“Good Food” at Toffenetti in Times Square

I love this 1940s postcard and its, um, poetic description of Broadway—”where glamour sparkles forever.” But I get the feeling Toffenetti was one of those massive establishments with a ton of tables yet not such good food, as the sign above the door promises.

toffenettirestaurant

Opened in 1940, Toffenetti served up big plates of mid-century American staples; think ham, roast beef, strawberry shortcake, lots of pies. It shut its doors in 1968.

A New York Times article announcing the closing said Toffenetti had recently begun advertising an all-you-can-eat menu for just $3.95. Must have been a popular deal; the article goes on to say that they served 3,000 meals a day.

Tags: , , , , ,

44 Responses to ““Good Food” at Toffenetti in Times Square”

  1. john audino Says:

    i have a postcard of that picture.dated july 28, 1948.on the back it says toffenetti restaurant 43rd at broadway on times square new york. a beautiful place to dine one thousand seats delicous foods reasonable price ulys owens, resident mgr.

  2. Laura Vona Says:

    I am going through some items that formerly belonged to my Grandmother and I found a silver fork with the name “Toffenetti” engraved on the handle. It’s neat to know that she most likely dined at the restaurant back in the day and enjoyed it so much she must have taken a “souvenir” from the table. Thanks for the great post!

  3. barbara lagarenne Says:

    My husband and I had our very first date at Toffenetti’s. So it is a very special place and very special memory for us. We are now married 50 years.

  4. toffenetti Says:

    My dad’s uncle started Toffenetti’s and my grandpa, Louis, worked there all his life. I grew up with my name in lights! I have a spoon with Toffenetti’s engraved on it! Grandpa created their strawberry shortcake. and I think there was a louie salad. My sister was in Moscow, Idaho where they have an Idaho potato museum and Toffenetti’s is mentioned as having made the Idaho Potato famous because of the way dario discribed all his menu entrees. By the way, the family is from NORTHERN Italy and never saw a tomato until on their way to the US!

    • Lauren B Says:

      I must agree with the Northern Italy part, because they were along the border of Austria but were definitely from Italy, my Great Grandfather was Dario Toffenetti, and my Grandpa is Dario Toffenetti Jr. who took over the restaurant when Dario left this earth.

      • Terry Corrap Says:

        Hi Lauren,
        Growing up, I always heard about the Toffenetti family from my father, Charles Stevenson, who was from Evanston, Ill. His father, Robt. Stevenson, owned Stevenson Pie Company in Chicago, and through the encouragement of his close friend, Mr. Toffenetti, the pie company opened up a plant in Long Island City, NY during WW11 (with special permission from the government, due to.sugar rationing). I think I also remember my father mentioning he was godfather to one of the Toffenetti children. Anyway, it would be interesting to know more about this family Chicago connection!
        Theresa (Terry) Stevenson Corrrao
        Brooklyn, NY

    • Lorraine (Bancroft) Hernandez Says:

      My Dad (Fred Bancroft) worked at Toffenetti’s for over 22 years (he is now 94)as a cook in its hay days. I remember the strawberries being cleaned down stairs. My sister & I have wondeful memories. My Dad always spoke of Mr. Toffenetti taking care of his extended family, my Dad was always treated like family.

  5. Steve Says:

    My parents ate at Toffenetti’s on their honeymoon and then used to take us there in the 1960′s when we visited relatives in New York. It was a great restaurant and, despite what you might think or what the author of the website suggests, the food was VERY good. It was beautiful inside and I remembe the restaurant fondly.

  6. marva connor Says:

    I have such fond memories of this place. We lived in New Jersey and my mother would bring me to N.Y. every Xmas . We always had to eat at Toffenetties,.For the longest time I thought all they sold was Candy yams ,ham and coleslaw because that was what we always ordered. Nice to know there were other items on the menu,though I would not have wanted anything else.Sweet,Sweet Memories.

  7. » Toffenetti’s Restaurant: Birth Of A Sceptic. HUNGRY GERALD Says:

    [...] that the value of their home will continue to rise. HG’s contrarian nature took birth at Toffenetti’s Restaurant, a dining palace of glass and chrome that fed the masses at 43rd and Broadway in Times Square [...]

  8. Kim Patterson Says:

    I have to think you’re very wrong about the food. My mother worked there for years, and met all the stars of the radio age. She told me stories about Jackie Gleason, Mary and Jack Benny, fighters, gangsters — it was definitely the place to go in the 30s. I don’t think it would have been so popular had the food been bad!

    • Magdalena Plachcinski Says:

      My mother in law’s mother worked there, too. Did your mother ever mention an “Anna”? I have a picture of her at work.

      • Kim Patterson Says:

        Not that I remember, but if she worked there during the time, I’m sure they knew each other. Did she work at the world’s fair? I’m going through tons of old papers now and found a “newsletter” from there. If she worked there, I’ll try to find it again and see if there’s a reference.

