As the first person to greet guests at Mr. Chow, maître d' Mario Stocco sets the tone for the evening at the upscale Chinese restaurant at the W Hotel. Always impeccably dressed in a suit and tie, Stocco has a sartorial style and a winning smile that make customers feel welcome as they enter the sleek and modern space. You might have to wait for a table, but at least Mario will make the time go by faster with his charm and wit. And don't forget to order his favorite libation, the dragon kiss.
New Times: What is the sexiest item on the menu?
Mario Stocco: The green prawns and the drunken fish. Both dishes appeal to all five senses.
What is your favorite cocktail?
The dragon kiss. It has house-infused jalapeño tequila, strawberry syrup, and lime juice. The glass is rimmed with sugar and cayenne pepper. I tend to like things on the spicier side.
How often are you hit on?
Sure, that happens -- by both sexes. It's playful. Anything for a table, right?
How do you make guests feel welcome?
It's about being genuine and sincere. A smile, a firm handshake, and a compliment to the ladies. I also like to know where people are from. Geography helps me suggest menu items to the guests. Our customers come from all over the world. You can tell who has a strong economy by who is eating at Mr. Chow. Right now, I'm seeing a lot of Canadians and Brazilians. We also have princes from the Middle East.
Describe the scene at Mr. Chow.
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On the weekends, it is New York hustle. During the week, it is classy, casual, and comfortable. It's a full night out. There is great people-watching and delicious food. The W property is a one-stop shop with the pool bar and Wall.
Do people expect to see Mr. Chow at the restaurant?
Yes! They take pictures of him as much as celebrities like Michael Jordan. He has been so successful for 43 years.
2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach