New York: Italian pop culture restaurants
New York and Italian cuisine
Pizzas, pastas and other cannolis, Italian cuisine is omnipresent in New York, as is pop culture. Here’s a clever mix.
32 Withers Street, Brooklyn, New York, USA
In Homeland, Dar Adal meets General Jamie McClendon (Robert Knepper) at this facility.
In The Sopranos, Tony’s men like to get together for lunch at one of the oldest Italian restaurants in town. The New Jersey Assembly declared December 1, 2013 “James Gandolfini Day”, six months after the actor’s death in Italy. For the occasion, part of Park Avenue in the town of Park Ridge, his childhood community, was renamed in his memory. Signs still exist today at 117-103 of the track.
Opened in 1900, Bamonte’s is in the purest tradition of American-Italian restaurants. The shares are huge, the cooking and decoration are typical of this style of place where nothing has really changed. There are even some old wooden telephone booths still standing in the building.
Famous Ben’s Pizza
In Men in Black II, on the spot, a poster of the film reminds us that a scene was shot in this pizzeria.
The owners of the establishment ensure that the statue of Ben, in front of the building, is one of the things to see in the neighborhood. For the tourist attraction, you might be a little disappointed. On the other hand, you should be delighted by the generous and crispy portions served here since 1977.
In Spider-Man 2, a sign inside reminds us of this to this day: Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) works in this pizzeria. In order not to lose his job after his supervisor’s braces are pulled up, he decides to put on his Spider-Man costume so he can make deliveries across town on time. In reality, the place is renowned for offering the best pizzas in New York and some stars regularly come to order them. Thomas Jane’s understudy, the actor playing The Punisher in the 2004 film, watches Mary Jane run beside the park fountain in the background as she runs away from her wedding.
You can eat standing or in one of the few places along the walls decorated with celebrity photos, but Joe’s take-out pizzas have been a must since 1975. They even have the reputation of being the best in New York.
In Saturday Night Fever, only a few seconds on the screen were enough to make this pizzeria famous. Walking down the street, Tony Manero (John Travolta) stops to order two shares. It’s your turn to imitate him by asking for your two slices to be piled up and eaten like him on the street. Don’t worry, the servers are used to satisfying this recurring demand from fans. In the film, the waitress is played by John Travolta’s sister, Ann. Another member of the family also plays a small part as Helen Travolta, the actor’s mother, asks Tony for help with painting.
Located at the exit of the aerial subway, Lenny’s small pizzeria has existed since 1953 in this still typical Brooklyn neighborhood. And the slices are succulent. Mamma mia!
Patsy’s Italian Restaurant
236 West 56th Street, New York, USA
In Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, “Luca Brasi went back to the cabaret but he abstained from drinking. He strolled down 48th Street, had a late supper at Patsy’s, his favorite Italian restaurant, and at the time of his appointment, he showed up at the entrance of the club. When he entered, the doorman had disappeared”. Luca Brasi is on a secret mission, entrusted by the Don. In addition to his best-selling work based on anecdotes he collected while working as a journalist and adapted to film by Francis Ford Coppola, the author participated in writing the screenplay for the 1978 film Superman.
Founded by Pasquale “Patsy” Scognamillo in 1944, the restaurant has known only three chefs, all three descendants of the founder. His Neapolitan cuisine is succulent and was even Frank Sinatra’s favourite. When she was in town, her family always ate at this establishment, which many personalities consider to be a Mecca of Italian gastronomy. Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Kim Basinger and Oprah Winfrey are regular customers. If the prices are a little high, the quality is undeniably there.
St. John’s of 12th Street
In The Sopranos, the decor of this old and popular Italian restaurant fits perfectly with the atmosphere of the series. Tony (James Gandolfini) comes here to bully a member of the Lupertazzi clan who has misspoken his daughter Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler). In one of his most memorable scenes, he shattered many of her teeth and started an open war with the New York Mafia. Accustomed to the roles of mobsters, six actors from the show also appeared in Godfather 3, namely Lorraine Bracco, Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico, Vincent Pastore, Frank Vincent and Joseph R. Gannascoli. Many of them are also featured in the credits of Les Affranchis.
The establishment proudly claims its longevity. Since 1908, John’s of the 12th Street has been serving one of the best Italian cuisines in the city. And its menu offers a wide choice for vegetarians.
151 Union Street, Brooklyn, New York, USA
In The Infiltrates, although the story takes place in Boston, most of the scenes were shot in Brooklyn, whose atmosphere is similar to that of certain districts of the capital of Massachusetts. In this restaurant, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) questions Madolyn (Vera Farmiga) about Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon). Every death in the film is perfectly reported moments beforehand. A small cross appears in the set each time one of the characters is about to pass from life to death.
Pushing the door of Ferdinando’s Focacceria is embarking on a journey through time. Since 1904, the restaurant’s dishes have been stamped with the seal of authenticity and their prices remain cheap, while the setting takes you back to the last century, with its magnificent tiles and brick walls adorned with old newspaper clippings.
97 Macdougal Street, New York, USA
In Jack Holmes and his friend, Jack finally lives in New York and goes out regularly with his former roommates, Rebekkah and Alice, notably at the Monte’s. The restaurant has a romantic atmosphere, serves classic Italian cuisine and regularly hosts famous actors and sportsmen. Today considered one of the most brilliant representatives of gay literature, Edmund White has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1997 and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1999.
