Last night I had dinner at Solace, a relatively new place on Manhattan’s lower upper far east side (64th between 1st and York).
Publicist Susan Rike was having one of her little media dinners to introduce us to chef David Regueiro — not to be mistaken for David Ruggerio, a nice guy who probably is best remembered in the New York food world for alleged involvement in credit card fraud at his eponymous restaurant (located, in case you’re interested in such trivia, where BLT Steak is now).
Joining Susan and me were New York-based Chilean journalist Manuel Santilices and Michael Gencarelli, a Bensonhurst native who writes for Shecky's. We spoke of global politics and the relative images of different nationalities — "How German of you" sounds kind of insulting, while "how French of you" might well mean that you have good taste in food and wine and know how to enjoy life. But it doesn't sound as good as "how Italian of you."
David (Regueiro) was born and raised in Brooklyn, near on the Park Slope-Sunset Park border, but his parents and older siblings all were born in Cuba. His first cooking job was at the New York Stock Exchange. Then he worked under David Bouley for a couple of years and was on Charlie Palmer’s team for many years after that.
But Susan wants to play up his Cuban roots and wants him to cook "Cuban-inspired" food. She thinks that will sell on 64th and York. I’m pretty sure her conviction stems from the fact that a former client of hers, Wayne Nish, chef-owner of the now-shuttered restaurant March, in nearby upper Midtown East (58th and 1st) gained traction in 1995 when he played up his partial Japanese roots (he's part Maltese, too, and other things) and served sort-of-Japanese-inspired food.
Susan also thinks David looks like Andy Garcia, but in fact he looks more like a young Al Pacino.