New York City is famous for its restaurants with Il Monello being remembered as one of the most popular Italian eateries in the city. A memory no more, loyal fans and foodies are celebrating the return of the “new” Il Monello on 337 East 49th Street at Second Avenue with its signature Italian-American dishes and upscale décor.
The original Il Monello was opened by Adi Gionvannetti in 1974. A favorite of Manhattan’s well-heeled experts in gastronomy, the restaurant received a 3-Star rating from The New York Times. When Giovannetti retired in 2001, the restaurant was entrusted to Steve Haxhiaj, who had worked under Gionvannetti from busboy to waiter and then manager in the decade of his tenure. After more than 30 years in business, Il Monello closed in 2002 when they lost their lease.
The food is as equally as enticing as the story behind the management and executive chef.
The owner Steve Haxhiaj and chef Jaime Chabla, both came to the United States as immigrants seeking to live out the American dream. Haxhiaj worked for the original Il Monello, rising through the ranks with hard work and determination. Starting as a waiter, he then became a manager, working to one day purchase the restaurant.
Since 2008, Haxhiaj has been searching for the perfect location to reopen the beloved restaurant. When he found a place available on 49th Street he immediately knew that a return of Il Monello was imminent.
Part is Haxhiaj’s success is that he knows not to fool with success. The current menu is similar to the original restaurant that New Yorkers have come to love and know for years.
Since December 5, 2002, the restaurant has welcomed customers for dinner service. Guests able to choose from a robust menu of familiar dishes and delicious Italian-American classics including creamy Cacio e Pepe, flavorful Ravioli del Giorno, and high-grade Filet Mignon.
For more than 20 years, Chef Jaime Chabla has worked in kitchens across the industry. He too came to America from Ecuador in search new opportunities. Starting as a dishwasher, his passion for the industry continued to grow and his reputation did too. Today, he is the executive chef at Tuscany Steakhouse where he runs back of house and Haxhiaj runs the front. In fact, some of the inspiration from the Il Monello menu comes from Tuscany Steakhouse.
Dinner guests are treated to an elegant interior with white walls and tablecloths. The vibe is a strikingly New York meets European flair, topped with big smiles from the staff. In a world where there is so much uncertainty and we welcome true connections, Il Monello is exactly what New Yorkers are craving.
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