Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Last Meal at Gino

Gino closed this weekend, after many close calls and last-minute saves. I went for a "last meal" back in January and it wasn't my last. But this weekend was it. It seems the whole city knew about the landmark's passing and they all showed up to say goodbye to this wonderful piece of old New York.

One couple came because they met at Gino a decade ago. "It's just too sad," said the husband, ordering their drinks.

A woman in leopard print, who looked like an elegant and gracefully aged Kim Novak, flew in all the way from the West Coast just to bid the restaurant farewell. She talked about the famous zebra wallpaper--which she installed on the walls of her own bathroom back home. She special ordered it from Scalamandre. The wait time was 36 months, but it was worth it.

And the regulars were all there. One gentlemanly silver-haired fellow looked at the growing crowd and said, "If only it had been this busy all the time. It wouldn't be closing."

A woman with a husky voice sipped Campari and sodas. She had one more than her usual number. She said, "I was practically born here. I can't explain how I feel at this bar. Safe. I feel safe. Like I'm home. Is that silly? I don't know what I'm going to do now."

People hugged the owners and said, "I'm gonna miss you." Camera flashes popped in every corner. The telephone never stopped ringing. It was answered, when it was answered, with an accented "Hello, Gino?" The crowd roared. Couples kissed and stroked each other's arms, seeking comfort. Drinks spilled. Dishes clattered. The waiters ran up and down, counting stacks of money, carrying dishes, forgetting forks.

At the end of my last meal, the white tablecloth covered in crumbs, ravioli and meatballs gone, the waiter asked, "Finito?"

"Finito," I said. And that was all.

Is that you, Gay Talese, in your white straw hat?

More coverage of Gino's last weekend:
Lost City
New York Post


EV Grieve said...


And the fact that a Beverly Hills FroYo shop is opening here only makes all of this more difficult to handle.

Anonymous said...

i was there for lunch. my first time there. and sadly, my last time as well. good bye old-timer. your zebras are now imprinted in my mind.

Anonymous said...

I can't explain how sad my husband and I are without Gino. We called Sunday am just to check, hoping just maybe.... Michael answered and said sorry Signora we are closed for good.... Thank you so much for all the great memories and awesome food.
Barbra and Jeff

jewelyard said...

Wonderful piece. Thank you for paying homage to the great old places that we are losing all too much lately. I am still dealing with the inevitability of Fedora's, my most beloved space in the city. Your eloquence and respect for these classic venues pays them great tribute!

Mark said...

Beyond sad. Can't believe I wont be eating there anymore.

Anonymous said...

You folks dont realize how bad this actually is.
Gino's is and was THE LAST... i repeat, THE LAST ...of the original intact and preserved Italian restaurants in Manhattan. All the others have been remodeled.
Thats it folks. Gino's was the last one.
This should never have happened.

conniesellswestchester said...

I came across this blog accidentally and just want to thank you and everyone else who appreciated Gino for what it was. My father, Salvatore Doria, the owner and face of Gino, is so sad that Gino could not go on as the beautiful piece of New York it has been for the past almost 70 years. You are right, it was electric Saturday night. That's how I remember it when I used to go visit my Daddy at his "job" when I was little. Anyone who has been to Gino has a story to tell. It may have been a brush with a celebrity at the next table or just the memory of the taste of that Segreto sauce (my favorite). Either way, he has asked me to express his love for you all and for your loyalty throughout the years. Ciao!

Concetta Doria Stetler

Jeremiah Moss said...

thank you, Concetta, for writing in and sending your kind words to Gino's many fans here. your family's business and the warmth they brought to it, will be terribly missed.

Anonymous said...

As I sit looking at the Golden Gate Bridge from my office in San Francisco I recall only to vivdly how important the thought of some pasta with the "secret sauce" along with a bottle of Antinori was to making my almost monthly trips (beginning in 1984) to New York something to look forward to...I would easily walk from the Regency hotel @ Park and 61st. Even more rewarding was the trek on a snowy winter night, which ended opening into the warmth of Gino and all the regular players. Doc, who liked to sit with Mrs. Stone ( Danielle Steeles' mother)at her regular table on the wall next to the bar.Billy behind the bar, washing glasses but not always getting all the soap out...Franco, who called me one night in San Francisco to make sure it was alright to put 4 dinners on my tab since some kids were there who didn't realize it was an all cash proposition and needed taxi fare back to Fordham. They had already paid the bill but could not find a taxi who would take them that far on a credit card. So they rushed back to Gino's and ask Franco if they could get the cash back...My son had been there before with me.We'll all miss you Gino, more than anyone can pen. "Fox"

Flora said...

while i'm not/wasn't familiar with gino, i always hate seeing landmark places go away, especially to be replaced by a Beverly Hills cupcake chain! This is a little tangential, but i had to comment on the "kim novak"-esque lady and her zebra wallpaper. Scalamandre is where my grandparents and other relatives worked when they arrived from italy, my parents met there, oh the list goes on and on. anyway...sorry to hear about gino...another lost cause in this cupcake obsessed city.

laura said...

thats a loss. the last UN remodeled italian restaurant. & the most attractive, w/the best food. how much higher was the rent raised? btw, they always took my personal checks.