  9. Kerry Yeletskiy (maiden name Kraus) Says:

    My grandmother; Florence Kraus (maiden name Young) worked there for many years, until 1948. My dad has a photo that my grandmother had, which included all employees who worked at Toffenetti’s.

    • Kim Patterson Says:

      Kerry, I’ll see if I can find anything with your grandmother’s name on it. I’m sure my mother worked there at the same time. There’s a picture SOMEwhere of all of them at the world’s fair. Do you think you could send me a copy of the picture?

      • Gail Smith Says:

        Kim,
        I’d love a picture of the staff, as two of my husband’s aunts and one Uncle worked there. The girls, Icele (Smith) Kantor-Kloc and Jean (Smith) Joyce worked in both Chicago, late 30′s and New York early 40′s. Icele met her husband in New York, who was a chef there too. Jean also married in New York, Tom Joyce, who was a bartender at a nearby bar!

      • Kim Patterson Says:

        Gail, I couldn’t find that picture anywhere; one of the many things that “disappeared” after Mom passed. I’m actually making a shadow box with old pix and a few mementos of Mom; I do have a Toffenetti postcard I purchased; I’d be happy to send a copy of that. And I could go through the box and look again to find anything related. (Oh yea, also have a picture of the 1940 Macy’s Day Parade, probably taken from Toffenetti’s if you’re interested.)

    • janet rivers Says:

      Laura,
      If you are interested in selling the spoon, please let me know. My mother in law will be 90 yrs old in March 2012, and worked there as a hostess for many years. I’d love to surprise her with it!

    • janet rivers Says:

      Kerry, Is it possible to scan the photo and post it or email it? My mother in law worked there many years as a hostess at the top of the escalator. She will be 90yr old in 3 weeks, and she would love to see some of her old friends.

      • Ronald Dohanish Says:

        Dear Janet,could you ask your mother in law if she knew my dad Michael (mike) Dohanish he was the bartender and bar manager.I remember him working the bar next to the escalator.I also have a picture of him if needed.
        best regards,Ron Dohanish

  10. Ronald Dohanish Says:

    My dad was Michael (mike) Dohanish was the Bartender and
    Bar Manager for 25 years .I have lots of fine memories of taking
    the subway from Brooklyn to eat there.my dad was the one who made the Toffnentti cocktail for Mr Toffenetti and recevied a bonus
    for it.I remember him working the Bar next to the Escalator.we do have a 25 years of service certificate from Mr Toffenetti.everything else was lost in time.would love to see anything from restaurant or just chat. best Ron Dohanish

  11. Andrew W. Korts Says:

    Toffenetti was real, the food was excellent, the baked ham and
    baked potatoes were particularly good. I had my first experience
    with Toffenetti in 1947 and went back constantly until unfortunately
    it closed in 1968. A real loss to the restaurant scene in NYC.
    Incidently the restaurant had a preferred lower level which was reached by an escalator.
    A.Korts ( Mayfield East Sussex, UK )

  12. Robert McBurney Says:

    June, 1948. As a ninth grader after riding from Los Angeles in a 1940 Olds over one week, we spent several days in NYC. I remember only one dish from the entire trip to that point: goulash at Toffenetti’s. I’ve been trying to re-create it ever since!

  13. Roberts Beki Says:

    I recently found a Triangle Ham plate,buried underneath some plastic cups and old shoes at a Goodwill in North Myrtle Beach,SC. How it got from there to here is a mystery,but D.L. Toffenetti has turned out to be a fascinating person.Thanks to everyone for your stories.

  14. Charles Says:

    The movie When Harry Met Sally brought me to this web site. One of the couple that tells the story of how they met, they mentioned Toffenetti’s so I was curious to find out what the place was about. Very interesting!

  15. Victor Raimondi Says:

    My mother just told me that my great uncle was a chef at Toffenitti’s as a chef.

    • Kim Patterson Says:

      I wish there was a way to post pictures here. I also have an old newsletter I could put in a pdf file; people might read their relative’s names. Suggestions on how to do? I’m thinking maybe a facebook page named Toffenetti???

      • Ronald Dohanish Says:

        KIm , you said you have newsletter is there any names or pictures of employes in it? would like to here from you. Ron D

      • Lorraine (Bancroft) Hernandez Says:

        Toffenetti FB page sounds good. Lots of memories to be shared.

      • Kim Patterson Says:

        Thanks for the feedback, Lorraine. I hope we all see pictures and other things that will help us relate to what our parents and grandparents experienced there.

  16. Sharon Mefford Says:

    My parents and I visited NewYork in 1958, when I was 16, and we had dinner at Toffenetti’s. I remember it fondly after all these years.

  17. Tommy Nwyrk Says:

    My father was manager there for so many years… we talk about the place often!

