continuously-operating restaurants

From The New York Times:

A shabbily dressed man walked into an opulent restaurant. It was the 1970s, when people still made a sartorial effort for a night out in Manhattan. Alone, he took a seat in the lounge.

The restaurant’s owner, Laura Maioglio, wasn’t wearing her glasses, so her vision was blurry. She didn’t think much of the visitor. But her widowed mother, Piera Maioglio, who was with her, did. “Oh, that poor person, he doesn’t look like he can afford Barbetta,” Piera told her daughter.

Together they observed the man from their usual table in the back of the 100-seat dining room, lit by a majestic chandelier built in 1775, acquired from a palazzo in Turin, Italy.

A Barbetta menu from that era, at the New York Public Library in the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Book Division, lists roast rack of lamb for two for $14.50. There was an additional 75-cent cover charge. Back then, it would have cost at least $20 a head for dinner with wine, plus an extra $2 to $3 for shavings of white truffle flown in from Piedmont, in Northern Italy. Dinner would easily cost about $150 for two today.

Piera, who was extremely beautiful, Laura recalled — “a cross between Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo” — instructed a waiter to bring the man a menu to alert him what he was in for. Once he saw the prices, she thought, he could make a face-saving excuse to leave and not have to skulk out after being seated in the dining room.

The Maioglio women had been watching over the theater district Italian restaurant, at 321 West 46th Street, since 1962. That was the year Piera’s husband and Barbetta’s founder, Sebastiano Maioglio, died at the age of 82. Laura was their only child.

The man didn’t budge after glancing at the menu, contending that he was waiting for three friends.

Laura went to take a closer look. It was Mick Jagger.

“Who’s Mick Jagger?” Piera asked.

“He’s with the Rolling Stones,” Laura said.

“Who are the Rolling Stones?” asked Piera.

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The Rolling Stones and Andy Warhol were regulars at Barbetta in the ’70s. More recently, the Clintons and Lin-Manuel Miranda have stopped by. Credit Dina Litovsky for The New York Times

These days at Barbetta, most guests dress casually. On a recent evening, Rick Miramontez, the press agent for “Hello, Dolly!” and “Springsteen on Broadway,” sat tie-less in the lounge, something he would not have dared to do when he visited for the first time in 1979. “It was very dressy, very starched, a necktie place through the ’80s, no question,” he said.

Indeed, from its townhouse exterior to its brocade chairs and swag curtains, Barbetta is a throwback to the days of the fancy restaurant.

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from Spoiled NYC: #Blessed: After 50 Years of Service, Di Fara Pizza Now Delivers

Di Fara Pizza has been serving up their unbeatable pizza for half a century.

When you visit Di Fara, you know two things– you won’t leave hungry but yeah, you better get ready for the wait, which can sometimes be up to 90 minutes during peak hours.

However, the pizza gods must be smiling down on us, because Di Fara just added delivery from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. through UberEats.

The delivery extends to anyone living between Ditmas Park to Bay Ridge right now and they’re still working out the kinks.

As reported by Eater, Di Fara’s WiFi is a little whack, but now, Uber lets patrons know when their order doesn’t go through.

Also, a writer for The Daily Meal tried out the delivery service last Friday and received her pizza in less than an hour (!) but the slices were in individual boxes.

A representative also explained that for now, they’re using bicycle messengers, but plan to have Uber cars delivering whole pies.

Going to Di Fara to wait for your pizza, and watching Dom Dimarco snip basil like it’s the lord’s work, is a right of passage itself but seriously, a whole Di Fara pizza in less than an hour without leaving our couches?…

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From Untapped Cities: Historic East Village Food Tour (buy tickets online here)

On Sunday August 21st at 12pm, join James and Karla Murray, authors and photographers of the critically acclaimed books, Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New YorkNew York Nights and Store Front II-A History Preserved on this walking and tasting tour of some of their favorite East Village food establishmentsDiscover the food, history and diverse culture of the East Village while tasting delicious specialties from at least 6 different tasting stops.

Many family-run businesses started out as traditional mom-and-pop stores passed down from generation to generation, and defined their neighborhoods. Not only are these modest small businesses falling away in the face of modernization, gentrification, and conformity, the once unique appearance and character of New York City’s colorful streets suffers in the process.

On this tour you will learn about the diverse German, Italian, Jewish and Ukranian history of the East Village and try some fresh homemade Italian mozzarella, drink an authentic New York City egg cream or have a freshly roasted cup of coffee, taste a hot Ukranian potato pierogi with toppings, sample a freshly baked Jewish sugar cookie, enjoy an authentic New York hot dog and tropical drink and taste a freshly baked Italian cannoli.

