Last Call for Gino

Julie Besonen
I am devastated. After Saturday night, May 29th, there will be no more Gino. The iconic Upper East Side restaurant, which has been in business since 1945, is to be replaced by another cupcake shop! I've gone twice in the past month and will try to squeeze in one last meal this week and you should too. While you wait for a table (no reservations), take a peek at the vintage wooden phone booth with a folding door where it's easy to imagine Frank Sinatra making a call, cigarette in hand. He was a regular, as was Ed Sullivan, Greta Garbo and just about every other old-timey celebrity you'd care to name. A framed article by the coat check nook tells how it cost $500 to decorate the place when it opened. Not much has changed since. What will happen to the leaping zebra wallpaper? To the darling uniformed waiters who faithfully patrol the room with folded napkins over their arms? Ours said he was going to take a vacation and think about it later. His service was impeccable, giving us time to enjoy our cocktails (love the Negroni), not pushing bottled water or trying to upsell us in any way, never interfering in our conversation to ask if everything was all right (and everything is all right, from the chopped salad to the more than all right tomato basil pasta and eggplant parmigiana, feathery light and truly sublime). I tried to take it all in -- the bunches of fake flowers; a dapper man at the next table closing his eyes after nearly every bite of pasta, as if he were trying to lock in the memory for the last time; an 80-year-old couple with matching facelifts holding hands and leaning in for a kiss mid-course. It's an early bird crowd and tables open up more after 9 p.m. It'll cost you about $100 for two -- and do get the liquor-soaked, wonderful tiramisu. I read that Gino's rent was $400 when it opened. Now the landlords want $30,000. That's a lot of cupcakes.

780 Lexington Ave.
(212) 758-4466

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