    • Ronald Dohanish Says:

      Tom ask dad if he new Mike Dohanish,Thanks,Ron D

      • Kim Patterson Says:

        http://www.facebook.com/groups/226089707514594/

        I just created a “Toffenetti in Times Square” facebook page. I don’t think we can upload pix, etc. here (at least I haven’t found a way). If anyone’s interested, please send a request. Also note I have to leave tomorrow for several days.

        I’ll need to go through my boxes of items to find things. I could not find the world fair pix for anything; I’m afraid my sister must have taken it. However, I do remember having a newsletter from there; once I find it I’ll scan it to a pdf and post it on facebook.

  18. Kim Patterson Says:

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/226089707514594/

    I just created a “Toffenetti in Times Square” facebook page. I don’t think we can upload pix, etc. here (at least I haven’t found a way). If anyone’s interested, please send a request. Also note I have to leave tomorrow for several days.

    I’ll need to go through my boxes of items to find things. I could not find the world fair pix for anything; I’m afraid my sister must have taken it. However, I do remember having a newsletter from there; once I find it I’ll scan it to a pdf and post it on facebook.

  19. Joyce Says:

    I have a 23 page booklet from the Toffenetti’s Restaurant while at the NY Worlds Fair. My Aunt Betty worked there at the time. It was located on the Avenue Of Pioneers opposite the Swedish Village. The booklet actually welcomes you and it represents each location. It boasts it’s most loved Specialties. Of course the Juicy Ham and and Sweets is top of the list. Another was the Spaghetti ala Toffenetti. It says ‘One Hundred Yards of Appetite Joy! Comments such as ‘To Toffenetti’s on Times Square- A 5 Cent Fare From Everywhere’….The pictures in it are drawings. It measures 3 1/2 by 5 inches.

    • Kim Patterson Says:

      Joyce, is there a way you could put it in a pdf file and upload it on facebook? I made a “toffenetti’s in times square” page because we couldn’t see things here on this forum.

      Also, I’ve just cleaned out my closet and will look for items that I may have so I can do the same. Hopefully soon!

      Thanks and Blessings,
      Kim

  20. Jo Says:

    My parents started taking us to NYC in the late 50′s, early 60′s. They gave me my love of the theater, the excitement of the greatest city and some fabulous and fun dning spots. Toffenetti’s was one of those places. To this day, my dad and I still talk about it. It’s a time forever gone but its memories will forever have a place in my heart. I love readng all the comments. They’re wonderful memories we all share!

  21. SteveM Says:

    My mother, Lynn, started working at a Chicago Toffenetti in the late 1930′s. She was one of the selectees chosen to work at the Toffenetti restaurant that opened at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. She met my father, Ralph, at the Fair. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for Mr. Toffenetti. When the Fair was not opened during winter months my mother worked at the Time Square Toffenetti’s. She made many life-long friends there. She was happy not to make waitressing a life-long career, though, since it required long hours on her feet and dealings with many hungry, impatient customers.

    • Kim Patterson Says:

      Steve, your mom must have worked with mine!! Do you have any items you could scan (pictures, menus, etc.)? If so, I created a Toffenetti’s in times square facebook page for just such items, which we can’t post here.

      THANKS!!
      Kim

  22. John Maher Says:

    My grandmother used to take me there when I was around 10 or 11. Great service; I was always treated as if I was buying a $100 steak. The strawberry shortcake was the best I ever had. It was an open modern space with traditional service and great food and, at least according to my grandmother, great drinks.

    • Jo Says:

      Not being from NY, my family started visiting in the 60′s. My father introduced us to the grandeur that is NYC. We all became theater lovers, famous department store browsers and, of course, fabulous NY restaurants. Toffenetti’s, Mama Leone’s, Sardi’s, etc. It was such fun. So exciting. Every place was filled with people. Chatter, laughter, the pinnacle of fun. During our last visit there, we had lunch at Windows on the World (I had been there for dinner before with a friend). When those towers went down, I cried for a solid week and to this day, it’s just as emotional. Sorry to digress.
      We never went to Toffenetti’s for lunch, only for dinner. What a perfect package – the bright lights of Times Square, people everywhere. Then on to Toffenetti’s – filled with happy, chatty folks, just having so much fun. I often wish we could go back to those times just to take it all in again and feel that joy.
      We talk of NYC to this day. Always with the same enthusiasm and excitement as if we just came home from our annual trip.

  23. Bill Crawley Says:

    I recall meeting a couple of young girls from Glasgow Scotland who worked at Toffinettis back in 1952/53 when I was in the Merchant Navy (British) on the run between Glasgow and New York. One of the girls was named Kathy (Cathie) Phillips.
    Later when I married I returned to New York on my honeymoon 1960 and took my bride to Toffinettis for lunch
    Bill Crawley

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,429 other followers

%d bloggers like this: