Posts Tagged ‘Italian Greenwich Village’

A nighttime view of Bleecker and Carmine Streets

April 5, 2013

It’s a dark night at this moment in time on the corner of Bleecker and Carmine Streets in 1915.

But there’s warmth and light from the shop windows and the apartments above, which illuminate small groups of Italian immigrants, who had settled into this part of the Village.

Luksbleeckerandcarminestreets2

Ashcan School artist and Greenwich Villager George Luks is the painter, and he often depicted immigrant crowds on city street corners.

Are we looking at the corner just across from Our Lady of Pompeii Church?

A vintage 1903 espresso machine at a Village cafe

December 21, 2012

CaffereggiodominicparisiSure Starbucks was the first retailer to mass market cappuccinos, lattes, and other espresso concoctions.

But it was Caffe Reggio, a dimly lit place with an old-school Bohemian atmosphere at 113 Macdougal Street, which brought the first espresso machine to America in 1927, introducing New York to Italian coffee drinks.

The huge machine, built in 1903, is displayed like artwork in the cafe. It’s a shiny, nickel-plated beauty with many mysterious spigots. And there’s a colorful story and character behind it.

“That machine represents the life savings of Dominic Parisi, it’s his pride, his occupation,” reports a New York Herald Tribune article from 1945 that can be read in full on Caffe Reggio’s website.

Caffereggioespressomachine[Above: Parisi with his prized machine, from cafereggio.com]

“Dominic was a barber until his sight dimmed. Forty years he held the razor—it’s the trade of his family,” states the Tribune.

“When he could no longer barber, he got together his savings, $1,000, and sent them to Italy for the machine magnificent, topped with an angel, its base surrounded with dragons.”

Another article, this one uncredited, explains, “Dominic spent his life savings of $1,000 to import the espresso from Italy. Only he is allowed to touch it.

“He rubs it with loving care. With it he makes a strong black cup of coffee or cappuccino (a marvelous blend of strong coffee, steaming milk, and cinnamon).

“Real coffee lovers haunt his cafe. They are all ‘my friends’ to Dominic, who never takes his hat off because, ‘Excuse me—it makes me sneeze.'”

Caffereggiophoto

The espresso machine isn’t the only antique at Caffe Reggio. This little curio shop of a coffee house boasts of “a dramatic 16th century painting from the school of Caravaggio and an antique bench which once belonged to the Medici family.”

The website has lots of photos from the 1920s through today of celebrities, locals, and bohemians hanging out at Reggio.

Three ways of looking at 329 Bleecker Street

September 2, 2008

Decades before Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, and Magnolia colonized Bleecker Street in the West Village, it was a small-scale main street running through the Village’s thriving Italian neighborhood, packed with groceries, fish stores, and bakeries.

This little building, on Bleecker and Christopher Streets, looks like a grocery; see the crates getting some shade (no AC back then) behind the canopy. It was constructed between 1802 and 1810, predating the city’s grid system. The photo is from 1925.

Over the years the little house and storefront continued to be used as a grocery store or deli. Here it is in 1975. Looks like it was painted white.

Today, the house—and remarkably, the other houses around it—still stands. The clapboard siding, shutters, and old-style lamppost are gone, but the little quarter-round windows remain.


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