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Please note that the Library will be closed Friday, April 3, through Sunday, April 5.
|Monday:||7:30 am - 11:00 pm|
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|Wednesday:||7:30 am - 11:00 pm|
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Archives & Special Collections
Monday - Friday: 8:30 am - 5:00 pm. Appointments encouraged.
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Selections from The Francesco and Mary Giambelli Collection
March 4—April 9, 2015
Selections from The Francesco and Mary Giambelli Collection are now on exhibit in the Tober Exhibit Room in the Conrad N. Hilton Library. Highlights from this archival collection illustrate Francesco Giambelli’s career as proprietor of one of the most celebrated Italian restaurants in New York City. Giambelli 50th was known for its impeccable service and authentic Northern Italian cuisine since the 1950s and was a place where both distinguished guests and out-of-town tourists were welcomed and entertained by the Giambellis and their staff. The collection, donated by The Francesco and Mary Giambelli Foundation, Inc., in 2014, is the newest addition to the Archives and Special Collections and serves as an example of the success of a hardworking immigrant who established a traditional-style high-end restaurant that excelled because of its professional service and noteworthy cuisine.
Francesco “Frank” Giambelli (1915-2006) was born and raised in Voghera, Italy and worked at several European restaurants before opening his own, Il Pesce d’Oro, in Voghera in 1948. Several years later he emigrated to the United States where he met his wife, Mary. In 1956, Giambelli opened Giambelli’s Ristorante at 238 Madison Avenue. In 1960, the restaurant was relocated to 46 East 50th Street and renamed Giambelli 50th. Giambelli also owned Mercurio Restaurant at 53 West 53rd Street from 1975 to 1982. Giambelli 50th, after serving customers for fifty years, closed its doors in 2009.
The Giambellis lived upstairs from the restaurant –the restaurant was home and the staff was family. Crisp linens, fresh flowers, and an assortment of artwork filled the dining rooms. The Giambellis often dined alongside patrons but would get up from their meals to greet guests, suggest dishes, and make sure every diner was satisfied. The refined cuisine and the many dishes made tableside distinguished Giambelli 50th from other Italian restaurants and attracted such guests as U. S. Presidents, senior business executives, and, in 1995, Pope John Paul II.
The gracious hospitality for which the Giambellis were known is apparent in this collection. Letters of appreciation from devoted clientele, certificates of recognition from the community, awards from esteemed culinary institutions, and warm photographs of staff and patrons alike clearly show the spirit of the Giambellis and their restaurants.
Highlights from Francesco Giambelli’s career include:
- In 1975, Giambelli purchased at auction an 1878 bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild for $3,500.
- In 1995, Giambelli 50th prepared a banquet for Pope John Paul II and fifty guests at the Cardinal’s residence in New York City.
- In 2004, Giambelli purchased a 2.4 lb white truffle at auction for $41,000. He was awarded the Guinness World Record for “most valuable white truffle sold at auction.”
Read the press release.
Library Contact Info
The Culinary Institute of America
Conrad N. Hilton Library
1946 Campus Drive
Hyde Park, NY 12538-1430
Director of Library & Information Services