Here is a man, bellini in hand, waiting for his table at Downtown Cipriani. He is not tall. His three dates -- young, with creamy complexions -- are all taller than he is. He is tan. His chest is exposed -- does one less button really make such a difference? It does. Does this man even own socks? Everything about his moves -- his reflex double kissing, his warm greeting from the maître d’ -- says one thing: “I own this town.” Odds are, his English is a bit rusty.
Euros in Manhattan are not everywhere. They are not, for example, thrashing their heads around at CBGB. They are not on line at ESPN Zone in Times Square. But where they are -- Downtown Cipriani, for example -- they own. Manhattanites defer to them; the lifestyle these dashing Euros represent -- late dinners, culture -- is widely considered closer to ours than anything to be found in mainland America.
Paolo Zampolli, head of ID Models, eats at Downtown twice a day. He moved his office to be closer. “It’s like a circolo,” he explains, which is Italian for club, a place where, even if you arrive solo, you needn’t eat your branzino alone. He knows who will be at which table at dinnertime: 10 P.M.? Roffredo Gaetani (Ivana’s ex), Peter Beard, Roberto Cavalli, Helmut Lang, and Giuseppe Cipriani himself, at a table in the front: handsome men in jackets, striking women in heavy-gauge cashmere. His friends, imported from Venice. “My English is bad,” says Marco Revedin, a handsome Venetian with a thick brown lock of hair falling over his eye. “Maybe I need American girlfriend?” He laughs and is engulfed in a hug from Cecilia (“Ch-chelia”), a striking model-cum-artist. “There, there, Marco!” she laughs, rolling the r. “You might find a lawyer, an artist, a beautiful Frenchwoman who has just arrived,” Stefania Girombelli, who came from Venice to work for her old friends the Ciprianis, says of the dinner crowd. “You know,” she shrugs, “the same people you’d find in Venice.”