Da Silvano was a Greenwich Village institution. It opened in 1975 and stayed in the same spot, with the same owner, Silvano Marchetto, the entire time. It closed on Tuesday, which Marchetto blames on rising labor costs and rent of $41,000-per-month. Sometimes just lasting that long will gain you icon status in New York, but Da Silvano went beyond that. Here’s what we’ll remember about the legendary restaurant at 260 6th Ave.
It’s been a celebrity hangout for years.
Page Six spilled tons of ink on sightings at Da Silvano. Tom Hanks, Madonna, Anna Wintour, Katherine Heigl, Sean Penn, Owen Wilson, Beyonce, Jay Z, Calvin Klein, Robert De Niro, Brittany Murphy, Mike Meyers, Nora Ephron, Ron Perelman, Ralph Fiennes, Ashton Kutcher, Adriana Lima, Graydon Carter, Harvey Weinstein, Martin Scorcese...the list of celebrities and power players who dined there goes on. Mario Batali used to brunch there weekly while his sons played basketball across the street. Sarah Jessica Parker once ate there every week too, ordering artichokes, linguine with clams, and pasta with truffles. Rihanna visited so frequently that she sent a video to the restaurant for an anniversary in 2013. At one point, the most coveted seats in the house for celebrities were four tables near the front door, but sidewalk seating reportedly rose in status after the ban on smoking in restaurants went into effect.
Its intimate ties to the celebrity world meant that sometimes the famous and their friends were caught in unsavory lights. In 2013, actor Owen Wilson and billionaire art collector Peter Brant dined outside, and art dealer Tony Shafrazi "threw a temper tantrum" over an unreturned call, according to Page Six. Wilson ultimately yelled a profanity at him and stormed off. In 2004, a peeved British Princess yelled at a nearby table of black diners, including an investment banker, a music executive, and a fashion TV correspondent, "to go back to the colonies."
The infamous feud between Silvano Marchetto and Bar Pitti’s owner, Giovanni Tognozzi
Da Silvano was one-half of one of the most epic restaurant feuds of recent history. Marchetto and Tognozzi opened Bar Pitti next door to Da Silvano together in 1992, but not long after the restaurant’s debut, their relationship went south. They sued each other over things like stolen profits and stolen veal meatball and eggplant parmigiana recipes. Marchetto sold his half of the restaurant. Still, with neighboring spaces, the rivalry continued. One particularly raucous episode where Tognozzi chased an employee of Da Silvano’s down the street made it to Page Six. It largely seemed to simmer down in recent years, but it hasn’t been forgotten. When Eater reached out to Bar Pitti for a comment, a representative of the restaurant hung up.
Marchetto was no stranger to lawsuits
Any restaurant that’s been around that long is bound to be the target of some lawsuits, and Da Silvano was no different. Besides the lawsuits from the feud with Bar Pitti, Marchetto was accused of groping the manager of a parking garage in 2011. The restaurateur, who famously loved cars and owned several Ferraris, was sued by the manager of the place where he parked the cars for $2.5 million. Marchetto denied the allegations and countersued for $10 million, claiming defamation. Ultimately, the two sides settled the lawsuit.
It was a trailblazer serving Italian food in New York City
When Da Silvano opened in 1975, most Italian restaurants in New York peddled Italian-American food. Silvano decided to focus on the food of Tuscany. Artists started going to the restaurant with their dealers, who would bring their wealthy clientele, and eventually, food critics took notice of Da Silvano’s new style as well. In 1998, Times critic Ruth Reichl awarded it two stars for reliable, earthy, Italian fare, and in 2006, Times critic Frank Bruni found that that although the rustic restaurant had many misses, it also had some lovely dishes that perhaps explained the attraction for so many celebrities.
Mimi Sheraton, who ate at Da Silvano in the earlier years, writes to Eater: "That is really a sad one for me as it was my go-to favorite especially in summer at that very Roman sidewalk cafe. And always loved the food, especially gorgeous vegetable antipasti and pastas...also things like brains and tripe always on the menu and always perfect. So Saluti! To Silvano and Mille Grazie for past pleasures."