Italian Bars of Greenwich Village

 

DanteBAR

The BAR at DANTE

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.

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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.

MONTE’S TRATTORIA … 97 Macdougal Street, GREENWICH VILLAGE ,  NY NY

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The Bar at BABBO

GREENWICH VILLAGE

NEW YORK

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.”

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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.”

RISTORANTE VOLARE ….  147 West 3rd Street, GREENWICH VILLAGE, New York

BarPesillino

Bar Pisellino

GREENWICH VILLAGE

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.”

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The BAR

JOHN’S of 12th STREET

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

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John’s of 12th Street

NEW YORK , NY

photo Daniel Bellino-Zwicke

Watch The TRAILER

Documentary Film

“JOHN’S of 12th STREET

by Vanessa McDonell

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SUNDAY SAUCE

LEARN HOW to MAKE

NEGRONI

SPAGHETTI MEATBALLS

BRACIOLE

and More …

Fanelli Cafe

PRINCE STREET

Soho

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.

GENE’S

West 11th Street

GREENWICH VILLAGE

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

GENE’S

The Bar at GENE’S

GREENWICH VILLAGE

NEW YORK

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RAOSpainting

RAO’S

Hardest Reservation in NEW YORK

RaosNickyVestBartender

New York’s most Famous Bartender

“NICKY The VEST”

Tending Bar at RAO’S

East Harlem

 

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Frank Pelligrino Sr holds court at RAO’S

East Harlem NEW YORK ,

as PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON looks on.

New York NY

2003

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ny.EATER.com

The Day Caffe Dante Closed

“IT’S OFFICIAL”
 
CAFFE DANTE HAS CLOSED
Caffe Dante shut its doors yesterday, Sunday March 22. 2015 … A very sad moment as I watched my friend of 30 years Mario Flotta pull down his pictures of the many Celebrities that have spent time at Caffe Dante over the years. I had to hold back my tears when I said goodbye to Mario and he and his  two sons Mario Jr. and Anthony locked the doors for the last time.
 
I said goodbye to Mario and his sons and walked around the corner to go home, knowing my second home had closed for good. One of those sad moments in life, but one one must deal with never-the -less. 
 
 
ME & MARIO
 
Greenwich Village Writer Daniel Bellino Zwicke
and
Mario Flotta Sr. at Caffe Dante on The Day of its closing, 100 Years
after opening on Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village … A Very Sad Day to say the least.
 
 
 
