Some time ago, while looking for clues as to the history of the bygone Magic Touch restaurant, which has left behind a beguiling sign at the corner of Hoyt Street and Third Street in Carroll Gardens, one commenter left behind a message that sent me on a separate wild goose chase:
The Magic Touch was an Italian restaurant and bar owned by a man named Mike Maluso. The establishment featured live music nightly, and pretty good veal and pasta. While it was very popular with the boys, as was Monte's Venetian Room on Carroll Street and the Diplomat on 3rd Avenue, it was in no way a place where prostitutes could be found or any nonsense like that would be tolerated.
Whaaa? The Diplomat? What's that?
So I put up a separate post asking people for tips about the nature and history of The Diplomat (which had a great name, you must admit). Months passed. Not a word. But then, earlier this month, one "Jane" wrote:
The Diplomat used to be on the corner of 3rd Ave and Carroll Street. I used to live across the street from it. It was a very nice place in the 70s... The older Italian gents used to hang out there. I was a very young woman, and used to feel very safe in the neighborhood because they would watch out for me.
Very touching. But, perhaps, just one side of the story. By some fluke, I recently came across an alternative history of the Diplomat—the full name of which was the Diplomat Social Club, on the internet. It was headquarters for the Colombo crime family when it was run by Carmine "The Snake" Persico. (That's him, up top.) Persico operated out of the club after he was let out of prison and assumed the throne. Also to be found there: "the main players of the Persico faction of the Colombo faction: Carmine, when he was out of prison, his brother Ally Boy, Jerry Langella, Hugh MacIntosh, one of the family’s main enforcers, Carmine Franzese, the brother of Sonny, Greg Scarpa, Anthony, Vincent and Joe, Jr., the sons of Joseph Colombo, anybody who was part of the Persico faction or who had dealings with them.
I guess with those guys around, you would feel safe. If they liked you. If they didn't, well.....