Delmonico's is the name of various New York City restaurants of varying duration, quality, and fame.
The original and most famous was operated by the Delmonico family at 2 South William Street in Lower Manhattan, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when it gained a reputation as one of the nation's top fine dining establishments. The birthplace of the widely imitated Delmonico steak, the restaurant is credited with being the first American restaurant to allow patrons to order from a menu à la carte, as opposed to table d'hôte. It is also claimed to be the first to employ a separate wine list.
The family also opened other restaurants under the name, operating up to four at a time and ultimately totaling 10 establishments by the time it departed the business in 1923.
In 1927, restaurateur Oscar Tucci purchased the entire 70,000 square foot building at 56 Beaver Street. First opening a speakeasy, in 1933, after the repeal of Prohibition, he opened Oscar's Delmonico. Other Delmonicos have operated in the space from 1981 to 1992 and since 1998.
The original Delmonico's opened in 1827 in a rented pastry shop at 23 William Street, and appeared in a list of restaurants in 1830. It was opened by the brothers John and Peter Delmonico, from Ticino, Switzerland. In 1831, they were joined by their nephew, Lorenzo Delmonico, who eventually became responsible for the restaurant's wine list and menu.
The brothers moved their restaurant several times before settling at 2 South William Street. When the building was opened on a grand scale in August 1837 after the Great Fire of New York, New Yorkers were told that the columns by the entrance had been imported from the ruins of Pompeii. It eventually became one of the most famous restaurants in New York, with its reputation eventually growing to national prominance.
Expansion and closure
Beginning in the 1850s, the restaurant hosted the annual gathering of the New England Society of New York which featured many important speakers of the day. In 1860, Delmonico's provided the supper at the Grand Ball welcoming the Prince of Wales at the Academy of Music on East 14th Street. Supper was set out in a specially constructed room; the menu was French, and the pièces montées represented Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Great Eastern and Flora's Vase. The New York Times reported, "We may frankly say that we have never seen a public supper served in a more inapproachable fashion, with greater discretion, or upon a more luxurious scale". In 1862, the restaurant hired Charles Ranhofer, considered one of the greatest chefs of his day.
The business was so successful that from 1865 to 1888 it expanded to four restaurants of the same name. At various times, there were Delmonico's at ten locations. Delmonico's vacated the six-story Delmonico Building at Fifth Avenue and 26th Street in 1899. The edifice was sold to John B. Martin, owner of the Martin Hotel, in May 1901.
In 1919, Edward L.C. Robins purchased Delmonico's. Its grand location at Fifth Avenue and 44th Street closed in 1923 as a result of changing dining habits due to Prohibition. That location was the final incarnation of Delmonico's with continuity to the original.
|23 William Street||December 13, 1827 – December 16, 1835 (destroyed by fire)||“Delmonico & Brother, confectioners” small cafe and pastry shop|
|25 William Street||March, 1830 – December 16, 1835 (destroyed by fire)||“Delmonico & Brother, confectioners and Restaurant Francais”|
|76 Broad Street||February 23, 1836 – July 19, 1845, (destroyed by fire)|
|2 South William St.||August, 1837 – July 10, 1890. Rebuilt and reopened July 7, 1891, closed 1917||“Delmonico's Restaurant," informally called “The Citadel.”|
|25 Broadway||June 1, 1846 – 1856||The Delmonico Hotel|
|Chambers Street and Broadway||1856 – October 26, 1876|
|East 14th Street and 5th Avenue||April 9, 1862 – September 11, 1876|
|22 Broad Street||1865–1893|
|Fifth Avenue and 26th St.||September 11, 1876 – April 18, 1899||Lobster a la Newberg invented here in 1876|
|112–114 Broadway near Pine St.||October 26, 1876 – 1888|
|Fifth Avenue and 44th Street||November 15, 1897 – May 21, 1923||The final Delmonico-owned restaurant|
In 1927, Oscar Tucci opened a "Delmonico's" popularly called "Oscar's Delmonico's" at the former Delmonico's location at 56 Beaver Street and South William Street in New York. The Tucci incarnation adopted the original menus and recipes, and became distinguished in its own right, continuing to attract prominent politicians and celebrities. Tucci also instituted many of the professional standards in use today in American restaurants. The Tucci era also produced three of the most prominent restaurateurs of the twentieth century: Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque fame, Tony May of San Domenico and Rainbow Room fame, and Harry Poulakakos of Harry at Hanover Square. Tucci also invented the Wedge Salad which is known worldwide. His grandson, radio and television host Max Tucci , is currently authoring a book on the impact of Oscar Tucci and the Golden Era of Delmonico's. 