MARIO 
 
Copyright Daniel Bellino Zwicke
Yes it was quite sad day, the day my favorite caffe closed. I first started going to Caffe Dante in the Summer of 1985, after my first trip to Italy. I had passed by numerous times but never went in, for some reason the place didn’t appeal to me at the time, Caffe Luca around the block on Bleecker was my spot, and I loved it. I had been going to Caffe Luca quite often for three years before I set foot in Dante for the first time. The thing that got me going to Caffe Dante was that my good friend John Lee went there almost everyday, and he loved it, so I figured I’d give it a shot, and so I did. And so I went, and I liked it,and after a while, Dante became my daytime caffe, and Luca was were I went for my night time caffe, and I did this for a few years, never going at night, but several times a week, during daytime hours, and I soon became a regular Caffe Dante, and all the Maltese waitresses knew me, and I knew them, and I got to be friendly with the owner Mario Flotta and his sons; Anthony, Peter, and Mario. The waitresses at that time were Grace and Patricia, both from Malta, there was a Moroccan girl as well, my good friends Ada and Antionetta both came from Naples, Italy about a year later in 1986.
So I’d go to Dante several times a week when I could, which were any days that I didn’t work lunch at the restaurant, or I had the day off completely. And, as for Caffe Luca which I loved going to for years, and loved it, something happened. The old Italian guy *can’t remember his name), sold it to the two brothers who worked there. I hate to say it, but for some reason, the water glasses started smelling like a wet mop, and it didn’t stop. Som although I loved Caffe Luca, because of this, I just stopped going there. I didn’t want to, but the “wet mop thing’ wasn’t a one-time-deal, it was constant, and because of it, I just stopped going, no more Caffe Luca. About 8 years after I stopped going to Luca, the place, sadly closed down.
So, Dante was my caffe, I went ther almost everyday for 30 years from 1985 to 2015 when my buddy Mario Flotta sold the place. Yes, Mario had become a good friend. You  don’t go to a place almost every day for 30 years, and not become friends with someone. Going to Caffe Dante was like being with family. I had my Espresso, Cappuccino, and many Caffe Lattes over the years, thousands of each. Some days I went there two times in a day, and on a few occasions I’d make 3 trips in one day to Caffe Dante. The days I went twice in a day, which were many, I’d go in the morning or afternoon, and then I’d go there, meeting Jimmy S. or Jimmy B., or with Dante or Merceditas, both ex-girlfriends who I had long relationships with.
Yes many times I’d be there with friends or a girlfriend, hanging out socializing, having a good times. Going there with friends was I’d estimate somewhere between 20 to 25% of my total visits of thousands of visits over the years, the other 75 to 80% I’d go there on my own, to read and relax, or write, But I was never alone, most of the time, some of my caffe-friends were there and we’d chit chat, and converse, and one does in a cafe. Ad if none of my cafee friends were around, there was always the girls. The girls? The waitresses, some of which became friends and we’d have dinner parties together, sometimes go to Arturo’s or Lomabardi’s for Pizza with Rose, Tony, Ada, and Jimmy Starace. We were all friends.
Yes, I read a lot of books in Caffe Dante over the years. I read The Count of Monte Cristo at least 2 times there, biography’s on Maria Callas, Aristotle Onassis, Grace Kelly, Talouse Lautrec, Picasso, Gaugin, Vasco de Gama, Christopher Columbus, Ernest Hemingway, and many more. Yes, I love biography’s. Yes, I read novels s well, and I started writing, mostly essays on all sorts of things, some short stories like “Espresso at 4” about the four Italian Ladies from the neighborhood who had espresso at Caffe Dabnte at 4 PM everyday for years. These ladies were wonderful, and I’d sit there with my Cappuccino and listen to theit entertaining conversations. These ladies, you’d think could solve all the problems of the world, listening to them. And I loved there heated discussions on how to make, Meatballs, Pasta Fazool, Lasagna, Marinara Sauce, or Ragu Napoletana. Yes I loved seeing these ladies every day at Dante, and listening to their lovely little conversations about this=that-and-every-other-thing. I miss these sweet lovely Italian Ladies; Babe, JoAnn, Mary, and Maria. I miss Caffe Dante and seeing Rose (friend / waitress) and talking about food and all sorts of things with here, but mostly about food, recipes, and how to make different dishes. Rose was a dam good cook (still is).
I always said, Caffe Dante was my second home, and it was. It was the same I believe for all of the many regulars. I wrote my first book (La Tavola) in Caffe Dante. Yes I had so many good times there over the 30 years that I went there. The caffe opened in 1915, and my buddy Mario Flotta owned it for the last 44 years of its existence. Mario wanted to keep the place going, and for his sons to have the place, but they weren’t interested. It sad. When Mario had his second heart attack, it took a lot out of him, and since his sons had no interest in the caffe anymore, Mario decided to call it quits, and very sadly so. 
What was Caffe Dante, New York’s most authentic Italian Caffe for exactly 100 years, is now a high-price cocktail bar / restaurant. Mario sold the name, and the guy who bought it was smart, and he wanted to buy the name Dante, so now he can say that his place has been there since 1918. Yes this is true, but sadly Caffe Dante died in the year 2015. Those of us who were regulars miss the place dearly. We miss seeing each other (the regulars), we miss Mario and the girls, Ada, Antoinetta, and Rose. Well, as they say, nothing last forever, “things change,” and quite sadly Dante change, it died and we miss it dearly.
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Damiel Bellino Zwicke
 
