Wheeeere's Johnny V? Looks as though I'm not the only one searching. Jonathan Eismann, who took over the erstwhile Johnny V's Kitchen, needs him bad. Apparently Johnny V is the only one who knows the combination of the safe on the premises. But Jonny E shouldn't fret: The big V has been located. After taking a restaurant tour of Hawaii, California, and New York, he came back to South Beach, finalizing arrangements for his yet-to-be-announced eatery, where he will be chef-proprietor. "My goal from the time I left the Astor was to open a place of my own.... I have secured finances for my restaurant and found a South Beach location but have not dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's. Until it is completely done, I have been laying low and planning my attack," he e-mails me. As far as Billboard's restaurants go, V says, he never did sign on the dotted line. "Too corporate for me," he comments. "But I have not left the building and am extremely excited about opening my own place before next season." So yes, the Caribbean Cowboy will ride again. We'll just have to wait and see how Johnny V fares being both in the saddle and fully in charge of the reins.
•The latest empire-in-the-making is on (where else) Lincoln Road, where the recently launched trattoria Il Sole is planning a Romanesque attack. At a recent Laurent-Perrier champagne luncheon, proprietor Stefano Monti confided that he is opening a lounge next door. But this Monti ain't full yet. On the other side of his business, he's taken over the space of another Italian restaurant that debuted the same time as Il Sole, but isn't doing nearly as well. What's Monti's secret? Most likely he makes his money on the booze: His wine list features the vintages his winemaker-wife bottles in Italy. Talk about getting it at cost.
•The recent fundraising event held for Hillary Clinton at the Loews Hotel was class all the way. Salads were custom-dressed at the table, the filet mignons were served medium-rare, and glasses of wine were never allowed to sit empty. Even the speech was entertaining. Then came the finale: Fundraisers were handed Statue of Liberty souvenirs on the way out. Made of white chocolate, the foot-high confections were emblazoned with a milk chocolate banner that read "Hillary 2000." Giggle all you want, but after nibbling at the edges all week, I'll give her this: The lady isn't hollow.
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