Gargiulo’s Restaurant began in Coney Island in 1907, as a small family owned business located on Mermaid Avenue by the Gargiulo Family. It was the beginning of something that no one could have imagined.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.
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.
In June 2007 Gargiulo’s celebrated 100 years of business & in 2015 the Russo family celebrated 50 years of ownership. Today Gargiulo’s is still owned and operated by by the Russo family. We invite you to 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!