A few weeks back, a rep for Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich informed us that he believed restaurateur Nello Balan was responsible for leaking a phony bill to the media, and he was looking into taking legal action against the shameless publicity-seeker. Abramovich hasn't filed suit against sued Balan—not yet, at least—but someone else has:
Nello Balan is the owner of Nello, the exceedingly mediocre Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side. He's also one of the city's most shameless—and most notorious—publicity hounds. Balan's latest attempt at drumming up attention, however, now appears to be exploding in his face. Last week, a receipt "surfaced" indicating that Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich had spent $52,000 on lunch. (The bill was for $47,000, but TMZ, which first reported the story, said the billionaire had tacked on a $5,000 tip.) But a spokesman for Abramovich tells us the bill wasn't his and the mogul may pursue legal action against Balan for suggesting otherwise.
• The critics: Sam Sifton of the Times heads to Flushing for Cantonese and bestows a star on Imperial Palace; Jay Cheshes of Time Out gives four stars to A Voce; New York's R&P rave about Steve Hanson's new Bill's Bar & Burger; GQ's Alan Richman very much disagrees; and the Post's cranky Steve Cuozzo finds that Agua Dulce only came through when they knew he was there.
• A look around Anthony and Tom Martignetti's Brinkley's in Nolita. [GS, Eater]
• Publicity hound Nello Balan is being sued for, like, the 78th time. [NYP]
• Meanwhile Table 8's co-owner is facing a messy criminal matter. [Eater, GS]
• Eric Ripert does not think it's okay that Roberto Cavalli has a habit of ordering food from one restaurant (Mañana) while he's sitting in another (Serafina). Not that anyone has ever tried to pull that at Le Bernardin. [GS]
• Jonathan Safran Foer turned poor Natalie Portman into a vegan. [HP]
• Pickles are having their moment in the sun. At last! [Zagat]
• Poor Mischa Barton hasn't been having much fun since she arrived in NYC a few weeks ago. She says she's been "ordered to stay away from booze, boys and bad behavior following her brief hospitalization this summer." She's been allowed one vice, though: "All I can do is smoke cigarettes," she says. [P6]
• Chace Crawford and Bar Refaeli were spotted getting cozy on Friday night at 1Oak. [NYDN]
• Ashley Dupre has a new single out. She also tells the Post in an "exclusive interview and fashion shoot" that she wants to get married, have "at least two children," and be happy forever after. [NYP]
• As you've undoubtedly seen/heard by now, Kanye West stormed the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards to interrupt Taylor Swift as she was accepting her award for Best Female Video. [NYDN, People, NYP]
Bungalow 8 proprietress Amy Sacco has a reality show in the works. (Or at least Bravo is now "testing" out such a concept.) Less than a month ago, Sacco told WWD that she'd recruited a big bunch of her friends to take part in the program—so many people, in fact, that Sacco told the reporter that while it's technically a reality show, "I don't know if anyone's going to believe my reality." Today the Daily News throws a little water on the concept, suggesting that very few famous faces will ultimately appear on the show, since many of the boldfaced friends Sacco calls her friends "don't want to be seen on camera doing reality TV."
It's been more than two years since restaurateur (and drama magnet) Nello Balan filed suit against Amy Sacco's Bungalow 8, accusing the club's bouncers of beating him up during a visit to the former hot spot back in May 2006. Nello came forward in the spring of 2007 to say that a bouncer had punched him in the eye and hit him over the head with a metal object (he also said his 21-year daughter was pushed), and the altercation left him with 10 stitches and a fracture to his eye-socket.
• Danny Meyer's latest outpost, the concession stand in Central Park called Public Fare, officially opens its takeout window tomorrow. [Eater, GS]
• The paper is off the windows at the Standard Grill, the new resto inside Andre Balazs's Standard hotel. Grub Street snapped some pics through the glass. [GS]
• Geoffrey Zakarian has had some trouble as of late, but he has two projects to look forward to: Lamb's Club at Vikram Chatwal's hotel on East 44th, which opens in September (with a bar by David Rabin and Will Regen); and he's also taking over The Emery Bar at The Benjamin hotel next year. [Crain's]
• A sneak peek at Charlie Palmer's new Aureole at One Bryant Park. [Eater]
How do you raise extra funds when you're a restaurateur who is $1.8 million behind in taxes? Overcharge customers for shaved truffles! At least that's what Nello Balan is being accused of doing by a jilted customer who took his wife for lunch at Nello's on the Upper East Sidea few months back and says he was overcharged to the tune of $530 for two plates of pasta that weren't even that good. We're not sure how Balan will be able to blame his accountant for this error, but we're sure there's a waiter somewhere ready to take the fall. [Page Six]
It's been a stressful week for Nello Balan. The lawsuit-loving restaurateur had his two restaurants seized by the IRS on Tuesday on account of $1.8 million he owes in unpaid taxes. But it's been two days now, which has given him enough time to settle up with the authorities and re-open his eateries. It's also given him time to pass the blame. As he nibbled on angel-hair pasta topped with scalloped truffles, he told the Post that it was all his accountant's fault, since they made miscalculations and didn't inform him there was a problem until it was too late. Don't worry though: Nello assures us the firm has been fired.
