Italian Stalwart Ferdinando’s Focacceria Is a Nostalgic Nod to Sicily

May 18, 2022 293

BY: Robert Sietsema

Founded in 1904, Ferdinando’s Focacceria is the city’s oldest Sicilian restaurant and also one of the longest running Italian restaurants in NYC — outdone only by Rao’s (1896) and Bamonte’s (1900). It began as a lunch counter selling small round sandwiches to longshoremen who worked on the nearby Columbia Waterfront docks on the western edge of Cobble Hill.

This style of sandwich reflected the focaccerias of Palermo, Sicily's capital, and two stuffings were the most common: cow spleen, ricotta, and shredded caciocavallo cheese; and the chickpea-stuffed fried ravioli called panelle, often with potatoes. Both historic sandwiches are still available at Ferdinando’s Focacceria, located at 151 Union Street, just west of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

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