. They want something different and don’t want to live in that crowd. It was important for women to be sexy but at the same time not have too much exposed. It was clear from modern fashions that they left nothing to the imagination and there was no mystery. I tapped into the idea that women wanted to have mystery again. My designs are mature and feminine but leave a little to the imagination, and men appreciate the puzzle. The answer to what inspires me is simple: movies. I love pastel colors and black and red, which are classy and popular in any kind of clothes. Turquoise and green were also popular in the 50s and I love using those colors as well.”
As Glaser and Tatyana discovered, there is more to the Bettie Page mystique than her iconic modeling images from the 50’s and 60s. The model’s dark personal history creates for some fans an image of her as a tragic icon, a rebellious soul cut from the same cloth (and from the same era) as James Dean. After years of being out of the limelight, she was diagnosed in the late 70s with acute schizophrenia and, after an assault charge, was placed under state supervision at a mental hospital for many years.
She didn’t know that her mysterious disappearance from the public eye led to a cult resurgence in her popularity; then in the early 90s, Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” interviewed her and “Entertainment Tonight” produced a segment on her. Hef and Mark Roesler, founder and CEO of marketing and management firm CMG Worldwide (and an expert on the intellectual property rights of celebrities), helped restore her name and career and allowed her to finally earn royalties from her work. This included monies from the previous ten years, when her name and image became a licensing phenomenon
“When we opened our first stores,” Glaser recalls, “we would ask our customers what they liked about Bettie. They all said the same thing –the fact that she disappeared for a long time even though she was still alive. She was a dark, rebellious version of Marilyn Monroe. Not just a fluffy, frilly model from another era but a disturbed person with real problems and a tragic history. People identified with that. Bettie’s famous expression was that she was never the girl next door, and I think people latched onto the female James Dean mythology. There’s danger, edge and rebelliousness – all of which is now reflected in Tatyana’s striking, era capturing dresses. The whole Bettie persona has helped make our business internationally recognized, but it’s Tatyana’s loving dedication to detail which makes our fashions so compelling. Her creative expression glorifies the beauty and mystery of women everywhere.”