Upscale Italian celebrity haunt Gabriel’s served its last meal Wednesday night after 27 years of operation — but owner Gabriel Aiello has already found a new home just a couple blocks away.
The Time Warner Center restaurant, known for drawing a Hollywood- and music industry-heavy crowd, is moving to 40 Central Park South, between Fifth and Sixth avenues. The space, previously home to Mickey Mantle’s and then Bobby Van’s, is slightly larger than the original location, but Aiello promises it will have the same feel.
“I looked at 15 spaces, but this was the best fit and it’s across from the park,” Aiello says.
There won’t be a wood-fired grill, but Aiello is adding pizza ovens, and this one will be be open seven days a week and begin serving breakfast, a first. There will also be 18 café seats facing the park. The breads, pastas, and gelatos made in-house will return, plus menu items like lamb chops with organic truffle honey that became signature favorites.
The move is happening because the restaurant’s longtime location is being torn down and converted to condos, despite five years left on its lease.
“Warren Buffet said to me, ‘You are an endangered species because you can’t control rents,’” Aiello says.
Apart from Lincoln Center spillover, the 100-seat restaurant drew celebrities and industry insiders. Over the years, movie premiere parties including Pulp Fiction and No Country For Old Men took place at Gabriel’s, and celebrities held birthday parties in the space. Former CAA head Mike Ovitz threw Martin Scorsese’s 50th birthday party at the restaurant, an event attended by Robert De Niro, George Lucas, Winona Ryder, Eric Clapton, Tommy Mottola, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tony Bennett, who sang for the crowd. Jill Hennessy and Mary McCormack worked as a coat check attendants, and it was there that they met Law & Order creator Dick Wolf before becoming actresses.
“I have employees who worked with me for 28 years and are here today packing up with me,” Aiello says.
The new Gabriel’s aims to be open by Christmas.