Chef and owner Pietro (Peter) Mosconi is on a mission and that’s encouraging news indeed for fans of the historic Monte’s in West Greenwich Village. Simply put, Peter is intent on making this classic New York “joint” the best Italian restaurant in New York - many insist it already is. Just for the record, the affectionate use of the word “joint” is reserved for classic spots that display incredible creativity and originality, and most importantly, outstanding freshly prepared, affordable food. While it’s difficult to define a true “joint”, you recognize one when you hit the door. New York is blessed with a host of classic “joints” and certainly Monte’s is one of them.
Chef Peter Mosconi says it best…”This restaurant opened in 1918 and has been a New York favorite for years. There is only one real Monte’s in the entire world and only one MacDougal Street in New York. So many of our guests come from the neighborhood and I have too much respect for these people to make this anything less than the best. I want everyone to know that when you visit Monte’s, you are going to have a wonderful dining experience.”
One has to admire a chef who thinks like this even if being the best of anything in a city like New York is too lofty a goal for any restaurateur. It’s the pride and the attitude that makes certain restaurants so much better than others, and when you meet this chef, you immediately realize that he’s absolutely sincere. Pride for so many in this business is a major motivator.
Peter grew up on a farm with his five sisters and a brother in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and learned the art of cooking from his parents. “Almost everything in our house was prepared from scratch and when we traveled to a local market, it was to pick-up the ingredients. We made our own pasta, our own raviolis, and our own bread. It was the way I was taught, and it’s how I approach my cooking today.”
Peter arrived in New York in 1966 and his first challenge was learning the language. Ten years later, he became a restaurant owner (Villa Mosconi) and eventually, the neighboring Monte’s. Not too much has changed including his daily trips to the various markets to purchase the quality ingredients that make his food so special. It’s all about no-nonsense Italian favorites, and if it’s not on the menu, he will make it for you.
Who knows what the best Italian restaurant in New York is today? We only know that this joint on MacDougal Street is the real thing, and as good as it gets.
Monte’s Trattoria of Greenwich Village, 97 MacDougal Street, 212-228-9194