Monday, February 28, 2011

Enrico Caruso (Probably) Ate Here For Lunch

Lunch location for MET singers and staff.
(Photo: Daniella Zalcman/Wall Street Journal)
"Manganaro's dates to 1893, when Ernest Petrucci opened a wine and spirits store on the site at 488 Ninth Ave. near 37th Street that also sold olive oil and groceries. As Prohibition took effect in 1919, his nephew James Manganaro, and Sal Dell'Orto's uncle, took over the space and changed the name to Maganaro's. An academic paper in 1967 by Howard Robboy, a sociologist now at the College of New Jersey, traced one possible origin of the hero sandwich to Mr. Manganaro and Mr. Petrucci, both immigrants from Naples. In its heyday, the counters at the Grosseria were often packed three or four deep with customers, with sausages and 200-pound provolone cheeses, sausages and salamis hanging from the ceiling. Lunchtime customers, from garment center workers to performers and staff at the old Metropolitan Opera House on Broadway and West 39th Street, crowded in for hero sandwiches. Over the years the neighborhood has changed. In the 1930's, much of it was demolished for the construction of the Lincoln Tunnel. The old Metropolitan Opera House was demolished in 1967. And most of the garment manufacturing moved away." Looking back through the archives of the Metropolitan Opera during the 1919-20 season, it's possible to imagine some of the famous opera singers who might have been lunchtime patrons of Maganaro's: Enrico Caruso, Geraldine Farrar, Giovanni Martinelli, Claudia Muzio, Giuseppe De Luca, Frances Alda or Rosa Ponselle. [Source, Source]