Bill Cunningham, sporting his signature blue jacket, strode in just ahead of me, a Nikon slung around his neck. Proof positive that there was to be no shortage of social glitter at the launch party for Sirio Maccioni’s new Sirio Ristorante at The Pierre last night.
In the hotel foyer a phalanx of Hollywood-cute staffers in white shirts and black ties collected coats and bags. Opposite them a long line of twenty-somethings in black cocktail dresses wielded guest lists as thick as September Vogue and checked off names.
Men in suits and women in stilettos mobbed the Pierre’s mural-lined rotunda, where photographers snapped Tony Bennett, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Martha Stewart and other knowns and lesser-knowns against a white backdrop. Guests poured into the ballroom, a marble staircase up, where no fewer than three open bars awaited. They filled the evening’s raison d’etre, the swanky-sleek Italian restaurant commanding the long ribbon of space most recently occupied by Le Caprice, an outpost of the plush London brasserie that never quite caught on here.
Curiously, the restaurant was the least jam-packed of the three, perhaps because it’s designed
for sitting. I had no trouble scoring a spot on a corner banquette near a pair of stylish – and identically dressed — sisters, long-time aficionadas of Maccioni restaurants, from Le Cirque in its iterations on Park Avenue, the New York Palace hotel and currently the Bloomberg Building to the whimsical Circo.
The new restaurant, inspired by La Dolce Vita and dressed in browns and creams by Adam Tihany, is ‘60s sexy, a feast of lacquered wood tables, framed black-and-white photos of Italy and a wildly geometric rug David Hicks would have loved. “It’s subdued for Adam Tihany, don’t you think?” observed a polished lady in red sizing up the room with a practiced eye. “But it seems right for the Pierre.”
Indeed, after the hotel’s foray with a flashy import, going with a prominent New York restaurateur with a large and loyal socially connected following makes sense. For Sirio, the Pierre is a homecoming of sorts; he oversaw the hotel’s La Foret lounge, restaurant and nightclub for two years until he left to open Le Cirque in 1974.
I wended my way through the restaurant. Uniformed servers, many of them Pierre veterans, passed around tuna tartare, tomato and mozzarella balls and small plates of polenta. Blood orange Bellinis beckoned on a silver tray.
In the rotunda a beauty in an orange gown towered over nearly everyone like Mag Wildwood. “It’s an interesting crowd, all the people you’d expect, but they’ve got younger ones, too,” said a public relations director from a rival hotel.
The restaurant’s namesake, dressed in a brocade jacket, his cane by his side, surveyed the
party from a chair near the wall. Guests lined up to pay homage. When Ivana Trump arrived, wrapped in a red satin trench, he rose, draped an arm around her and posed for a picture. A posse of photographers, including Cunningham, snapped away.
Sirio Ristorante at The Pierre, 2 East 61st Street; 212 940-8195.