Open since 1918, Monte’s Trattoria is renowned for its romantic setting, generous cuisine and warm atmosphere. The pasta is homemade, the wine list is well stocked and the Torta di Ricotta cheesecake a delight.
321 West 46th Street, New York, USA
In Les Infiltrés, this very chic restaurant is a meeting place between Colin and Madolyn. Specializing in Piedmontese cuisine, the establishment is still run by the family of its founder. The Infiltrated is one of former President Barack Obama’s favourite films. One of his cult lines was, “I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.” (“I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.”) Especially when he explained that the Republicans were stopping him from doing his job.
Since its opening in 1906, Barbetta has had an exceptional setting with original furniture and decoration dating from the beginning of the last century. It is the only establishment in the United States to have been named Locale Storico, a historic establishment, by the Italian collective Locali Storici. The cuisine is sumptuous and popular with truffle lovers.
Umberto’s Clam House
In The Irishman, Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro) goes to this restaurant and coldly kills a member of the New York Mafia . Opened in 1972 by a certain Umberto Ianniello, this establishment specialising in seafood quickly became a meeting point for Italian-American mafia thugs. It is here, two months after the inauguration, that Joe Gallo, a gangster from the Profaci family, was killed. An event that contributed to the reputation of the place. In 1996, Umberto’s, then located at 129 Mulberry Street, closed its doors before reopening in 2000 at number 178 on the same street. He is moving again in 2010 to his current location. The Irishman marks the reunion of Martin Scorsese and his favourite actor Robert De Niro. De Niro meets here his comrade from Les Affranchis and Casino, Joe Pesci, but also Harvey Keitel. It is also the occasion for Al Pacino to play for the first time in a film by the great Scorsese.
Founded in 1972 by Umberto Iannniello, the restaurant is particularly well known for having been the scene of “the most sensational murder in the history of the Mafia”. In 1972, Joe Gallo, a gangster and henchman of the Colombo family, was murdered in the establishment after celebrating his 43rd birthday at the Copacabana club. The founder’s son, Matthew, was present at the scene and claimed to have gone into hiding during the attack. Although his involvement has not been proven, Matthew was actually one of the leaders of the mafia, affiliated with the Genovese family. Today the atmosphere is much calmer with excellent seafood on the menu served in the heart of Little Italy.
1107 Rutland Road, Brooklyn, New York, USA
In the comic Spectacular Spider-Man, it didn’t take long for this pizzeria to be remembered. Opened at this location in 1988, Tony’s Pizza appeared in 1993 in Spider-Man. While Peter Parker knows that Harry Osborn has taken over from his father as Green Goblin, he is thinking of a way to stop him by having lunch here. But his meal is cut short when he sees his enemy in his glider above the building across the street.
This excellent pizzeria also offers cheeseburgers, Philadelphia style cheese steaks, delicious pasta and lasagna. For a gourmet break in the middle of Brooklyn, Tony’s Pizza is the perfect stop.
123 Macdougal Street, New York, USA
In the opening credits, Louie walks down the street and takes a break in this pizzeria, open since 1956, before going to the Comedy Cellar, a few steps away. Louie has been named one of the top 10 best series of the year by the American Film Institute in 2011. In 2017, Rolling Stone ranked Louis C.K. fourth on his list of the fifty best stand-up comedians.
This little pizzeria doesn’t look like much, but its delicious dishes cooked over a wood fire are a real treat. to compose yourself or choose from the map.
Mulberry Street Bar
In Donnie Brasco, it is in this bar, also visible in the Godfather trilogy, that Donnie Brasco (Johnny Depp) and Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino) meet for the first time. Just after he enters, he sets the scene with one of his cult lines: “My family, my friends, my mother can walk with her head held high. She can go to any neighborhood and walk with her head held high, from the far end of the Bronx to Brooklyn, people know me. My name is known all over the world, for fuck’s sake. See you picked the wrong throne to piss on, buddy.” If this line seems crude, you should know that the word “fuck” is pronounced 185 times throughout the film.
In Godfather 3, Michael’s nephew Vincent Mancini-Corleone (Andy Garcia) begins to get close to Michael’s daughter Mary (Sofia Coppola) when he goes to have a drink in the bar. Mary was originally intended to be played by Winona Ryder but she gave up at the beginning of the shoot because she was too stressed. Francis Ford Coppola then decided to replace her with his own daughter, Sofia, who was 19 at the time. By an astonishing coincidence, she had played the role of Vincent in the baptism scene in 1972.
In Les Soprano, filmed on numerous occasions, the Averna Social Club, whose real name is the Mulberry Street Bar, is the headquarters of the Brooklyn mafia first led by Carmine Lupertazzi (Tony Lip). The respected and measured clan leader dies of a heart attack. He is then replaced by Johnny “Sack” Sacramoni (Vincent Curatola), much more impulsive and under whose authority relations with New Jersey’s neighbours are deteriorating.
Wonder what other movie or series you’ve seen this bar in? The establishment keeps a list of them on its counter as it is so huge. Impossible to miss the decor of this little piece of Italy installed there since 1908.
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