When Monte's Venetian Room, the legendary Italian eatery, closed its doors in 2008, it seemed like the end of an era in the neighborhood. First opened in 1906 by the Montemarano Family, the restaurant had became part of Brooklyn history. It was once the playground of Sammy Davis Jr. and other members of the Rat Pack, as well as the go-to place for lawyers, judges and blue collar workers. Sadly, Monte's had lost much of its luster in the last few decades. Sure, the red banquets and huge mural of Venice were still the same, but the interior, along with the staff and the food, had grown tired over the years.
Luckily, this is not the end for Monte's . After much speculation and anticipation, the famed Gowanus eatery at 451 Carroll Street, will re-open its doors in early June. The place has undergone an extensive renovation, but it retains much of its famed tradition.
New owners Dominick Castelvetre and his wife Tina Esposito were respectful of the restaurant's history when they re-designed the space. After all, Castelvetre had grown up on the same block on Carroll Street and used to park cars for the patrons of Monte's Venetian room and obviously has a fondness and appreciation for the place. However, by the time he took over, many of the fixtures, including the much-loved murals depicting canal scenes in Venice, had been removed. Castelvetre and Esposito have tried to retain as much of the old decor as they could. (Ninety percent of the tables are original and have been refinished.)
The 'new' Monte's is a tasteful, bright place with, at it's central focus, a beautiful wood -fired pizza oven made by Stefano Ferrara in Naples, Italy. The owners have hired a young chef from Milan, who has designed a more "creative Italian" menu, which, in addition to pizza and home-made pasta, will include seasonal dishes, as well as rabbit and wild boar.
Castelvetre and Esposito hope that Monte's will once again become the go-to place in Gowanus. I have no doubt that it will be a success.
Thanks, Tina and Dominick, for taking the time to show me around.