THE HAMS OF IAVARONE, Bushwick-Maspeth

by Kevin Walsh

I was meandering my way northeast in Bushwick the other day, heading for 69th Street in Maspeth where I would catch the Q18 bus back to Woodside, and the LIRR back home. At Wilson Avenue just off Hart Street, I spotted this ancient linoleum sign at #165, for the Iavarone Brothers Pork Store. The gabagool had moved out several years previous, and there was a bar at the location called The Wheelhouse, described at The Infatuation website as “a place in Bushwick where 80% of the menu involves some variation of a grilled cheese sandwich, and nearly everyone lives in the neighborhood and is trying to pursue a standup comedy career.”  I recall that Astoria had its own hip grilled cheese joint on Broadway that didn’t last long, so here’s hoping better luck for The Wheelhouse.

I’m here for the sign, which looks like it goes back to the 1940s or so. Great color combo of beige and green, with serif lettering that includes a unique take on a capital “S.” The 1940 Municipal Archives reveals that 165 Wilson was a pizzeria in 1940, and not yet a delicatessen.

And that was that, or so I thought. But when I got to 69th and Grand in Maspeth, I spotted another Iavarone Brothers sign — one I’d seen dozens of times before. I didn’t make the connection when I saw the older sign. But they are indeed connected. Italian immigrant Pasquale Iavarone (these days pronounced “Eye-av-a ROAN”) opened his first delicatessen in 1919, and his sons Joe and Jerry expanded the business to other locations beginning in 1951. The flagship is now in Maspeth, but there are also locations in New Hyde Park and Wantagh. The business remains in the family.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”

12/27/19

3 comments

Peter December 28, 2019 - 2:17 pm

If the existing Iavarone locations are like the pork store I sometimes go to, Fratelllis in Centereach, they’re not just pork. Fratellis has a selection of high quality meats of all types, a deli, and a variety of Italian imported stuff. I try not to go too often because every time I go I spend way too much.
A cool thing about the Iavarone is that it has only three consonants out of eight letters. But I can top that. When I was a kid my father had a good friend, a businessman active in politics, named Leo Iorio. That’s right, eight letters with only two consonants.

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Gerard December 30, 2019 - 8:13 am

There was also another smaller location a few block north on Grand Ave. and one more on Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village. Both closed now. Still the best meat and Italian food anywhere. The Long Island locations are huge. The also have a pizza place next to the one in New Hyde Park and two Italian restaurants in Long Island.

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James Mundy January 7, 2020 - 3:52 pm

They had the best sausage patties

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