40°42′18″N 74°00′36″W / 40.70508°N 74.01007°W / 40.70508; -74.01007

A modern photo of Delmonico's at 56 Beaver Street in the Financial District
Delmonico's, Beaver and South William Streets, 1893
Dinner in honor of Admiral Campion at Delmonico's in 1906
Pièces montées for a banquet being prepared in the Delmonico's kitchen in 1902
Delmonico's restaurant at the corner of 5th Ave. and 44th St. in 1903

Delmonico's is the name of a series of restaurants that operated in New York City, and Greenwich, Connecticut with the present version located at 56 Beaver Street in the Financial District of Manhattan. The original version was widely recognized as America's first fine dining restaurant. Beginning as a small cafe and pastry shop in 1827 at 23 William Street, Delmonico's eventually grew into a hospitality empire that encompassed several luxury restaurants catering to titans of industry, the political elite and cultural luminaries. In many respects, Delmonico's represented the genesis of American fine dining cuisine, pioneering numerous restaurant innovations, developing iconic American dishes, and setting a standard for dining excellence. Delmonico's (under the Delmonico family's ownership and management) shuttered all locations by 1923. In 1926, Delmonico's under new ownership by Italian immigrant Oscar Tucci reopened at 56 Beaver Street.

History edit

Origin edit

The original Delmonico's opened in 1827 in a rented pastry shop at 23 William Street, and appeared in a list of restaurants in 1830. It was opened by Italian-Swiss immigrants, the brothers Giovanni and Pietro Delmonico. In 1831, they were joined by their nephew, Lorenzo, who eventually became responsible for the restaurant's wine list and menu.[1][2][3]

The brothers moved their restaurant several times before settling at 56 Beaver Street (also 2 South William Street). When the building was opened on a grand scale in August 1837 after the Great Fire of New York, New Yorkers were told that the columns by the entrance had been imported from the ruins of Pompeii.[4] It eventually became one of the most famous restaurants in New York, with its reputation eventually growing to international prominence.[5][6]

Expansion and closure edit

Beginning in the 1850s, the restaurant hosted the annual gathering of the New England Society of New York, which featured many important speakers of the day. In 1860, Delmonico's provided the supper at the Grand Ball welcoming the Prince of Wales at the Academy of Music on East 14th Street. Supper was set out in a specially constructed room; the menu was French, and the pièces montées represented Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Great Eastern and Flora's Vase. The New York Times reported, "We may frankly say that we have never seen a public supper served in a more inapproachable[7] fashion, with greater discretion, or upon a more luxurious scale".[8] In 1862, the restaurant hired Charles Ranhofer, considered one of the greatest chefs of his day.

The business was so successful that from 1865 to 1888, it expanded to four restaurants of the same name. At various times, there were Delmonico's at ten locations. By 1876, news of the prices at Delmonico's restaurants spread at least as far as Colorado where complaints about the cost of wine, eggs, bread and butter, coffee, and potatoes ("2 potatoes cost 15 cents") appeared in the Pueblo Daily Chieftain.[9]

In 1899, Delmonico's vacated the six-story Delmonico Building at Fifth Avenue and 26th Street. (The edifice was sold to John B. Martin, owner of the Martin Hotel, in May 1901.[10])

In 1919, Edward L.C. Robins purchased Delmonico's. Its grand location at Fifth Avenue and 44th Street closed in 1923 as a result of changing dining habits due to Prohibition. That location was the final incarnation of Delmonico's with continuity to the original.[11]

Restaurants owned and operated by the Delmonico family[11]
Location Dates Comments
23 William Street December 13, 1827 – December 16, 1835 (destroyed by fire) "Delmonico & Brother, confectioners" small cafe and pastry shop
25 William Street March, 1830 – December 16, 1835 (destroyed by fire) "Delmonico & Brother, confectioners and Restaurant Francais"
76 Broad Street February 23, 1836 – July 19, 1845 (destroyed by fire)
2 South William Street/56 Beaver Street August, 1837 – July 10, 1890. Rebuilt and reopened July 7, 1891, closed 1917 "Delmonico's Restaurant," informally called "The Citadel."
25 Broadway June 1, 1846 – 1856 The Delmonico Hotel
Chambers Street and Broadway 1856 – October 26, 1876
East 14th Street and 5th Avenue April 9, 1862 – September 11, 1876
22 Broad Street 1865–1893
Fifth Avenue and 26th St. September 11, 1876 – April 18, 1899 Lobster a la Newberg invented here in 1876
112–114 Broadway near Pine St. October 26, 1876 – 1888
Fifth Avenue and 44th Street November 15, 1897 – May 21, 1923 The final Delmonico-owned restaurant

