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It’s an Italian New York story. When Marco Pavone and his cousin, and his cousin’s cousin, took on the lease of 474 9th Avenue in October 2019, they stared up at the sign at the very top of the building, which read “Longo Bros, founded in 1933”. After researching the previous wine and liquor store, they decide to keep the name and the Italian tradition going.

Longo Bros outdoor seating on 9th Avenue. Photo: Phil O’Brien.

Longo Bros — 2020 version — opened at the end of last month, offering not just wine and liquor, but Italian tapas, along with traditional home-cooked Italian favorites like pizza and pasta.

“He has decided that there is more money to be made in liquor than in milk”

The original Longo Bros got its liquor license on December 8, 1933 and started trading as the Metropolitan Wine and Liquor Company (the name can still be seen on the side of the building). The New York Times said Christopher Longo (one of three brothers) “was for years associated with the pasteurizing department of the Sheffield Farms Company. He has decided that there is more money to be made in liquor than in milk, and is preparing to start sales as soon as his permit and stock arrive.”

According to a report in the New York Herald Tribune in 1948, the Longo Bros wine was good value! “Budget Wine — If the up-up price of wine has discouraged its use at your table, except on occasion, our budget discovery should be heartening news. The Longo brothers, Jack, Joe and Chris, have a store at 474 Ninth Avenue, selling a line of dry reds for as little as 54 cents a fifth or $1.96 for a gallon. Their list on these budget brews includes claret, Chianti, Burgundy, Zinfandel and Barberone. Sweet reds are 34 cents a pint, $2.45 for a gallon, that price covering port, sherry, muscatel, white port and a port and sherry, half and half. Quarts and half gallons, too. White wine is $1.96 a gallon, the fifth 55 cents. … The Longo brothers opened their business in 1933, as they like to recall, just three days after Macy’s made its liquor debut.”

The new bar area at Longo Bros. Photo: Phil O’Brien.

Pavone and his cousins have now lovingly restored the store. “There were five layers of different flooring on top of the original,” Pavone shared. “So we took out the five layers and now have refurbished the original wood floor.” On the ceiling, they have gone back to the original strong beams (strengthened for the bottle store above) and have used the reclaimed square tin tiles over the bar area.

Restoration underway at Longo Bros. Photo: Marco Pavone.

The food and drink pedigree of the cousins is top-notch. Between them, they are also owners of Mercato on W39th Street, Ulivo in Chelsea and Gelateria Gentile (which has stores in Williamsburg and the West Village).

Cocktail mixing — “Look What She’s Having!!!” Photo: Marco Pavone.

Longo Bros, as you would expect, has an extensive wine menu centered around Italian wine. They are proud of their special cocktail menu too, brought together by beverage director Antonello Iacca. “We have a great cocktail list. I would say we have a ‘speakeasy grade’ cocktail list,” enthused Pavone. They certainly sound toastworthy, with titles like Doctor’s Order, Look What She’s Having and Wake Me Up Then F*** Me Up.

Co-owner Marco Pavone (left) with bartender Francesco Donvito. Photo: Phil O’Brien.

Sharing equal billing is the food on offer at Longo Bros. Executive Chef Emanuel Concas (from Ulivo) has created a flavorsome Italian small plates menu, including such tempting morsels as Roasted Octopus, Gnocco Fritto and Wagyu Carpaccio, alongside traditional home-cooked Italian favorites like pizza and pasta.

The glass front of the liquor store has been removed to create an off-the-avenue outdoor dining area.

One final bit of history, W42ST featured Longo Bros back in September 2016. Read more about this photo of John Meyer in front of the store…

Longo Bros is at 474 9th Avenue (between W36/37th St). They are currently open from noon-10pm and serve brunch at the weekends from noon-5pm. More details and menus at longobrosnyc.com.

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