This restaurant’s salad days are over.
Gravesend eatery Fiorentino’s served its last meal on Jan. 10 after 32 years of feeding hungry Brooklynites. The owner closed the restaurant citing financial difficulties and because his father and brother, who were also business partners, recently died, he said. The big cheese is sad to let go of the joint, but regulars’ reactions to the news were comforting, he said.
“I think some of them were more devastated than I am,” said owner Anthony Fiorentino, “It’s like the television show, ‘Cheers,’ people come to see each other, they know each other.”
Longtime patrons packed into the Avenue U bistro’s dining room for a final meal Sunday night.
One devotee who has been going to Fiorentino’s since she was a little girl cited the broccoli rabe and chicken cutlet parmigiana as favorites she’ll sorely miss — but she will miss the restaurant’s close-knit atmosphere the most, she said.
“They make you feel like family,” said Manhattan Beach resident Antoinette Danner, who said she dined at Fiorentino’s at least once a month before it closed. “When they told me it was closing all I did was cry and I was like ‘Where am I going to go now? How do you replace everyone that treated you so nice?’”
Fiorentino plans to sell the expansive space, which includes two dining rooms and a bar, but he doesn’t have any future plans except to take care of his mother and her Gravesend home after he ties up the loose ends, he said.
The Avenue U restaurant’s lot between McDonald Avenue and West Street is zoned for residential and commercial uses, and a new owner could build apartments up to seven stories on the site, city records show.
Fiorentino will look back fondly on the many memories created inside the restaurant — he named the countless birthday and New Year’s Eve celebrations as some of his favorite moments. Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade was a summer highlight, because mermaids used to flood Fiorentino’s after the procession.
Now locals will have to start scouting out new spots in Gravesend for their family festivities, but other restaurants just won’t be the same, one stalwart said.
“I’ve been coming here ever since they opened,” said Edith Serafin, who eats at Fiorentino’s once a week. “ It’s my favorite restaurant, and I will sadly miss this place.”