In Defense of Manganaro’s Grosseria

Photo courtesy of Roboppy

Manganaro’s (along with its unaffiliated next door neighbor Manganaro’s Hero Boy) has been mentioned a few times on the site as a great place (on 9th Ave. btw 37+38th) to get an Italian sandwich. And even though it’s never been officially reviewed (it’s out of bounds, and a lot of things will cost you more than $10), I’ve always considered it an honorary Midtown Lunch. Which is why this post caught my eye on Fork New York, a long dormant blog run by Profiled Lunch’er “Andre Mika”. He resurrected his blog this week specifically to rant about the “bitches” who run the 100+ year old Manganaro’s Grosseria. The story is worth reading in its entirety, but is essentially summed up at the end with this:

“So I guess the moral of the story is, unless you love being abused and crapped on by people who you are trying to give your money to, stay away from Manganaro Grosseria Italiano.”

“Judging by the large, happy crowd next door, I would recommend the Manganaro HeroBoy place I passed on. Next time, I’ll follow the crowd, delicious smells and common sense….. and not my nostalgic instincts.”

Yes, it is true. The two ladies who run Manganaro’s could be considered… well… crazy.  And I wouldn’t use the B-word, but sure… they can bitch-like… but in the best possible way! That’s to say, much more enjoyable when you are watching somebody else get yelled at- than if you are on the receiving end of their wrath. Taken straight from an episode of Seinfeld, the two ladies are not unlike the Soup Nazi- although, if you follow their unwritten rules, and they deem you worthy, you get treated to a delicious lunch, served by the two sweetest, funniest ladies of all time.

The problems start when you do one of a few things- and there is obviously no way for Andre to have known this…

1. You take pictures without asking. Actually, if you do anything without asking. They feel like Manganaro’s is not so much a public business, where the customer is always right- but more like their private home. And they think you should treat it as such (and pay for the privilege!)

2. You mention Manganaro’s Hero Boy (the restaurant next door.) You can read about the history of the two places, and the family rift that happened almost 50 years ago in this New York Times article. It’s a sore subject, and they have become especially weary of anybody who is looking to compare the two. I watched them go ballistic on a lady who had a Hero Boy bag in her hand when she entered the shop. The sisters didn’t even give her a chance to order, or ask a question or anything. They literally just started yelling at her, until the lady with the Hero Boy bag left. Then the sisters ranted for 30 minutes about how disrespectful that was.

3. You admit to them you’re a blogger! Of course this is related to the two above… but if they do catch you snapping photos, just apologize profusely-and with respect- as if they were cops that had just pulled you over for speeding. Oh, and you probably shouldn’t tell them you are there because of Anthony Bourdain.  They loved the attention they got, but are much nicer to people they perceive as being longtime neighborhood customers, than fly by night TV watching, johnny-come latelies.

Lucky for me, the first time I visited Mangarnaro’s was with a good friend who warned me about all these things. I even got to see them in action, yelling at others… so it made subsequent visits a little easier. I took a few photos, but it was after we politely ordered and made small talk and were all having a good time. (Which is code for we happily listened to them complain about how crazy some of their customers are.)  Was I scared they would turn on me?  Every single minute of the lunch.  Would I stop going there?  Not if you paid me.

The thing is, Manganaro’s is far better than Hero Boy.  (It’s not even comparable.)  Sure it’s more expensive, the portions are smaller, and it’s far more intimidating… but the food is just plain better.  And I wouldn’t blame Andre (or any other abused patron) for never returning.  But, if you have the benefit of learning the rules first, eating there is like eating in somebody’s house. (Somebody who really knows how to cook.)

It’s easy to get mad, and call them bitches, and discuss why nobody who owns a business should act in that way.  But it’s more rewarding to just suck it up, and follow their insane rules. I understand why Hero Boy is more crowded, but it’s not because it’s better.  Don’t trust me?  Go see for yourself.  Just don’t tell the ladies of Manganaro’s what you’re up to…

For more about Manganaro’s, read this great piece on Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York

Manganaro’s, 488 9th Ave, 212-563-5331
Manganaro’s, Hero Boy, 492 9th Ave, 212-947-7325


  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Never been here… BUT for all the smack talk people are doing, then hell, if the food sucks and they wouldn’t go there again then by all means MAN UP and get outta your chair, clear your table, walk up to the bitches and say, ladies this food fuckin sucks and its not worth your attitudes. PEACE!… Otherwise, they’re all cowards.

  • I think there are places in Hoboken akin (or more likely, WAY better)to managanaro’s as far as quality of food. Thankfully, most of the places I know are very cool, even if you are a tourist idiot…I am thinking of one place on the corner of 8th and garden but the name escapes me…it’s been 5 or 6 yrs….

  • Goats…you are right re: Hoboken… Vito’s deli in particular is v. good

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    I’ve walked by this place a few times, too scared to go in.

