Italian Bars of Greenwich Village




Dante Bar has 12 different varieties of Negronis that they offers from their well-stocked bar. In particular? Dante seeks to bring the European tradition of the aperitivo, a refreshing cocktail or glass of Prosecco or Italian Wine, enjoyed late afternoon, or early evening, all over Italy, and of late, the hottest thing to do in New York as well.


Monte’s Trattoria

Greenwich Village

Monte’s has been around a long time. One-Hundred & One Years as a matter of fact. The restaurant opened in 1918 and has been owned & operated by 3 Italian Families in the restaurants 101 year (so far) history. Originally opened in 1918 by the Monteverdi family. The Monteverde family first opened a Wine & Liquor store on the site, and in 1918 opened the restaurant, it is said as the family had heard of the oncoming event of Prohibition and the 18th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which would prohibit and outlaw the sale and consumption of alcholic berverages. The Monteverde’s took smart action and opened an Italian Restaurant in the highly concentrated Italian neighborhood of the southern part of Greenwich Village, and the rest Greenwich Village Italian New York history. The Rosasco family of Greenwich Village became the 2nd Italian family to own Monte’s. 

In 1983 the Mosconi Family who came from Piacenza, Italy in Emilia Romagna, bought the restaurant in 1983, and have been running it ever since, and had a big 100 Year Anniversary Party in 2018, Celebrating the restaurants 100 Birthday. 

Monte’s Trattoria is one of the few restaurants in New York that fits into the genre that New Yorker’s know as an Old School New York Italian Restaurant of which there used to be many all over Manhattan, but now few remain, and Monte’s Trattoria is one of them The restaurant is headed by Chef Pietro Mosconi with the help of his son Peter Mosconi who handles front of house operations, the business end of things and whatever else needs being done. This partnership works quite well, as Monte’s many regulars will attest to, as the restaurant is World Famous, and not only has “Local Regulars,” but regulars from all over America, and even the World.

Now most wouldn’t think of Monte’s as having one of the Best Bars in the city, or even Greenwich Village, but it does. And we mentioned the regulars? Well some of Monte’s most loyal regulars are the folks who hang out at the bar, and not just to drink, but have what many know as one of the best places to get great Italian food in all of New York City, especially Chef Pietro’s wonderful home-made pasta, like: Tortelloni, Agnolotti, Lasagna, Gnocchi, and both Meat and Cheese Ravioli.

Yes, the food is fine, as is the service, and ambience of the place, but, “weren’t we talking about the bar?” Yes, lets’ get back to the bar. It’s one of those little known facts, by a few hundred (or thousands) of those in the know, and it’s more or less those in-the-know, and those who merely serindipitously stumble upon the place by accident who truly know, the secret of the bar at Monte’s. Yeah the regulars like; John B., Julio, Dr. Mike, and all the rest know that Tony The Bartender (and Peter Mosconi now & then) mix up one of the Best Old Fashion Cocktails in town, as well as perfect Negroni’s (Superior to the more famous Dante Negroni), Killer Margarita’s made with Grand Marnier, spot-on Martinis, Manhattans, and anything else your little heart may desire. Yes the barmen (Tony & Peter) really know their stuff, and take pride in what they do. So if you’re looking for an Aperol Spritz or properly made Negroni, Monte’s is the go to Italian-Bar in Greenwich Village New York.



The Bar at BABBO



Well, Mario is gone, and the place is  famous for its Italian Food. It used to be uber hard to get a reservation to procure a table there, but it’s a lot easier, ever since the departure of Celebrity Chef Mario Batali (we’ll not talk of his departure). Anyway, although Babbo may have lost a little of its luster, it’s still a dam good place to eat, and has, along with Monte’s Trattoria, one of the Best Italian Bars in Greenwich Village, New York. Yes, a great Italian Bar, and not just for its restaurant and food. What constitutes a great Italian Bar? Well first and foremost, the bartenders must be versed in the art of making a Negroni, as well as pulling a perfect Espresso Italian Coffee. You should know how to make a good Manhattan, and Martini’s, as well as have a solid knowledge of Italian Wine which are served at the bar as well. Having a great personality is  required and of utmost importance. Now we don’t want to knock the bartenders at Babbo, they are professional and courtesy, and make great Negroni’s and other cocktails, but we have to say were lacking in having the personality that makes the Greatest of Bartenders, and a great Bar requires great bartenders, it’s the # 1 element in the equation. Not the liquor, nor the ambiance, though very important, the single most important aspect of a Great Bar is a great bartender, who must have all the elements required; have a outstanding personality, mix great drinks, be friendly and efficient, “that’s it.” 