 
 
 
 
 
SUNDAY SAUCE
 
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
 
 
 
 
 
SEGRETO ITALIANO
 
SECRET ITALIAN RECIPES
 
 
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
 
 
 
 
 GRANDMA BELLINO’S ITALIAN COOKBOOK
 
RECIPES FROM MY SICILIAN GRANDMOTHER
 
A NEW COOKBOOK
 
by Daniel Bellino
 
 
 
NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED SICILIAN RECIPES
 
DUE Mid APRIL 2015
 
In Paperback & Kindle on AMAZON.com

All Photographs & Art Work are the Property of Daniel Bellino-Zwicke and may not be published or used without written consent.

Best Spaghetti Carbonara in New York and Rome Italy Bucatini Amatriciana

 

 

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John’s of E. 12ths Street

So you absolutely Love SPAGHETTI CARBONAR? You have a hankering for it and was wondering who makes the Best Carbonara in the ccity of New York? look no further than East 12th Street and John’s of 12ths Street in the East Village. John’s has been turning out great Italian Food in what once was a neighborhood that was highly populated with Sicilian immigrants when the restaurant opened its doors more than 110 years ago in 1908 … Sicilian immigrants like Charles “Lucky” Luciano his family and peers. Luciano’s family came from the same town in Sicily as one Martino Severino Sinatra ( father of Frank), as well as 2nd generation Sicilian-American and Best Selling Italian Cookbook author Daniel Bellino-Zwicke whose grandparents Giuseppina Salemi and Fillipo Bellino immigrated to New York in the Year 1904 …

Spaghetti Carbonara is not a Sicilian dish, but a dish of Rome and Lazio. The dish was most likely not served at John’s until sometime between the 1950s and 70s, we’re not really sure, we do know that it was on the menu by at least the late seventies if not before. We also know that John’s makes one of the best plates of this dish in all of New York, if not the # 1 very Best of all. Try it yourself and see if you agree. 

We can also tell you that John’s makes great Baked Clams Oreganta, Spaghetti & Meatballs and other dishes, including, without question the # 1 Best version of Speedino alla Romano in all of New York. This is fact.

John’s is a wonderful restaurant that thankfully has kept all the original decor of 1908 intact, from the old tile floors, wood bar, terrazzo side-walls and painted murals of Italian Citys and their landmarks, like; Venice, Naples and Mount Vesuvius,  the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and Rome.

Yes we are quite fortunate to still have John’s old Italian restaurant to go to, places like this are a great part of the faric of our wonderful city. Sadly we have lost some great old Italian Red Sauce Joints like; Rocco’s of Greenwich Village, Gino’s of Lexington Avenue, Lanza’s around the block from John’s and De Roberti’s Pasticceria both of which were Sicilian owned and over a 100 years old each before they both sadly closed in the past few years. But you can still go to John’s, and a few other old joints, like Volare and Gene’s both in Greenwich Village and Beamonte’s in Brooklyn.

 

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Trattoria Danilo

 

Are you going to Rome? Looking for the Best Carbonara in the Eternal City? Trattoria Danilo is considered to make the best Carbonara in town.

Via Petrarca 13, Roma, Italy  tel . 39 06 7720 0111

 

“YOU SAY that You LOVE PASTA al AMATRICIANO?”

You can make it home ! The RECIPE is in SEGRETO ITALIAN, Secret Italian Recipes ..

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Stories of Italian Food

RECIPES SPAGHETTI CARBONARA

MEATBALLS – BRACIOLE

STUFFED ARTICHOKSE

and ???