The building was vacant until 1998, when the Bice Group acquired the property and again opened a Delmonico's, with Gian Pietro Branchi as executive chef and then turned over to Spencer Levy until in 1999, the restaurant was sold to the Ocinomled partnership, which continues to operate Delmonico's at the South William Street location. The current website lists the address as 56 Beaver Street.
Delmonico Potatoes were invented at Delmonico's restaurant, and possibly Chicken à la King, but it was most famous for Delmonico steak. Eggs Benedict were also said to have originated at Delmonico’s, although others claim that dish as well.
It is often claimed that the Baked Alaska's name was coined at Delmonico's as well, in 1867, by cook Charles Ranhofer. However, no contemporary account exists of this occurrence and Ranhofer himself referred to the dish, in 1894, as "Alaska Florida", apparently referring to the contrast between extremes of heat and cold. Manhattan clam chowder also first appeared in New York at Delmonico's. It is also claimed that Lobster Newberg, was invented at the restaurant
Under Oscar Tucci's ownership of Delmonico's, he created the Wedge Salad. After a trip to a Bridgeport Connecticut farm, Oscar picked the ingredients that became the salad as we know it to be. Tucci added bacon to the dish shortly after. The salad became an instant favorite, some notable restaurateurs criticized the salad saying it was drenched in dressing. Today the Wedge Salad is served internationally and recognized as one of the most famous salads of the 20th century.
Among the many well-known people who patronized Delmonico's are Jenny Lind, who, it was said, ate there after every show, Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, Arthur Sullivan, "Diamond Jim" Brady, Lillian Russell, usually in the company of Diamond Jim, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, The Lumber Boys of Murray Hill, J.P. Morgan, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., Nikola Tesla, Edward VII, then-Prince of Wales, and Napoleon III of France. Journalist Jacob A. Riis claimed to be a patron of a different sort: in his book, The Making of an American, he mentioned that when he was down on his luck, a kindly French-speaking cook at Delmonico's would pass him rolls through the basement window.
Clarence Day, Jr. wrote of eating lunch at Delmonico's with his father in his collection of short stories Life With Father. In the 1947 film of the same name a scene takes place in the restaurant it likely recreates the William Street location.
The New Orleans, Louisiana, Delmonico's, which opened in 1895, was purchased by Emeril Lagasse in 1997. Lagasse refurbished the restaurant and reopened it as Emeril's Delmonico. Emeril's Delmonico has nothing to do with the original Delmonico's.
- "History of Delmonico's Restaurant and business operations in New York".
- Aaseng, Nathan (January 2001). Business Builders in Fast Food. The Oliver Press. pp. 8–10. ISBN 1-881508-58-7.
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- Sic: "irreproachable" may have been intended, unless a covert reference to the evening's crush was implied.
- Susan Bindig (1989), "New York Welcomes the Prince of Wales (1860)", Dance Chronicle, 12 (.2), p. 234
- "Delmonico Building Leased". The New York Times. May 4, 1901. p. 3.
- Joe O'Connell (August 25, 2001). "History of Delmonico's Restaurant and business operations in New York".
- "How Delmonico's Invented the Future of US Restaurants - spoiled NYC". spoiled NYC. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
- "What's Cooking America: "History of Poultry Dishes: Chicken A' La King".
- Butler, Mabel C. (November 26, 1967), "Letters: Benedicts' Eggs", The New York Times Magazine, pp. SM40, retrieved February 23, 2007
- "Talk of the Town", The New Yorker, December 19, 1942
- Claiborne, Craig (September 24, 1967), "American Classic: Eggs Benedict", The New York Times Magazine, p. 290, retrieved February 19, 2007
- Ranhofer, Charles. The epicurean. A complete treatise of analytical and practical studies on the culinary art, including table and wine service, how to prepare and cook dishes... etc., and a selection of interesting bills of fare of Delmonico's from 1862 to 1894. Making a Franco-American culinary encyclopedia (1894).
- "Manhattan Clam Chowder". Simply Recipes. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
- Photograph included in the Museum of Modern Art exhibition, Pictures of the Times: A Century of Photography from the New York Times MoMA, No. 22 (Summer), 1996:10–130 illus. p. 13.