We found, on our rounds of the Italian Bars of Greenwich Village, our two favorite Italian Bartenders were Tony and Peter, both of Monte’s. The bartenders at Dante were quite good as well, Bar Pisellino “Not So Much.”


Someone once told me, that “going to Volare is like going to your favorite Aunt’s house for dinner.” That’s assuming that your aunt (my Aunts Helen & Fran) is a great Italian cook. Everyone treats you like you were part of the family. That’s the kind of place Ristorante Volare is. And it’s an Old School this great city of ours is losing fast. Lucky for us, Volare still survives, and it survives very well “Thank You.” Yes it’s an old school “Red Sauce Joint,” that serves all the New York Italian Red Sauce Classics, like Spaghetti & Meatballs, Baked Clams, Veal and Chicken Parmigiana just the way  you like it. Yes, you”ll be fed all your classic Italian dishes, and you’ll be fed well. And if you’re hankering for just a little cocktail or two, in cool old New York Italian joint, going to Volare will fit the bill quite well. Your not going to get any new style so-called Mixologist Cocktails at all. But if you’re into the old classics, like a properly made Martini or Manhattan, then you’ve gone to the right place. And if you want a nice plate of Spaghetti with Clam Sauce or a  nice thick Italian Style Veal Chop, again, “you’ve come to the right place.”



Bar Pisellino


Bar Pisellino has all the elements to make a great bar one day, and one of the best Italian Bars in Greenwich Village. As of now, they’re not. Yes they have, if not all, then many elements to make it a great Greenwich Village Italian Bar. They make good Negroni’s, and Aperol Spritz’s, have a good selection of Amari (Amaro), and the place is well appointed, however it’s missing quite a lot, the place just doesn’t have a great vibe. When I first walked in and looked at the menu, I thought, “Wow,” this place is great, but as I sat there looking a the menu, and then getting my drink, the place just didn’t feel right. The vibe was not good, a combination of being quite contrived (not Organic), and because of this fact, drawing a crowd that just wasn’t right, not cool, but a crowd filled with followers, the types of  people who only go to a place that’s one of the hottest spots in town, and unable to find a truly cool unpretentious great restaurant or bar on their own. They have to read about it on Eater, Instgram, or wherever.

Anyway, Bar Pisellino has a lot of potential, and maybe after all the noise dies, the followers stop going there indroves, and the place starts filling with neighborhood people, along with well-healed tourists, and business people, the bar just might get a better vibe than it does now, which is, “not so good.”




John’s of 12th Street is not in Greenwich Village technically, but we’ve just got to include it in our Best Greenwich Village Italian Bars. John’s is in the East Village, east of Greenwich Village, so, close enough. The fact that this place has been there on East 12th Street in New York, that it has all its original decor, including the 110 year old bar, and that the place was once a Speakeasy that saw that likes of one Charles “Lucky” Luciano who  a couple blocks away, and the fact that it has many famous celebrities and famed Mobsters (Joe Maseria), we’ve just gotta include it here as well.

Belly up to the bar that Lucky Luciano drank at, and where the great John Lennon once ate at, and the likes of legendary Italian Prize Fighter “Rocky Graziano,” also of the neighborhood. Have the bartender make you a Campari & Soda and just soak up over 100 years of New York Italian History, you’ll not find another place like it, as sadly two great 100 year old Italian Food Establishments, DeRobertis Italian Pastries, and Lanza’s Restaurant (Sicilian American) closed down in the past few years (A Sin!).

John’s of 12th East Street (302 East) East Village … New York NY


John’s of 12th Street


photo Daniel Bellino-Zwicke


Documentary Film

“JOHN’S of 12th STREET

by Vanessa McDonell







and More …

Fanelli Cafe



Cafe Fanelli is one of New York’s oldest we, preserved Old Bars. What is w Cafe Fanelli’s first opened  as a bar on the corner of Prince Street & Mercer as Prince Cafe in the year 1872 by Italian immigrant Nicholas Volpe. The Fanelli family bought the bar in 1922 and re-named it Fanelli’s Cafe. The building was first erected in 1847 and its commercial space was operated as a grocery store from 1863, before a var opened there in 1872. During Prohibition Fanelli’s was a Speakeasy from he years of 1920 to 1933.

