Gargiulo’s Restaurant began in Coney Island in 1907, as a small family owned business located on Mermaid Avenue. It was the beginning of something that no one could have imagined. As the business and the Gargiulo family expanded, the business relocated from its original location on Mermaid Avenue to its present location on West 15th Street. Throughout the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, Gargiulo’s Grand Ballroom was the host of many weddings and other social functions. Patrons enjoyed making memories with good friends and great food.
The Russo Brothers began their foray into the hospitality industry in the early 1960’s, opening a 16 seat pizzeria on Nostrand Avenue. Da Luigi, an 80 seat venue, was their next location, which was very popular from its opening featuring their family recipes from Sorrento, Italy. As their sights were always set higher, the brothers looked for the next opportunity to expand their business.
The Russo Brothers
In 1965 Michael, Nino & Victor Russo acquired the famous restaurant and reopened the historic building hoping that their investment would provide for the families that worked so hard to build this new business. To honor their father Luigi Russo, the Russo Brothers celebrated the grand opening on June 21, which is the feast day of Saint Luigi.
“Classic Neapolitan Cuisine” based on traditional family recipes, were taught to the brothers by their Zia Dora Ercolano. The 1970’s brought more family to the United States to help with the growing business. The brothers were joined by their sister Luisa and brother Ralph to complete the family of five siblings in their new home of Coney Island. Luisa continued to create incredible dishes to add to the menu while Ralph brought his creativity and artistic flair to the décor of the restaurant. Ralph was the creator and artist responsible for the octopus which famously hung from the ceiling in the main dining room for over two decades, an iconic remembrance of New York Aquarium fundraising events of the 1970’s & 1980’s.
Expanding in the ’80s
A turning point in Gargiulo’s history is when the food critic, Mimi Sheraton, from the New York Times’ gave us 3 out of 4 stars. As this was an honor usually reserved for Manhattan restaurants, a tremendous buzz was created and people lined up for hours to dine at Gargiulo’s.
In 1979, to better serve their customers growing needs, the Russo brother’s opened a 300 seat catering hall in 1983, with the Waterfall Room to be added shortly after.
At the same time, Michael hired Carlo Parmigiano a world renowned chef from Naples Italy to teach the Gargiulo staff to handle the large parties that were soon to come.
Family and tradition always being foremost, the original Russo brothers passed the reins on to the younger set of Russo brothers, Louis, Michael, Nino and Anthony and their cousins, Luigi D’Aniello, Lella De Angelis and Victor De Angelis in the early 1990’s.
100 Year Anniversary
The Russo Family has been through many ups and downs during the last 50 plus years. On September 11, 2001, we lost many friends and customers during the attacks on the World Trade Center. We faced the worst trials of our years in business when Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012 — our basement extending beneath the restaurant, filled to the top of its nine foot ceiling with sea water; our lobby, bar and Sorrento Room, destroyed by raging flood waters; and over two feet of water throughout the first floor of the entire building. Joining forces with community groups and major corporations, we were able to reopen by December 1st of that year, to our relief, as well as to the relief of our customers.
Gargiulo’s Celebrated 100 Years in Business on June 21, 2007. We began the day with a special mass with many of the priest that bless us with their patronage. We had an open house for all of our loyal staff, family and patrons.
The Russo Family celebrated 50 Years of owning and operating Gargiulo’s Restaurant. Like we did at the 100th Anniversary, we started the day off with a special mass and had an open house for all of our staff, family and patrons
100 Year Anniversary
Today Gargiulo’s is owned and operated by five siblings, Louis, Rachael, Michael, Nino and Anthony Russo. Our newly renovated dining room and catering hall and other event spaces provide the perfect setting for your celebration, meeting or fundraiser. We are here to help plan every facet of your event no matter the size. Join us for delicious food, great atmosphere and service is always on our menu!
Here is to the future of Gargiulo’s traditions, waiting to write the next chapter!