Sirio Ristorante – LOST GEM
The Osso Buco at Sirio Ristorante is made from Chef Massimo Bebber’s mother’s recipe. This fact alone gives one a sense of what the restaurant, located inside The Pierre hotel, aims to achieve. Though labeled as a “ristorante,” a term that demands a certain level of class, quality, and sophistication, Sirio also aims to be approachable and personal. One of the first things we noticed upon entering was that there are no white tablecloths, a choice that we discovered was very deliberate and sought to distance the establishment from traditional, often uncongenial eateries.
Sirio is named for Sirio Maccioni, the mastermind behind the notorious French restaurant, Le Cirque, which celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 2015. While speaking with several of the family members, I learned that a few years prior to this, in 1972, Sirio had opened La Foret Lounge, here at the Pierre. When deciding where to open his namesake restaurant, he decided to bring the Maccioni Group full circle, back to where it all began for him. It is no wonder, then, that it feels like home.
During the ill-fated weekend of Hurricane Sandy, in 2012, Sirio opened his restaurant. A few years later, Massimo, a chef from Italy arrived to run the operation. According to the staff, he was the missing ingredient that caused the whole dining experience to click together. He has brought with him his Italian concepts and unique, modern plating, where everything that comes out of the kitchen, has his personal touch.
Experiencing a hotel’s kitchen was a first for me and watching not only Massimo, but dozens of others operate together in this large, gleaming space – split between hotel room service (easily recognizable by its mini cereal boxes and rows of bagels) and the Sirio operations – was mesmerizing. What an extremely cohesive environment in which the staff works. While observing every aspect in the kitchen, Massimo spoke of his genuine appreciation for his position at the Pierre: “I have a good thing here – I really have to say that.” After introducing me to his sous-chef, Jeff Michner, who he embraced in a bear hug upon seeing him, Massimo went on to rave about his amazing team, who “always seem to know what to do without being told.” While cutting the top off a quail egg with a clever pair of round scissors, made for this specific purpose, Massimo went on to say, “I don’t have to worry when I walk away from the kitchen.” Yes, I was paying close attention to what the chefs were telling me, however, I could not help but recognize that there was something magical about watching Jeff and Massimo, both broad, strong-built men, handling these tiny speckled eggs.
Massimo went on to speak about the restaurant, exclaiming that it is improving each day, “we are always trying something new.” And I was quite pleased to be able to taste the experiment of the day as it was placed on a plate: a fried pizza, made with dough resembling savory funnel cake, rich buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce, and a basil pesto sauce drizzled on top. What fun to be able to whip up dishes and try out different ideas on each other, when not overwhelmed by patrons’ orders of pureed onion soup, “duck-on-duck” ragout, or delicate florets of vegetables embracing a chicken breast, cooked to perfection.
Although they seem to be having a grand time working downstairs in the Pierre, the energy in the kitchen is both relaxed and professional. I definitely understood when Massimo said, “I wake up every day excited to come to work.”