Haute Dining with Bruce Bozzi Jr. of The Palm

The Palm Restaurant Group celebrated its 85th anniversary as a family business last year and is still owned and operated by members of the original Bozzi and Ganzi families. Boasting a rich history, The Palm has stayed true to their simple, original philosophy: “treat guests like family, serve great food, and always exceed expectations.” As one of the first restaurants of its kind to expand, The Palm has 27 locations in 3 countries. Today, fourth generation family member, Bruce Bozzi, Jr., is the Executive Vice President and represents the family. The Palm is famous for its steak, lobster, traditional Italian dishes and the hand-drawn caricatures of notables sketched on its walls.

What’s new and/or exciting at your restaurant right now?
We just completed a new Palm prototype which will be revealed when we open our new Boston Palm in 2013. Right now we’re also on the heels of our summer Jumbo Lobster promotion (starting June 1st, and continuing through August 31st) which consists of a $99 lobster dinner for two, scrumptious.

The Palm was just featured on the TODAY Show where I cooked two classic Palm dishes for Al Roker, our Shrimp Bruno and infamous creamed spinach. It’s good times in Palm land.

What are some of your favorite dishes at your restaurant?
The best is our Chicken Parmigiana. It’s a classic Palm dish and almost a hidden treasure. I am also a New York strip kind of guy. Medium Rare, charred on the outside with some sautéed spinach…that’s my idea of Palm heaven.

Where do you like to dine when you’re not working?
Indochine is a New York must. It’s timeless, delicious and delivers such a fun night. Il Cantinori is where you will find me downtown when I crave Italian.

What’s your ideal meal?
Cheeseburger Deluxe at any NYC diner! It’s actually become a luxury meal for me, or I should say a special occasion meal. I use to be able to eat them whenever I wanted but at 46 I think it’s best to choose moderation when it comes to Cheeseburger D’s!

Where do you like to dine on a special occasion?
The Palm. I guess that’s no surprise but one of my first memories is having my 7th birthday at The Palm Too. I celebrated many birthdays and family milestones and it always feels like coming home. To me we do it right, The Palm is a great joint to celebrate life.

What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood and why?
Greenwich Village. I live on 12th street and it feels like the heart of downtown. I love walking and the diversity of our neighborhood.

What do you like to do in the city on your days off?
Seriously walk and walk…the best part of living in NYC is leaving our apartment with nothing to do and returning 8 hours later. The day takes on its own life. You run into friends. Grab coffee. Shop. Discover new restaurants, bars, vintage clothing stores and usually make a new friend. I am obsessed with New York history. I can talk about it all day or watch any documentary on the subject. I think New York might be the first love of my life. Is that weird?

What’s your favorite vacation destination?
Paris. It’s elegant in a way that New York is tough. I love walking the streets and the museums. I love having a glass of wine during the day and staying out until 5 in the morning dancing. It’s the most beautiful place to me. Paris is a fantasy city. I just love visiting.

What’s your most memorable meal?
Growing up every Christmas my mom would make her Lasagna. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve tasted it. It took her days to make and is the most incredible Lasagna you could imagine. Surrounded by all my family, especially now as some of them are no longer at the table, that meal will always be locked in my memory. MaryAnn Bozzi’s Lasagna is absolutely delicious.

What are your five favorite ingredients?
Red Pepper
Olive Oil

The Palm Restaurant’s flagship location is 837 2nd Avenue; 212-687-2953. www.thepalm.com