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Patsy’s Pizzeria first opened its New York City location at 2287 1st Avenue in 1933, having been the dream of immigrant newlyweds Pasquale ‘Patsy’ and Carmella Lancieri. Patsy’s Pizzeria quickly established itself as a family style, old-fashioned neighborhood restaurant. Patsy’s Pizzeria catered to the growing population of Italian immigrants who longed for the cuisine of their homeland in a casual family style atmosphere.
Also attracted were New Yorkers who wished to taste the new culinary expertise of the Italian immigrants and their newly developed brick-oven pizza. Without a doubt, Patsy’s Pizzeria established itself as the originator and leader of the family style Pizzeria restaurant.
Almost immediately, the atmosphere, style and cuisine at Patsy’s Pizzeria began attracting many popular and famous personalities. Luminaries like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett became regulars. In addition, its prime uptown location made it a convenient stop for famous Yankees such as Phil Rizzutto, Joe Dimaggio and Yogi Berra. Patsy Lancieri had developed a huge following and East Harlem was *the* place to go.
In the early 1970s, Patsy’s Pizzeria became the late-night haunt of Francis Ford Coppola who used its ambiance to shape his actor’s performances in his blockbuster film The Godfather. As a result, the restaurant has been used numerous times as a filming location and backdrop for many movies, employing many East Harlem residents in the process.
Throughout its long history, Patsy allowed his restaurant to be used by politicians to convey their respective messages to their constituents. In the early days of the depression, Patsy allowed Fiorello LaGuardia to hold his early organizational meetings at the restaurant , inviting neighborhood residents to stop in and contribute their ideas and support.
This tradition has continued for nearly all of the 75+ years of Patsy’s Pizzeria. Numerous politicians, on boths sides, including Rudy Guiliani, Mike Bloomberg, Adam Clayton Powell and Spiro Agnew have been able to get their message to the people in an up-close and comfortable atmosphere.
Patsy also knew the importance of giving back to the community. Throughout their entire history, Patsy Lancieri and the subsequent owners have continually donated food and restaurant space for numerous community groups. Patsy’s Pizzeria has supplied pizza to countless schools for parties and holiday celebrations, rewarded little league teams on victories, fed election volunteers and supplied food to church groups and senior organizations as the need arose.
In addition to food donations, Patsy’s Pizzeria also supports an impressive list of East Harlem charities and community groups like “Each one Teach One,” “Youth Education Thru Sports” and The Manhattan Science Center.
Without a doubt, Patsy Lancieri established his restaurant as a neighborhood landmark with a tradition of providing for his community and all those in need. His legancy is honored and cultivated to this day by the current owners Frank and Jon.