Monday, February 27, 2012

Manganaro's

VANISHED

It has happened. After 119 years in business, after being on the brink of closure in recent years, the great Manganaro Grosseria on 9th Avenue has shuttered.


all photos: my flickr, 2008

A reader alerted me this weekend, writing, "Walked by Manganaro's today and saw a sign that said they were serving their last Sunday lunch... The window display is bare and you can see the ancient glass and wood sliding doors. All of the photos are boxed up and on the floor. There are no more tables and chairs in the back. Out front, decades worth of paper signs, chairs, and baskets were in the trash. The place looks like a movie set now, empty and displaced from time. I fear the place will be gutted to make room for a Subway."

A call to the restaurant confirmed they are closed and their website has the following note: "As of February 27, 2012, Manganaro Foods will no longer be open in New York City. We will let you know when we re-open. Thank you for your many years of patronage. We look forward to serving you in the future."



One year ago, the family put their building up for sale, saying "We've had it." But they weren't quite ready to go. As co-owner Seline Dell'Orto told the Observer in March 2011, they were keeping the business open "Because it’s a hundred and twenty fucking years old and it’s beautiful."

And it was beautiful. From the hanging salamis to the big Toledo scale, to the wood paneling in the dining room with its old chairs and tables, to the photos hanging on the walls, it was beautiful.

The brusque greetings of the Dell-Orto sisters were beautiful. The way they refused to tolerate the bullshit of difficult tourists and such was beautiful (though some well-meaning folks got caught in the crossfire). Listening to them complain about Bloomberg and yuppies while you ate your tortellini was beautiful.



I absolutely loved Manganaro's and everything about it. When I was in the neighborhood recently, visiting the Elk Hotel, I thought maybe I should walk down for a meal. But it was late and I figured they'd be closed--and I thought I'd have another chance.

Now I'm kicking myself. Yet again.

The note on the website says they'll reopen and look forward to serving us in the future--so maybe there's hope. Maybe it's just a remodeling. Or maybe they're moving. Either way, it won't be the same and I'm just heartbroken over this one.



Further reading:
Manganaro Grosseria
Red Sauce Joints

40 comments:

Jeremiah Moss said...

i understand, from many previous comment discussions, that a lot of people had negative experiences with the Manganaro's ladies, but i'm not going to publish comments here that attack them. feel free to be critical of the service in your comment, but if i feel like it crosses the line to name-calling and such, i just won't publish it.

that's where i'm at with it today.

JAZ said...

Was it so bad to have a place that had service people with a bit of attitude? Does everything have to be as spicy as milk, as colorful as gray, and as consistant as Subway and Dunkin Donuts?

They reminded my of my grandma in Manhattan Beach.

Anonymous said...

damn shame, because i tried to go there two weeks ago with a friend from out of town but we couldn't find parking in that area (i usually walk and hate cars, but my friend loves to drive everywhere) and i said, oh well, we'd go there another time. damn drivers!!!

Marty Wombacher said...

@JAZ: I agree with you totally! The attitude of the ladies of Manganaro's was all part of the experience. Sad to see another classic place gone.

Melanie said...

I passed this shop so many times and never went in. I realize that it was not a snub but I had my closer to home salumneria. Wow being here over 100 years is quite an accomplishment.Sad to see them go.

Tim Elder said...

I loved that place. It wasn't the best but it was a great place to go when I was in the neighborhood and sometimes that's more important. It had history and character, and both are disappearing in this town. Plus, those ladies were always nice to me!

David said...

I just thinking about going there this week! I looked the attitude of the place. I would much rather have a server with spunk than the apathy of a chain "restaurant" cashier any day. I really hope this isn't the final end of another wonderful institution.

Prince of the Kitchen said...

Great Place , The Sisters Rocked!!!! what's next? Rudys on 9th ave has become a Yuppie hangout!!! Used to be you could get a great Jack and Coke at a price of a donut , listen to the best jukebox and if you were hungry grab a free hotdog from Steve the Bartender. Then Rudys became over run with Pitchers of beer drinking Yuppies who over indulged the Free hot dogs and vomitted all over,

Anonymous said...

