Monday, November 29, 2010

Moskowitz & Lupowitz

Don't ask me why, but lately I've had the 1950 Pincus Sisters rendition of the Moskowitz and Lupowitz radio jingle in my head. This is odd, considering I wasn't alive in 1950, I don't speak Yiddish, and I never visited the Romanian-Jewish restaurant that stood on the corner of 2nd Street and 2nd Avenue until 1966.

source unknown

The restaurant (where “the finest Jews come to eat”) was founded in 1909 by Romanian immigrants (Joseph Moskowitz was a child prodigy on the cymbalom and went on to a somewhat illustrious music career). It was known as a sophisticated hotspot--the tables were covered in linen, the waiters wore black ties--and thus became a favorite of Yiddish actors and many celebrities of the time, like Milton Berle, Eddie Cantor, and Sid Caesar.

Artie Shaw with M&L's Anzelowitz, Live & Be Well

Its listing in the 1939 Federal Writer's Project guide to the city, under Jewish food, notes that lunch could be had for 55 cents and dinner from 85 cents.

NYC Guide

LaSalle Academy bought the property in 1966 and moved in soon after. The building might be the same, but if it is, it's been changed so thoroughly that it's unrecognizable from its history. (That arched window to the far right, though, still remains at Anthology Film Archives.)

Cushman, from Dino's

You can buy one of their 1962 menus from ebay for $100 and imagine enjoying a meal of Calf's Brains and Pickled Herring, Gefilte Fish, Stuffed Cabbage, Chicken in the Pot, and a dessert of Stewed Prunes.

Moskowitz & Lupowitz was one of the only fancy Jewish restaurants on the Lower East Side and maybe it's on my mind because of the whole Octavia's Porch opening.

The owner of the new Avenue B business calls it "the city's first culturally Jewish restaurant with a sophisticated approach to feature global tastes and flavors." But Moskowitz & Lupowitz was here long before Octavia's. They were culturally Jewish, sophisticated, and globally flavored. Octavia's will be serving many of the same dishes, like Kreplach, Gefilte Fish, and Chicken Livers, and they'll be doing "artisanal" tricks like making caramel matzo and pouring it over ice cream. Still, I doubt they'll have a Yiddish radio jingle such as that once sung by the Pincus Sisters for Moskowitz & Lupowitz.


Jill said...

So where does Sammy's fit in to this new world order of Jewish themed restaurants?

Anonymous said...

Scroll down and you can see a view of that restaurant (among others)

Anonymous said...

I grew up around the corner and remember when LaSalle Academy bought the building. I found out later that a good family friend, Hy Anzel, was of the original owning families. A serial entrepreneur and actor (you may remember him as 'Joey Nickels' in Annie Hall) he went on to try to revive the name M&L as a line of canned specialty jewish supermarket products. That didn't work out though.

Anonymous said...
Here is the link to the Moskowitz and Lupowitz jingle.