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Billy Joel Confirms Location of “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” Restaurant

By Brian | August 8, 2008 | Share on Facebook

There was a fantastic Italian restaurant on 57th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in Manhattan called La Fontana di Trevi  (i.e., “The Trevi Fountain”). I went there many times for business lunches when I worked for Accenture on 54th Street and 6th Avenue, and my wife and I would go there for dinner frequently when we lived on 56th Street and Broadway. The place was across the street from Carnegie Hall, the Russian Tea Room, several retail piano stores (e.g., Yamaha), and Sony’s New York offices.

The wait staff at Fontana di Trevi would always claim that a) they served the best Caesar salad in New York, and b) the restaurant was the inspiration for Billy Joel’s “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” I definitely believed them about the Caesar Salad (made table-side and with a touch of Worcestershire sauce, the closing of this restaurant was a big blow to Caesar Salads everywhere…), but I was always a bit suspect about the Billy Joel thing.

Granted, the Sony offices and the piano stores were across the street, so it made sense that Billy Joel would spend a lot of time in the area.  I always thought it could be true, but I never really heard confirmation of it. Also, I kind of suspected that the restaurant in question would be in Little Italy, since Joel has talked and written about that part of Manhattan frequently (e.g., “Big Man on Mulberry Street.”)

Well, the newly redesigned BillyJoel.com contains a new video section, and the top video on the list right now is a retrospective of The Stranger album, which is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this year.  In the video, Joel confirms that Fontana di Trevi is truly the location he was writing about.  Apparently, when people were lined up around Carnegie Hall to see Joel’s 1975 concert there, the owner of Fontana di Trevi recognized him from the concert poster, and from then on would get him and his band a good table whenever they wanted one.  In the video, Joel says:

There’s a restaurant right across the street from Carnegie Hall – it’s not there anymore – called Fontana di Trevi, but sometimes you’d have a hard time getting a table, and the owner of the restaurant sees a line going around the block, and there’s a poster of me in front of Carnegie Hall.  And he was looking at the poster and he looks at me and goes, “Hey – you’re datta guy!” and from then on, I was always able to get a good spot.  People wonder where “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” was, well that was the place.

The picture above is a screen shot from the video, and I recognize it as having been taken in the restaurant.

Another one of life’s little mysteries revealed…

Topics: New York, New York, Words about Music | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Billy Joel Confirms Location of “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” Restaurant”

  1. Jupiter says at August 8th, 2008 at 1:03 pm :
    Brian – You are correct about ‘La Fontana Di Trevi’ being the restaurant Billy Joel was referring to in his song ‘Scenes From an Italian Restuarant’. However, the photos were not taken there. They were shot at a place on 9th Avenue near the Port Authority terminal called ‘The Supreme Macaroni Company’. I don’t know if it’s still in business, but if it is, you’ll recognize the interior from the photo. And you’ll get a great old fashioned Southern Italian meal. Buon Apetito!

  2. Brian says at August 11th, 2008 at 9:46 am :
    Thanks, Jupiter. Power of suggestion, I guess – the tables just in front of the bar in Fontana di Trevi had the same framed family photographs next to an arched doorway as the picture, so the picture’s placement in the video made me think it was there.

    As for The Supreme Macaroni Company, here’s at least one piece of evidence that they’re still in business. 511 9th Avenue, between 38th and 39th Streets, just like you said. I’ll have to check it out sometime…

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