Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bella Napoli on Beaver Street

I often use the Times Union Center's enclosed walkway as a shortcut between downtown and the Empire State Plaza (and recommend avoiding the walkway's elevators...they're scary, grimy and the smell is incredibly nightmarish).

When the Center - first called the Knickerbocker Arena and then the Pepsi Arena - was built, entire blocks of Albany's earliest streets and many old buildings were demolished to make way for the new construction. Not quite on the scale of the demolition that preceded the building of the nearby Empire State Plaza, but still a loss to historic preservation.

This block of Beaver Street west of South Pearl Street survived, but became essentially a narrow alley running along the north side of the Times Union Center.

This boarded-up building and its vintage sign stand out for me whenever I use the walkway. Maybe it's because I always liked the phrase "cocktail lounge." Even though I'm not much of a cocktail aficionado, there's some sort of retro elegance to the words. And maybe because it shares the name of a favorite bakery, Bella Napoli out in Latham.

This restaurant was founded in 1916 and remained in the same family for many, many decades. It survived the demolition of the surrounding neighborhood in the 1980s and continued to operate at least through the mid-90s. I'm not sure what year it closed or exactly why, but it's hard to imagine keeping a restaurant profitable in a such an obscured location.

I never actually dined at Bella Napoli, but I rather wish I had since I've come across a few rave reviews for some of their seafood dishes.


  1. I have eaten there, probably around 1980. I didn't know it was gone. Is Lombardo's (I think that's it) still open on Madison Ave?

  2. Yes, Lombardo's is still here. I pass it a lot, especially when I'm heading back from the bus station. Seems to be still going strong.