15 May 2007

This Was Cafiero's



About half a half-century ago, this storefront on President Street near Columbia Street was Cafiero's Italian restaurant. I've always been suspicious of the buidling; I knew it was a well-known eatery once, but could never get the straight dope on it. Everyone always told me it used to be a "famous restaurant," with eyes wide, and then couldn't recall the name of the place. Finally, a local oldtimer who lives down the block from me, and had seen Cafiero's in action, gave me the news.

The name doesn't resonate much today, but once upon a time Cafiero's was one of the preeminent fine eats places in South Brooklyn, an establishment visited by the local mobsters as well as prominent lawyers, politicians and judges driving in from downtown Brooklyn. Story goes Joe DiMaggio wined and dined Marilyn Monroe here once or twice.

The restaurant closed sometime in the early '50s, according to my oldtimer. If you peek through the ever-shuttered windows, you can spy high, ornately designed tin ceilings. I can't find out anything more about it, not a menu, not a picture, not an anecdote. Anybody out there got anything?

9 comments:

Nesta said...

Just discovered this blog, and it seems to be exactly what I've been looking for. I look forward to reading all the old entries and hope you keep it up.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Thanks, Nesta. Hope you enjoy what you read.

Anonymous said...

The man with his hands on his hips is Sharkey- the owner- John

Anonymous said...

I grew up across the street from Cafieros. The owner was known as Sharkey. This was a real old fashioned family resturant.His brother Frank was the cook. His wife Katie and sister Mamie were the waitress'.His wife was always in a great mood humming away and always smiling.
Sharkey would always greet the neighborwomen by saying hello Sophie dear, or hello Connie dear. He lived above the resturant and his sister and her husband lived on the top floor. They only served lunch and one 6PM sitting for dinner. There were 6 tables in the front, and you could walk back through the kitchen to the back room to find another 8 tables. When I was a kid Sharkey would send me around the corner to the backery to get another 3 or 4 loaves of fresh Italian bread when he ran short. His wife would type up the menu for the day, there were no printed menus.He retired in the seventies and although was approached to sell the resturant many times, he always refused. I can remember one time some 15 years after he retired, someone would come back from being out of town to dine there only to discover Sharkey sitting outside telling them sorry, he's retired.
They would make the biggest here ever, only cutting off about 4 inchs from a loaf of Italian bread. Frank had a knack of pitching a ball of dough from the kitchen all the way to the front of the resturant where I would be waiting for my take out, and beam me in the head. He never missed and I never caught him in the act.
Boy I sure do miss those days. The kid across the street Ralph Scarfogliero

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Thanks Ralph! Great memories of what must have been a great place. If you don't mind, I'd like to post your recollections as a new separate item.

LindaQ said...

It was Arthur Miller who accompanied Marilyn Monroe to Cafiero's. My Uncle Sharkey didn't know who she was-hard to believe that was possible- and called her "girlie" as in, "Please have a seat here Girlie." My family has been telling this ridiculously funny story for years.

Diana Drucker said...

When I was a child my family's birthdays were celebrated at Cafiero's. My grandfather always had Sharkey present the bill to the birthday child who a couple of times nervously said they had no money but soon caught on and pointed to Grandpa. I loved the penny candy store nearby where we got a maryjane after Cafiero's bisque tortoni

AirPilot said...

I remember going there in the 1960's. You'd have to walk through the kitchen to get to the tables in the rear. As you did the aroma from the large pots of sauce cooking were irresistible. They would close for a month during the summer when the owner went to Saratoga for the races. One year I went bsck and they decided to close. Never even thought about selling it to keep it going. It was one of my greatest NYC food memories.

David Smith said...

Cafeiro's was open into the late 1960s. My father was a doctor in Red Hook from 1943 to 1971. His office was at 44 West 9th at the corner of Hicks Street. We ate at Cafeiro's all the time. Great food.