Lanza’s Italian restaurant opened in 1904 at 168 First Ave., an East Village favorite until it closed in 2016. A regular customer, according to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, was Carmine “Lilo” Galante, boss of the Bonanno crime family. Lanza’s had a reputation as a mob hangout since the Bonanno and Columbo families dined there.
For perhaps the entire life of Lanza’s, all its customers passed under a turn of the century ad for PN Corsets. The sign was there in 1993 when Woody Allen used Lanza’s for a restaurant scene in Manhattan Murder Mystery. In 2015 we featured the PN ad, painted on the adjoining building, in a collection of neighborhood ghost signs.
Lanza’s is just the latest iconic restaurant to leave the block. A few doors north was De Robertis Caffé, which closed in 2014. Its neon ghost sign, a little worse for wear, remains over Black Seed Bagels. Customers of Joe & Pat’s pizzeria, the incoming tenant in the Lanza’s space, will be spared the question once posed by the painted-over ad: “You want a good corset?”