PUGLIA, Little Italy

by Kevin Walsh


Special to Forgotten New York

The original Puglia, 189 Hester Street, Little Italy, was opened at 117 Mott Street by Gregorio Garofalo in 1919.  Garofalo, an immigrant from Puglia, Italy, opened to serve the needs of the community with familiar foods: capozzelli (roasted sheep’s head), pasta fagioli, and tripe.  A vintage business card from Puglia translates into “A very friendly place.” The restaurant was in the basement, while the family lived upstairs.  They even made the wine for Puglia in their apartment.

Puglia moved to 189 Hester shortly after World War II.  At one time, the restaurant consisted of four rooms, but is now down to one.  The classic capozzelli was served until about 1980, when trends, and the area, changed.  Puglia is still in the Garofalo family, with Joe II, Gregorio’s grandson, in charge.  That makes it the oldest continuously family-owned Restaurant in Little Italy.  Today’s Puglia serves family-style food and portions with a diverse menu.  Night time brings live entertainment.

Some menu items:

Hot antipasto $12.95
Baked clams  $8.50
Frued calamari $12.95
Arugula salad $9.00
Cavatelli with sweet sausage & broccoli rabe $14.95
Risotto con piselli & pancetta $16.95
Pasta figioli $7.50
Shrimp Fra Diavolo $17.95
Risotta alla Sambuca $17.95
Chicken Travolta $16.95

Yelp.com reviews



NY2AZ December 27, 2014 - 9:51 am

Apropos of nothing, but since you’re wandering lower Manhattan & thereabouts:


chris December 27, 2014 - 12:31 pm

but whats Chicken Travolta?

r185 December 28, 2014 - 10:22 am

Is this the place where in the ’80s the older woman (a real character – sort of a Italian Sophie Tucker) would sing?

tim January 2, 2015 - 1:47 pm

It is indeed. She was quite a character with her ribald selection of southern Italian songs!

Jeffrey H. Wasserman January 3, 2015 - 10:24 am

I would often go to Puglia’s back in the 1980s with a large group of friends to enjoy the food and the singer you mentioned. Those were good times, indeed!

Alyce January 17, 2016 - 7:31 pm

Terry Peri (sp?) was her name, and she may have started back in the ’60s, I’m not sure. In the mid- to late ’70s, a bunch of us NYU students would go to Puglia’s from time to time and sit at the long tables alongside the neighborhood “guys” and their families or associates.

William Chiola March 20, 2019 - 12:33 pm

We saw Andrew Edwards from Top Gun there in 1986!

Brian Gorman September 12, 2021 - 1:30 am

“When in doubt…..check it out!” In the 80’s I went to Puglias many times. The entertainment in one occasion was a rather large and loud woman, who had this catch phrase and got everyone in the restaurant yelling it at the top of their lungs. Crazy place and I loved it!!!

P Fig October 9, 2021 - 12:20 pm

Absolutely!!! My wife and I used to visit quite often with my parents and other family and friends. Great home made wine in plain bottles with small juice glasses, really good food and atmosphere. Terry Perry who sang and loudly said “when in doubt check it out”. When we are outside there were street musicians that played the accordion and soup spoons. What great memories and good times we had probably my favorite go to restaurant in lower Manhattan. Wow what a throw back reading other comments about the same as we experienced. Chow my friends


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