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NEW YORK “I don't recognize anyone here! This is great!” one longtime Citymeals-on-Wheels benefit-goer exclaimed at the nonprofit's first fund-raiser of the year. And that was precisely the point: The Young Professionals benefit tasting is traditionally held to “cultivate a donor base” of young professionals, according to Citymeals' director of special events Lynn McGuire. This year the event gave the youngsters a sneak peek of Steve Hanson's latest restaurant, Fiamma Osteria, which doesn't officially open to the public until March.
“It's really the Citymeals' singles party,” another attendee told us, which sort of made sense considering the party had 150 single twenty- and thirtysomethings in the same room with an open bar. Fiamma's executive chef Michael White offered the crowd baskets of warm focaccia bread, generous chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano and lots of scrumptious hors d'oeuvres at the tasting.
The new venue is an inviting place, with exposed brick walls, warm dark wood and circular suspended light fixtures similar to ones we've seen at places like Theo, Bid and the new Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park. A second, much larger floor offered more room to mingle, and we even got a peek at the third floor, which will be reserved for private events. The public will have to wait until March to eat there, but Fiamma is accepting event bookings now.