Had lunch here just over a year ago after an event at the Javits center. Old school, all the way. It's a shame all the old places are vanishing - but I guess everything dies eventually.

c.o. moed said...

This is just heartbreaking. Utterly heartbreaking. Every time I read something like this I start the same old questions - where do I move to? the only city that comes close to what NY was is Buenos Aires. Thank God I can speak enough Spanish to order food. However, not enough to work there.

LCranston said...

The family feud between Manganaro's Grosseria and Manganaro's Hero-Boy next door was the nail that killed this place.

Anonymous said...

This Monday sucks the BIG one.
Jeremiah...Im glad I got the word from you rather than finding out the hard way..with both an empty tummy and an empty store.
Ive been there a couple of times, most recently about three weeks ago. It took Seline about 90 seconds to start treating me like we were goombah/commare for EVER. The only reason it took that long was that she was busy getting my lunch together for me at the counter. The bond we had first is we're both old Noo Yawkas. And that means we kibbitz and break balls. And love doing it. A serious lot of people (that call themselves Noo Yawkas) need to put their big boy/girl pants/panties on and suck it up. The thing I envied Seline for was she could get away with treating idiots like idiots cuz she owned the place...and I cant where I work. And trust me, if youve never worked behind a food counter...youd never understand.
Riposa in pace Manganaros.

Anonymous said...

If you want to blame someone blame them, they owned the building and sold it. If they wanted to stay open they could have.

Little Earthquake said...

[Nostalgia] can be generally defined as a state of inarticulate contempt for the present and fear of the future, in concert with a yearning for order, constancy, safety, and community—qualities that were last enjoyed in childhood and are retroactively imagined as gracing the whole of the time before one’s birth. Recently it has become a category of trade, under which are marketed the knickknacks and ephemera of past decades; in this function it encompasses connoisseurship, fetishism, fashion cycles, and social history, and makes them all equally base coin.

-Luc Sante

The Devil Michael said...

This isnt nostalgia. The mutilation of my once great City is happening in my lifetime. At the rate things are going its going to be NYC in name only.
On a different note Jeremiah..I remember a not too long ago post about the possible loss of The Subway Inn. I was past it the other day. Seems quite alive YAAAAY!
And as for this being their own fault...you dont know what behind the scenes circumstances are/were in place.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i love it when blogs with teams of journalists don't link back to the source of their news. but anyway, DNA got some more info on this:

http://www.dnainfo.com/20120227/chelsea-hells-kitchen/manganaros-closes-after-119-years-hells-kitchen#ixzz1nbloIiKY

Anonymous said...

You mean kinda like the NYU/NYT hyperloco blog, and sometimes gotamshit? They just followup on a story/news that someone else have broken into first, just because they have that 'journalist' credentials.

Yunnies win, they like to be coddled and Bloomberg's NYC enables them.

Brendan said...

"This isnt nostalgia. The mutilation of my once great City is happening in my lifetime. At the rate things are going its going to be NYC in name only."

The pendulum will swing the other way. It is a human tendency to imagine that present trends will continue forever. They never do.

I do wish I'd made it to this place. It sounds great.

Anonymous said...

The place looked charming and had history. The service was beyond unwelcoming and just plain rude. I walked out once and I'm glad I did.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Gothamist usually does a good job of linking to sources. i wrote to DNA and they've included a link to me in that story--which is worth checking out, especially for the photos.

tiny tim said...

@ Brendan

You nailed one of my favorite lines...

And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and that during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.

-John Steinbeck,East of Eden

I agree with you. I should have made it a priority to go there at least once knowing that its days were probably numbered.

I wonder what NYC will be like when the pendulum swings the other way?

Ken Mac said...

hell on earth continues

Utherben said...

