Under Tucci, Delmonico’s began pulling New Yorkers downtown for dinners and evenings.
That was thought impossible at that time. The Wall Street area was strictly daytime, lunch or early dinner service only, as it would be deserted at night.
Bringing people (and celebrities like Lana Turner, Gypsy Rose Lee, Virgina Graham, Eva Gabor, Red Buttons and Orson Bean, to name a few) back into a “work only” area of NYC, especially when Harlem was considered Gotham's hot spot, is an astounding testament to the influence of Oscar Tucci.
To put this phenomenon in modern terms, imagine Manhattan-ites flocking en masse to the southern tip of Staten Island for dinner and an evening out.
(Nothing against Staten Island, someday you’ll be a social magnet we’re sure, but it is certainly not this day.)
Besides originating many dishes still popular today, including the Wedge Salad, which Oscar Tucci himself created, Oscar and Mario also continued adding to the famously vast wine collection, making it the largest restaurant wine cellar in the world.
Oscar Tucci established traditions that spread throughout the restaurant industry as a whole and indeed, even in popular culture.
Just as a for instance, it was Oscar’s Delmonico that came up with the term “86,” as in, "to drop something." If a restaurant runs out of a menu item, it is “86'ed.” As the story goes, menu item 86 was very popular and would sell out quickly. The term “86” became slang for, “We’re out of that.”
dr_heavenly I rarely post photos of food , but this restaurant was sinfully good! #Delmonicos #NYC #EmpireStateBuilding @piqdating #HeavenKnows #AskDrHeavenly #lobster #mmmmmm!
Within a short period of time, all restaurants in NYC had adopted the term, and it spread out to the rest of the world from there. The term even took on other linguistic uses, such as “86 that” as a command to stop doing or saying a certain thing.
“There’s a beautiful history,” says Max Tucci heir to Oscar's Delmonico's. “Do you want that, the voice of our ancestors, or the same old cheap flash and bang.” He has a valid point.
It is easy to forget about the people who gave us what we have. Those who came before us aren’t often given the credit for establishing the traditions we currently enjoy.
Oscar Tucci shouldn’t be one of those people, and Delmonico’s shouldn’t be one of those places.
This sums up an issue New Yorkers constantly have: we forget what an amazing city we live in; how much has come from here; how much will continue to come from here; how badly we take it for granted.
New Yorkers need to stop and appreciate the history of our city more often, and how much it has contributed to the culture of the entire world.
Oscar Tucci is a good place to start. (P.S., be on the look out for Max Tucci’s book on him and the famous Oscar's Delmonico later this year.)
And hell, if you've ever in the neighborhood, stop on by
[Feature Image Courtesy: Trip Advisor]