Spoto’s restaurant closes its doors after almost 30 years

Peter Spoto (r) with his father, Pietro, his mother, Grace and his brother, Anthony last weekend, just before closing the eponymous restaurant.
Photo courtesy of Peter Spoto

A restaurant with nearly a 30-year history, the last of its kind in the neighborhood, closed its doors for good last weekend.

Spoto’s, an Italian restaurant which provided Throggs Neck residents with excellent cuisine and top-notch service since 1989, said goodbye on Sunday.

A location which generated years of memories, Spoto’s stood out as a go-to restaurant for couples, families, co-workers and local residents who wanted to enjoy northern Italian-style dishes in a warm, intimate environment.

Popular dishes among customers included chicken parmigiana, fried calamari and ossobuco. They also provided their customers with a selection of daily specials, including chilian sea bass, salmon, tuna, cowboy steak and a variety of veal dishes.

Peter Spoto, the restaurant’s owner, said that he didn’t originally intend for his restaurant to stay in business to be around so long.

“Originally, the plan was to open the restaurant and then sell it within a year,” said Spoto, who graduated from Iona College with a degree in finance in 1987 before working at Wall Street firm for a year prior to opening the restaurant in May of 1989.

But three decades later, Spoto is closing his establishment – to spend more time with his family.

“I loved working in the restaurant business, but as time went on the restaurant became more and more time consuming, so I would miss birthdays, anniversaries and holidays with my family,” Spoto said. “Now, I look forward to being with my family more, but I will still be there for the community that I love, which has supported me for so many years.”

Peter operated as the owner of Spoto’s while his father, Pietro, worked as a head chef and his mother, Grace, oversaw operations for the business. His brother, Anthony, worked as a waiter. Pietro had many years of experience as a chef prior to Spoto’s, working at various restaurant in the city, including midtown Manhattan’s Golden Baby, located near the Americana Hotel, in the late 1960s.

“My father was one of the greatest cooks I’ve ever seen – I learned most of what I know about culinary arts from him,” Spoto said. “He had so much passion when he was in the kitchen.”

For Christmas Eve, Spoto’s would serve traditional fish dishes and would also host a celebration on New Year’s Eve, which included a champagne toast, a sit-down dinner and an open bar. The Italian eatery also hosted fundraising events and Christmas shows during the holiday season.

In 2011, the restaurant hosted the Bronx Chamber of Commerce’s annual Veteran’s Day Recognition Luncheon, as Spoto’s and all in attendance paid tribute to the men and women who had served their country in the line of duty.

Spoto’s was a regular participant in Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.’s and the Bronx Tourism Council’s Restaurant Week Celebration, a bi-annual event which featured over 40 of the borough’s best restaurants. They also participated in the first annual Throggs Neck Restaurant Week back in January, along with 25 other restaurant based in the east Bronx.

Peter fondly recalled the time the cast of the HBO show The Sopranos dropped by the restaurant to dine. Whether celebrity or regular customer, Spoto enjoyed his interaction with everyone who stepped foot in his establishment.

“I ended up meeting so many great people with amazing personalities here,” Spoto said. In my opinion, this was the best job in the world.”

Spoto, who is the landlord of the property at 4005 E. Tremont Avenue, said that he is going to take some time to be with his family before searching for a tenant for the corner spot.

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