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Christiano's Restaurant to Close

Syosset restaurant once believed to be the inspiration for hit Billy Joel song is closing.

The Syosset restaurant once believed to be the inspiration for an iconic Billy Joel song will close their doors for good, according to Newsday.

Harendra Singh, CEO of Singh Hospitality Group, has reportedly bought Christiano's Italian Restaurant and plans to close the popular Syosset landmark.

According to Newsday:

“Right now, we’re operating as Christiano’s,” Singh said, but once Schaudel’s plans have been finalized, “we are going to close down for a little while.” When the place reopens, it will not be called Christiano’s. “Of that much, I’m definitely sure,” said Singh.

Another Syosset restauranteur, Chef Tom Schaudel, of Syosset's CoolFish, has signed on to revamp the restaurant's concept, said the report.

It's not going to be an Italian restaurant, but I’m not exactly sure what it’s going to be,” he told Newsday, saying he has already scheduled meetings with designers.

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The 55-year-old Syosset restaurant became famous after Billy Joel dedicated his first performance of "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" to Christiano's at a concert.

Last year, Joel admitted to Newsday he was "going for applause" when he made that dedication, saying "It was like saying 'Yankees' when you're playing in New York."

Still, Christiano's, with its curved wooden bar and red-and-white tablecloths, was a once-upon-a-time favorite of Joel's. Nestled beside the Syosset train station, it has been a staple of the community since Jimmy Christiano opened its doors in 1958. Since then, it has been the neighborhood's destination for

The report did not specify when Christiano's would close.