Glad to hear DNA is doing the right thing and mentioning that you broke the story first.

Losing Manganaro's is a real blow to those of us who work and/or live in Hell's Kitchen, and it'll be much missed.

mingusal said...

This is really too bad. A real shame, in fact, and yet another nail in the coffin of the once large-scale presence of old Italian businesses on 9th Ave.

I think I understand why you don't want this to go over into petty insults, but it has to be said that this place may have survived if those ladies didn't often act in ways that chased away customers. I'm sure that almost no one who reads your site and posts here wanted to see another old NYC business close, but even among this crowd their actions angered people and convinced many of us to stop going there. You may not like that fact, but it is nonetheless true, and not insulting to say so.

Personally, I never went back there after a time 5 years ago when I witnessed one of them literally get into a screaming fit towards a couple who had just walked through the door into the store, and apparently didn't buy something fast enough to satisfy her. She nearly reduced the girl to tears. When I spoke up later in that they had just walked in, and perhaps had not yet had time to even look around, she cursed me and told me straight to my face that I could leave too. Which I did, never to return.

I'm a city kid, so I'm not particularly put off by urban "attitude," and this wasn't the first time I'd seen their "attitude" on display or seen it chase customers right out of their store. But this went way over the line of "local color" into outright insulting and pretty frightening.

With their sad closing, you really do have to wonder how many customers and how much potential business they lost through their own actions.

Anonymous said...

I taught an acting class in that neighborhood in an old industrial studio for 15 years and we would all often head over to Manganaros afterwards. We loved the atmosphere, the food and yes the people who worked there. As a New Yorker myself I appreciated the real deal and am so sad to see it got with so muc else from this city that has made it the textured and varied place that it was. It is a shame that mall culture is taking over and there seems to be less space for the real, original and eccentric NYC that so many of us love.

Carla said...

So very sad, I've shopped at Maganaro's for years. Loved it's character, attitude & the sisters- Yes-they could be gruff, (Can you blame them? Have you ever worked retail? 9th Ave no less!)
Had to run over and give Selena a Hug.
They will be missed.

79rigid said...

I think I'm going to throw up.This hurts.Last time I was there it was pretty slow though.The woman there really gave it to a guy,curse words and everything,but he deserved it in my opinion.Such a bummer.

Michael Simmons said...

I had my first Manganaro's hero over 40 years ago. They were a work of art.

I grew up in New York and we were used to surly old waiters at Jewish delis and dairy restaurants. Never phased us, in fact we found it entertaining. However when waiters in fru-fru joints began introducing themselves by first name, I felt uncomfortable. Something rang phony. Forced.

I miss surly.

Anthony A said...

If the sisters never decided to run the the family business, they could of had a career in stand up comedy. They cursed like sailors told dirty jokes and served up good basic Italian American food. I realize that if you were on the receiving end of one of their tirade it mustn't have been fun.

However, I will take their brand of sassy service and ocassional rudeness over another soulless Chipotle or Subways where the employees are completely indifferent or are taught to be corporate automatons. The sisters and Manganaro Grosseria will be missed.

lauran said...

the place may have been great. but personally there is a limit. what i read here crosses the line into "crazy people" i know about the italian jewish greek immigrant style, but i pass on this. i grew up in old new york, & have the wisdom to know the difference. sorry to see this close, it must have been the rent. stop by & see what else they are opening.

lauran said...

forgot to ask: find out where they are re locating?? i have a feeling it may be in brooklyn? or jersey? as i recall about 20 yrs ago i did go in the the place. my friends lived on 9th ave. they said it had "the best" something or other. do not recall rudeness, maybe they were having a good day.

AAHM said...

What makes me most sad about this post is that I had to tell a friend of mine who lives in Hell's Kitchen that the place had closed - and hell, I live in CT! My friend bemoans the fact that he will no longer be able to get his fave provolone sandwiches. He promised to go over and say goodbye, but its most likely too late.

