Trattoria dell’Arte trumpets return of hungry Carnegie Hall customers



Guests at Wednesday night’s gala reopening of Carnegie Hall will thrill to the triumphant strains of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra.

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

Trattoria dell’Arte, like Carnegie Hall, was dark for 20 long months since the citywide pandemic shutdown began in March of 2020. The restaurant’s  re-launch marks the latest  milestone in Midtown’s recovery.

It means one less major restaurant that remains closed, a shrinking roster that  includes Sardi’s, Shun Lee Palace and Polo Bar. Only  Sardi’s would cite a planned reopening “for mid- or late fall.”

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

A man stands behind the antipasta table at Trattoria dell'Arte
The relaunch of Trattoria dell’Arte means one less major New York City eatery that remains closed since the pandemic began.
Giada Paoloni

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

“It’s a joyous day,” Fireman said. “We’re giving everybody champagne as soon as people walk in.”

Before the Covid-19 lockdown,  Trattoria dell’Arte — flagship of Fireman Hospitality Group which   includes Bond 45, RedEye Grill, Fiorello and Brooklyn Diner — saw  revenue “north of $12 million” annually, Fireman said.

The exterior of Trattoria dell'Arte
Trattoria dell’Arte’s owners waited to reopen until Carnegie Hall reopened with its 3,671 seats — and potential restaurant customers.
Trattoria dell’Arte

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

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

 Both men credited  Trattoria’s survival in part to a cooperative landlord, the Feil Organization. The two sides recently extended Trattoria’s lease for fifteen years.

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

They wouldn’t discuss terms but Grossman said, “The way we think about things now is, you’d be crazy to do a deal that didn’t have a significant part of rent tied to a percentage of business.”

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

Some employees were given jobs at Fireman’s other restaurants — “they were actually over-staffed for a while,” Grossman said — in anticipation of Trattoria’s reopening.

Interior of Trattoria dell'Arte with an array of framed photos on the wall and tables set for dining
The restaurant’s owners recognize tough times remain ahead, but they’re confident the storied eatery will survive.
Giada Paoloni

But tough times still lie ahead  while office buildings remain only 28 percent occupied and tourists are few.

Fireman said that, except for thriving Fiorello near Lincoln Center, business at his other places “slightly sucks” although Broadway reopenings should help.

He wouldn’t speculate on how  well his  restaurants, or the city, would do in the long run — but, “Survive we will,” he said.

Carnegie Hall executive and artistic director Clive Gillinson said, “We have such a great partnership with Shelly Fireman and Trattoria. He does a wonderful job welcoming concertgoers before and after our shows. It makes it an extra special evening knowing that Trattoria dell’Arte is back.”


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