Though no longer owned by Italians, nor in Greenwich Village, because of its Italian-American history and the fact that Fanelli’s has retained so much of its former old-bar decor, we’ve include it in this piece. So if you’re looking to experience a wonderful piece of old New York, go have a couple drinks at Cafe Fanelli.


West 11th Street


Gene’s first opened it’s doors in 1919, and operated as a “Speakeasy” during Prohibition. Gene’s has a long storied history of Italian and Artistic Greenwich Village, providing, staving artists, poets, and writers of the Beat Generation, and other eras, with inexpensive affordable Italian meals.

Old Vintage Postcard


The Bar at GENE’S






Hardest Reservation in NEW YORK


New York’s most Famous Bartender


Tending Bar at RAO’S

East Harlem



Frank Pelligrino Sr holds court at RAO’S

East Harlem NEW YORK ,


New York NY




Frankie No Says No Table at RAOS

FRANKIE NO Says “NO” !!!
RAO’S the historic Spanish Harlem restaurant is as elusive and alluring as ever. It’s still nearly impossible to secure a seat without serious connections — but Grub tracked down thirteen people who revealed their strategies for getting in and dished on their best nights (though a few of them were so concerned about revealing their secrets that they didn’t want us to use their names).
Strategy 1: Don’t Take No for an Answer
“I had a business partner who was this fastidious attorney who would never take no for an answer. In 1995, someone who works for us wanted to go there for dinner. My business partner called [co-owner] Frank [Pellegrino] 500 times. Finally he said, ‘Oh my God, come in. I can’t take it anymore.’ My partner wore him down. That first time, we became friends with everyone there. Frankie Jr. bonded with me, for some reason, and we became good friends. I was very active in the restaurant business for a long time, and I think that helped as well.
I don’t have a standing table. I think in the seventeen years I’ve been going, I’ve only had legit reservations three or four times. Every other time, I just go on a Monday night, sit at the bar, and hope to get seated. I text one of the main guys to let them know and ask them to seat me. I brought my wife there on our first date fourteen years ago. She was definitely impressed.
I once had a great encounter with Johnny ‘Roastbeef’ [a character actor best known for his small role in Goodfellas]. We were at the bar, and, all of a sudden, the theme from Cats comes on. Johnny put his glass down hard, and he said, ‘Every time I hear this song, all I want to do is eat pussy.’ Without missing a beat, the woman next to him, who was in her sixties, asked, ‘Does anyone know where I can get the CD really quickly?’ I started laughing, and the bartender said that I couldn’t laugh. We didn’t know if it was a joke. I’ve seen amazing things there. A guy who had just gotten out of the slammer after twenty years showed up to celebrate, wearing clothes from twenty years ago: a skintight black sleeveless shirt and tight jeans.” —Anonymous
Strategy 2: Be Eddie Huang
“I went the first time with Zach Chodorow with his girl and some other girl. Zach has friends that have a standing table. In the winter, they go away, and I hit him up. It was cool. We had a good time. They definitely have the best meatballs in the city. You go for the environment. You walk in, you walk out, and there’s no better entrance to a restaurant. I take a Town Car, whatever. You walk into a movie. 
The second time, it was my girl’s birthday, and it was right after Hurricane Sandy. She’s an Italian girl who lived in Harlem and had never gone, so I said, ‘I gotta take you.’ We went on November 4. I talked to Nicky the Vest at the bar, and he said he recognized me. I was like, ‘You don’t get many Chinese people in here?’ He said, ‘Why don’t I get you a table?’ Then Frank comes over and said, ‘Welcome back. If I have a table available, do you want to sit down and have dinner?’ Absolutely! We had dinner. It was the best birthday she ever had. You wish more people with that passion and that character were opening restaurants in New York.
But if you just want to just try the food, go to Vegas. That’s where my first Rao’s experience was, and I actually like Uncle Vincent’s chicken and the on-the-bone veal Parmesan better there. You can just walk into the Vegas location: It’s a twenty-minute wait, tops. You know how people say things just based on what sounds good? The fact of the matter is that the food is better in Vegas. But the Rao’s in Harlem is a New York institution. The moment you see it, you know why. It’s got that swag.” —Eddie Huang, Baohaus chef and soon-to-be television star
