Founded in 1896, starting as a saloon, family owned – 4 generations in. From the famous NFL Manning brothers throwing a football outside of the restaurant which is on East 114th street to Sting and Bon Jovi both being in the restaurant and by the end of the night singing Sinatra’s famous “New York” hit together and with the entire restaurant, to topping it with Sophia Loren walking in and the always noisy restaurant dropping silent. This place is home. We walked in, greeted with such kindness by the owner, Frank Pellegrino (with no reservation I might add as they do not accept them – however they are somehow booked for 2015), we fell back into the era circa 1930 and I felt like I was a main character in Goodfellas – it was amazing. I am still unsure how it happened, starting with some drinks with Dee behind the bar – who comes across as the friend you grew up with – followed by our dreams coming true as we were told a table is being set for us. Dining and having the seafood salad, calamari (duh), meatballs, lemon chicken, broccoli rabe, vodka penne, of course a bottle of wine and topping it with lemon cello courtesy of the down to earth, classy, stylish Mr. Pellegrino – it sure was one of the best nights in New York City. To get a seat here is unheard of, the tables are allegedly each given to certain family’s for life and theirs whenever they want them. The generous, kind owner Frank, makes you feel like he’s your uncle Frank seating you at his birthday party. He was born on East 114th street in Harlem – his wife of 40+ years also is from the same area – he keeps tradition alive in numerous ways. This is an establishment you will find no where else. (Well, you can try in Hollywood and Vegas as they opened there too 🙂 but I’m confident it will not be as original as the Harlem location.
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