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Monte's Venetian Room - Carroll St.

chowgal Sep 1, 2005 02:23 PM

Saw it when I first moved to Brooklyn and was going on a bike ride up and down streets, all over the place. Looked it up and saw it is the oldest restaurant in Brooklyn. Yet I never hear/read a thing about it. Has anyone ever tried it?

  1. k
    kozel Sep 3, 2005 02:31 PM

    Went there after the prom in 1966. It was owned then by the Monte brothers, one being Nick of Gurney's Inn fame. If you want a glimpse of the place, rent the move 'Men of Respect'. The openning murder scene was filmed in there.


    2 Replies
    1. re: carabgsk
      Daniel76 Nov 30, 2011 10:39 AM

      Wow, this thread is old.. I read about Schnack and got excited that they reopened.. That place was a lot of fun when it was good..

      1. re: Daniel76
        Steve R Nov 30, 2011 01:26 PM

        Thread's old and, just to show that things come around, Monte's is open again with totally new ownership (well, if you dont count the fact that the owner parked cars there when he was a kid). And it's not bad at all. We've been there 3 or 4 times now and had decent meals in a friendly environment. Nice pizza oven. I wouldnt write it up as a major destination but it's certainly a place to go. Parking too.

        451 Carroll St, Brooklyn, NY 11215

    2. m
      MKS Sep 1, 2005 07:55 PM

      Never heard of the place until today on food talk WOR. Michael Lomanico said it was one of the first places that he worked at and learned to make chicken scarpiello there.

      1. s
        Steve R. Sep 1, 2005 03:02 PM

        Yes, I have tried it over the years. Not good. At all. Not the food, not the service and especially not the attitude. Feel free to prove me wrong -- I'd love to read a new objective opinion about the place.

        14 Replies
        1. re: Steve R.
          Peter in the Heights Sep 1, 2005 03:15 PM

          I can't comment on the general quality of the food, but about 18 months ago the NYTimes ran an article about the best cheesecake in NYC.

          They were too wimpy to choose just 1, so they chose 7. 3 of the 7 were in Carroll Gardens:

          -- Helen's Cheesecake on Union next to Schnack, now defunct. (Traditional cheesecake, made w/cream cheese)

          -- Monteleone's (Family) Bakery on Court St. (Italian cheesecake, made w/ricotta cheese)

          -- Monte's Venetian Room (Italian cheesecake as well.)

          The Saturday after the Wednesday article came out (it was the cover of the Dining In/Dining Out on Wednesday March 17th, 2004 if I recall) a friend and I, upon exiting brunch at Schnack saw Helen's next door and decided to try all 3.

          Well, we were too full from Schnack to try at Helens. Still too full at Monteleone's. But we were ready by the time we got to Monte's Venetian Room on Carroll St. in Gowanus.

          We didn't actually try any there though, we got a whole cake to take to a dinner party that night.

          I'm here, almost 18 months later, to tell you that indeed it was the best. cheesecake. ever.

          Say what you will about the rest of the food, but that cheese cake kicks ass.


          1. re: Steve R.
            Todd Eaton Sep 2, 2005 09:34 AM

            I have to respectfully disagree with the caveat that I think you have to have the proper expectations when going there. The place is not Al Di La and I don't think it pretends to be.

            I live on Carrol St and when I first moved there five years ago I would walk by that place and think to myself, 'there is NO chance this place can be good'. After a couple of years of seeing the place mostly empty, my attitude became 'I need to go there just for the hell of it'. So, back in June I got about 12 friends together for someone's birthday and we all piled into the place and I have to say it was one of the best experiences I've had. I was expecting crap but what I got was very fresh, well executed standards like linguine with red clam sauce, perfect veal piccata, very satisfying antipast (hot and cold) and service that was extremely attentive and friendly. Of course, there were only two other tables in the place so it couldn't have been hard to be attentive, but it would have been very easy to give lazy, uncaring service.

            Now, there was nothing adventurous on the menu, and I'd stay away from the wines, and I'd probably never go there with a girlfriend for a special night when Al Di La is three blocks from my apartment, but for a large group that wants to sit at a table all night and drink cheap wine and be brought lots of hearty, straightforward red sauce stuff, I would highly recommend it. And that is something I never thought I would say.

            In conclusion, I am willing to say that perhaps we hit it on the one night a year when the good waiter is working and the skilled chef is in the kitchen and that a second try could be disappointing, but at the very least I would not hesitate to schedule that second try and would actually look forward to it.


            1. re: Todd Eaton
              Steve R. Sep 2, 2005 09:45 AM

              Absolutely agree with the sentiment of your note but, unfortunately, I've never had your experience there. I've been in Bklyn for almost all my 50 plus years and al di la (which I really like) is most definitely not my comparison point for Monte's. As you say, Monte's is old style "straightforward red sauce stuff". However, all my experiences there have been bad, both in food and in service/attitude. And my friends report the same. I'd really like to change my mind on this, as it's very convenient to me, has valet parking, isnt prohibitively expensive, etc. Until more stories like yours come in, with some details about good food and waiters that actually seem to want you there, I'll keep going to Queen, Manducatis, Piccolo Venezia and even Tomasso's (in that order) when I want this stuff (I've never been to Frost or O'Cono's, but they seem fine as well).

