Manganaro's Closes After 119 Years in Hell's Kitchen

By Mathew Katz on February 27, 2012 1:16pm 

Looking into the emptied-out Manganaro's from the front door on Feb. 27, 2012.
Looking into the emptied-out Manganaro's from the front door on Feb. 27, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

HELL'S KITCHEN — After more than a century selling giant heros, imported salamis and antipasto, Hell's Kitchen's famous Italian grosseria Manganaro's is calling it quits.

The eatery was selling its last sandwiches on Monday. The store was emptied of most of its antique deli ware and kitchen equipment, with just a few ends of deli meats sitting near its last slicer.

"Our dad's in his 80s, and the economy's been very tough," said Lisa Dell'Orto, whose great-grandmother, Nina Manganaro Dell'Orto, founded the shop with her brother in 1893.

Dell'Orto has run the place with her sisters for years.

"It's just time for us to leave," said her sister, Marissa.

Rumors of the store's closing have swirled since the family put its building up for sale last year. The news of its closing was originally reported by Jeremiah's Vanishing New York.

The store at 488 Ninth Ave., originally opened as a wine and brandy shop called Petrucci's before becoming Manganaro's in the 1920s. After World War 1, the family became among the first to import salami and cheese into New York, Dell'Orto said. 

Dell'Orto said her grandmother and her father, Sal, invented the six-foot sandwich in 1956 — the famous sandwich eventually became a point of contention with Sal's brother Jimmy, who owns next door rival Hero-Boy.

At lunchtime on Monday, dozens of shocked customers stopped to mourn the now-empty store.

"I'm a sucker for this store, I like a grungier place," said Cole Ramstad, 28, who had come to the shop from Brooklyn. "The sandwiches were killer, that's just unfortunate."

Over the weekend, the family opened up the store to collectors hoping to get a piece of the culinary landmark.

"We sold a lot of things dating back to the opening of the store," said Dell'Orto. "A lot of antiquers came by."

The family has sold the five-story building the store is in, and it was not immediately clear what would replace the venerable Italian shop, though it was clear that Manganaro's would not be coming back. The family moved years ago from Manhattan to New Jersey.

"It is very sad for us," said Marissa Dell'Orto. "Being in New York is tough as it is, and really, we're all tired."

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