Nello Balan's Nello on Madison Avenue and his Hamptons outpost, Nello Summertimes, were both seized by the IRS for tax evasion this morning, reports Eater. Details are still a bit sketchy at this point and it remains unclear when the restaurants will reopen. (We're guessing anyone with a reservation for tonight is out of luck.) Also unclear: whether Nello's ghost-related travails, which were covered by the Times this past weekend, had anything to do with the bust. [Eater]
It's been more than a year since model Le Call had dinner one rainy night at Nello, borrowed an umbrella from owner Nello Balan on her way out the door, and then never returned it. The umbrella she took, though, wasn't one of those cheap pieces of junk you buy for $5 on the street. According to Balan, the parapluie had been a gift from Jean-Paul Gaultier and was worth $5,000, which explains why Nello started calling the model to get it back. Unfortunately for Balan, Le Call didn't have it in her possession any more; she'd given it to financier Nathaniel Rothschild, who eventually turned it over to Balan—in two pieces. Balan responded by filing a $1 million lawsuit against both Rothschild and Le Call for emotional distress. (He later amended the claim and asked for $30,000.) Last Friday, the case was finally resolved when a noticeably annoyed judge threw the case out and then fined Balan's lawyer for filing a frivolous lawsuit. The judge's full ruling after the jump.
Nello Balan, the Ophidian-necked restaurateur, loaned a $1,000 "leather, limited-edition Jean Paul Gaultier" umbrella to a model friend of his named Le Call. Le Call, a model who has made a habit of receiving goods from kinda pathetic figures in the restaurant industry, refused to give the umbrella back. This made Nello very mad so he drafted a note to Le Call which "somehow" appeared in Page Six today.
Page Six's crazy—like a fox, perhaps—item today that laid bare some alleged misdeeds of the New York Post has reverberated far and wide. Even New York Daily News' gossip queen Joanna Molloy has been touched by the scandal! We asked Ms. Molloy what she thought about the allegations, particularly those that had to do with Richard Johnson's admission that he accepted $1,000 from restaurateur Nello Balan, presumably in exchange for favorable treatment. Turns out this was sort of a habit of Nello's!
• Nello Balan clarifies his cracked-out ad in Saturday's Post — obviously, it was a retort to a Page Six item in which he was referred to as a roughneck. He thinks it was a humorous response, we think it was a cry for help. Whatever the case, we hope he keeps on buying up the ad space. [Page Six]
• Thanks to his time on Howard Stern yesterday, we know that Wilmer Valderrama gets more tail than Colin Farrell at a bachelorette party. Even worse, he claims to have snatched away poor Mandy Moore's virginity. [Cityrag]
• Star Jones' co-hosts on The View serve her a bitchslap when she calls in to report on her post-breast lift condition — but, predictably, Elizabeth Hasselbeck pussies out. [Lowdown]
• Page Six suggests that Girls Gone Wild masterbeast Joe Francis is looking to buy Playboy. Fat chance, but that's certainly a nice item to repay Francis for hosting Richard Johnson's bachelor party. [Page Six]
• Former New Kid on the Block Jordan Knight can't take the heat of VH1's Surreal Life and drops out. Write your own "Hangin' Tough" joke. [Gatecrasher]
• Pam Anderson seeks an audience with the PM of Canada to discuss the clubbing of baby seals. Somehow, we don't see him refusing some face-time. [Scoop]
Ask and ye shall receive, not that it'll do any good: At right, bitch-smacking restaurateur Nello Balan's full-page ad that ran in the Saturday Post (click to enlarge, marvel). Alas, the puppydog picture and faux-gothic font do little to help explain what Balan snorted before having this "note" published. Though from a scientific standpoint, it certainly is enlightening to see a concrete, media-oriented manifestation of psychosis. In which case, you can walk those dogs and crane your Ophidian neck all you want, Nello — we love to watch a man document his own deterioration.