GREENWICH VILLAGE — The fire that brought more than 100 firefighters to Village standby Il Cantinori on Sunday night did serious damage to the Tuscan restaurant's kitchen and recently renovated back room, its staff said Monday.
Renovations of the back room — which included a new skylight, stucco walls and a chandelier — were completed only about a week ago, manager Andrew Linardatos said.
"It's terrible. The timing is not very good," he said.
Co-owner Frank Minieri said he could not believe what had happened.
"It's just like losing a family member," he said.
Linardatos said he and other staff knew something was wrong after 6 p.m. Sunday.
"We didn't even know what was going on in the beginning. We just heard a huge noise. It was like an earthquake," he said.
He and other staff saw and smelled smoke but didn't see any flames, but immediately called the fire department and ushered a few tables worth of diners out of the 32 E. 10th St. restaurant.
Fire fighters were notified of the fire at 6:22 p.m., a FDNY spokesman said. It was escalated to a two-alarm fire less than an hour later.
Three firefighters suffered minor injuries and were treated at Bellevue Hospital Center.
The fire began at ceiling level in the rear of the restaurant, an FDNY spokesman said.
Linardatos estimated that the restaurant could be ready to reopen in about three weeks. He declined to allow photos to be taken inside.
Il Cantinori opened in 1983 and its staff prides itself on its relationships with its customers, according to its website. "Sex and the City" fans might remember the restaurant from a scene where lead character Carrie Bradshaw ended up alone on her 35th birthday.
"We know many of our customers by name … We have watched them grow along with us, and have often had the distinction of serving their children, who we may have known from infancy. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing that we have been around long enough to watch our customer base cross generations," the website reads.
A local who declined to provide her name said she had gone to Il Cantinori at least once a week for more than 20 years.
"It's just the best," she said. "If I don't call to say I'm on my way, they worry about me and call me."