As the success of Succession star Nicholas “Cousin Greg” Braun’s seemingly ever-expanding collection of New York City watering holes (Ray’s, Pebble Bar, Jac’s on Bond) is currently demonstrating, now seems like a good time to get into the bar business in NYC if you portrayed a beloved character on a treasured HBO show.
A popular character on both The Sopranos (Christopher Moltisanti) and The White Lotus (Dominic Di Grasso), Michael Imperioli struck while the HBO iron was hot and opened the Scarlet Lounge on the Upper West Side last month with his wife Victoria and restaurateur Jeremy Wladis. A cocktail lounge and restaurant, Scarlet has a drink menu curated by head bartender Matt Burkhardt that includes classic drinks like French 75s and Manhattans as well as custom creations including the Strawberry Fields and Pisco Pink Panther. Beer, wine and mocktails are also on offer (the Imperiolis don’t drink) and the food menu includes small plates like Parmesan truffle fries, miniature French dips and lollipop lamb chops as well as some desserts.
The Imperiolis have experience in the bar business and used to own and operate a Chelsea cocktail lounge about 20 years ago called Ciel Rouge that Victoria, who did all of the 1920s-inspired design at Scarlet, opened in the ’90s. Given the name of the new establishment, guests should expect to see red-tinted drinks from Burkhardt alongside Victoria’s reddish decor.
“She understands how the design element creates a vibe and and a mood, which also dictates how you do service in a place and how you serve the customers,” Imperioli tells InsideHook. “That also determines how the customers react and respond to the environment and interact with the staff. All those things together create a certain mood.”
That mood will help Imperioli, who didn’t offer much input on either the decor or the drinks, determine how he curates the type of artists, musical and otherwise, who will be performing at Scarlet. Those expecting to see the type of acts that played at The Crazy Horse, the Jersey rock club managed by Moltisanti’s fiancée Adriana La Cerva on The Sopranos, at Scarlet will likely be disappointed.
“There’s real potential to have unique musical artists because it’s not a piano bar, it’s not a rock and roll bar and it’s not really a cabaret,” Imperioli says. “There’s definitely some potential for jazz, but I think there’s an opportunity to get even more experimental with the music. We definitely want to have evenings where people come to listen to the music and it’s not just people drinking and talking while people are playing in the background. It’s going to take a while to see how live music sounds in the room and what type of artists we want to get.”
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Whatever direction the artistic programming at the bar ends up taking, Imperioli envisions Scarlet being the type of place where the food and drinks come with a free side of communal vibes.
“One of the beautiful things about New York is you’re constantly around a lot of people. That can also be one of the most difficult things about New York,” he says. “There’s a constant flow and interaction between all kinds of people and getting together in an environment where you’re there just to socialize, be with other people and have a drink or a snack is conducive to the formation of community. It could be a place for artists to hang out or a place for any New Yorker who wants to have a nice night out. It has the opportunity to be kind of like a microclimate within the macro community of New York.”
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