You cannoli keep the same look for so long.
The owners of Gargiulo’s unveiled the restaurant’s newly renovated interior to friends and family with a cornucopia of Neapolitan cuisine on Nov. 25. Restaurateurs the Russo family celebrated 50 years behind the helm by sprucing up the iconic W. 15th Street eatery, and the new look was long overdue, one co-owner said.
“Who wants to see the same old shirt?” said Anthony Russo, who owns the restaurant with his three brothers. “You gotta change your shirt, give yourself a face-lift, and you reinvent yourself.”
The Russos gave the front dining room darker wood accents, a new bar, and new tables and chairs. They installed new lighting fixtures and put up neutral wallpaper in the catering halls — bringing the halls’ former 1980s-era sheik into the 21st century, said brother Nino Russo.
The renovations are also a major step forward for a restaurant that Hurricane Sandy hammered three years ago. Nine feet of flood water destroyed the Gargiulo’s basement and forced the Russos to do emergency reconstruction in the catering and dining halls, which saw two feet of flood water, the Russos said. But those fixes were stop-gaps so the restaurant could get back to serving up food, which was more important at the time than redesigning the restaurant, the brothers said.
“When we were hit by Sandy, we really didn’t have the time to get a designer, coordinate colors, and all that — we wanted to open up,” Nino said.
The decor is far from the first upgrade to the century-old institution. Last year, order-taking waiters substituted their note pads for iPads.
The digs may be new, but the food is still the same — and that’s good, because some things shouldn’t change, according to a patron who first came to the restaurant in 1970 and now drives from bucolic Staten Island at least once a week for Gargiulo’s consistently great veal.
“The reason I keep coming back is because the food is always the same,” said Harold Wolchok. “You get exactly what you want, and you know that it will always be the same. And the people who serve you are fantastic.”