Staten Island, New York – To fully appreciate Don Cheech, a new patron must familiarize himself with his details. Chef Massimo Felici steps into The Dish this week to connect us with his new Rosebank restaurant and menu. Plus, he’s thrilled to show off some behind-the-scenes looks at some of her bells and whistles.
But first, why the name “don shish”?
It’s an endearing term, Felici says. This Italian native of Florence explains, “I use that – I got it from the folks on Staten Island so I started using it. Since it’s my first time opening an Italian-American restaurant, I thought I’d go with it. And it’s a catchy name.”
Don Cheech comes to 1271 Bay St. In his opening week for dinner only. The crew will be working on lunches that should begin at noon on Tuesday, May 24th.
Little Italy charm
Staten Islanders may remember the title of its earlier iterations—most recently Phunky Elephant, and in earlier times, Albostan, and a separate project, Steven Dominick’s. During his tenure as owner, Felici overhauled the first floor and subterranean kitchen to completely change the flow and feel of the spaces. The fresh look, lighting, and outdoor seating provide little surprises that combined give the place an old-school Little Italian charm.
“Lots of brass accents and lots of woodwork give it a soft, warm, inviting look. There’s soft lighting everywhere,” says Felici. The chef avoided the hustle and bustle of loud music in a restaurant and emphasized a relatively quieter environment geared for pleasant chats and conversations.
Before jumping into the food, a round comes from Felici. Starting at the front door in a place still under construction for nine months, a red canopy extends to the sidewalk and a hinged neon sign hangs from the building, two details rarely found in modern New York City restaurants. Walking into a small lobby, patrons can sit on a leather chair in the lounge or go to the host station to sit in one of the dining rooms.
The bar offers unique amenities by some standards. As for food service, the automatic glass frosting and the quartz-marble bar (cannot stain) are things to marvel at. For the connoisseur of brown liquor, there are many first-class and rare selections that should still stand. To name a few, there are George T Stagg, Eagle Roof, and Pape Van Winkle brands of Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey as well as Willis Whit Bourbon.
Patrons can sit inside under original tin ceilings in one of two plush areas with copper on tones of red and plenty to look at. Front dining room and partitioned bar with exposed tile work for up to 40 guests. Behind a wine glass room of Italian wines and California wines, a small hall offers one in the back dining area, space for 35 people and accommodations for tables of 10 and 12.
Outdoors, Felici enters his new “game” on The Dish, a crisp white pergola imported from Turkey with a retractable roof, walls, and windows. The glossy white structure amplifies the sun’s rays and amplifies the white-walled strip on one side. The chef hopes that a garden will crawl along the walls covered with trellis work.
Felici offers an extensive menu of “American” Italian food with appetizers ranging from $8 to $24 – buttered shrimp, head-to-head, stuffed on a fennel orange salad, seafood salad, raw oysters and oysters, plus roast beef carpaccio and frito Misto of mixed seafood and vegetables. Soups and salads cost an average of $15 to include escarole, bean and lentil soup, as well as caprese and caesar salads. Pastas start with Pennette Arrabbiata ($18) and make into Stuffed Gnocchi Cacio & Pepe ($25) with Spicy Cavatappi Vokda ($24) with optional supplements like Kaluga Caviar ($25), shrimp ($3) and chicken ($10).
Appetizers include classic chicken parm ($24), St. Louis ribs with pepper vinaigrette ($34), beef-like Wagyu burger ($24), Diane steak with 16-ounce New York bar ($52) and tomahawk for two (market price.) at home.
Valet parking is provided daily – even during lunch. Currently, 5 PM to 9:30 PM for dinner Tuesday through Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 10:30 PM and Sunday until 9 PM
Don Cheech is located at 1271 Bay St., Rosebank; 718-285-4401.
Scroll below to see the food photos presented in this episode of The Dish. It can be watched live from the Advance Facebook page at 11:30 a.m. every Wednesday or replay on SILIVE.com.
Pamela Silvestri is the Advanced Food Editor. It can be accessed at [email protected].