UPDATE! Monte’s name will remain, but new owner will change food and look of the old joint

Finally, a restaurant in the old Monte’s space
Photo by Tom Callan

We’ll always have Monte’s!

Though the 102-year-old red sauce Italian restaurant on Carroll Street closed last year, the new owner of the soon-to-open eatery in the same space says the new joint will bear the same historic name.

“It was always the plan to keep the name, ‘Monte’s,’ ” said Dominick Castlevestri, who frightened locals because his renovation permits listed the name of the restaurant as “Dominick’s on Carroll.”

“That’s just the ‘doing business as’ name,” he said. “Monte’s it is.”

But even if the name will remain the same, the approach will change, said Castlevestri, who has run pizzerias for 11 years and lives in the area (though he would not be more specific).

“We’re importing a wood-burning oven from Italy,” he said. “And we’re going to do small Italian dishes. New Italian.”

That’s welcome news to foodies, who long ago realized that Monte’s had become known more for its exploits than its food. Once a Prohibition-era speakeasy and then notorious Rat Pack hangout, Monte’s heaping platters of veal saltimbocca and linguine with clam sauce made few concessions to new palates.

And the look of the place will, unfortunately, change.

“We had no choice but to do a complete makeover because everything was rotted,” he said. “We restored the original bar. We’re going to put in nice new booths and counters, and an open kitchen.”

Frank Perone, who has owned the building for 15 years, said that Monte’s shut down because “business was slow” — but he thinks the space between Third Avenue and Nevins Street is in good hands.

“I wanted to pick the right person, someone who was going to do an extreme makeover,” he said. “I liked the way Dominick conducts himself. He’s going to do well here. The neighborhood has changed, new faces. I know Dominick will be in business for a long time.”

It better be — because, if not, Castlevestri will have to answer to one opinionated neighbor.

“My mother still lives on the block,” he said.