The History of Gargiulos
Gargiulo’s Restaurant began in Coney Island in 1907, as a small family owned business located on Mermaid Avenue. As the business and the Gargiulo family expanded, the business relocated to its present location on West 15th Street. The Grand Ballroom played host to many weddings and other social events. Patrons enjoyed making memories with good friends and great food.
The Russo Brothers began their foray into the hospitality industry in the early 1960’s, opening a 16 seat pizzeria on Nostrand Avenue. Da Luigi, an 80 seat venue, was their next location, which was very popular from its opening featuring their family recipes from Sorrento, Italy. As their sights were always set higher, the brothers looked for the next opportunity to expand their business.
Finding opportunity in Coney Island, the famous Gargiulo’s Restaurant, passed from its namesake family to the Russo Family in 1965. As an homage to their father, the brothers held the restaurants grand opening on June 21st, the feast day of Saint Luigi.
“Classic Neapolitan Cuisine” based on traditional family recipes, were taught to the brothers by their Zia Dora Ercolano. The 1970’s brought more family to the United States to help with the growing business. The brothers were joined by their sister Luisa and brother Ralph to complete the family of five siblings in their new home of Coney Island. Luisa continued to create incredible dishes to add to the menu while Ralph brought his creativity and artistic flair to the décor of the restaurant. Ralph was the creator and artist responsible for the octopus which famously hung from the ceiling in the main dining room for over two decades, an iconic remembrance of New York Aquarium fundraising events of the 1970’s & 1980’s.
In 1977, we were awarded three stars by the New York Times restaurant critic Mimi Sheraton. As this was an honor usually reserved for Manhattan restaurants, a tremendous buzz was created and people lined up for hours to dine with us.
To better serve their customers growing needs, the Russo brother’s opened a 300 seat catering hall in 1983, with the additional Waterfall Room to be added shortly after.
Family and tradition always being foremost, the original Russo brothers passed the reins on to the younger set of Russo brothers, Louis, Michael, Nino and Anthony and their cousins, Luigi D’Aniello, Lella De Angelis and Victor De Angelis in the early 1990’s.
The Russo Family has been through many ups and downs during the last 50 plus years – September 11, 2001, when we lost many friends and customers during the attacks on the World Trade Center; the 100th Anniversary of Gargiulo’s Restaurant in 2007 and the 50thAnniversary of ownership in 2015. We faced the worst trials of our years in business when Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012 – our basement spanning beneath the entire restaurant filled to the top of its nine foot ceiling with sea water, our lobby, bar and Sorrento room destroyed by raging flood waters, and over two feet of water on the first floor of the entire building. Joining forces with community groups and major corporations, we were able to reopen by December 1st of that year, to the relief of our customers.
Our newly renovated dining room and catering hall and other event spaces provide the perfect setting for your celebration, meeting or fundraiser. We are here to help plan every facet of your event no matter the size. Join Louis, Rachael, Michael, Nino and Anthony along with their staff anytime – delicious food, great atmosphere and service is always on our menu!