By: Skye Wu
Around the corner on W. 77th Street from La Pecora Bianca, which opened last summer, Scaletta Ristorante stood for 30 years, until it shut down in 2019 due to the landlord’s unwillingness to extend the lease, even at market terms. The space remains empty to this day.
Scaletta was more than a generic Italian restaurant — it was family-owned. Not only did Scaletta bring together the community with its delicious food, but its warm hospitality and charming ambiance brought together families of different generations.
I can remember eating at Scaletta almost every weekend from when I was in preschool. Freddy Gjurev, a former striker for the New York Cosmos and the maitre’d always greeted my family with a smile, kissing my mother’s cheek and pinching my arm. Our favorite waiter, Randy, knew everyone’s order: I had the spaghetti bolognese; my brother ordered the veal milanese; my parents ordered the linguini vongole, and my dad ordered a bottle of wine. The pasta was ‘al dente’ and my brother paid close attention to the dessert trolley that stored an elaborate amount of desserts to fill everyone’s sweet tooth.
My grandmother, a former restaurateur herself who ran a Sichuan restaurant in New Jersey that received a 2-star rating from The New York Times, looked forward to eating at Scaletta because they would cook any dish she wanted. In her case, it was Veal Milanese, substituted with fish. She was, and is, a demanding woman, particularly when it comes to food, but Freddy and his brother, Omer, the chef, would melt her with their smiles. Scaletta unified our family.
Scaletta made a positive impact on the neighborhood environment and created long-term relationships with hospitable staff. To many, it felt like the fabric of the community and lifelong memories were stored in the pockets of this meaningful restaurant. The community misses Scaletta very much.
We loved Scaletta. Nicest people. Very good food. So accommodating of special requests and remembered us and very kind. Miss them.
So awful that the landlord kicked them out for some new restaurant that never materialized.
Sam Zell. He was hoping a major gym would take the space and pay lots of money.
It always amazes me building owners would prefer to have a space vacant for years rather than renew a lease. Broadway and 86 both corners vacant for years now.
I WONDER IF THERE IS A TAX ADVANTAGE – GIVEN HOW MANY SPACES REMAIN CLOSED FOR YEARS.
If the landlord has a commercial mortgage the rent can not go below a certain amount. If the mortgage is large then the rent has to be large and if the landlord wants to lower the rent they would have to pay a penalty to the mortgage holder. This is one possible explanation. I don’t have specific knowledge.
There might be a stipulation in the landlord’s contract about rent rolls but this can be easily modified. So no, commercial spaces don’t stay empty because banks insist on a certain rent paid.
Banks simply want their mortgagee to pay their debt. They don’t care how they do it.
And to everyone else there is no “tax advantage “ or write off or any other financial benefit to a landlord by having empty space.
No landlord magically comes out financially ahead by losing the cash flow of a tenant.
It’s unfortunate Scarletta is gone and the space is empty but there’s a glut of empty storefronts and simply not enough of a demand at any price.
There is no tax advantage – the owners of the real estate still have to pay enormous real estate taxes on the building. I suspect a side street restaurant that one has to walk down and doesn’t have much street traffic isn’t that desirable for restaurant owners. Too bad though as I always liked Scaletta.
We miss Scaletta too! We went there every New Year’s Eve with our friends for years and years (in addition to eating there on non-celebratory nights). it was so sad when it closed.
We absolutely loved Scaletta! The food was always fresh and delicious and the people who owned it and worked there were delightful. We even had our daughters 16th birthday celebration there. We were so sad when it closed and still miss them! Shame on these landlords!
my daughter and I walked by the dormant space just a few days ago and reminisced about many great evenings we enjoyed at Scaletta, It was a local fav for our family and we miss it greatly.
The best! My kids miss it the most!
Had my wedding reception there 🙁
we enjoyed many dinners over the years and miss its ambience and quiet presence
I’m surprised to read about so many people missing Scaletta. The place closed because no one patronized it. The dining rooms were empty. The landlord tried for years to work out a fair deal with Scaletta but they just couldn’t pay the rent and we’re always behind.
Wake Up- landlords don’t want vacancies. But Scaletta never progressed and was an old tired concept.
Patronize all your favorite restaurants weekly or you’ll be writing about their closures too
Scaletta had a loyal following and was never empty for almost two decades that we dined there. Being able to successfully operate and run an establishment for 30 years in a basement space says something about a concept that works (not a tired concept at all!). The landlords didn’t get what makes Scaletta irreplaceable – it’s hard enough for a restaurant to serve consistently delicious food, and professional service, but to be made to feel truly welcome when you walk in by the owners and staff is what makes a restaurant stand out and
form the fabric of our community. Great restaurant, great people (Feddy, Omer, Randy), and a great loss for the neighborhood!
I’m hearing this. If we love our restaurants we need to show up as much as possible.
Just because “the landlord tried to work out a fair deal” (which may or may not be the case) doesn’t mean people don’t miss it, or that it “never progressed” or “was an old tired concept”. And your last sentence, wow.
WSR, I hope you will publish my comment which is certainly way more civil than the one which precipitated it.
I LOVED Scaletta!!
This was a heartbreaking loss. So many fond memories.
We had our wedding there. Randy was the most wonderful, thoughtful waiter. We were always greeted warmly and it was one of our “go to” places where we dined often. La Mirabelle Restaurant on West 86th, another loss, wonderful food, ambience and always greeted warmly by Annick and the staff.
All true about Scaletta. Greatly missed.
We too miss Scaletta. I hadn’t lived here long when I found this an elegant and quiet place to meet friends and business associates. Every time I walk by that empty space, I have to ask why?? They installed the sidewalk lift just before it closed; what a waste.
My wife Trish and I LOVED Scaletta and miss it every time we pass by the empty space. How pointless of the landlord to put them out of business for nothing.
we loved the intimacy of the bar area tables, and the bar itself – freddy [#10] and omer, and all staff, were the consummate restaurateurs
I can’t tell you how much my husband and I miss Scaletta! They would always be willing to accommodate off menu items for me, including once going out to buy extra eggs t make zabaglione! (If I’d known they had to do that I wouldn’t have asked!) Impeccable service, delicious food, we loved it. It was pretty much a weekly ritual. I think we went there the kast week before it closed.
Never went to Scaletta, but it’s always sad to see a favorite restaurant close. A bit of trivia. Does anyone remember the name of the club that used to occupy the space before Scaletta?? It was a Latin nightclub called “Chez Jose”. The most renowned Latin bands used to perform there….. Tito Puente….Joe Cuba….Cal Tjader…. Orchestra Broadway…..Mongo Santamaria …..and many more. Danced the night away every weekend…..so much fun and fond memories.
I never went to Chez Jose but that is an impressive list of Latin acts you just rattled off. Must’ve been quite a club!
Yes it was…..and very intimate too !
My sister and I hosted our parent’s 50th wedding anniversary at Scaletta’s back in 2013. Freddy, a standup guy, and his team made our evening extra special. A restaurant that I took for granted.
Still a classy nice place. The interior decoration still remains the same. We dressed in style and class to enter that place, when it was once a dancing supper club named:
The Forbidden Fruit
No Liquor , No Alcohol beverages served.