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If you’ve never been, a trip to Bamonte’s is a must. This classic Italian restaurant has been in operation on Withers St. since 1900. Founded by Pasquale Bamonte, the restaurant is now run by his grandson Anthony who has kept the look and traditions true to its history. Hey it’s even the place Gerry got wacked on The Sopranos. The old world American-Italian setting feels straight out of a movie, making the mediocre food worth the visit. Stick to tasty homemade pastas (ask which ones are made in-house, since they vary) and absorb the scenery.
Perverse perhaps to name an Italian restaurant with undeniably middling food as one of Williamsburg’s best, but to the extent that Bamonte’s captures something essential — and evaporating — about the neighborhood, to the extent that it serves both as a memento mori and a testament to longevity, it certainly belongs. To understand Carbone, one needs the 116-year-old Bamonte’s. To understand the refulgence, now dulled, of the Italian-American community centered on Graham Avenue, one needs Bamonte’s. So what if the food is strict red sauce and mid-century? Bamonte’s is among the best. Eat, if one must. Drink, if one can. But go at all costs.
Think white table cloths, waiters in tuxedos, and as much talk about family in Rome and Naples as Manhattan. And while its Williamsburg hood certainly changed over the last hundred-plus, the dining room at Bamonte’s has remained essentially the same.
Forgo the hipster stigma of Williamsburg eateries by heading to Bamonte’s, a classic red sauce joint that serves as a time capsule in both product and presentation. The waiters are tuxedoed, the dining room tables are draped in white cloth, and the menu features every item you’d expect an Italian grandmother to make. The price point is reasonable, so stock your table with the classics in a space that’s been around longer than most in this city.
It is the continuity from plate of pasta to plate of pasta, from generation to generation that makes Bamonte’s such a vital, quintessential part of the story of the city of New York. Eating there feels as much a ritual as a meal, and it’s a fuss-free taste of Italian-American cuisine that we rarely see these days. If you live in New York, or just want to understand the city better, you owe it yourself to eat at Bamonte’s, if only once. You won’t only be tasting history—you will become a part of it.