Later revivals edit

In 1926, Oscar Tucci purchased the restaurant and reopened Delmonico's, first calling it Oscar's Delmonico, at 56 Beaver Street. Tucci ran a speakeasy in the lower level of the restaurant. In 1933, Tucci received the third liquor license in New York after the repeal of Prohibition. In later years, Oscar Tucci, dropped "Oscar’s" from the name and continued naming it Delmonico's. During the Tucci incarnation it adopted the original menus and recipes, and became distinguished in its own right, continuing to attract prominent politicians and celebrities, such as Lana Turner, Marilyn Monroe, Rock Hudson, Lena Horne, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis, Etta James, JFK, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and others. Tucci also instituted many of the professional standards in use today in American restaurants known as the Delmonico Way [citation needed]. By the 1940s, Tucci owned and operated the entire Delmonico building, operating 63,000s.f. of restaurant space. Making Delmonico's the largest restaurant in the world during its time. Oscar created lavish dining rooms on the upper floors of the building and created dining rooms for companies such as Lehman Brothers and universities such as Harvard, creating the Harvard Lunch Club. The Penthouse was the most lush of private rooms, it included a private dining room with fireplace and en suite bedroom, a private kitchen and roof top terrace. Other private rooms included, The Roman Room, The Baroque Room, The Hunt Room, The Bulls & Bears, The Python Room, and the main dining room known as The Palm Room. It was in the Palm Room that Ralph Burns and his orchestra serenaded guests. During the height of the Tucci era, Delmonico's served over an outstanding, thousand lunches a day.

The Tucci era also produced four of the most prominent restaurateurs of the twentieth century: Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque, Tony May of San Domenico and the Rainbow Room, Harry Poulakakos of Harry's located in Hanover Square and, Lello Arpaia, father to restaurateur Donatella Arpaia. Oscar's Delmonico was open continuously until it closed in 1977.[12] The interior was gutted thereafter.[13]

In 1981 the Tucci family penned a licensing deal with Edward Huber to operate "Delmonico's" at 56 Beaver Street and the restaurant reopened the following year,[14] lasting until 1993.[15][16] In 1984, Tucci's son Mario Tucci, Gina (Mario's wife) and sister Mary Tucci opened a second "Delmonico's" in Greenwich, Connecticut; it closed three years later due to Mario's untimely death.[citation needed]

Delmonico's at 2 South William Street (56 Beaver Street), 21st century

In 1997, under a new licensing agreement with the Tucci family, the BiCE Group took over operations of the restaurant. The group renovated the location and reopened Delmonico's with Gian Pietro Branchi as executive chef. The restaurant reopened in May 1998 after a renovation by Morris Nathanson.[17] In 1999, the restaurant was leased to the Ocinomled partnership.[18] The restaurant closed temporarily in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2023, Delmonico's reopened under new ownership, Dennis Turcinovic and Joseph Licul signed a new lease on the building. Turcinovic and Licul welcomed, Max Tucci (Oscar Tucci's grandson) to join them as Third Generation Partner and Global Brand Officer.[19] The restaurant underwent interior renovation, and reopened September 15, 2023. New York City Mayor Adams attended the ceremonial ribbon cutting with Gina Tucci and the new Delmonico's team. Max Tucci welcomed "New York and the World back to Delmonico’s."[20]

Signature dishes edit

Delmonico Potatoes were invented at Delmonico's restaurant, and possibly Chicken à la King,[21] but it was most famous for Delmonico steak. Eggs Benedict were also said to have originated at Delmonico's, although others claim that dish as well.[22][23][24]

It is often said that the name "Baked Alaska" was coined at Delmonico's as well, in 1867, by chef Charles Ranhofer. However, no contemporary account exists of this occurrence and Ranhofer himself referred to the dish, in 1894, as "Alaska Florida", apparently referring to the contrast between extremes of heat and cold.[25] It is also said that Lobster Newberg was invented at the restaurant.[11] In the 1930s Delmonico's owner Oscar Tucci created the Wedge Salad at Delmonico's.

