It was very sad to see that Elio Guaitolini passed away in late July 2016. For anyone familiar with the New York restaurant scene in the last 30+ years, Elio was a much beloved figure. His charming Italian eatery on 2nd Avenue at 84th was a fixture where good food, friendly atmosphere, and attentive service were on the bill of fare everyday.
Elio’s was founded in 1981, and the owner was the regular front-of-the-house host. He was funny, direct, and outstanding at remembering customers faces/preferences. The food initially was not extremely well reviewed, but customers beg to differ. My family and I never had a bad meal there.
Interestingly enough, Elio’s seemed to set off a trend for the neighborhood: Lusardi’s (2nd & 78th) came along in 1982, and the following year Sistina (2nd & 80th) appeared. All featured excellent Italian cuisine, and all had very clubby atmospheres. These restaurants attracted the best and the brightest at the time: Manhattan’s ‘A-listers’ couldn’t get enough of them.
Elio’s personal background was nothing short of fascinating. He was born in Italy, spent some time in an orphanage, and finally made his way to America. Eventually he managed Elaine’s famous restaurant on 2nd and 88th. From there it was a natural move for him to venture off on his own.
Even though we at Martin Oaks are in the death care business, it is always tough to see someone you’ve known pass away. Rest in peace Elio, and thanks for all of the good times.