Gherardo Guarducci and Dimitri Pauli are the proprietors of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s regular hang out, Casa Lever, located at 540 Park Avenue on the Upper Eastside. The Northern Italian fare is served in a crowded 162 seat venue, where Cuomo sometimes holds court in a curtained-off section in the back.
Last night Cuomo met with Mayor Bill de Blasio. The two Italians are known for their competitive rivalry and Mediterranean tempers. That was on display last night, where the two had a “serious meeting” scheduled for 7:30 pm. The busy restaurant kept the entire section empty for the two men.
Both refused to arrive at the meeting first, so they each waited in different cars circling the block. Finally, at 8:32 pm Cuomo relented and entered. Then, two or three minutes later de Blasio entered the restaurant.
Cuomo ordered first. Both ordered the $46 fish — an Italian bass — the third most expensive plate on the menu. They declined drinks. If Cuomo’s food choice was intended to send a message, it was lost on de Blasio.
The two have had a competitive posture stemming from the days when they would vie for the attention of Governor Mario Cuomo, like brothers. They later would compete for the affection of President Bill Clinton while both working at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Now the two uneasy compatriots compete for the heart of their Democratic Party. Cuomo is thought to be envious of the activist fervor that de Blasio has been able to mobilize in New York City. De Blasio expects Cuomo to take more leftists positions, but Cuomo knows that a Republican challenger cannot be competitive statewide so long as he retains the middle ground.
The Democrats discussed Cuomo’s “vendetta” against de Blasio for perceived slights. They talked for about an hour. The restaurant may or may not have been stuck with the tab.
A young de Blasio aide says that Cuomo has been “relentlessly paranoid” that the Mayor is quietly preparing to challenge the Governor in the 2018 Democratic Primary, should the Governor be in position to seek reelection.