  • @Goats, you must be talking about Lisa’s Italian Deli on 9th & Park (one blocks west of Garden) or Vito’s Deli on 8th & Washington. Whole subs at both places run about $6-8, with fresh mozzarella, good quality cold cuts and dense italian rolls which end up making the ‘wich weigh close to a couple of pounds.

    At Vitos, I had a hot roast beef sub with brown gravy and fresh mozzarella. Possibly my all time favorite sandwich, especially when the gravy melts the mozz, causing the roll to reach near failure trying keep the beef and melted cheese/gravy slurry all in one piece. Cardiac on a roll and absolutely delicious.

  • Defonte’s.. yum. Zach start an Out-of-Bounds delivery service please (just try to refrain from taking a bite out of everyones’ meal ;P )

  • @ Wayne+ El Dubya–yeah, Lisa’s! I got it confused with the corner liquor store. Lisa’s rules! I don’t think I ever hit Vito’s b/c Lisa’s was so close and so good. I lived on 6th and adams.

    @ Jeff: Defontes is good, and I endorsed it before. But I must say, I think its luster wore off on me. I had it delivered a couple of weeks ago, and the Nicky’s Special (italian sub) was totally skimpy and small!) And the potato, cheese and egg sub, which I had heard was amazing, was bland as all hell…and I added ham. Maybe they are getting too commercial, and skimping a little, or maybe it was just a bad day, but the last ocuple of times, it hasn’t measured up to the first few times in terms of size or quality.

  • “maybe it was just a bad day, but the last couple of times, it hasn’t measured up to the first few times in terms of size or quality”

    Mamacita… is that you?

  • @Goats–thanks for the heads-up. Perhaps the Defontes folks need a taste of some old school New Yawk friggin attitude to wake their asses up. They mess with one midtown lunchers lunch, they mess with our whole family!

  • @ Wayne—I thought the same thing when I wrote it, but it’s true—small sandwich, not as good….uh—

    Now I feel very—HETERO! Yes HETERO I remain!

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    I’ve been to that place…once and then I ended up running out of their w/my co-worker at the time. It’s just ONE of them that’s pretty hardcore. I’ll never forget what she said “DON’T COME IN HERE IF YOU’RE JUST GOING TO GO TO HEROBOY ANYWAY!!!”

    Unbeknownst to her, I had just stepped out of Heroboy b/c I don’t like places such as those and wanted to go to the smaller spot to support them. The prices were kinda high for me at the time, but I wanted to get something from the store itself, but I just ended up running scared like a punk.

    Next time crazy Italian ladies. Next time…

  • Wow, these stories folks are telling are great!! It’s like the scene from Goonies when they step into the closed-down restaurant cabin that the Fratellis gang is hiding out in… “All we serve here is tongue. You like tongue don’t you?” Are these ladies any bit like the Mama (also from “Throw Mama from The Train”??) I really have to check this out for myself.

  • I’m going to go in and take pictures of them and ask “what happened between you guys and heroboy? I heard you guys are real bitches! Give me some meatballs”

  • Say what you want about Heroboy, but at least the service has always been perfectly pleasant. There’s scores of places I can go in midtown where I can get decent food without a side of the owner’s attitude. If I want to eat at your place, just serve me my food and I will pay you and thank you and be on my way. I don’t want to have to worry about your stupid rules as well.

    I thought the Grosseria was in danger of going out of business anyway?

  • Zach… I now you needed to give those idiots props… but remember… you WORK for your money… and to give it to people who verbally abuse you, and could care less about you, well…that’s your choice. For me, I’d rather set it on fire. In NYC, there are just too many terrific places to let these two treat you like garbage, like its a privilege to eat one of the average sandwiches. C’mon… you are better than that… you earned it!

  • But they’ve never verbally abused me! And I like their food…

    Wait. Is that a hurricane you’re drinking in your profile photo? Damnit! How can I disagree with a man drinking a hurricane. I take it all back buddy! :-)

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    The posts about Hoboken missed the best place….Fiore’s. Everything else is an also-ran.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Ok you guys, I know that the ladies are a bit rude, but isn’t that kind of the charm of being in NYC? Like, downtown at the Cake Shop the guy in charge isn’t exactly the nicest guy and is sometimes down right rude, but he’s got some good stuff in his shop. Though he has other people working there who will help you. It’s all about the variety you get here. It’s about character if you will.

    Anyways, maybe it’s my native NYC’er way of thinking, but I think that rude people are often times the nicest ones. People who smile in your face, are the ones you need to be most weary of. Those are the people you don’t trust.

    I guess their attitudes would be more justified if the food was beyond excellent? Is it the rudeness factor that makes it taste not so great?

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    Not only are they rude, but they aren’t that hygenic. I went in there was for a riceball and the “younger” of the two old ladies took the riceball and put it on a dirty styrofoam plate. It was caked with oil and dried mozzarella. They use ONE plate to microwave all their customers riceballs on! ICK! I pretended I was going upfront for something and quickly left…

  • Hero Boy outshines Manganero’s in every way except for atmosphere. And who needs atmosphere when you’re just looking for a sandwich?

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