How Delmonico’s is Bringing Back Gilded Luxury To The Modern World

Food Entertaining

February 28, 2024

Cyan Dacasin

Max Tucci of Delmonico’s Restaurant, NYC.

Last year, one of the most iconic American dining institutions again opened its doors, with the Tucci family’s descendants at the helm. Delmonico’s history stretches back to the Gilded Age when America was propelling itself to be one of the top powerhouse economies in the world. The restaurant’s reputation is known worldwide, even to those who haven’t visited it. Situated on 56 Beaver Street in the Financial District of Manhattan, the restaurant played a significant role throughout history as the crème de la crème’s favorite haunt.

Initially built in 1837 as America’s first fine dining restaurant by Italian-Swiss immigrants Giovanni and Pietro Delmonico, who sought to bring forth the soul of European culture through its close-knit family recipes and traditions. For entrepreneur, author, and Delmonico’s heir Max Tucci, 3rd Generation Partner and Global Brand Officer of Delmonico’s and author of the #1 Best Seller and award-winning cookbook “The Delmonico Way; Sublime Entertaining & Legendary Recipes from the Restaurant that Made New York!” published by Rizzoli 2022, the renaissance of Delmonico’s is about ‘moving forward and looking back.’ While the establishment is bringing in innovative practices from the culinary and hospitality aspects, it’s also going back to the past in deference to the cultural behemoth that Delmonico’s had become.

From the Tucci family’s involvement with the restaurant in 1926 under the watchful gaze of Max’s grandfather, Oscar Tucci, standards at Delmonico’s who saved the iconic name and continued the fine-dining tradition the Delmonico brothers introduced. Done with such prestige, it’s almost impossible not to think about what conversations or deals transpired during its famous luncheons with the world’s most famous people going to one place.

From the venerable members of Manhattan’s old money scions such as The 400, royalty, the bohemians such as Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway to Hollywood icons such as Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra, it became a place to be seen and to indulge in its luxurious fare.

“During Oscar’s time in the 1920s, he ended up purchasing the whole building later on, he utilized each one to have a purpose.” According to Max. It was around this time that prohibition was decreed, but of course, this was also the Roaring Twenties. Tucci built the speakeasy, an invitation-only spot that served patrons discreet cocktail creations that were incredibly popular during the 1920s.

“The bar was on the first floor right when you walked in through the double doors, the bartender would have greeted you —-Imagine the ticker tape swirling with the men in finely tailored suits, cigarettes in hand and cocktails going around. It gives off the luxurious atmosphere of a bustling restaurant” – Max Tucci. Max went on to win the 2023 IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) Trailblazer Award for the preservation of keeping the Delmonico’s legacy alive.

Aside from the speakeasy, there were several private rooms on every floor of the almost 70,000 s.f. building- rooms for lunch clubs and functions. Notably, the restaurant even had a penthouse dining suite that included a bedroom, dining room, fireplace, and kitchen, which patrons who wanted to hide away from the public eye used. Other rooms were decked out with signature motifs and themes. The Lehman Brothers and The Harvard Club had their separate dining areas. Other notable venues in the restaurant include the Python Room, The Baroque Room, The Bulls & Bears, and the main dining room known as The Palm Room. According to its archives, one of the most famed American Jazz Pianists, Ralph Burns, and his orchestra serenaded guests. During the height of the Tucci era, Delmonico served over an outstanding thousand lunches a day.

Moving to the present day, Max and his partners Dennis Turcinovic and Joseph Licul opened Delmonico’s to the world with a new spring in their step as they re-introduce the glamour that Delmonico’s is known for, starting with a captivating choice in decoration that is meant to evoke the spirit of Delmonico’s throughout the centuries. “The Delmonico’s of today mixes remnants of the Gilded Age with modernity intertwined while it went through plenty of renovations over the years we’ve kept certain things intact, such as the staircase and the chandeliers,” according to Tucci.

The restaurant is famed for its culinary innovations, namely The Wedge salad, The Delmonico Cocktail, Baked Alaska, and the Delmonico’s steak and Oysters Rockefeller (although some people would like to dispute that). In terms of what the new team has done this time, it’s about bringing the classics back with a twist. “Our new chef, Eddie Hong, would tinker with the presentation of some dishes such as the Lobster Newberg by giving it a contemporary presentation, and the same goes for the steak. Recipes for these culinary creations can be found in ‘The Delmonico Way!'”

Bringing back the menu and the whole concept of Delmonico’s is a behemoth of a challenge that was welcomed with open arms by the citizens of New York. On September 2023, Max welcomed the world back to Delmonico’s- New York Mayor, Eric Adams spoke after Max, welcoming New Yorkers and global tourists back to Delmonico’s. Mayor Adams then welcomed Max’s mother, Gina Tucci, to cut the ribbon with him so the hundreds of guests could enter the building. Guests included designer Zang Toi, actresses Brenda Vaccaro and Rutayna Alda, model Carol Alt, TV personality Rolonda Watts,business tycoons, and socialites galore. True to its glamorous reputation, it went out with a bang, debuting its opening by hosting the Badgley Mischka fashion show at its front door with the Tucci family and the mayor of the city present, which indeed is just the beginning of more opportunities and projects down the line.” Tucci has recently partnered up with Variety Cruises for ‘The Delmonico Way at Sea,’ set to sail the Greek Isles on July 19th, which is tied to Variety Cruises’ 75th anniversary along with Max’s recent launch of Delmonico’s sister establishment, a trattoria aptly named TUCCI – New York which is located at 643 Broadway at Bleecker Street.

As dignitaries and this generation’s luminaries such as Clive Davis, Whoopi Goldberg, Emma Stone, Wesley Snipes, Tony Robbins, Tamron Hal, and Vera Wang make their way towards Delmonico’s once more, it does come at a time when more opportunities come through to address the almost 200-year-old dining institution’s reputation as it strives to be one of the best once more, with hopes of expanding with global outposts.


Written by Cyan Dacasin | @xmissperegrinex

Photography courtesy of The Delmonico Way and The Tucci family archives | @maxtucci @delmonicosnewyork