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The Unbearable Classiness of Nick Varano

As reflected by this ad for his forthcoming Strip by Strega, the steakhouse he's putting in the old Whiskey Park space: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...

Suggested marketing slogan: "Come for the steak; stay for the misogyny, vulgarity, and lousy spelling."


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  1. Well, this is gonna be entertaining...

    1. If you flip the picture over, the female model looks dead, just like the hunk of meat.

      1. From now on, when anyone asks how I'd like my steak, I shall reply, "Dangling from a chain and served in my armpit, please."

        1. Reminds me of that Jodie Foster movie 'Accused'

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bellachefa

            The poster is also reminds me of Elizabeth Short with the deathlike pasty white skin.

          2. "I would hate to contribute to their buzz in any way that helps them" - MC Slim
            You should've taken your own advice, instead of giving them free marketing on Chowhound.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

              I thought about this. Given that Varano's PR operation is now scrambling frantically to do damage control, I believe they have figured out what a marketing blunder this odious ad is. This isn't the buzz they were looking for. I figured the value of noting its awfulness exceeded any ancillary PR value a discussion here might generate.


              1. re: MC Slim JB

                From a poster who has no interest in ever visiting the Varano empire, this gives me justification to refuse an invitation other then the, "I think the guy is a pompous a-hole and don't want to spend money at his establishments"

            2. Alure

              (O. Fr., from oiler, "to walk"), is an architectural term for an alley, passage, the water-way or flat gutter behind a parapet, the galleries of a clerestory, or sometimes even the aisle itself of a church. The term is occasionally written valure or valoring.

              Although I suspect that's not what he had in mind.

              1. Is it known for certain that this is what you say it is? Things like this are awfully easy for someone with an agenda to manufacture. If this is what you say it is, it's appalling, but it's hard to imagine anyone smart enough to run a restaurant dumb enough to do this. I'm more and more reluctant to take anything like this at face value.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Steve L

                  I hear you; this could be a calculated stunt, another fake Velveeta shortage (that's just an example: no one will ever associate Varano with a lack of cheese).

                  Varano's marketing persona may be a risible caricature, but he definitely struck a chord with that third-rate Sopranos shtick, supported with paid appearances by minor Sopranos cast members whose typecasting presumably limits their work options.

                  But this grotesquerie is sharply at odds with his other main marketing tack, mawkish sentimentality about "love" and "family". I'd be more suspicious if it weren't clear that his PR team is at Defcon2 over this.


                2. I'd love to hear from the landlords at the Park Plaza

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Bellachefa

                    Given that the hotel previously ran ads for their vacant restaurant space that were slightly risqué (including one with a "50 Shades" reference), I'm guessing they didn't voice any objections.


                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      And the Bay Village Neighborhood Association?
                      or maybe Mayor Marty who seems to be loving every press opportunity he can create.

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        I believe the original "50 shade" ads were paid for by the realtor, boston urban.

                    2. Boston.com's Kara Baskin is reporting via Facebook that the ad has already been taken down.


                      5 Replies
                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        I would prefer them make a public statement and apology, rather then try to sweep this huge mistake under the table, and that includes the ad agency that created this atrocity. I'm leery of holding my breath.

                        1. re: Bellachefa

                          It is said that the first step toward recovery in Assholes Anonymous is admitting that you have a problem. I don't see Varano attending that meeting, somehow.


                        2. re: MC Slim JB

                          Bless Kara for capturing the fiasco for posterity, and to MC for posting it before it went away.


                          1. re: bear

                            I'd also suggest that this puts the kibosh on the Calculated Marketing Stunt theory.


                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Exactly. I thought at first that it couldn't be for real, but he's managed to surpass my expectations by quite a bit.

                        3. Awesome, truly awesome!

                          Let's see, brainstorming session to ponder what else we could contribute to make that graphic more stupid/offensive. The typo is a nice touch. I like the idea of shooping Varano's head in.

                          I do think more explicit bondage or perhaps leash-themed accoutrements would add something. Or maybe a cartoon-dialogue box with the girl begging for meat...

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            In response to this kerfuffle, at least one observer has quoted the "Smell the Glove" album-cover discussion scene from "This is Spinal Tap!" at length: http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/23...


                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              "Smell the glove" is certainly heading in the right (wrong) direction.

                            2. re: StriperGuy

                              Before I saw this I was in the middle of typing "what's wrong wif bein' sexy?"

                            3. Grotesque!

                              I work in that building now, too!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                Well as a neighbor, perhaps you can help make this go viral. I just want them to own it and not sweep it under the carpet and pretend it never happened.