Mark Rubin - formerly of Arnold Hatters, Eighth Avenue, old NYC said...

I ate here hundreds of times and was never, NEVER treated in a rude manner. Want to know why? It's because I was always respectful and polite and they were the same in return. I observed people walk in here however, go to the counter while talking on their cell phone and then ignore Seline when they were asked what they wanted - and then they'd get surprised and upset when they got a heel of bread thrown at them. The ladies treated this place like their home - which it was. Unfortunately, there's no room in the 21st century version of NYC for old school businesses of any kind. One way or another, we're all getting forced out to make room for 7-11's and banks. I'd give anything for one of their sopressata sandwiches and an espresso right now. Thanks for all the wonderful lunches, ladies. And for making me feel at home. I've never felt that way at Citibank or 7-11.

Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com said...

So bummed to learn that this place has closed, as I was planning on going there this Saturday. Anyone know of a good red sauce/gravy place with that authentic old time vibe in NYC as a substitute? I totally have a hankering for lasagna from Manganaros now!

www.maginley.info said...

I met Seline Dell'Orto once while selling Italian Imported Gourmet products form Umbria. What a beautiful family is all that I can say. I don' think it was attitude. The family worked very hard, and got up very early to prepare food for thousands of people the way they would prepare it for their family - with love. So I always thought it was kind of a treat to be able to eat there. I would always ask for their recommended dish. And buy some sauce to take home. Recommend getting the "Manganaro Cookbook". Yum.

Anthony A said...

On a sad note, Sal Dell'Orto former owner of the Grosseria and patriarch of the family passed away on February 12 at the age of 84. My condolences to the family as they grieve and as we all continue to mourn the loss of a venerable institution that they had once brought to our lives and to the cultural landscape of New York City. God Bless the Dell'Orto family and may he comfort them through their time of sorrow.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Anthony, thank you for letting us know. I'm sad to hear this.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late on this, but I have one thing to say.. Seline may have been a tough broad. if you took her shit and walked out and never came back, it was your loss. If you had the balls to speak back to her and give her a dose of your mind, she became your best friend. After the day I spoke back to her, I was treated like family. I will miss her. One day shortly before they closed my lady stopped in to get some pastries or cookies and Seline poured her heart and the two had an hour discussion, in Italian of course. It was the first time and last time she had met her.

Rosemary said...

I've only just found out that this wonderful place has closed and I'm devastated....I stumbled across it during my first visit to NYC in 1997 and the elegant owner invited us for lunch..unfortunately we were unable to accept as we had to get to JFK for our flight back to Scotland...I did, however take a menu and promise him that I would be back.....well 9 years and the demise of The Sopranos later...I was back....the ladies refused to tell me what happened in the last episode( it hadn't yet been broadcast in the UK) and we settled down for some lovely food and great "banter" as we would call it in Scotland......a little bit of New York history has gone..the old world charm of the place was a delight..as was the charm of the staff ( hey - I'm from Dundee.....I can cope with a bit of cheek!!!!!)...... To say I am sad is an understatement......good luck..good health to you all.....and to quote the words of a famous Scottish song........when will we see your like again????£

Anonymous said...

I was watching Anthony Bourdain and Manganaro's was featured in the Vanishing New York episode. I had forgotten this place existed (i grew up in south brooklyn and I have access to my mother's cooking which is why i don't need to visit often). So i head there and it's closed!!!! Now I'm here looking at comments about service?!!! I'm sorry but this is New York not a corporate store with excessive fake manners, and fake smiles. It's real what do you want? Pay? Get the @#$% out. No can i taste this! My NY is disappearing thanks to spoiled suburban kids who move here because they are bored with their lives. Raise rents to an outrageous price, and go to generic restaurants and trendy bars. I feel like I'm stuck in one of those gossip girl shows or something. Where is my real NY?!!!!!! what's next Salty dog goes out. Not to mention Pete's downtown closed as well. Thank you Bloomberg you've really sold this city out in every way.