Gone But Not Forgotten Restaurants: Delsomma

June 23rd, 2011 § 20 comments

Frank Sinatra loved it. So did Jason Robards and David Mamet (who wrote about it in his book of essays Make Believe Town: Essays and Remembrances. Sidney Poitier dined there often when he was appearing on Broadway. Coleen Dewhurst called it “family.” HG is referring to Delsomma, an Italian restaurant at 266 W. 47th Street in the heart of the theater district. It closed in 1993, a victim of the drug dealing, prostitution and street violence that plagued 8th Avenue and surrounding side streets in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Run by the Cardinale family for 40 years, every diner was treated like a star. HG and BSK were introduced to Delsomma by their dear friend, the late Michael Small. Michael, who composed the score for many memorable films, took them there after the premiere of Marathon Man (with Dustin Hoffman and Lawrence Olivier playing a Nazi dentist). Michael did the chilling score.

From that time forward it became HG and BSK’s go to place for Italian food. Their first meeting with Profesore/ Dottore M. (yet to become the husband of daughter LR) was at Delsomma. The fastidious (and nervous) M. heartily approved of the food. Some of the house specialties: Ziti with broccoli, lightly fried jumbo shrimp in lemon sauce, pork chops with vinegar peppers—and some of the best veal in town. Beautiful potato croquettes. Sauteed escarole with garlic. Michael Small and Delsomma are always linked in HG’s memory. Miss them both.

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§ 20 Responses to Gone But Not Forgotten Restaurants: Delsomma"

  • Jonny says:

    Great story, Gerry! I don’t think I ever had the pleasure of experiencing Delsomma, but if you and my dad liked it–it must have been amazing .

  • Joe Cafrey says:

    The five Cardinale brother’s were my uncles, and I grew up in that place. I own the original copy of that photo of Sydney Poitier and my uncles. Your love of the place is shows clearly in your beautiful description of what it was like. It was the best veal in town. I ran into David Mamet in an elevator recently and he told me he dream about it.
    Thanks for this post.

    • Gerry says:

      Ah, Delsomma!! Everything was great–penne with broccoli, vinegar peppers and veal from heaven. Warm, welcoming service. Thanks for telling me about David Mamet. I will be in Bologna this November where there are restaurants that have the life enhancing quality of Delsomma. I wish you good appetite,Joe.

    • Ben ' Schiro says:

      I have eaten there many times with my father circa 1960’s, and when I was in the USN ate their when on weekend leave, and always enjoyed my meal and had a blast! Ben

    • Margaret Chapman says:

      Hello Joe
      My parents went to NYC every Fall after canning season.They would see 4 to 5 shows and only
      ate at Delsomas. Can you tell me where the Cardinal brothers where from? My family is from Wilkes Barre,Pennsylvania and my parents just went to the Cardinal brothers. When my dad passed in 1977 my mother and I went to Delsomas in 1978 for dinner after spending time in New York. We where treated just the same as my parents where every time they walked in the front door. They always felt at home with your uncle’s. I had my first chicken parmesan at Delsomas when I was a senior in high school. What incredible memories I have of NYC!!

      Margaret M Chapman

  • richard s says:

    Went there many times between 1975 and early 90’s…Wonderful family atmosphere and great food!

  • Michael Fleischmann says:

    I’m pretty sure this was the place where I was dining with a small group around 1980, and saw Robert Duvall dining there alone. He graciously gave my date an autograph, though I’m sure he would have preferred to not be disturbed.

  • Tim Stewart says:

    My mother’s family were friends with the Cardinales, and would dine there as a treat when we went into the City

  • Tony Rios Jr. says:

    My father Tony Sr. was a Chef for the Cardinale family at Delsomma Restaurant for 40 years. I too worked at the Delsomma Restaurant for three years in 1976 before I joined the police force. Delsomma was one of the best Italian Restaurants in NYC and it was a privilege to work for these great men. I have since visited the place this year and it is an Irish bar. It brought back memories of my dad and I working there and the good times we had working there. I would be great to speak again with any of the Cardinale brothers or any family members.

  • Mike Woods says:

    Tony Rios, did you ever reach a Cardinale brother?

  • Robert says:

    I have a match book from Delsomma. The inside cover lists all the “legitimate” theaters. Does anybody want it. Located in NYC.

  • In the 1980s I worked with my dad in a small office ten blocks uptown from Delsomma. He loved to eat out and try new restaurants and Delsomma was the one place he knew was always a “sure thing” for a great meal. When my cousin visited me from out of town so we could hit some jazz clubs and stay out late, I took him to dinner at Delsomma to start the night. The chef saw that we were finding it difficult to decide what to order. I don’t remember if he described what he would prepare, but basically he told us to leave it to him. This was fine with us. All I remember was that the food was so good that my cousin and I didn’t talk, we just kept eating and looking at each other smiling.
    Several years later Jackie Mason was on Broadway and my upstairs neighbor, Marsha, confided in me that she was in love with him and her biggest dream was to see his show, but her boyfriend was a dummy and she had nobody to go with. She was a fun gal, I liked Jackie too, so I was thrilled to get us tickets. As well, I arranged for us to eat at Delsomma before the show, as I knew this would make her experience even better. It was a perfect evening, as if it had been scripted. Of course we had an amazingly delicious meal, and during desert Jackie Mason walked into the restaurant! I waved at him and he walked over to us. Marsha didn’t know what I was doing, and she could barely utter “Hello” when I introduced ourselves to Jackie. I told him how much we appreciated him and that we would be in his audience later. He signed the desert menu to Marsha. Her jaw was on the floor. That was over thirty years ago and I will never forget it and I will always be grateful for how wonderful that evening went, and how happy it made Marsha, someone who never would have gotten out of Brooklyn for an evening if it wasn’t for Jackie, Delsomma and me.

  • William Sabino says:

    I ate there once.
    It was really nice.

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