WATERING HOLE: Villa Berulia, the oldest remaining Manhattan restaurant catering to what innerwear executives call Lingerie Lane clientele, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month.

Owners John Ivanac and his sister, Maria Besson, have been serving Italian-Serbian dishes for the past quarter-century to the Underfashion Club, which holds its monthly dinner meetings in the restaurant, at 107 East 34th Street. The organization also stages monthly luncheons at Trio, 167 East 33rd Street, which is owned by Ivanac’s son and daughter, John Jr. and Alexandra.

Lingerie executives aren’t the only customers of Villa Berulia, Ivanac said.

“Harry Belafonte, a very simple, very pleasant person, always orders the specialty of the house, a veal chop,’’ he said. “Hillary Clinton prefers the seafood salad and Branzini fish, and Rue McClanahan, you know, of ‘Golden Girls,’ goes for everything. She eats like a man. And then there’s the Cuomo family. Mario and his children and his son-in-law, Kenneth Cole, like anything Italian.”

As for how the industry has changed, Ivanac said, “Now, you get four buyers and everyone picks up a separate check. Before, everybody was generous. Manufacturers would send a special bottle of wine to a buyer’s table. Not now. It’s a blessing if someone orders a glass of wine.”

This story first appeared in the March 27, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus