Lost Italian New York


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Prince Street

The Historic old facade still remains (Thank God), but the almost 100 year old Italian Bakers closed shop a few years ago. You can see the famous old storefront of the former Vesuvio Bread Bakers in what is now known as Soho, except if your an old-school Italian-American of Greenwich Village, this small area is still considered The Village by old-timers, myself included.


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All that’s left of the old Rocco’s Restaurant on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village is the old Neon Sign which now has CARBONE plastered over where it used to say ROCCO ..

ROOCO’S was one of the last few remaining Old-School Italian Red Sauce Joints left in downtown Manhattan. It was there on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village for some 70s years until the owners were forced-out by a Skyrocketing Rent Increase that they could not afford. Rocco’s was replaced by CARBONE, a place that charges $56 for Veal Parm when the average price around the city for VP is $27 elsewhere.



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Caffe Dante is no more. Well, there is still a place there called Dante, but it definitely is not the same. What was once, New York’s most authentic Italian Caffe for exactly 100 years from 1915 to the year 2015 when the then current owner Mario Flotta who hails from Avellino, Italy and who owned Caffe Dante for the last 44 years of its life, due to high-rent against insufficient revenue was forced to close and sell Caffe Dante and its name to a new owner. 

It was a sad day for me when Caffe Dante closed in 2015, as I went to this wonderful old Italian Caffe almost everyday for exactly 30 years. I first started to frequent Caffe Dante after returning from my first trip to Italy in the Summer of 1985. I had many good times at Caffe Dante over the years and I miss going there quite a bit. Caffe Dante is now an upscale Bar / Restaurant serving instead of the Best Espresso in town, they now serve expensive – overpriced cocktails. I guess you can’t stop progress? Cei la Vie …



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My Favorite New York Italian Restaurant Ever. This sentiment is held by a couple thousand other loyal regulars who ate at Gino’s for many years. Gino’s was one of the coolest restaurants you can ever wish to be a regular at. They served solid wonderful Italian Food & Wine at very fare prices. They had the famous Zebra Wallpaper and their famed sauce Salsa Segreto on the menu along with all the favorite Italian dishes that New Yorkers love to eat. Gino’s cultivated a wonderful crowd of regular clients who frequented the restaurant on a frequent basis, and these customers helped make the restaurant sing and give it life. My cousin and I went there often to always get a couple antipasti items to share, followed by a half portion each of Pasta Segreto, followed by a Veal Milanese that we’d split, and then we’d get two tasty desserts. We loved Gino’s and had a lot of fun there.

Sadly, as often happens Gino’s rent was raised, and this along with high wages fro Union Employees lead to the demise of one of New York ‘s most wonderful Italian Restaurant of all-time. So very sad, another bit the dust.


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LANZA’S Since 1904

The same year my Grandparents Giuseppina & Fillipo Bellino came to New York




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The Lanza name, however, is most notoriously associated with Joseph “Socks” Lanza, cousin to Lanza’s Restaurant owner Michael Lanza, labor racketeer, head of the Genovese crime family, and controller of the Fulton Fish Market during the 40’s and 50’s (from this alone, he received over $20 million in profits).  Although Michael Lanza never reached the crime status of his cousin or was part of organized crime officially, he did a little wheeling and dealing himself.  According to the NY Times, in 1976 he, along with two other men, was arrested for bribery, conspiracy, and gambling.  The men had paid over $18,000 in bribes to police officers for matters involving illegal activity at the restaurant.  No records indicate that the men served time.  Although now under new ownership, stepping into Lanza’s and ordering some Chicken Parm still feels like stepping into a vintage piece of East Village history.



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ROBERT DeNIRO in LANZA’S Shooting a scene for ANGEL HEART

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at LANZA’S with EGG

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Joseph Socks

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Michael Lanza

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Lanza’s Italian restaurant opened in 1904 at 168 First Ave., an East Village favorite until it closed in 2016. A regular customer, according to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, was Carmine “Lilo” Galante, boss of the Bonanno crime family. Lanza’s had a reputation as a mob hangout since the Bonanno and Columbo families dined there.

For perhaps the entire life of Lanza’s, all its customers passed under a turn of the century ad for PN Corsets. The sign was there in 1993 when Woody Allen used Lanza’s for a restaurant scene in Manhattan Murder Mystery.



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East 12th Street New York , NY

NOTE : JOHN’S is still in Business and Not Part of LOST ITALIAN NEW YORK

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Luciano grew up in the East Village (LES) of New York where he immigrated to with his parents at the age of 9 , from LERCARA FRIDDI SICILY, the same town the SINATRA FAMILY and Best Selling Italian-Cookbook Author DANIEL BELLINO “Z” hail from. And coincidentally Daniel Bellino worked as a Waiter / Bartender for 7 years when he was in his 20s …

Luciano frequented both JOHN’S and LANZA’S Italian Restaurants which have been around since the early 1900s. He also ate at Brunetta’s on 1st Avenue as well as the former La FOCACCERIA on the same block. La FOCACCERIA was a SICILIAN restaurant that sold Sicilian Specialties like (opened til 2010) the beloved sandwich of PALERMO called Pane Milza (Vastedda) along with Panelle, Arancini (Rice Balls) and Sfingione which is the true Sicilian Pizza … 



by Daniel Bellino “Z”

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Well Dressed Gunmen:

Vito Genovese and Lucky Luciano

On August 11th 1922 Umberto Valenti was having a plate Chicken Parmigiana. Some time around noon, Valenti and six laughing companions emerged from their lunch at John’s on East 12th Street. Walking eastward when smiles turned into frowns. Suddenly, Valenti spooked and bolted towards Second Avenue as two slick, well-dressed gunmen whipped out revolvers and fired. Gangland legend holds that one of the shooters was none other than Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Masseria’s newest protégé was future Geovese Crime Family Boss Vito Genovese.

The Chain of Evenets Follows :
1.Umberto Valenti emerges from John’s of 12th Street. Lucky Luciano and another assassin open fire. 2. Valenti draws a revolver and is hit in the chest with a bullet. He staggers to a waiting taxicab and dies. 3. The gunmen shoot two innocent bystanders before disappearing into a tenement.

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MOB BOSS “CRAZY JOE GALLO” was Whacked at UMBERTO’S on April 8 , 1972

Gallo had arrived at Umberto’s shortly after 5 a.m. and, according to witnesses, was loud and happy. The party ordered house specialties such as scungilli, calamari and mussels. Wine was brought to the table.

Besides the Gallo party, there were nine other customers in the restaurant, which opened three weeks ago. The gunman entered through a side door and went directly to behind Gallo’s table.

The man, described as about 5-foot-8, stocky, about 40 years old and with receding dark hair, fired twice, striking Gallo in the left shoulder and, as the hood fell over, in the left buttock. Diapioulas drove for cover but was also hit in the buttock.

The killer calmly turned and walked out into Mulberry St. to a waiting car. Diapioulas apparently fired three times at the gunman. Other Gallo hoods ran to the street and began blasting at the car as it sped away.

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“GET THE VEAL, it’s the Best in the CITY”

AL PACINO , Sterling Hayden , and AL LITTERI


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The Restaurant used as LOUIE’S RESTAURANT in The GODFATHER

was The Old LUNA’S RESTAURANT on White Plains Road

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Italian restaurants have been thriving for so long in New York City, it seems strange to imagine a time when there were none.

That was just before Enrico & Paglieri opened on West 11th Street off Sixth Avenue.

“Countless people’s first Italian table d’hote meal was had here at this proudly immaculate place which, going and growing since 1908, now takes the underparts of three brownstone houses,” states 1948 restaurant guide Knife and Fork in New York.


Learn How to Make SALSA SEGRETO



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