23 February 2011

Monte's Venetian Room Officially Dead and Gone

As long as Monte's Venetian Room just sat there being Monte's—albeit a shuttered, out-of-action version of itself—there was a whiff of hope that he century-old restaurant would overcome its never-sufficiently-explained difficulties and reopen. And, in the last few weeks, when there was construction activity and permits issued, there was more of a whiff.

Today, that hope died. The space will reopen as a restaurant, but not as Monte's. Brownstoner reported that "a recent stroll by confirms that a restaurant will definitely be coming to 451 Carroll. This permit came in at the end of January to renovate the existing eating establishment. And a liquor license for 'Dominick's of Carroll Street' was posted on the window."

An Italian restaurant, I'm guessing, given the name. But I'll be surprised if they keep the murals or booths. And how can a restaurant possibly attract diners to this remote location without the pull of a decades-old reputation?

Montemarano's never had but one owner: the Montemarano family. (The restaurant's name is a shortened version of their moniker.) It was founded in 1906 by Angelo and Filomena Montemarano, newly arrived from Naples. Why they called it "Venetian," I have no idea, unless it was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the nearby canal. During Prohibition, the joint remained open and made its own liquor. All seven of the Montemarano boys were born above the restaurant. All worked in it, but Nicholas went on to run it. He didn't accept credit cards until 1982. In 1978, he painted the nearby Carroll Street Bridge the colors of the Italian flag, very likely without City permission. The bridge was closed for repairs from 1985 to 1989, which hurt business. When the bridge reopened, Monte contributed a 100-foot hero sandwich that was only seven feet shorter than the bridge.


Dead Flowers Productions said...

Another piece of my past is officially dead. I used to go here in the early- to mid-'80s, and went back one or two times not long before they closed. Far from the best Italian food, but delicious nonetheless, and a real Brooklyn joint that was always filled with characters (from the staff, to the patrons)... In the '80s it was quite desolate and scary around there, but the block of Monte's was always safe and clean, and a night at Monte's was always a welcoming one, filled with HUGE servings old-school, Brooklyn Italian grub.

Anonymous said...

From reading about Monte's, it sounds like the restaurant had terrific old-world atmosphere, but food that barely qualified as mediocre. Atmosphere can make up for so-so food only to a point.