 

READ about JOHN’S, Lanza’s , and DeRoberti’s, 100 Year Old Italians in the East Village of New York, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and New York Italians

 

 

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How to Make a BELLINI – Recipe

 

HARRY’S BAR
 
VENICE
 
ITALY
 
HOW to MAKE a BELLINI
 
By JAMIE OLIVER
 
BELLINI COCKTAIL RECIPE
 
 
INGREDIENTS :
 
4 medium White Peaches, peeled and diced
 
1 cup Water
 
1 tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice
 
1/4 cup Sugar
 
Prosecco
 
 
  • 1
    Puree Peaches, water, lemon juice and sugar in a blender until smooth.
  • 2
    Fill a Champagne Flute a quarter with Peach Puree, and then top off with Prosecco, champagne or sparkling wine.
NOTE :  If you cant get White Peaches, you may substitute yellow ones, adding a little Grenadine Syrup to give the puree a Pinkish color.
 
If you don’t have the Grenadine, you can still make them, but the will look more authentic if they look Pink.
 
Good Luck and Enjoy !
 
 
 
 
 
A Bartender Mixing BELLINI COCKTAILS
 
HARRY’S BAR
 
VENICE 
 
ITALY
READ ABOUT VENICE
 
HARRY’S BAR

 

BELLINI COCKTAILS

 
ITALY
 
And ITALIAN FOOD
 
In MANGIA ITALIANO
 
STORIES of ITALIAN FOOD
 
 
 
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Italian Oscars Party at Trattoria Montes

 

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CINEMA PARIDISO was The THEME

At MONTE’S TRATTORIA Annual Oscar Party

GREENWICH VILLAGE NEW YORK

 

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Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni

In MARRIAGE IATLAIN STYLE

Two GIANTS of ITALIAN CINEMA

 

MontesOSCARS

OSCARS PARTY at TRATTORIA MONTE’S

GREENWICH VILLAGE 

NEW YORK

Peter Mosconi with his Dad Chef Pietro Mosconi

Docor Micke and John Bennett

Are The MASTERS of CEROMONIES

At Monte’s Trattoria Annual OSCARS PARTY

ACADEMY AWARDS of MOTION PICTURES

2019

 

MontesOscarCOOKIES

CHEF PIETRO MOSCONI

Making His Famous OSCARS COOKIES

For MONTE’S TRATTORIA

ANNUAL OSCARS PARTY

GREENWICH VILLAGE

aaaGRANDMAaBeeeeeeeeeee

Grandma Bellino’s Cookbook

D. Bellino “Z”

 

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Monte’s Trattoria

Serving The Greenwich Village and Visitors

From Around The World

SINCE 1918

Montes-Trattoria.com

 

#CinemaParadiso

 

#OscarsParty

 

 

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Danny Talks Tony s Italian Bar

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Mare Chiare

“TONY’S NUT HOUSE

Mulberry Street

Tucked between a partly vacant Roman Catholic church and a Vietnamese herbal store, the Beard Cafe, on Elizabeth Street, near Broome, could be mistaken for another downtown bar, priced out of SoHo or the East Village. At night, young urbanites and European tourists mingle to enjoy techno music and imported beer. Leftist literature competes for attention with a video art installation.

But during the day, the place mellows to resemble a European coffee shop with fresh muffins and stale cigarettes. When four elderly Italian men arrive, they create a bit of old Little Italy: the private social club, in the midst of a now-fashionable neighborhood. The men go to the rear of the club and descend into a hideout in the basement, where they spend several hours.

”It is the last traditional social club,” said Lillian Tozzi, a founder of the Little Italy Neighbors Association, whose family has lived on Mulberry Street for over a century.

The members of the club declined to be interviewed, but visitors say the basement is sparsely furnished with little more than a television set, a refrigerator and fading photographs of neighborhood friends. Not much happens, they add, besides watching television, playing a friendly game of hearts and chatting. Fans of ”The Sopranos” would be disappointed.

”You go to hang out with the boys,” said Tony Tenneriello, 80, the bartender at Mare Chiaro, an oak-paneled bar on Mulberry Street that evokes the area’s bygone charm. ”The bars were different back then. You could play a game of cards for a bottle of wine.” 

