NEW YORK - There is a raging party going on behind inconspicuous doors in midtown New York, complete with champagne trains, diners dancing on tables and party music on full blast.
Lavo New York's famed Saturday brunches - a vibe dining concept - take living large like a "baller" to new heights with decadent food and non-stop drinks.
Vibe dining is an all-in-one concept popular in the United States where you can start with a drink at the bar, then have dinner with a DJ spinning in the background, before continuing the after-party at the club in the next room.
At Lavo Italian Restaurant and Nightclub, this starts with being ushered to a seat at a round leather booth where you are served up a top notch (and supersized) Italian American meal put together with the guidance of Tao Group partner/chef Ralph Scamardella.
The tables - many with large groups of 10 to 20 people - are placed so closely together that you can almost overhear the conversations of the neighbouring well-dressed Manhattanites. Waiters have to squeeze past, while a DJ at the back of the room spins an eclectic mix of anything from 1990s Mariah Carey to upbeat David Bowie.
Then the food rolls out. Their signature dishes include the centrepiece softball-sized Kobe beef Lavo meatball served with whipped ricotta, penne alla vodka (a pasta dish made with vodka and penne pasta) and the moreish 20-layer chocolate cake with peanut butter mascarpone. Insider tip: Ask for the eggplant parmigiana - the recipe is chef Scamardella's mother's own. But be warned, the portions are huge.
The atmosphere is already buzzy and electric, but a switch is flipped when the lights go dim - a full-blown party kicks off with the DJ spinning club bangers.
By 4pm there are people dancing on tables as the staff start removing chairs to make space and handing out glow sticks. While you may get a couple of hot waitresses with sparklers in Singapore, at Lavo they take it up a notch with costumes, the waving of your country's flag and champagne flute-shaped magnetic signboards with your name emblazoned on it so the whole room knows who you are. The group from Asia I am travelling with gets a sign saying "Lavo NYC loves Lavo Singapore".
The multi-faceted dining and entertainment concept will be coming to Singapore, opening to the public in January.
Located 57 floors up on the Sky Park of Marina Bay Sands (MBS), Lavo Singapore will have its opening night on Dec 31 as it rings in the New Year. The venture is a collaboration between Las Vegas Sands-owned MBS and American nightlife, entertainment and dining outfit, Tao Group.
Lavo Singapore will feature a 56-seat lounge and two floors of dining. The indoor space and terrace area will each be able to seat 125 diners, while a private dining room can hold 22 people. It will be open for lunch, dinner, late-night dining with brunch service during the weekend.
Lavo Singapore marks the Tao Group's first foray into Asia. It already operates venues in major American cities including New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, as well as in Sydney, Australia with Marquee - The Star Sydney.
Speaking to The Straits Times, Tao Group's co-founder Noah Tepperberg hopes that when Lavo opens in Singapore, it will "make a mark on Singapore's dining and nightlife scene". He adds: "Becoming one of the must-see places in Singapore is our goal."