Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Family Fun And TomKat At Il Cantinori

Saturday night, I headed down to trendy East Village bistro Il Cantinori for the celebration of my Aunt Lydia and Uncle Joe’s 40th anniversary.

With a 25-year history that has included visits from many famous faces and a cameo on “Sex and The City” (it's where Carrie was stood up on her 35th birthday), Il Cantinori is known for scrumptious Tuscan fare and impeccable, gracious service. The restaurant delivered plenty of both for Saturday night's family soirée.

Tuscan Delight: NYC's Il Cantinori

Hosted by my beloved cousin Dana, the festive 18-people affair took place in Il Cantinori’s downstairs wine room. An event planning maven whose style could give Martha Stewart a run for her money, Dana selected a positively scrumptious menu for us.

After passed hors d’oeuvres that included bruschetta and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, our meal began with an appetizer plate of grilled calamari and vegetables, and mozzarella and tomato. Next came a pasta sampler featuring rigatoni in tomato sauce, spinach ravioli, and some of the best spaghetti carbonara I’ve ever had. Of three entrée options available, I selected mouth-watering chicken Milanese.

Somehow, I managed to find room for dessert -- a decadent chocolate cake celebrating this month's other milestone, Uncle Joe’s 65th birthday.

As all of us reminisced about memories past and milestones to come (my cousin Melanie, the youngest of all of us, is expecting a baby boy in November), I felt a heart full of gratitude for my beautiful family. And equally grateful that we could be together for such a happy occasion.

Family Bonding: My sister Hilary (front, second from left) and me with our fabulous cousins. From left: Derek, Melanie, Carla and Dana

The celebratory atmosphere continued when, just before leaving, we were informed that a rather high-profile couple was expected shortly.

Sure enough, in walked none other than Katie Holmes, dazzling in an all black ensemble and, with her head tilted coquettishly to one side, smiling warmly as she made her way to Il Cantinori’s back dining room. Minutes later, Katie was followed by Tom Cruise, carrying adorable daughter Suri in his arms. Flashing his signature megawatt grin, he said a warm “hi” to all of us before joining his wife.

Il Cantinori has long been a favorite of Tom’s—he’s also dined there with exes Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman. With its intimate, candlelit ambience and five-star cuisine, it’s the perfect spot for a romantic rendez-vous. Or, as both TomKat and my nearest and dearest experienced on Saturday, for a family affair.

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