2002

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TONY

Tony Tenneriello & Family

At His ITALIAN BAR

MARE CHIARE

aka “TONY’S NUT HOUSE”

 

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SINATRA with TONY

At TONY’S

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TONY’S FAVORITE

ITALIAN-AMERICAN FOOD

RECIPES

BUYnoww

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I first started going to Tony’s somewhere around 1984. Being myself (Danny) I always love the offbeat kind of place, whether we’re talking about restaurants, stores, Barber Shops, or in this cas bars.  Don’t want anything shiney and knew, and most likely quite contrived. Give me a cool old well worn place like McSorley’s Ale House on East 7th Street (Since 1854) John’s of 12th Street, a few blocks from McSorley’s, Pete’s Tavern (Gramercy Park), or the good old Italian Bar, Mare Chiare on Mulberry Street in New York’s so-called Little Italy. Well, Mare Chiare (aka Tony’s Nut House) no longer exist. Not as that cool old Italian Bar, run by the unflappable Tony Tennerielo himself. Tony was just “Too Cool.” And he wasn’t even trying to be, he was just being Tony.

His Bar was absolutely awesome. It was low key, and had a cool old ambiance. It’s original 1908 deccor was kept pretty much intact. Tony’s was usually pretty quiet and you could go in there and get a drink, sit down at the bar or a table, throw a few quarters in the Juke Box, and play some “Dino,” Tony Bennett, and of course songs by Mr. Frank Sinatra. Sit down and relax, listening to great Italian-American music as you sipped your drink and chit-chatted with your friends. I here the place used to be busier back in the day, when the Old Police Head Quarters was still open, prior to 1973 when it was shut down and moved to it new facilities near City Hall. Before that, Mare Chiaro had a bit of a livelier crowd filled with lots of Policemen and Detectives of NYPD before the closing of Police HQs on Broome and Layfayette Streets nearby. The time-span when I went from 1984 until Tony Tenneriello sold his family’s old Italian Bar in 2003. Yes, most  of the times I went to Tony’s wan’t crowded, usually, less than 12 people in the place. Regulars like me, simply called it Tony’s.

Besides going there any old time, especially on Sunday afternoons to watch a Giant’s or Yankees game, my favorite thing to do was to get an awesome Italian Sub Sandwich (to Go) at Parsisi’s Sanwich Shop, bring it to Tony’s, get a glass of Wine, put on some Sinatra and eat our tasty Sandwiches .

Yes, I had a lot of great times at Tony’s, but the best of all, was being at Tony’s one time when it was Tony’s Birthday. His family brought a Birthday Cake, we all sang “Happy Birthday Dear Tony,” Tony blew out the candles and we all had a piecce of cake, as one of his friends sang a couple Opera Songs. “Now what’s better than that I ask you?” Getting to sing Happy Birthdday to Mr. Anthony Tenneriello and sharing the good times and Tony’s Birthday Cake with the man himself.

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

I have a few old pictures I took at Tony’s back in the day. One day I’ll dig them up and post them here, for you can never get enough of Tony, or his awesome old bar, Mare Chiaro, aka Tony’s Nut House.

Basta !

 

The NEW YORK OBSERVER … March 4, 2003

 

TONY SELLS MARE CHIARO

“Arrivederci , Tony”

Already, the regulars are suspicious.

 

Mare Chiaro’s was a Little Italy watering hole with oak-paneled walls, sawdust on the floor and the Old World atmosphere of an Italian social club. In the 1990’s, both the Paris Review crowd and the dot-com Wunderkinds embraced the bar as their own, despite the bright overhead lights and lack of fruit-flavored martinis. More recently, Nolita hipsters have held court-all under the watchful eye of Tony Tenneriello, who sold the bar last month. Until then, Mr. Tenneriello, 81, could be seen there every night, cigar in his mouth, working past 1 a.m., shuffling from table to table to clear glasses and staring defiantly at anyone who lingered too long or got too rowdy. Locals just called the place “Tony’s.”

