Founded by Pasquale Bamonte, an immigrant from Salerno, Italy, in 1900, this fourth-generation, family-run institution bears the distinction of being the oldest Italian restaurant in Brooklyn. Sitting in an unassuming building amongst classic Williamsburg rowhouses, it has survived the test of time and gentrification of the area. The classic red sauce fare, no-nonsense service, and retro furnishings have not changed much in the last century.
Bamonte’s is at the heart of what was once an Italian immigrant stronghold. For decades, the restaurant was a well-known mob hangout. After Carmine Galante’s murder by hired mafia guns in 1979, members of the five families held court in Bamonte’s to celebrate. Less notorious Italian-Americans dined here as well, from Joe DiMaggio to Frank Sinatra and Robert DiNero. The restaurant has served as a backdrop for a number of television shows, including, of course, The Sopranos.
Hundreds of vintage photographs, New York sports memorabilia, and visible pieces of the restaurant’s history adorn the walls. The phone booths where mafia members could take private calls are still there, as is the glass-fronted kitchen, installed in 1950 so that diners could keep an eye on anyone who might be trying to poison their food.
While the menu of Bamonte’s resolutely refuses to change with the times, that suits diners here just fine. It helps that the prices remain affordable and the pastas, particularly the ravioli blanketed in molten cheese and the rigatoni with vodka sauce, have held up over generations of cooks.
Know Before You Go
Note that the restaurant is still cash-only.