7. The Marble Columns of Pompeii
Delmonico’s was New York’s first great restaurant, introducing in 1827 the fineries of French cuisine to a city accustomed to gorging on oysters out of a slop bucket. For more than a century their various locations throughout the city became the feasting place of cigar-chomping power brokers and celebrated authors salivating over Lobster Newburg or a flaming Baked Alaska (both of which were first cooked up in Delmonico’s kitchens).
Delmonico’s still dishes it up in a swanky setting here on South William Street. Photo by Greg Young
Delmonico’s original restaurant at 23 William Street was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1835. They quickly rebuilt, and when an enlarged restaurant opened in 1891 here at 2 South William Street, the architect incorporated elements from the original location: a set of columns purportedly plucked from the ruins of Pompeii (back in the days when one could just pluck columns from ancient ruins). Had one of the original Delmonico brothers, John or Peter, visited Greece instead of Italy, maybe we’d see a piece of the Parthenon hoisted over the door. (2 South William Street)
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