Strategy 3: Shower the Pellegrino Family With Gifts
“I used to work for an Academy Award–winning actor. It opened up a lot of doors in New York, but it never got me a table at Rao’s … until the actor’s executive assistant tracked down a member of the Pellegrino family and showered her with gifts: flowers, spa gift cards, and movie-premiere invitations. That’s how I scored my first reservation. I took my best friend, who’d also been trying (and failing) to get a table for many years. We feasted like kings. After dessert, the bartender asked us if we wanted a final drink ‘with Frank.’ Of course we said yes to this. The drink was served, but we didn’t touch it. We wanted to wait for Frank to join us, but an hour later, he still hadn’t come by our table. Eventually, the other tables emptied out. Rao’s was closing, and we realized that the drink wason Frank, not with him. Embarrassed, we quickly paid and departed.
More recently, I was able to get another reservation. A woman I knew was friends with Johnny ‘Roastbeef.’ Turns out knowing Mr. Roastbeef is a much better connection than any award-winning movie star because we landed the best table and had multiple drinks with Frank.” —Anonymous
Strategy 4: Be a Professional Baseball Player, Befriend Frankie
“I came to New York as a player in ’72, and it was either ’72 or ’73 that I went to Rao’s for the first time. I don’t even remember who brought me, to be truthful. It was fun. Everyone realizes that it’s a special place more now than ever because it is so hard to get a table in the damn place. I’ve been friends with Frankie a long time. His original name was ‘Frankie No’ because he ran the reservation book. No matter what you said, he said, ‘No!’ The old joke is that they only take reservations in November, and then they say they’re booked for the year. It’s the toughest reservation in all of New York City, even with those small Brooklyn restaurants with sixteen seats.
I get a chance to go maybe six or seven times a year. I live in West Palm Beach, and I come up and I work. I have two foundations that I started in New York City, and I sometimes get permission to auction a dinner here or there for charity, so sometimes people pay money to have dinner with me at Rao’s.” — Rusty Staub, former Major League Baseball player
Strategy 5: Better Yet, Be a Baseball Player’s Friend
“I started going about five or so years ago as a guest of good friend Rusty Staub, the former New York Mets baseball player, who had been going regularly (once a month or so) since the seventies. In the last year or so, I’ve been lucky enough to be offered a table, here or there, by Frankie or his cousin Susan Paolercio, who handles the much-coveted reservation book. I have a great relationship with them: They’ll call me and tell me when they have tables.
One of the best dishes isn’t even on the menu: fried chicken. You can win a lot of bets by saying it’s the best fried chicken in the city — it’s unbelievable.
The most memorable night … was my second or third time going, and I was with Rusty Staub, who played for the Expos in Montreal. We were minding our business, and across the way there was Celine Dion and her husband, with Tommy Mottola. Out of the blue, Celine got up, came over to the table, and started singing the Canadian national anthem. I went, ‘What the hell?’ She grew up watching Rusty play.” —Herb Karlitz, president of Karlitz & Company
Strategy 6: Go On a Monday
“The Rao’s people are dear friends of mine, but I don’t have a standing, once-a-month table. They usually gave me tables on Mondays. I’ve been there three or four times. When I eat there, I get the same table for two that’s close to the kitchen door. There was that murder a couple of years back, and that’s right by my table. The bullet hit the kitchen door, and for some time, the floor had stains on it. People go to racing-car events looking for accidents and hockey games looking for fights, but the dark side is that people want to see that when they go to Rao’s.
For me, what’s special about it is the closeness of everyone who works there. I see the same people, and I table-hop and say hello to people. Jeremy Shockey and Michael Strahan and I all sat down together there. Back then, they all worked for the Giants. That was a great time for me. The special nights are when Frankie gets up and sings. Cast members of Les Miz used to get up and sing, too, and that was always great. You have to finish the meal with the cheesecake. The woman who used to make it passed away, and it’s still very good, but not as good as it used to be.” 
Strategy 7: Get to Know the Family
