Delmonico's is the name of various New York City restaurants of varying duration, quality, and fame.
The original and most famous was operated by the Delmonico family at 2 South William Street in Lower Manhattan during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when it gained a reputation as one of the nation's top fine dining establishments. The birthplace of the widely imitated Delmonico steak, the restaurant is credited with being one of the first American restaurants to allow patrons to order from a menu à la carte, as opposed to table d'hôte. It is also said to be the first to employ a separate wine list.
The family also opened other restaurants under the name, operating up to four at a time and ultimately totaling 10 establishments by the time it departed the business in 1923.
In 1926, restaurateur Oscar Tucci purchased the ground floor and the basement of the 70,000-square foot building at 56 Beaver Street and reopened Delmonico's as a speakeasy. During the 1920s and 1930s the upper floors of 56 Beaver Street were being used as offices for ship insurance, legal offices, and other types of offices. In 1933, after the repeal of Prohibition, Tucci was given the third liquor license in New York City and quickly renamed the restaurant to Oscar's Delmonico's. By the 1940s Tucci was able to purchase the entire building. Delmonico's in the Tucci era was open through 1986 with its final closure of the Greenwich, Connecticut, location after the death of Oscar Tucci's son Mario Tucci. Other Delmonico's have operated in the space from the late 1980s to 1992 and since 1998.
The original Delmonico's opened in 1827 in a rented pastry shop at 23 William Street, and appeared in a list of restaurants in 1830. It was opened by the brothers John and Peter Delmonico, from Ticino, Switzerland. In 1831, they were joined by their nephew, Lorenzo Delmonico, who eventually became responsible for the restaurant's wine list and menu.
The brothers moved their restaurant several times before settling at 2 South William Street. When the building was opened on a grand scale in August 1837 after the Great Fire of New York, New Yorkers were told that the columns by the entrance had been imported from the ruins of Pompeii. It eventually became one of the most famous restaurants in New York, with its reputation eventually growing to national prominence.
Expansion and closure
Beginning in the 1850s, the restaurant hosted the annual gathering of the New England Society of New York, which featured many important speakers of the day. In 1860, Delmonico's provided the supper at the Grand Ball welcoming the Prince of Wales at the Academy of Music on East 14th Street. Supper was set out in a specially constructed room; the menu was French, and the pièces montées represented Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Great Eastern and Flora's Vase. The New York Times reported, "We may frankly say that we have never seen a public supper served in a more inapproachable fashion, with greater discretion, or upon a more luxurious scale". In 1862, the restaurant hired Charles Ranhofer, considered one of the greatest chefs of his day. In 1876 news of the prices at Delmonicos restaurants spread at least as far as Colorado where complaints about the cost of wine, eggs, bread and butter, coffee, and potatoes ("2 potatoes cost 15 cents") appeared in the Pueblo Daily Chieftain 
The business was so successful that from 1865 to 1888, it expanded to four restaurants of the same name. At various times, there were Delmonico's at ten locations. Delmonico's vacated the six-story Delmonico Building at Fifth Avenue and 26th Street in 1899. The edifice was sold to John B. Martin, owner of the Martin Hotel, in May 1901.
In 1919, Edward L.C. Robins purchased Delmonico's. Its grand location at Fifth Avenue and 44th Street closed in 1923 as a result of changing dining habits due to Prohibition. That location was the final incarnation of Delmonico's with continuity to the original.
