There is an old Italian saying—centuries in age and idiomatic by nature—which goes: “Il riposo da ristoro—solo dopo buon lavoro.” In English, this is translated literally to mean: “The rest from refreshment—only after good work.” However, it is the understood deeper meaning of the words, said in their native tongue to a fluent speaker that truly explains this proverb. The contentment, drawn from refreshment, is improved after a long day’s work. It is hard work that should be praised, not loafing.
There is a Latin phrase—centuries in age and idiomatic by nature— which goes: “Manducatis” or “you all eat.” Not to be out done by its child language, this phrase has a subterranean meaning, too. “A Restaurant in Long Island City, Queens, New York, founded and maintained by the Cerbone Family, where you will eat.” If nothing else you will eat. If all goes well, you will also leave with a more profound connection to those you came in with—even if the connection is only meal deep. For owners of Manducatis, refreshment definitely is sweeter after a hard days’ work.
Manducatis Restaurant opened on Christmas Day in 1977. Vincenzo Cerbone, along with his wife and partner, Ida, had just returned from a long, protracted stay in Italy. Upon returning home, the Cerbones found themselves thrust into a very different world from the one they left years ago. They were now in need of a way to sort out the financial difficulties that accrued from such a big move. Vincenzo always knew about food and wine. "You do what you know," had become his mantra. So, along with his wife, and some generous help from his children, he opened Manducatis Restaurant.
In order to accomplish this, the family set to work building a business quite literally from the bottom up. They took the refrigerator from their own apartment and borrowed the pots and pans that Ida received at her bridal shower—some of which still float around the kitchen! Many times Ida would say, "they just don't make things the way they used to!" In the beginning, she essentially ran the kitchen alone and Vincenzo ran the bar and served the patrons.
Business picked up around 1980. Numerous people of note began gracing our establishment. Patron families' increased in size. As the clientele grew, and so the Restaurant's reputation, the Cerbone children took over the duties of dishwashing and waiting tables. Eventually, a staff was assembled in both the both kitchen and in the dining room to accommodate the swell in business.
Through the years of hard work, we have become part of public consciousness and they ours. There is no greater feeling than to see patrons that dated at Manducatis come in with grandchildren. It makes our up-hill beginnings worthwhile. The years have flown by and through the rushes and quiet spells, that very often ensue at such a business, we still work essentially the same: Vincenzo in the bar and Ida in the kitchen, along with a veteran staff that average 28 years of service. We are still here to celebrate with you when you've had a good day and comfort you when you've had a bad one.
Welcome to Manducatis!