              1. re: Steve R.
                Todd Eaton Sep 2, 2005 12:45 PM

                Huh. Interesting - and we weren't really drunk enough to blame it on the booze. I wonder if we hit a night when they get their food delivery and so it was particularly fresh night. And they waiter was definitely nice...maybe he smelled a great tip with 12 people who were obviously drinking. I think I'll try another trip and see what happens.

                What are your thoughts on Red Rose up on Smith? That's my usual go to for red sauce.

                1. re: Todd Eaton
                  Steve R. Sep 2, 2005 01:56 PM

                  Re: Monte's. If you go again and it's good, we'll be right behind you. However, you may wish to just consider yourself lucky & think about why it's always empty, especially given its long history and alumni.

                  As for Red Rose, we were regulars for years when Smith St was desolate. The family produced great down home Italian food (including their "fried Spagetti") that we loved -- and it was very inexpensive. And they were the only place around that cared about the wine they served. Havent been back in several years, partially because the menu upscaled dramatically and we just sort of dropped out given the other places available (and we bought a car) & partially because the couple of times we went, the food wasnt as good as it used to be. If you're saying that you go there reasonably often and it's good, I guess we'll try again.

                  Ever manage to get into "Two Toms"? (here comes another controversy) Not for pasta (although they have it), but for the chops and "atmosphere". And, while I'm at it, give Ortobello's in Bensenhurst a try if you can -- not upscale, but more like what Red Rose was.

                  1. re: Steve R.
                    jkl Sep 5, 2005 02:34 PM

                    Too many places being mentioned here for me not to reply. Montes: Enjoyed it enourmously in the late '80's when I first found out about it. Went there very frequently and ALWAYS had a very good meal for a very reasonable price. My typical order: Pasta and bean soup. Tri color salad. Zuppe de pesce. Best canollis I've ever had in my life. Closed in the 90's for several years. Went back twice after it reopened but the food just wasn't the same. Two Toms: Walked in once on a late Sunday afternoon. Not a single table taken but was told by the staff every table was reserved. Said we'd eat a very quick meal and be gone in less than an hour but that just seemed to aggravate them. Cracked me up but what was I supposed to say? Have friends who go there. They rave about the pork chops and bring there own bottle of apple sauce. Ortobello: Very close to where I currently live. Love the pulpo (octopus) marinara. The simple fact is though, I'd return to Montes' in a second if it was the Montes I knew in the 80's.

                    1. re: jkl
                      PJK Sep 7, 2005 09:58 AM

                      I had similar experiences at Monte's. In the '80s, it was a blast. Good, hearty food. Their Italian cheesecake was simply the best in the city.

                      A decade passed, and my dining adventures took me elsewhere. Then, a few years ago, I went back to Monte's with my wife. The food was indifferent, the service perfunctory. And our dinner was accompanied by -- I'm not making this up -- a karaoke contest.

                      Never again. I do miss their cheesecake, though.

                    2. re: Steve R.
                      ARTIE G Sep 5, 2005 06:22 PM

                      what is the address of ortobellos?

                      1. re: ARTIE G
                        jkl Sep 7, 2005 10:26 PM

                        Sorry, meant to reply days ago: Ortobello, the corner of Bay Parkway and 64th St.

                      2. re: Steve R.
                        Todd Eaton Sep 6, 2005 10:05 AM

                        Hi, Steve,

                        You know, the reason I spent 5 years on the block before trying it was precisely because it was always so empty. But think about it, the location is not going to give it any foot traffic and the people in the neighborhood aren't really gonna fill it up no matter how much they like it, so all it really has going for it is the 'holy crap that place MUST be connected' aura, which is why I eventually felt I had to try it - curiosity and atmosphere.

                        As far as Two Tom's..I went in there once to try to get take out and I was scared. And I've lived/spent time in some scary areas. There is a distinct 'locals only' vibe in there and the place is a dump. Usually, a dump of that order would make me think 'awesome, this is gonna be some 70 year old guy who grew up upstairs making his grandmother's recipes' but the attitude I got walking in there was enough to make me not want to go back. So, atmosphere is one thing, open hostility is another. I suspect that the hostility came because I look like one of the yupsters currently invading the old neighborhood - if I had dropped my landlord's name I may have had an entirely different experience.

                        RE: Red Rose..I've been back once since September 11..not out of any intention, it just sort of worked out that way. The rice balls alone will keep me going back when I get tired of trying all the new places.

                        1. re: Steve R.
                          josh L Sep 6, 2005 10:43 AM

                          You shouldn't generalize so much. Anthony, the waiter/son/owner at 2 Toms is one of the nicest sweetest people you'll ever meet.

                          For old school red sauce charm, ortebello cant be beat. stick with the simple stuff and the specials. like eating at an old italian bensonhurst family home in the sixties. total time warp.

                    3. re: Todd Eaton
                      clarence boddiker Sep 2, 2005 06:17 PM

                      thanks for that reply todd, was thinking about having a b-day party there as well.

                      1. re: clarence boddiker
                        Todd Eaton Sep 6, 2005 09:52 AM

                        Clarence....given the other sentiments on this thread, I'm going to feel really guilty if you go and don't have the same experience I did.

                    4. re: Steve R.
                      eileen Sep 2, 2005 04:06 PM

                      I sadly have to agree, but I must confess it was many years ago that I ate there....

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