                              2. Well, that's one way to celebrate International Women's Day....

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    the comments on that blog are rather disturbing

                                  2. I think I will make a point of visiting erbaluce very soon

                                    1. Well if I'm nick and reading this thread, then I'm feeling pretty good. The chow regulars only get upset over thriving successful businesses.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: libertywharf

                                        Yes, Chowhounds are constantly hating on successful restaurants. It's clearly our most important criterion for judging whether a place is terrible: popularity. Hence the ongoing savage criticism here for, oh, Strip-T's, Oleana, Bondir, Hungry Mother, Hamersley's, Ribelle, Grill 23, Rino's, Toro, Coppa, Eastern Standard, Craigie, Island Creek, Neptune, No. 9, on and on.

                                        How do you keep you finger so close on the pulse of this board?


                                      2. How did this guy get so successful as quickly as he did without any backers or partners?

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: Unfoodie

                                          I'm sure he has investors. As for his success, he found a shtick that struck a chord with a certain audience: people who fancy they could have worked as Sopranos extras if only somebody had asked. He gets a lot of local sports celebrity traffic via copious comps.

                                          I don't think the food at the Stregas is awful, but the rooms are hideously tacky (especially the original), the prices are too high to rate as a value, the service lays on the kitsch pretty thick, I don't enjoy gory mob movies on two dozen TVs while I'm eating, and the bartending is quite below average.


                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                            I'm Italian-American and not terribly PC or adverse to some laughing at some Italian stereotypes, but a number of years ago when I went into Strega on Hanover for a drink I was offended by those endlessly running Mafia movies, especially because the source was an Italian-American. If the restaurant was owned by a non-Italian I just would have laughed it off and blamed it on stupidity.

                                            1. re: pemma

                                              My Italian Father in law HATES mafia references of any kind.

                                          2. re: Unfoodie

                                            1st, of course he has investors and partners, including some other restaurant and north end guys.

                                            2nd, he has other "diversified" interests besides the restaurants.

                                            3rd, the north end location has been open over 10 years. this is not a "quick" success.

                                            lol, mcslim, the waterfront location has had "celebrity" nights with "people" like big ang from "mob wives." :o

                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                              I wonder how we would think about that poster if it was Big Ang puckering up for the tantalizing meat?

                                              1. re: nsenada

                                                i saw her that night (not at strega) and she was a FRIGHT.

                                            2. I'm not on Facebook, but the original link MC posted allowed me to view the page yesterday. It is now closed.

                                              Is it closed to all Facebook users? Something smells in Bay Village and it's not Erbaluce.

                                              The hasty removal of the window advertisement and now a link to the evidence quickly swept under the carpet????

                                              Something fishy and it's not anchovies.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Bellachefa

                                                Draghi took his Facebook post down after the offending poster came down. But his photo has escaped into the wild; it can be found in the Mediaite story I posted above, the Boston.com Restaurant Hub story on it http://www.boston.com/blogs/ae/restau... , and many other places like Twitter.


                                              2. The current signage in the windows (think steakhouse cum "Foxy Lady") makes it clear that they are aiming for a different clientele than the 3 steakhouses 50-100 yards from their front door and the one that's a block away.

                                                Glad I don't have to work real late too often.

                                                1. Why post a picture of Nick with girls in feathers? Because it's there (on teh internets).

                                                  17 Replies
                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                    Are we SURE this is going to be a steakhouse? :-b

                                                    1. re: hiddenboston

                                                      given a choice, I'd prefer the reopening of the naked i

                                                      1. re: Bellachefa

                                                        I'd vote for the second coming of Tar Bar: beat-up living room furniture, dirt-cheap drinks, transgendered hookers taking a quick smoke and drink break from walking the streets around Park Square.


                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                          My first "real" job was near park sq. in the mid-80's. I recall the scene very well (yikes!) as well as some of the institutions (Thai place, video game palace) but don't recall the Tar Bar.

                                                          Now that we've moved from our swank Boylston digs into the "Statler" I am curious as to where the Tar was back in the day.

                                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                                            oh! the tar bar! only time i ever hit anybody was there and i broke a guy's nose :0 somebody called the cops and the bartender gave us regulars all staff shirts so the guy with the busted nose and his friends got hauled off! who lets a little girl hit him in the face? amazed i could even reach.

                                                            it was where the parking garage ramp is in the statler bldg.

                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                              Do you mean the Motor Mart garage?

                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                Yeah the motor mart parking garage is across the street

                                                                Was it in there?

                                                                And congrats for the sky coverup !

                                                              2. re: C. Hamster

                                                                If memory serves, it was on the block that now houses Maggiano's, facing the Park Plaza.


                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                  i think maggiano's may have been the hub pub.

                                                              3. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                I LOVED the Tar Bar! It was our local go to place after class. Miss it (and my 20s).

                                                                1. re: Kat

                                                                  Sounds like the joint was where the take-out part of Maggiano's is, facing PPOffice. I look right into it from my window. Too bad it's gone!

                                                                2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                  Tar Bar! First I read about Hi-Fi Pizza, and now you had to remind me about the Tar Bar.


                                                                3. re: Bellachefa

                                                                  Or the Great Gatsby - that was such a scene!

                                                                  1. I didn't know about this upcoming restaurant, but your description tells me I know quite enough!