NEW YORK — With the opening of the Italian-American fusion restaurant L’Impero, design enthusiasts now have a reason to venture to Tudor City aside from its historic landmark buildings. Vincente Wolf, who has crafted residential interiors for the likes of Alexandra Von Furstenberg, Clive Davis and Twyla Tharp, lent his sensuous, modern touch to the space at 45 Tudor Place. “I wanted L’Impero to be a place where a woman would get dressed up to come,” he says catching his tanned reflection in one of the gigantic eye-level mirrors. Wolf drew his inspiration for the tranquil setting from a Charles James dress he saw in a photography book. “I thought of cashmere and satin. I love James’ juxtaposition of different textures and his sense of color.” To that end, he combines the color blue — robin’s egg-colored upholstery and custom leather chairs — with copper accents like spindly 3-foot-high candlesticks on each table, place settings, an entry way ceiling fixture and a beveled bar.

The fare, which chef Scott Conant labels as cucina alta (as opposed to the heavy Tuscan cucina rustica), is equally elegant: sheep’s milk ricotta ravioli, braised duck and foie gras agnolotti and roasted filet of turbot, plus his simpler signature dishes like gnocchi and the house spaghetti. To keep the sophisticated cuisine and setting from getting too high-brow, however, co-owner Chris Cannon, (who owns Bar Veloce, the late-night eating and drinking joint for the restaurant industry) installed a flat-screen TV in the bar, so he and his patrons can watch sports. “Attitude is nothing we want around here,” he says, adding that this bourgeois touch is something his colleagues in the food industry will appreciate. “We all make a great team. I bring in the restaurant folks, Vincente brings in the fashion crowd and Scott, well, he brings in the chicks.”

This story first appeared in the September 17, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

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