Other Delmonico's restaurants edit

Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse is a chain of restaurants with six locations in Upstate New York and Florida. This chain has no connection to the Delmonico's Restaurant located at 56 Beaver Street.[26]

Menus edit

Banquet menu in French from the Fifth Avenue and 26th St. location for the 1883 Centennial Commemoration of Evacuation Day.
Dinner menu from Water St./ Beaver St. location, April 18, 1899. The reverse has the same menu in French.
Menu for a 1916 Musicians Club of New York dinner honoring singer Johanna Gadski and musician Fritz Kreisler

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "NYC History: Bowery Boys Archive : #58 Delmonico's Restaurant". Boweryboysarchive.libsyn.com. 2010-01-29. Archived from the original on 2020-11-21. Retrieved 2019-11-03.
  2. ^ Syme, Rachel (7 February 2010). "History Lessons: Delmonico's, The First Locavore Restaurant". NBC New York. Retrieved 2019-11-03.
  3. ^ Bowery Boys (2008-08-15). "PODCAST: Delmonico's Restaurant Francais - The Bowery Boys: New York City History". Boweryboyshistory.com. Retrieved 2019-11-03.
  4. ^ "History of Delmonico's Restaurant and business operations in New York".
  5. ^ Aaseng, Nathan (January 2001). Business Builders in Fast Food. The Oliver Press. pp. 8–10. ISBN 1-881508-58-7.
  6. ^ Hooker, Richard J (May 1981). "18 – Eating Out 1865–1900". Food and Drink in America: A History. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co. ISBN 0-672-52681-6.
  7. ^ Sic: "irreproachable" may have been intended, unless a covert reference to the evening's crush was implied.
  8. ^ Susan Bindig (1989), "New York Welcomes the Prince of Wales (1860)", Dance Chronicle, vol. 12, no. 2, p. 234
  9. ^ "Colorado Daily Chieftain May 25, 1876 — Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection". Coloradohistoricnewspapers.org. 2016-04-23. Retrieved 2019-11-03.
  10. ^ "Delmonico Building Leased". The New York Times. May 4, 1901. p. 3.
  11. ^ a b c Joe O'Connell (August 25, 2001). "History of Delmonico's Restaurant and business operations in New York".
  12. ^ "Out of the Cellar," by Frank J. Prial. November 29, 1987[1]
  13. ^ Restaurant and Hotel Design Vol 5. (1983). pg 20. Restaurant Business, Incorporated.
  14. ^ Mangaliman, Jessie (1989-01-06). "Delmonico's Looks Forward to Gay '90s". Newsday. p. 23. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  15. ^ "Not in My Neighborhood: The owner of one of America's most historic restaurants faces a modern problem." by Ed Huber. Guideposts.com[2][permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "View from City Road: Technology transforms Wall Street and may kill it." by Larry Black. The Independent. June 18, 1993
  17. ^ Fabricant, Florence (13 May 1998). "Off the Menu". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Swanson, David (April 6, 2018). "Amid Delmonico's Gilded Age Splendor, Diners Party Like It's 1899". The Village Voice. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  19. ^ Young, Celia (January 18, 2023). "Famed NYC Steakhouse Delmonico's Reopening This Fall". Commercial Observer. Retrieved January 25, 2023.
  20. ^ "Delmonico's, piece of NYC history, reopens after 3-year pandemic closure". CBS New York. September 18, 2023. Retrieved September 29, 2023.
  21. ^ "What's Cooking America: "History of Poultry Dishes: Chicken A' La King". 8 August 2015.
  22. ^ Butler, Mabel C. (November 26, 1967), "Letters: Benedicts' Eggs", The New York Times Magazine, pp. SM40, retrieved February 23, 2007
  23. ^ "Talk of the Town", The New Yorker, December 19, 1942
  24. ^ Claiborne, Craig (September 24, 1967), "American Classic: Eggs Benedict", The New York Times Magazine, p. 290, retrieved February 19, 2007
  25. ^ Ranhofer, Charles (1894). The epicurean. A complete treatise of analytical and practical studies on the culinary art, including table and wine service, how to prepare and cook dishes... etc., and a selection of interesting bills of fare of Delmonico's from 1862 to 1894. Making a Franco-American culinary encyclopedia (1894). New York, C Ranhofer.
  26. ^ "Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse | Home Of The 24oz. Delmonico Steak". Delmonicositaliansteakhouse.com. Retrieved 2019-11-03.

Bibliography edit

External links edit