La Trattoria dell'Arte heralds the return of Carnegie Hall's hungry customers

Guests of the Carnegie Hall reopening gala on Wednesday evening will be delighted by the triumphant accents of Beethoven’s Fifth Sympho...


Guests of the Carnegie Hall reopening gala on Wednesday evening will be delighted by the triumphant accents of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra.

But the most exciting sounds at the Trattoria dell’Arte at 907 Seventh Ave. across the street will be the renewed buzz of patrons enjoying veal chop parmigiana, burrata-stuffed ravioli, and a thin-crust pizza with “lots of pepperoni,” as the menu calls it.

La Trattoria dell’Arte, like Carnegie Hall, had been dark for 20 long months since the city-wide pandemic shutdown began in March 2020. The restaurant’s relaunch marks the last milestone in the Midtown takeover.

It means one less restaurant remains closed, a growing list that includes Sardi’s, Shun Lee Palace and Polo Bar. Only Sardi’s would cite a reopening scheduled “for mid to late fall”.

The colorful, 400-seat, three-level jumbo Trattoria with a giant Milton Glaser-designed nose above the entrance has been a downtown institution since it opened 33 years ago. He drew much of his nighttime activity from Carnegie Hall, which in turn relied on Trattoria to feed hungry music lovers before and after performances.

A man stands behind the antipasta table at the Trattoria dell'Arte
The relaunch of the Trattoria dell’Arte means one less New York restaurant that has remained closed since the start of the pandemic.
Giada Paoloni

Owner Shelly Fireman waited to reopen the concert hall with 3,671 seats – and potential restaurant customers – in its three performance venues.

“It’s a joyous day,” Fireman said. “We give everyone champagne as soon as people come in.”

Before the Covid-19 lockdown, Trattoria dell’Arte – flagship of the Fireman Hospitality Group which includes Bond 45, RedEye Grill, Fiorello and Brooklyn Diner – recorded revenues “north of $ 12 million” per year, Fireman said .

The exterior of the Trattoria dell'Arte
The owners of the Trattoria dell’Arte have been waiting for the reopening of Carnegie Hall with its 3,671 seats – and potential customers of the restaurant.
Trattoria dell’Arte

Company CEO / Partner Benjamin Grossman said, “We don’t expect to match that. But we know this neighborhood very well. We are optimistic that it will get better.

Grossman said that in the pre-Covid era, Trattoria could serve 500 Carnegie Hall customers on any given night. “But these are not normal times,” he said.

The two men attributed Trattoria’s survival in part to a cooperative owner, the Feil Organization. Both parties recently extended Trattoria’s lease for 15 years.

Detail of Trattoria food displayed on a table at a restaurant
Trattoria said it served some 500 Carnegie Hall customers on a given night before COVID-19.
Trattoria dell’Arte

They weren’t discussing the terms, but Grossman said, “The way we think about it now is you’d be crazy to make a deal that didn’t have a significant portion of the rent tied to a percentage of the business. “

Trattoria has had less trouble rehiring staff than many other locations. Executive Chef Brando De Oliveira, who has worked with Fireman for twenty years, is back with most of the managers.

Some employees have secured jobs at Fireman’s other restaurants – “they were actually overstaffed for a while,” Grossman said – in anticipation of Trattoria’s reopening.

Interior of the Trattoria dell'Arte with a series of framed photos on the wall and tables set for meals
The owners of the restaurant recognize that hard times are yet to come, but they are confident that the historic restaurant will survive.
Giada Paoloni

But hard times still lie ahead as office buildings only stay 28 percent occupied and tourists are few.

The firefighter said that with the exception of the prosperous Fiorello neighborhood near Lincoln Center, business in its other locations “may” although Broadway reopens should help.

He wouldn’t speculate on the quality of his restaurants or the city in the long run, but “survive, we will,” he said.

Carnegie Hall General and Artistic Director Clive Gillinson said, “We have a great partnership with Shelly Fireman and Trattoria. He does a wonderful job welcoming spectators before and after our shows. This makes it a very special evening knowing that Trattoria dell’Arte is back.

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