Food & Drink » Mouthful

Private Spaces

Those special rooms in area restaurants

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When I think of private rooms, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Southeast Asian Spice Market in New York comes to mind. These rooms were not created for business, receptions, or baby showers. Off to the side of the bar area - decked out like the production set for Miss Saigon - are small intimate dining nooks, many connected through a sybaritic labyrinth where female servers wearing backless dresses serve the customers. But then, these spaces are probably not equipped with audio video equipment and Internet connections for business meetings. Equipment as well as capacity is what matters for business functions. These functions can generally be booked as needed within a few days or a week of a meeting. Booking for company holiday parties is different, however. Many of the area's restaurants with the largest private rooms have already booked their space for next December. Personal functions are typically booked on Friday and Saturday nights or anytime during the weekend as far in advance as possible. Some restaurants have event or banquet managers who can assist in the planning of the menu and facilitating the technology needs of the meeting. Most first-tier restaurants have private meeting capacity.

One of the largest restaurants in town is Maggiano's Little Italy, a spacious 350-seat corporate multi-unit restaurant located in SouthPark Mall with an array of private rooms. Their two rooms on the third floor combine for a capacity of 120 guests. The other private rooms can hold up to 60. About 35 percent of their private bookings are for personal functions. For business functions, these rooms come with the "full complement" of audio visual equipment and Internet access.

Maggiano's Little Italy, 4400 Sharon Road in SouthPark Mall. 704-916-2300.

Villa Antonio's has two private dining rooms seating up to 110 guests. About 70 percent of their bookings are business related. For personal functions, the private dining area is opened up to the dance floor. Villa Antonio features live music (along the Tony Bennett lines) nightly during the dinner hours. After 11pm on the weekend, the music becomes a salsa-1980 DJ mix.

Villa Antonio, 4707 South Boulevard. 704-523-1594.

The addition of sibling Menage Ultra Lounge next door has increased the private function capability of Latorre's Latin American Cuisine downtown. The second floor of Latorre's holds 100 while the Menage dining room for 50 is also available for functions. Latorre's also offers a two-story covered patio available for parties of 50 each or combined for 100 guests. Latorre's recommends that parties be booked at least one month ahead.

Latorre's Latin American Cuisine, 118 W 5th Street. 704-377-4448.

The new Morton's in SouthPark offers seating up to 75. They have three state-of-the-art private rooms with drop-down screens, Internet connections, built-in speakers, and audio visual equipment. The downtown location has a private room for 48 and a semi-private mezzanine for 70.

Morton's, The Steakhouse, SouthPark Mall. 704-365-1330; 227 W. Trade Street. 704-333-2602.

If you need to add some oom pah pah to a function, check out Waldhorn Restaurant in Pineville. This colorful German restaurant has the vibrancy of a perpetual Oktoberfest. Their private room upstairs can accommodate 80 guests.

Waldhorn Restaurant, 12101 Lancaster Highway, Pineville. 704-540-7047.

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