When most people think of legendary curmudgeons of the restaurant business, their thoughts tend toward Kenny Shopsin, Elaine Kaufman, or even Orhan Yegen. All curmudgeons, yes, but also all in Manhattan. Far less attention is paid to Louis “Brooklyn Lou” Migliaccio, the owner of Sam’s Restaurant on Court Street. And that’s a pity, because he’s a legendary crank in his own right.
Carroll Gardens Patch has a fun story about Migliaccio, whose great-uncle Danny opened the restaurant in 1930 and named it for his recently deceased brother. Sam’s is known largely for its pizza and classic Italian dishes, and also for Migliaccio’s bracingly no-nonsense attitude. He will not serve men in tank tops, will not tolerate unruly children, and will not open bottles of wine that his customers bring in off the streets.
But as the Patch discovers, he’s aware that he can be a little blunt.
“There are times that I don’t say things the proper way,” he discloses. “And since I can’t do it, I’ll say ‘I’m sorry, but I gotta tell it to you this way.’ People appreciate that. Look, I talk loud. That’s a defect I’ve had my whole life. I try to whisper, but I can’t do it.”
Also, “When Lou tells your kid to ‘sit down and eat your pizza, or else I’ll tape you to the chair,’ he’s not actually going to tape them to the chair.” Which is kind of too bad, because if there’s one thing new-school Brooklyn restaurants could use more of, it’s old-school Brooklyn justice.
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