Barbetta, one of New York City’s most prestigious and elegant restaurants, opened on West 39th Street in 1906 and later moved to the Times Square Theater District on West 46th Street. After more than a century, its Piedmontese cuisine has remained a legend in the city, attracting famous names like Mick Jagger and Puccini.
Sebastiano Maioglio and his wife, Piera, founded the restaurant and passed it down to their daughter Laura, who gave up a career in the arts to continue the family tradition. Laura’s husband, Gunter Blobel, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1999, died in 2018, and the couple had no children. Although Laura Maioglio is still involved in the business, it is uncertain who will carry on in the future.
When Laura took over Barbetta in 1962, she brought in Italian antiques, set up a lush open air garden for dining, and introduced Piedmontese wines and white truffles. The restaurant also set a trend in smoking habits when it replaced matchbooks on the table with mints. The Locali Storici d’Italia has made the site a landmark, guaranteeing that it will always stay the same.
Barbetta is the oldest restaurant in the Theater District and the oldest Italian restaurant in New York City. In the summertime, diners, both newcomers and old friends of the Maioglio family, gather in the garden to enjoy the delicate scents of gardenia, magnolia, wisteria, jasmine, and oleander and dine beneath the stately 100-year-old trees.
In 2010, another era ended when the last two Truffle Hounds of Barbetta passed away. The English setters were known and loved in Central Park.