05 May 2011

Brooklyn Restaurant Had Hidden History

I have a renewed interest in Caselnova, the new, seemingly indistinct Italian restaurant on Columbia Street in Brooklyn. Why? Because it has a history I knew nothing about until today. (Also, I've eaten there twice recently, and the food is good, and the brick-oven pizza certainly worthy.)

A framed menu on the wall shows that the eatery is named after an earlier restaurant, one ran by the grandfather and uncles of the current owner. It was on 11 Sunrise Highway in Lynbrook, Long Island.

I photo from the '50s shows a white, sprawling restaurant—much bigger than the current restaurant—next to a major road.

The old menu has some of the things they're serving at the new restaurant. Though no pizza or panini, two of the new Caselnova's specialties.

Most impressive is the former restaurant's massive liquor and cocktails list, which would be substantial in any era. I wonder what the Caselnova's Honeymoon Cocktail was.

At the bottom, they advertise "Long Island's only Italian Smorgasbord every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The new Caselnova is trying to revive that tradition on Sundays. I haven't tried it out. But I will.

11 Sunrise Highway is a used car lot today.


Anonymous said...

The picture of the old restaurant is actually a bit later than the 1950's. One of the cars visible in front is a 1963 Chevrolet.


Unknown said...

My name is Dean Caselnova, the owner and chef at CASELNOVA down on Columbia St. I am so happy you took interest in the pictures of the old CASELNOVA's on the wall at my restaurant.

My grandfather, Amadeo, was a restauranteur in NYC from about 1932-1960. He owned and operated a few different places. He was a bar guy, which would explain the rather large cocktail list on the menu you saw.
My Grandfather moved the family out of Bay Ridge when his house was demolished for the BQE.
He opened CASELNOVA in or around 1960 for my uncles who followed him into the business. The picture, as your commenter astutely noted, is from 1963!
The menu from around the same time.
Interestingly enough the "Smorgasbourg" offered on Saturday and Sunday's at the old restaurant was the saving grace for their business, and was given to them from a family friend who saw it used at another restaurant in NYC around the same time. It was nothing more than a buffet!!! LOL

Unfortunately I do not know what the Honeymoon Cocktail was or is...and there is no one left around to ask ;-(.

All the best, thanks for taking interest. And as always I hope you enjoyed your meal!

Tony said...


I am excited someone is carrying on the tradition even though the restaurant business is not for the faint of heart or work ethic.

As I child I do remember the Smorgasbourg, and it was awesome. I remember trays of meatball and Ziti and other yummy dishes.

I also remember the live entertainment on friday and saturday nights and dancing in the middle of the dance floor.

All good times and memories keep up the awesome work !!!

And if you have not been to the "NEW" Caselnova's well you need to do that too!!!


joselito said...

Wow. nice restaurant its unique for the name Lost city nice job for your restaurant i hope it will become bigger.

Kathi B. said...

I am thrilled to see your website. My husband and I had our wedding reception at Caselnova's in Lynbrook on October 17, 1965. My sister sent me your blog as a gift of a memory. My parents were on a tight budget and chose the $8.95 pp chicken dinner for all of our guests. The party was held in the downstairs room for about 120 people. We had a wonderful time and 46 years later look back at the great wedding we had because of your family. Thanks for the memories. Kathi and Nick Bartolomeo

artie speicher said...

I worked as a busboy at the restaurant for Tony and Matt. Every Saturday night they had a price fix inner and entertainment downsairs. Included was a smorgasbourg dinner of great Italian items, coffee and desert, dancing to a good band, a comedian show, and a belly dancer. As a buss boy we always timed taking out the trash out back when the belly dancer was upstairs getting ready. I have fond memories of working there as a teenager.