Papa Tom February 23, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Although the quality of the food and the value for your dollar slipped significantly over the past decade, the loss of Christiano's will be a big one for those of us who have been around for a while. Though Billy's "Christiano's" reference at his 1976 CW Post concert was no more than an impulsive shout-out to a favorite pizza joint, we, as teenagers, got a big charge out of believing we were hanging out at Billy's "Italian Restaurant." With or without Billy Joel, though, Christiano's was legendary for its cheap, "sloppy" Italian food served in tacky 1950's ceramic casserole dishes -- at least until recent owners tried to turn it into something else. I sure hope "H" will not deliver yet another over-priced, trendy spot built for all us rich folks here in Syosset, because, quite honestly, we don't really exist anymore. Singh and Tom, I hear CoolFish is pretty good, but of the $8,000 charged to my credit card in "Dining Expenses" for 2012, not a penny of it went there, only because these days are not about dining out trendy; they're about not going home hungry. Please bring us some reasonably tasty food, grown-up portions, and realistic prices and I promise you will be around as long as Christiano's was.
George February 23, 2013 at 01:57 PM
I actually thought Billy was referring to the old Christiano's in the SOB road shopping center in Plainview, which was next to the bar "My House" where his band The Hassles were the house band....anyone else remember that?
Papa Tom February 23, 2013 at 02:21 PM
George: I assume you're goofing, but that Christiano's came much later. I believe (but I'm not sure) it was part of a divorce settlement between the original owners. The Hassles were not the house band at My House, but they did play there quite a bit. I've got some tickets in my collection for shows featuring The Hassles with The Ronettes, the Isley Bros., and others. If any band could be considered the "house band" in that club, it would be "New Rock Workshop," which was a band that featured either Sal or Liberty (Billy's drummer) Devitto on drums.
Stuart Meltzer February 23, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Good sauce, food and laid back atmospere replaced by high priced superficiality? I cant wait.
Concerned Long Islander February 23, 2013 at 06:20 PM
Why didn't someone contact Gordon Ramsey to turn the place around? He does seem to perform miracles when it comes to saving once-great restaurants.
Papa Tom February 23, 2013 at 06:56 PM
Because Christiano's was never a "great" restaurant. It was just...you know...Christiano's.
Jeff February 23, 2013 at 09:29 PM
I thought it was mediocre and overpriced in recent years. Portions seemed to get smaller every time we went there. It did have a nice atmosphere but not worth paying top dollar for small portions and just ok food. I can't say I'll miss them.
Janice February 23, 2013 at 11:07 PM
I disagree,Christianos is and always will be an iconic restaurant in Syosset.I grew up going there as a kid,and now when I go I meet friends there for drinks.It just brought people together.Yes it has changed food wise,but I don't think thats any reason to just shut down.Too any people love that place.I know I speak for many people when I say Christianos will be missed soo very much.
Papa Tom February 24, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Yeah, my initial thought was that I won't miss Christiano's as it is now; I will miss the legend of Christiano's. The bright side is that, once the sign comes down, my memories of the good years will no longer be shadowed by what the restaurant has become.
Papa Tom February 24, 2013 at 01:02 AM
>>>I disagree,Christianos is and always will be an iconic restaurant in Syosset.<<< Not sure what you're disagreeing with, Janice, as I think we're saying the same thing. I certainly would like to see it stay around forever, but the new owner has different ideas. I'm just urging him to focus on the "old" Christiano's model rather than the newer one.
Sara Puccio February 24, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Dollar bills on the ceiling, Rosie's big smile when she brought your food. Great pizza...I was here 1x per week as a child and teenager. Its so much a part of Syosset and our history. Its where. Friends met,families gathered and memories were made. Jimmy C is watching from above saying.. DO THE RIGHT THING! Sara PUCCIO
Jeff February 24, 2013 at 06:43 PM
I have only lived in Syosset for 7 years and I can say when I first got here, Christianos was much better than it became just a couple of years later. And I'm sure it wasn't nearly as good as it was many years before. While it's sad to see a place you enjoyed for years growing up go away, it seems from the comments here and from what I've heard from others in the community, that that place is long gone.
Craig Lee February 24, 2013 at 08:15 PM
TO ALL, This place is a DEAD RESTAURANT THAT DOES NOT MAKE MONEY!!! Thats why it is being closed. All you people that say you love it did not support it. It is a freeken business and is the owner supposed to fund it out of his pocket to keep it open? It had it's run and it is an old tired restaurant with crap food! There are tons of Italian restaurants there so changing it is the smartest move! They are bringing world famous Tom on board which is amazing. I actually own 4 places so trust me I know what I am talking about. That place was being ran into the ground and if the Singh Group did not buy it, it would have been closed a year ago. You are clueless Sara! So you want it open? go eat there every night and tell 300 more people to do the same and then I bet Singh would keep it open!
Papa Tom February 24, 2013 at 08:50 PM
Hey, Craig. I'd chill out if I were you. I think just about everybody here is acknowledging that the Christiano's we knew and loved is long gone. I was there at least once a week in the mid 2000's but walked away when Freddy lost his good chefs. Then Mike took it over and "missed" on his good intentions to turn it into a whole new experience. Yes, I admit I haven't supported Christiano's for several years, and I had a pretty strong feeling it wasn't going to last very long after the big changes. Anyway, if you're going to ruthlessly attack people who are simply sharing fond memories of a favorite old haunt, I wouldn't use your full name in your post. I, for one, won't be frequenting any of YOUR four places anytime soon.
jeff jensen February 26, 2013 at 01:47 PM
Was the go-to place in the late 70s and early 80s- even later than that. The joke was that everything looked different, but tasted the same (stuffed shells, lasagna)...BUT truly, the food was really good. Pizza was tasty too. Came about 2 years ago and was ignored by a really bad waitress (the familiar faces were not there)--and have not gone back. That said- I actually thought of visiting again just to see if anything had changed--and then I see it's closing. Maybe I can catch one last meal before the closure. Lots of memories attached to this place--As far as BJ saying it was just a reference he made, IIRC, they had that live vinyl version of "scenes" in their jukebox where he makes the dedication. Brings back college memories for me...The whole Skate Factory crew would always hang out there circa 1981/1982/1983--many moons ago.
Heather Doyle (Editor) February 26, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Wonderful stories everyone! Leave more of your favorite memories here: http://patch.com/A-2pLk
Grifhunter February 26, 2013 at 08:37 PM
Here's one vote that deems the food above average to very good. Is there better Italian in Syosset? Maybe, but none with the history, character, atmosphere and ghosts of better days haunting the ceiling and bar. And the pizza, though pricy, is a couple notches ahead of the other shops in the area.
Virgo25 February 27, 2013 at 01:12 PM
AGREE 100%. Had they left well enough alone, we wouldn't be losing our iconic restaurant. "It wasn't broke, so why'd they fix it?"
Jeannette George March 13, 2013 at 04:06 AM
Even Robert Irvine would have brought it up to date and at the same time kept the old atmosphere. Right down to the executive chef and his/her aids. It would still be a place for the younger generation to make their own memories just as we old timers had.
RN March 13, 2013 at 05:34 PM
LOL, agree 100% with you Papa Tom.
Papa Tom March 13, 2013 at 09:24 PM
>>>>they had that live vinyl version of "scenes" in their jukebox where he makes the dedication. <<<<< I gave that recording to Freddy years ago. The next time he performed it on a live broadcast, he simply said "I wanna dedicate dis to da best Italian restaurant in da world," but never mentioned Christiano's. Billy, Liberty, and Richie Cannata all confessed years later that the inspiration for the song was a place on Mulberry Street in Manhattan, which, I believe (but I'm not sure) is where the photo on the back of The Stranger was taken.
Nina Bennett April 19, 2013 at 07:15 PM
can't imagine not having christiano's anymore. where will I have the eggplant parmigiano i love so much! goodbye..........

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