Start Your Day off with La Dolce Vita- Marcello Recommends: Casa Lever Restaurant on Park Ave

At the helm:  Dining Room Manager, Robin Gustafsson, prepping for another busy day at Casa Lever Restaurant.

Location, location, location! When you have to give someone from Jersey directions and they end with something like, “right next to Park Avenue and 5th,”  life is indeed sweet.    When Penelope Cruz wants to entertain guests like Madonna and your restaurant is chosen , you might be on to something.   When you can combine classic Milanese dishes with cordial hospitality and then adorn your stylish interior with original Warhols for good measure… the result is Casa Lever, a comfortably-chic restaurant that recently added gourmet breakfast selections to their daily offerings.

Since Lever gets their pastries and breads directly from Sant Ambroeus, I did extra laps in the pool the day before our visit so my carbohydrate/caloric intake-guilt wouldn’t spoil the morning’s indulgence.  🙂

Birthday girl, Tamara Simms, with her husband, Jay.  In town from Chicago for a week of Broadway.

The sumptuous feast consisted of a tomato, mozzarella and basil panini, an apple-filled croissant, a plain croissant with assorted jellies for a warm-up, then an order of raisin brioche french toast  with creme anglaise and  raspberry & blueberry slices plus a side of niman ranch smoked bacon for the meal.  All of the above nicely complimented by 2 cups of  tea and a glass of orange-carrot juice blend.   Delicious!

My dining mates were good friends, colleagues and fellow fitness enthusiasts. (Kudos and congrats to Jay Simms from Chicago who ran the Philly marathon last weekend and qualified for Boston...  pretty much the holy grail of all 26.2 challenges.)  Visiting with his lovely wife, Tamara (who was celebrating her birthday with a week of Broadway), Jay ordered some of Lever’s healthier options along with a familiar face to the MMP readers, Mike Walter.

Mike Walter, Robin Gustafsson and Marcello Pedalino in front of an original Andy Warhol painting of Fashio Icon, Giorgio Armani

Mike Walter, Robin Gustafsson and Marcello Pedalino in front of an original Andy Warhol painting of Fashion Icon, Giorgio Armani

They enjoyed the Golden Granola with yogurt, (organic oates, honey, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, pumpkin seeds and coconut), the Uova al Tegamino, (sunny-side up organic eggs, crispy applewood bacon and crostini), and Uova Tirolese,  (poached egg, hollandaise sauce, tirolian speck and spinach).  They were very pleased with their meals as well.

We drove in and found a convenient parking garage right up the block.  After breakfast and some of the best shopping in the world-  Radio City Music Hall and the likes of Rockefeller Center are just a short (people-watchers dream) walk away.

So whether you are just waking up and don’t feel like preparing a gourmet breakfast, looking for an impressive table to do some serious business over lunch or are in need of a meeting location with panache (there is a semi-private area in the back of the restaurant that features a drop-down screen and can accommodate up to 20 people),  or are fortunate to be celebrating a special occasion with discerning dinner guests… Casa Lever should be on your dolce vita-radar.  -mp

390 Park Avenue at 53rd,  New York City, NY 10022 (on facebook)

Contact:  Robin Gustafsson, @ 212-888-2700 or

Debbie Pettersson, @ 212-207-6680  ext. 151

A Passion For Fashion- Marcello Recommends:


Chic, comfortable and affordable couture at

I had no idea how popular Big Buddha’s were until I interviewed Jamie Hoff and Beth Roy; former executives at Ralph Lauren and Tiffany & Co. respectively.   Truth be told, I had no idea that a Big Buddha was actually a handbag.

Being blessed with a stylistic je ne sais quoi is just one of the many reasons why Jamie and Beth own and operate a successful fashion-forward enterprise called Flirty Finds; a Bergen County, NJ based online company that offers chic couture, accessories and style advice to internet savvy tweens and women all over the country.

What sets the Flirty duo apart from all of the retailers and department stores is their expert ability to sift through the abundance of fashion fails being offered out there and hand-pick what is going to make you look great, feel good and not break the bank; a true fashionista trifecta.

So, if you can’t get to Milan, New York City, Tokyo, Rome or Paris anytime soon and you want to see what you should be wearing this season; just grab your credit card and visit from the comfort of your own home.

FF owners, Beth Roy and Jamie Hoff

Flirty owners, Beth Roy and Jamie Hoff

*I asked Beth to share some of Flirty’s thoughts on e-commerce, life balance, customer service, fashion trends and what they’ve been up to lately; this is what she had to say…

How has your business changed since its inception?

“We came to this business partnership after 20 years of friendship, and had many years of business experience between us. When we launched our website almost 2 years ago, we were both brand new at e-commerce, and we have learned so much from the experience.  From the technology, to the marketing to buying and selling our products – we’ve been able to fine-tune our focus and strategies based on what works and what our customers want. We’ve evolved from a website with an email list basically consisting of our friends and family, to a strong, developing brand — we were even mentioned in People Stylewatch this month.”

Do you have any tips for other moms who are raising a family and running a business?

“The biggest challenge we’ve encountered has been not letting the business and our laptops intrude on our family lives too much. We love what we do so much, that if we could, I fear we would both work on the business around the clock. We both chose when we had kids to be home for them, and this business allows us to do that.  The challenge is limiting our work time so that our families remain the top priority.  Finding that balance is a challenge that we both work on every day.”

What is the hottest product for this season?

A Big Buddha Bag, The "Bella"

A Big Buddha Bag, The "Bella"

The Big Buddha bag (the “bella” bag in blue) and it has been our hottest seller to date.  Bags and accessories in sorbet colors such as aqua, pink and yellow are the hot trends for spring.”

Are there any trends that you see on the horizon?

“Women are learning how to stretch their clothing budgets by buying the basic foundations, and using accessories to liven up and add interest to their looks.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create a look that is fresh, trendy and polished.”

What was the best business advice you ever got?

‘We both agree that the best advice we ever received was to do something you like and you will be successful.  Also, always stay focused on the customer and find ways to make their life easier.  Oh, and of course, the customer is always right.”

Who inspires you?

“Jamie is inspired by her husband, Mark and author/speaker Joel Osteen who both give great advice on controlling your own destiny.  I’m inspired by my girlfriends, including Jamie, many of whom are mom entrepreneurs too, and who provide endless support, inspiration and ideas.”

What are you reading?

“I’m reading Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk.  A great book on leveraging the power of the social media to build your brand.  Jamie is currently reading The Help, one of my favorites.”


The IsABelt

Which product has made your personal life easier?

“One of our products, the IsABelt, (an invisible belt) is one of those products that is so simple, yet so effective. Jamie loves her iphone and the Keurig Coffee Maker is one of my favorite inventions of all time.”

What are you listening to?

“I’m a political junkie so it’s talk radio for me and Jamie is a fan of the The Black Eyed Peas.”

What are you watching?

Parenthood & Modern Family; the two best shows to come around in a long time.”

What are you surfing?

“Budget Fashionista, YouLookFab, Momgenerations and  StyleBakery.”

*Thank you for your time ladies, I wish you continued success and all of the health and happiness that life has to offer.

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