Michael Lomonaco

Chef

New York City

New York chef Michael Lomonaco has been a staple on the city’s dining scene for decades and has worked at some of its best restaurants, including Le Cirque and the ‘21’ Club. In 1997, he was appointed head chef of the Windows on the World, which was located on the 106th and 107th floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center and one of the most popular spots in the city. Lomonaco narrowly escaped the Sept. 11 attacks, but lost 79 members of his staff when the North Tower fell. In the wake of the tragedy, he co-founded the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund to support restaurant workers' families. Five years later in 2006, he opened Porter House New York at the Time Warner Center, a traditional steakhouse, and in 2012 he launched Center Bar lounge, featuring small plates, wines and cocktails. 

  • On April 2, 2013
    Michael Lomonaco answered the question: Michael Lomonaco

    What is Michael Lomonaco’s favorite New York Italian restaurant?

    Sandro’s on the Upper East Side. Sandro Fioriti has been around for decades and I’m very fond of him. He is from Rome. He came here in the mid-’80s and has quite a reputation. He’s one of the early guys in New York who wasn’t cooking northern Italian — he was really cooking the food of Rome. He can do it with the best of them. I’m very fond of Sandro.
  • On April 2, 2013
    Michael Lomonaco answered the question: Michael Lomonaco

    What is Michael Lomonaco’s favorite New York hotel?

    The St. Regis. I just love the King Cole Bar. If you visit at the right time of year, because it can be overrun, it just has that magical New York feeling. I’m a romantic, what can I say?
  • On April 2, 2013
    Michael Lomonaco answered the question: Michael Lomonaco

    What is Michael Lomonaco’s favorite time in New York?

    Autumn in New York is magical. I love when the city really starts to get cool and the summer humidity is gone. We have warm days and cool nights, and there’s not so much rain. The city takes on a magical glow. The sunlight is beautiful and casts the city in such a glow. I think that’s when so much is happening. Theater season begins, opera season begins, and new restaurants and bars are opening. Spring is when things come new, but I think that autumn in New York is when it grows.
  • On April 2, 2013
    Michael Lomonaco answered the question: Michael Lomonaco

    What are Michael Lomonaco’s favorite things to do in New York?

    We do go out to Brooklyn a lot just because there are so many places that are like home to me. We’re big on museums so The Metropolitan [Museum of Art] and MoMA are big. I think The Cloisters is a really special place for the content of the museum and for the building. But I also love it for Fort Tryon Park and the river. It’s a very special, meditative place. One other place that’s really important to me is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It’s a very special place for me and my wife, Diane.
  • On April 2, 2013
    Michael Lomonaco answered the question: Michael Lomonaco

    What is Michael Lomonaco’s favorite airline?

    I really love JetBlue. I tend to camp out in my seat. I do have an iPad and so I want to read and there’s always a book or two that I’ve brought along. For travel to London, I love Virgin because they really make you feel comfortable in the same way a great hotel makes you feel comfortable. I think Virgin to London is a great way to go.
  • On April 2, 2013
    Michael Lomonaco answered the question: Michael Lomonaco

    What does Michael Lomonaco always take with him when he travels?

    Cameras weigh me down because I’m kind of a camera buff. I go through so many camera stages. I always carried my Nikon film camera, then when digital first started to hit I really downsized to point-and-shoot cameras because they were so easy. Then I grew out of the point-and-shoots because of their limitations, and now I’m back to carrying digital SLR cameras. I find I’m always looking for some hybrid camera that is a cross between point-and-shoot and a digital SLR because with an SLR, you have to have all the lens collections, so it’s a lot to travel with. Believe it or not, I do like to travel light — one suitcase and a backpack.
  • On April 2, 2013
    Michael Lomonaco answered the question: Michael Lomonaco

    What does Michael Lomonaco bring back from his travels?

    I shop for cookbooks — I don’t care what language they’re in. I always try to find a bookstore and work my way through an Italian cookbook. When I’m traveling domestic, I’ll make my way to an old vinyl store and find something to add to my collection. Vinyl isn’t as hard to pack as you’d think, so I look for jazz or classic rock.  Books and music are probably my biggest loves. What’s so special, actually, is to be in Italy and looking at cookbooks I really never have seen, or cookbooks that might be more obscure than something you can find on Amazon.com. I also like to bring something home for my kitchen, a tool or something small I can pack. I still make the mistake of buying olive oil and then they confiscate it at the airport. I forget. I’ve done that more than once.
  • On April 2, 2013
    Michael Lomonaco answered the question: Michael Lomonaco

    What does Michael Lomonaco look for in a hotel?

    Really, for me it starts at that front door. The service should be attentive and caring and anticipatory. When you go to a great hotel, there’s something authentic about the curbside greeting — that’s where it really starts. The last time we went to London, someone picked up our luggage and walked away with it. St Martins Lane could not have been more accommodating — I think those are the elements. It’s not a secret service; it’s really caring and the kind of service that makes me feel they understand what it’s like to be a traveler.
  • On April 2, 2013
    Michael Lomonaco answered the question: Michael Lomonaco

    What are Michael Lomonaco’s favorite hotels?

    I really like the Morgans Hotels in London because they’re in such great neighborhoods. I love St Martins Lane. It’s such an edgy hotel. The rooms are small but they’ve got sound systems. The service is great and they really focus on the guest. St Martins Lane has this street fight appeal — it’s very modern and colorful. The minute you walk through the door you’re in a world-class hotel. It feels like you’re coming into a club and they really focus on making sure you are well taken care of. The location is terrific because it has museum and theater access, and when I’m in London that’s what I want. I’m very happy to pay for that location because I can walk everywhere I want to be.
  • On April 2, 2013
    Michael Lomonaco answered the question: Michael Lomonaco

    What are Michael Lomonaco's favorite cities?

    I really love to travel to Rome and Paris. I feel very at home in those two places. Those are both places I’ll book a last-minute ticket to if I have a week off and I haven’t planned anything. I don’t have to do the sightseeing things, but I can really just kick back and do the things that are the most fun in those cities, which is trying to feel like a Roman and trying to feel like a Parisian. My Italian-American family loves Italy. Even though my family is in Sicily, I think Rome has this magical appeal. It’s not cutting edge, but it’s like a second home in some ways. And I’ve always been a Francophile since junior high school French. While I’ll never be a Parisian, I just love watching them and seeing how they live. London is also a very exciting city. When we were working on opening Center Bar [in New York], I spent more time in London than any place else, although Paris was important too. Everywhere you go in London, even today, there’s just great style. Domestically, I love San Francisco. Because New York is my hometown, San Francisco has this real vibe for me and I can never get enough of it. There’s so many other things you can do nearby — go to wine country or go down the Pacific Coast Highway. Then there are places for discovery. I’ll go to Austin or New Orleans or out west to Denver or the mountains; I love Maine and the Adirondacks. Those are my favorite places.