Mr. Tenneriello said he sold the bar because of his age and the long hours the job required. “It looked like I was going to die in that bar,” he said. “But I sold it.”

The new owners haven’t decided yet whether to take down the black-and-white photographs of Tony posing with Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, Madonna and others. “We have to retain the spirit of the bar,” said co-owner Eddy Welsh, 67, “but we also have to attract a new crowd. How much of a change do you make? Where do you draw the line?”

Indeed, Mr. Welsh and co-owner Richard Cestaro, 40, both local businessmen whose families grew up on Mulberry Street, have the unenviable task of “running Tony’s without Tony.” Their influence is already evident. In order to restore the exterior to what it looked like when the bar first opened in 1908, they’ve added copper outlay to the bar’s wooden doors and repainted the window frames, restoring them to their original white. Inside the bar, top-shelf liquor has been added, as has tap beer. The $3 Coronas now cost $5, and on the jukebox a buck buys two songs instead of three. The sawdust is gone. Soon the bar will serve lunch and late-night snacks: chicken wings, peel-your-own shrimp, eggs and peppers. Also under consideration is live Dixieland or country music. “Please God, NO !!!”

The bar had been in Mr. Tenneriello’s family since the turn of the century, when his father, Christopher Tenneriello, opened a small bar called C. Tenneriello’s at 1761¼2 Mulberry. Tony’s father worked the bar and Tony’s mother cooked Chicken Parmigiana and Spaghetti & Meatballs for a crowd of local Italians. After school, Tony would go to the bar and do his homework.

The police were the bar’s biggest crowd, coming in for lunch from their nearby headquarters on Centre Street. Members of the neighborhood’s crime families stayed away, according to Mr. Tenneriello.

“I’m not saying that no one ever came in,” he said. “But let me just say, thank God for the police.”

The police headquarters moved away in 1973, as did many of the neighborhood Italians, replaced by Chinese immigrants. By the late 80’s, the bulk of Mare Chiaro’s business were tourists who came to the city to visit the rash of new restaurants on Mulberry Street. Padding out the crowd was a mix of Artists and Writers . In the mid-1990’s, editors from the Paris Review met there every Friday night. The dot-commers would come by after long hours at their Broadway offices.

Nowadays, the crowd is thinner. A recent Thursday night found the bar sparsely populated with a mix of tourists, hipsters (White Stripes look-alikes) and stockbrokers. Sinatra’s “Summer Wind” played on the jukebox; an eager, short-haired female bartender was offering shots.

One of the stockbrokers, Mike, in his mid-30’s, had been coming to Mare Chiaro for the last six years.

“It was better when Tony ran the place,” he said, lowering his voice and looking around the bar. “The new owners want to get the yuppies in here. You can tell by the little things they’re doing-raising the prices of the drinks, the jukebox.”

Asked about this, Mr. Cestaro looked pained and said, “You can’t run a business selling $3 drinks.” He added that the bar’s prices are now on par with the other neighborhood bars.

If Mr. Cestaro and Mr. Welsh don’t have the full support of some of the regulars, they seem to have earned the respect of locally owned Italian businesses.

“To be honest, the bar needed an update,” shrugged one Mulberry Street restaurant owner. “The new owners are good guys. They realize they’re dealing with an institution; they’re not going to change it too much. Tony knew what he was doing when he sold it to them.”

Mr. Tenneriello said he has no interest in what the new owners may or may not change.

“What people want, and what people don’t want, it doesn’t matter,” he said, laughing hoarsely. “Things are going to change. It’s called progress, honey.”

READ about TONY in Italian-American New York Writer Daniel Bellino-Zwicke ‘s book       La TAVOLA – ITALIAN-AMERICAN NEW YORKERS ADVENTURES of The TABLE La Tavola

AVAILABLE on AMAZON.com

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READ About TONY

An His MULBERRY STREET

ITALIAN BAR

MARE CHIARO

aka “TONY’S NUT HOUSE”

In La TAVOLA

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