Enough food will be sampled so that for most people lunch afterwards is not needed.”…

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Disclosure: I have never been to The Four Seasons. Besides being way out of my budget, not to mention my (logistical) orbit, I figured the sort of people who ran and patronized it would take one look at working-class me, and unceremoniously tell me that as someone obviously neither rich nor famous, and as a woman unescorted, I had no business being there.  Then I started seeing online voucher deals offering meals at The Four Seasons to the great unwashed, and reading stories that said The Four Seasons would be closing. Initially dismissing the latter as rumor, I put “two-and-two together” figuring that in spite of continuing media coverage (I followed the new accounts of the “Picasso War” with interest) and presumably continuing cachet, for some mysterious reason, this bastion of privilege was facing hard times. Their landlord decided not to renew their lease, a fate they shared in common with a lot of smaller, less famous New York based businesses of all kinds.   It’s nice to think such an institution as The Four Seasons metaphorically puts its pants on one leg at a time, but oddly unsettling as well: if it could happen to them, how much worse the fates that face the rest of us.  Here are the actual facts, as presented by Eater, in “57 Years of The Four Seasons“. While this article says that plans are in the works for the restaurant to change location to a space in 280 Park Avenue, it remains to be seen whether the restaurant itself will last, how the new restaurant moving into the space will operate, and whether the interior landmarking in the Four Seasons’ dining areas will be respected by the new owners and tenants. The current edition of Curbed, written by someone whose grandfather sent away for samples of The Four Seasons graphic design identity back in the day, and preserved the envelope with them for posterity, also believes both the post-Seagram Building Four Seasons and the new restaurant will not offer customers the same experience following The Four Seasons’ move and movable property auction :

“When they are dispersed to those who can pay, this orchestral design project, in which Antonucci only provided the string section, will be broken up forever. The Four Seasons was a miracle of design care, miraculously intact for its age, and new owner Aby Rosen’s actions are the equivalent of me throwing that envelope in the trash—but not without peeing on it first.

 Courtesy of Wright

When Curbed wrote in 2015 that the Four Seasons was “safe” from an over-ambitious planned renovation by Annabelle Selldorf, we did not realize that everything not nailed down by the interior landmark status would be removed, literally hollowing out the victory. (The glamorous downstairs lounges, with their book-matched marbles and upholstered walls, are not even part of the landmark designation.)

And for what? For different chairs (possibly also from Knoll) and different glasses, fresh menus and contemporary silverware. Will it be as nice?…

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from DNAinfo:

Mimi’s Pizza Priced Out of the Upper East Side After 51 Years, Owners Say

By Shaye Weaver | June 30, 2016 10:45am

 Mimi's Pizza, which was a favorite of people like Sir Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and others, closed on Sunday.

Mimi’s Pizza is closed due to too high costs, the Vanacore family says. View Full Caption

UPPER EAST SIDE — The Vanacore family watched as the final remnants of Mimi’s Pizza were taken away after a public auction on Tuesday.

The longtime pizzeria — which over the 51 years it’s been on the Upper East Side was frequented by big names like Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Bobby Flay — served its last slice on Sunday after the family and the landlord couldn’t agree on terms for a new lease, they said.

“It seems like the Upper East Side is no longer a place for a family business,” said Lisa Vanacore, who owns the shop with her husband, Stephen. “It’s very difficult.”

The couple and their 19-year-old daughter Christina Perrotta were gathered at the restaurant on the corner of East 84th Street and Lexington Avenue to hand off the remains of their kitchen equipment and furniture on Wednesday afternoon.

They compared losing the restaurant to mourning a family member. From 2000 to 2003, Stephen Vanacore lost his mother, brother and his father, Dominic, who went by Mimi and whom the eatery was named after.

“It is like losing them all over again,” said Perrotta, adding that she had worked at Mimi’s Pizza with her parents since she was 2 years old. “I feel bad for my step-dad. His heart and soul was in this business.”

“This was the last piece of us,” Lisa Vanacore added, tearing up.

The family said they could not negotiate an affordable rent with their landlord, and will have to be out of the space by Friday. They declined to say how much they were being asked to pay. The landlord did not respond to request for comment.

Lexington Avenue was all mom-and-pop shops when Stephen Vanacore was growing up and working at Mimi’s, he said. There was a candy store, a butcher shop, an independent drug store and a print shop, Yorkville Copy, around the corner that was priced out two months ago, Vanacore said.

“We had a cleaners here that had to close and the pet store closed. The demographics are changing,” Lisa Vanacore said. “All we see now is Starbucks, drugstores and banks. We’re priced out of the neighborhood and I think it’s hard for a pizzeria to make these kind of rents no matter what kind of history we have up here.”

The Vanacores live in New Jersey now but used to live right across the street so they could see the bread being delivered every morning, they said.

Upper East Side resident James Tang, 32, was a regular at the pizzeria, having gone there since the time he was a child.

“When I had chicken pox when I was 4, it was the only thing I wanted,” he told DNAinfo New York on Wednesday. “It’s really sad and actually a travesty.

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