“I started going a few years ago. Nicholas Caiazzio, a cousin of Frank Pellegrino, is a friend of mine. He has a couple of standing tables that I get offered. It’s always a show! One night we were up there, and it happened to be my birthday. Frank Pellegrino sang ‘Happy Birthday,’ and that was pretty cool. He’s the ultimate restauranteur. He lives up to everything that Rao’s is going to be. I grew up way downtown in Brooklyn, and it reminds me of that. Old guys outside smoking cigars. I like the fact that they haven’t ever changed over the years.” —Ralph Scamardella, corporate-executive chef/partner of the TAO Group
Strategy 8: Know Someone Who Knows Someone
“I ate at Rao’s in June of 1996 while I was a line cook at Bouley. I dined with chef Kurt Guttenbrunner (currently chef-owner of Wallsé), who was then a sous-chef. Through a regular Bouley customer, he was invited and brought me as a guest. I felt privileged for sure, and I remember eating some pretty tasty veal Parmesan. We had to get a car service at the door. It felt like I was in a movie.” —George Mendes, chef-owner of Aldea
Strategy 9: Find a Generous Regular
“I was a guest of [sportswriter] Dick Schaap, who had a table every Monday night. As he put it, it was his favorite possession. In fact, he wrote in his memoir about how pleased he was that I had taken his picture, and that I could have his Rao’s table anytime, which was very nice. He took me a number of times starting in 1988 — or sometime around there. I was lucky enough to be a guest of his many times.
In the early nineties, you could ask to get a table. Sometimes it’d take a month or so, but they’d usually give you a reservation. At the end of the evening with Dick, I’d ask if I could a table and take my sons. I began getting a table once every six or eight weeks. It was even possible to pull up in a taxi and walk in and ask, but there came a point where they literally filled the place with regulars.
The novelty of Rao’s wore off years ago, but I still go because the people make it so pleasant. I consider Frankie Jr. a good friend. The only reason my gallery at Caesar’s Palace existed is because he introduced me to the people at Caesar’s. He was basically my agent. Rao’s is a club you belong to — some people go to the Harvard Club or the Yale Club or whatever. I go to Rao’s.” —Neil Leifer, famed photographer and filmmaker
Strategy 10: Get Invited to a Private Party
“The only time I’ve ever been was for a press party that Bon Appétitorganized after Adam Rapoport took over. I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to secure the entire restaurant. Lots of food writers and bloggers were there, and the main point of the night was to promote the magazine, so it didn’t feel at all like a ‘real’ night at Rao’s. Still, Frankie was there, we got to be in that space, and they served a ton of food. What I mostly remember is that the Bon App eds were very gracious about letting people hitch rides home in their Condé-provided Town Cars at the end of the night, so maybe the place really does have some magical vibe that makes everyone more jovial. —Grub Street’s own Alan Sytsma
Strategy 11: Have Vague “Connections”
“I’ve got some ‘connections.’ Let’s leave it at that. The food is mediocre. Can we not name my name? I hate to insult them, but I cook better. I think you really have to know someone, either a celeb or someone of influence like a politician or a police chief.” —Anonymous
Strategy 12: Know a Mob Lawyer
“Someone I knew was about to get indicted because of a huge gambling scandal, and I wanted to introduce him to a well-known defense attorney. The attorney, who’s represented a bunch of organized criminals, was able to secure the table for us. It’s the only time I’ve been. The whole experience is a little surreal. You have a shitty sauce-and-cheese place, and people trying to act like they’re the shit. It’s not the best food ever, but it was definitely good. I did see Bobby Baccalieri from The Sopranos and detective Bo Dietl there that night, too.” —Anonymous
Strategy 13: Schmooze With Wall Street Types and/or Gangsters
“‘I’ve dined there at least five times, and I ate once with the gangsters, once with the Wall Streeters, and once with Hollywood folks. I once sat with some movie producers and Ben Gazzara — what a Hollywood legend! My first book was all about the mob, and my second is all about Wall Street, so I was never the one who made the reservation when I started going years ago in the nineties. It was always someone else who had connections — knew the mob or whatever. You have to know someone. It’s more than a meal; it’s magic.