|23 William Street||December 13, 1827 – December 16, 1835 (destroyed by fire)||"Delmonico & Brother, confectioners" small cafe and pastry shop|
|25 William Street||March, 1830 – December 16, 1835 (destroyed by fire)||"Delmonico & Brother, confectioners and Restaurant Francais"|
|76 Broad Street||February 23, 1836 – July 19, 1845 (destroyed by fire)|
|2 South William St.||August, 1837 – July 10, 1890. Rebuilt and reopened July 7, 1891, closed 1917||"Delmonico's Restaurant," informally called "The Citadel."|
|25 Broadway||June 1, 1846 – 1856||The Delmonico Hotel|
|Chambers Street and Broadway||1856 – October 26, 1876|
|East 14th Street and 5th Avenue||April 9, 1862 – September 11, 1876|
|22 Broad Street||1865–1893|
|Fifth Avenue and 26th St.||September 11, 1876 – April 18, 1899||Lobster a la Newberg invented here in 1876|
|112–114 Broadway near Pine St.||October 26, 1876 – 1888|
|Fifth Avenue and 44th Street||November 15, 1897 – May 21, 1923||The final Delmonico-owned restaurant|
In 1927, Oscar Tucci opened a "Delmonico's" popularly called "Oscar's Delmonico's" at the former Delmonico's location at 56 Beaver Street and South William Street in New York. The Delmonico family sued to prevent it, but a court ruled that they had abandoned rights to the name. The Tucci incarnation adopted the original menus and recipes, and became distinguished in its own right, continuing to attract prominent politicians and celebrities. Tucci also instituted many of the professional standards in use today in American restaurants. The Tucci era also produced three of the most prominent restaurateurs of the twentieth century: Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque, Tony May of San Domenico and the Rainbow Room, and Harry Poulakakos of Harry at Hanover Square. In the 1930s, Tucci invented the wedge salad after picking produce at a local farm.
Under the Tuccis' ownership, Mario Tucci, the son of Oscar Tucci opened another Delmonico's at 55 Arch Street, Greenwich Connecticut. Mario Tucci referred to Greenwich as the "New Uptown" serving many of the same customers that frequented Delmonico's at 56 Beaver Street. In 1981, a new Delmonico's was opened at the location by Ed Huber, which operated until 1992.
The building was vacant until 1998, when the Bice Group acquired the property and again opened a Delmonico's, with Gian Pietro Branchi as executive chef, who turned over to Spencer Levy. In 1999, the restaurant was sold to the Ocinomled partnership, which continues to operate Delmonico's at the South William Street location. The current website lists the address as 56 Beaver Street.
Delmonico Potatoes were invented at Delmonico's restaurant, and possibly Chicken à la King, but it was most famous for Delmonico steak. Eggs Benedict were also said to have originated at Delmonico's, although others claim that dish as well.
It is often said that the name "Baked Alaska" was coined at Delmonico's as well, in 1867, by cook Charles Ranhofer. However, no contemporary account exists of this occurrence and Ranhofer himself referred to the dish, in 1894, as "Alaska Florida", apparently referring to the contrast between extremes of heat and cold. Manhattan clam chowder also first appeared in New York at Delmonico's. It is also said that Lobster Newberg was invented at the restaurant.
Under Oscar Tucci's ownership of Delmonico's, he created the wedge salad. After a trip to a Bridgeport, Connecticut, farm, Tucci picked the ingredients that became the salad. Tucci added bacon to the dish shortly after. The salad became an instant favorite, though some restaurateurs criticized the salad saying it was drenched in dressing. Today the wedge salad is served internationally.
Among the many well-known people who patronized Delmonico's are Jenny Lind, who, it was said, ate there after every show; Theodore Roosevelt; Chester Arthur; Mark Twain; Arthur Sullivan; "Diamond Jim" Brady; Lillian Russell, usually in the company of Brady; Charles Dickens; Oscar Wilde; J.P. Morgan; James Gordon Bennett, Jr.; Nikola Tesla; Edward VII while Prince of Wales; and Napoleon III of France. Journalist Jacob A. Riis said he was a patron of a different sort: in his book The Making of an American, he stated that when he was down on his luck a kindly French-speaking cook at Delmonico's would pass him rolls through the basement window.
Clarence Day, Jr. wrote of eating lunch at Delmonico's with his father in his collection of short stories Life With Father. In the 1947 film of the same name, a scene takes place in the restaurant; it likely recreates the William Street location.
Other Delmonico's restaurants
The New Orleans, Louisiana, Delmonico's, which opened in 1895, was purchased by Emeril Lagasse in 1997. Lagasse refurbished the restaurant and reopened it as Emeril's Delmonico. Emeril's Delmonico has nothing to do with the original Delmonico's.
Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse is a chain of restaurants with six locations in Upstate New York and Florida.
- List of New York City Landmarks
- National Register of Historic Places listings in New York County, New York
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- Media related to Delmonico's Restaurant at Wikimedia Commons