When I receive an invitation from my friends Mary Ann and Joe Mattone to their annual elegant holiday party, I know the holiday season has officially begun, and thankfully this year with all the recent tragic events of Sandy, it is a chance to celebrate.
I think it’s what makes us able to carry on, when we take advantage of the happy times.
And was her party a happy time! It is held at the breathtaking, beautifully-decorated, old world Columbus Club on 69th Street just a few steps from 5th Avenue.
At the party I got to see my favorite people and friends of the Mattones who I see each year.
I forget how much I miss them until we reconnect and have time to catch up on each others’ lives. I was so happy to see Peter Meyer and his beautiful bride Denise Arbesu, as well as Joe Ficalora and Ray and Georgiana Reese-Benatti. Then there was Linda DeSabato and Lily Gavin, two powerful ladies leading their respective companies for decades. A newer friend is Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello who runs development for the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens. We seem to see each other repeatedly and I was happy to make him a “King” at our “King of Queens” event last year.
Of course the Mattone “children” looked stunning. What a powerful group they are, each so involved in their communities, always giving back.
This year I was delighted to see Frank Russo and his wife at the party. Frank’s Russo’s on the Bay catering hall had suffered from the storm but quickly reopened. His beautiful restaurant Vetro took a terrible beating, being directly on the water. But that didn’t stop Frank from rebuilding and sharing with me, with a huge smile, that he will be reopening the restaurant sitting on the end of Cross Bay Boulevard next week.
The restaurant had recently received the Wine Spectator magazine’s Award of Excellence. Sadly, many bottles were destroyed by Sandy. The good news is that Frank will be celebrating his comeback by opening a magnum of wine, one of the few bottles from their cellar that survived.
As many of you know, we hold a toy drive every year and this year we will be partnering with Frank and giving the toys to children who had to suffer through the storm. My friend Linda DeSabato, who owns Vallo Transportation, offered to send a bus to pick up the children and bring them to Russo’s for a holiday party.
So please be sure to help us help the kids. Donate new, unwrapped toys at our offices, 38-15 Bell Boulevard in Bayside and 87-23 3rd Avenue in Brooklyn.
We shall overcome and with the help of so many friends, we will bring the joy of the season to the children.
Happy Chanukah and to many celebrations this month.