Giambelli 50th Ristaronte, an old-school Italian mainstay in Midtown East, has closed its doors for good.
I passed by the unassuming red-brick building yesterday. I peered in the window, because I had long been considering the place as the subject of a "Who Goes There?" column. Instead, I found a sign saying: "To all our wonderful customers. Sorry we are closing our doors due to take over by the MTA. Thank you!"
I walked across the street to the Maloney & Porcelli steakhouse and the maitre d' confirmed that Giambelli's was gone for good, and had closed a month and a half ago. (I looked around the web, but haven't seen any news coverage of this). "It's a shame," he said. "We complimented each other for years. When people wanted Italian, I'd send them over there. When they wanted a steak, he'd send them here." He said the MTA seized the property through Eminent Domain for an upcoming construction project.
Giambelli was founded by Francesco ''Frank'' Giambelli, who died in 2006 at the age of 90. He was born in 1915 in Voghera, outside Milan, Italy. Frank came to the U.S. in 1954 to open Giambelli's Ristorante, originally located on Madison Avenue and 37th Street; it relocated to 50th and Madison Avenue in 1960. In 1995, during Pope John Paul II's trip to New York, Giambelli's served the Pope and fifty Cardinals at the Cardinal's residence. The cuisine was northern Italian. The interior had off-white walls, light brown banquettes, picturesque paintings, Classical bronze statues, and riotously colorful floral arrangements. One account said that a long-stemmed rose was given to each female guest.