Angelo Montemarano and his wife, Filomena opened “Angelo’s Tavern” in 1906. The Montemaranos grew produce in the backyard and lived with their children in an upstairs apartment. Angelo’s was a speakeasy during prohibition, with a chute to the basement in case the staff needed to dispose of the bottles ahead of a police raid.
In the late 30’s, with Angelo’s son Nick Monte running things, Angelo’s received a massive facelift and became Monte’s Venetian Room (Monte and Montemarano are variations on the same family name) Despite the name, most cooking was solidly Neapolitan. The new more elaborate design featured red booths and painted murals of Venice on the walls.
Monte’s became both a well-kept secret and a legendary hangout; a neighborhood restaurant beloved by the Rat Pack, the mob, politicians and just about anyone. One evening Sammy Davis Jr. preformed a spontaneous concert into the morning hours. James Caan, Danny Aiello and golden-era Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr were other famous patrons.
The look of Monte’s made it a desired locale for movies, too. In Prizzi’s Honor, John Huston’s 1985 mafia-themed dark comedy, a key meeting between a couple of cops and a gangster takes place in one of the red booths. In the 1990 film Men of Respect, John Turturro carries out a mob hit, popping off gunshots while patrons at the bar dive for cover.
Dominick Castelvetre, Nancy Stuto Montemarano’s great nephew, grew up on the block. He worked at Monte’s as a young boy valeting cars. In 2011 the restaurant became available. Dominick and his wife, Tina Esposito, jumped at the opportunity to reopen Monte’s. A much-needed renovation was a necessity. They tried to keep as much of the beloved characteristics as possible; unfortunately the murals and the phone booth both mysteriously disappeared. They restored the original bar and added an imported wood-burning oven from Italy.
The food is truly Italian but not focusing on one region in particular. We welcome everyone to come and enjoy our authentic Italian cuisine and cozy atmosphere!
Justice, Peter. Life and Times of Monte’s Venetian Room.
Exploring the history of an iconic Brooklyn restaurant.
September 7, 2011