Sunday, March 06, 2011

Goodbye to Grand Street

I've been remiss in noting here on the blog that I moved last week. After two years of hanging my hat in Little Italy, I have relocated to northern Manhattan.

Pinehurst Avenue near 187th Street in the Hudson Heights section of Washington Heights is now home. It's a great residential block a short walk from The Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park and the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine. I'm also now much closer, geographically-speaking, to my office in Yonkers (although the commute is only 10 or 15 minutes shorter).

But, I'll long cherish my memories of living in Little Italy and the adjoining parts of Chinatown and Soho -- a part of the city that I think is one of the great urban neighborhoods of the world. I loved being surrounded by the diverse architecture and the wonderful restaurants and shops. And I especially loved learning more about the area's wonderful history. I never tired, for instance, of telling the story of Old St. Patrick's Cathedral to out-of-town guests whenever we approached the corner of Prince and Mulberry streets.

Regarding the famous Little Italy restaurants, I'm sorry that my work and travel schedule (and my budget) didn't allow me to become become a repeat customer at any of them -- except for the great dessert cafe Ferrara's. I will miss, however, the excellent and affordable Malaysian restaurant Nyonya and the amazing macaroni and cheese spot Macbar.

(The steady keeps reminding me: "We can go back!")

For history's sake, I want to record that I lived at 191 Grand Street, a five-story brick building at the intersection of Mulberry and Grand streets. My roommate Claudia and I shared a two-bedroom apartment on the fifth floor with Claudia's cat Marsha and kitten Tommi. I lived in the little bedroom next to the kitchen.

From my south-facing bedroom window I could clearly hear the sounds of of the neighborhood's annual events like the Saint Anthony feast, the Feast of San Gennaro, the Miss Little Italy pageant and the East-Meets-West Christmas parade.

Above is a photo of a framed list attached to the wall on the first floor landing at 191 Grand Street. My guess is that those are the names of the building's residents many decades ago when nearly everyone was still Italian. We lived in the old Gassarino apartment, No. 30.

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," below is a tune dedicated to all those great old Italian-American families who made my former neighborhood such a unique place.

It's the 1952 song "That's Amore" as performed by Dean Martin. The video shows then-and-now New York City locations featured in the film "Moonstuck."



Waldie said...

i was just thinking about you today and wondering if you'd made the move.

admiral dewy wilkins said...

I came upon this post searching for the name of the bar which was located at 191 grand street. I believe they turned it into a resturant named "Novella". The old place was fantastic with an old guy behind the bar who would snap at people all of the time. Any help would be appreciated.

Paul said...

Sorry to say I never saw that bar. Novella was already there when I moved in.

In the two years I lived at 191 Grand, I only went to Novella once -- on a date. Never went again.