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6 years, 8 months ago 0

For those who routinely complain that our fair city is devoid of art and culture, we must politely beg to differ. Playing right now at The Venetian Showroom is a fabulous show of “real theatre”. Academy Award-nominated actor Chazz Palminteri is performing his one-man show “A Bronx Tale” though Sunday, May 9. And what a performance! It’s 90 minutes of engaging brilliance as Palminteri takes on 18 characters to tell a story that took place in his childhood.

After the show, yours truly had the chance to dine with this revered actor for a special Italian dinner at FIRST Food & Bar, The Palazzo. The restaurant transformed their private dining room into a cozy, Italian bistro complete with wine bottle candles, red and white checker tablecloths, and a menu that included traditional Italian dishes we ate family style, of course.

While sipping on Chef DeMarco’s signature Cucumber Gimlet, we listened as Palminteri reminisced about stories of his childhood in the Bronx and his father’s days as a bus driver. He truly revered in telling us his tales, revealing that 80 percent of the show he performs nightly (dark on Fridays) is based in reality. We would tell you which parts weren’t true, but we don’t want to ruin anything.

On par with the thrill of hearing Palminteri tell mob stories from the neighborhood was the food. Our first course of Rice Balls was a gooey cheese and rice concoction that was deep fried and dolloped with marinara sauce. All we can say is MUAH to the chef!

The second course was a creamy Caesar Salad complete with anchovy. But our favorite part of the salad was the deep fried Fontina and Gruyere cheese served warm that acted as the crotons. Those crotons alone are worth a trip to FIRST.

Italian dinner at FIRST Food & Bar

Next was a platter of Cold and Hot Antipasti that included marinated mushrooms, red peppers, and artichokes, breaded asparagus and eggplant lasagna. It was divine and we could have ended out meal there and been completely sated. But the entrée, served family style, were enormous platters of meatballs, pork rolls, sausage and Rigatoni Pasta served in Brooklyn Meat Gravy.

Finally, authentic New York Style Cheesecake arrived. Dappled in a strawberry topping, it was so creamy we weren’t able to stop until it was crumbs.

Now we know not everyone has the opportunity to dine with Chazz Palminteri but we will tell you that FIRST is going to start serving Sunday night dinners at the restaurant so you, too, can get the Bronx experience if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

To read the whole story about Chazz Palmenteri’s rise to fame using “The Bronx Tale” as a vehicle, you can read Marsala Rypka’s Up Close & Personal interview with the actor at

Photo Credit: Robyn Andrzejcak/

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