The 1960s-My Own Jewish Rumanian Heyday

The 1960s-My Own Jewish Rumanian Heyday

Menu from Moskowitz and Lupowitz

Having been born in 1956, I was only a buck-teethed, glasses-wearing, pre-adolescent during New York's swinging 1960s. But one memory remains very vivid, as it does for many other 50something-and-above New Yorkers, and that is my father's Rumanian-Jewish restaurant, Moskowitz and Lupowitz. Housed on the corner of Second Ave. and Second St., Moskowitz and Lupowitz was part of a wave of Jewish-Rumanian eateries that opened up on the the Lower East Side at the turn of the century (M and L opened up in 1909 by founder Joseph Moskowitz: it was later taken over by my grandfather, Louis Anzelowitz, the man I am named after). Linen-covered tablecloths, waiters in black tie, the restaurant was a thrilling, elegant adventure for me everytime my family took the trip in from Brooklyn. My house is filled with black-and-white photos of my grandfather and my dad hobnobbing with Groucho Marx, Christopher Plummer, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Laurence Olivier. Paul New man used to drop by for some Rumanian tenderloin, as did Ed Sullivan, Tony Randall and countless other stars of the day. I remember swinging my legs on the burgundy leather banquettes, getting bored with all the grownup talk and sneaking up to the second floor, where the formal banquet hall was, hiding behind the plush red velvet drapes and playing hide 'n' seek with my brother. The restaurant, in the 1950s and 1960s, was a place for the New York glitterati, both formal and fancy yet hearty and simple in its completely authentic menu: boiled kreplach, kashe varneshkas (my favorite!), chopped liver, stuffed derma, calfs feet, Rumanian style—foods that would no doubt be criticized today for its high cholesterol and fat content, but in those blissfully diet-mania-free days of the 1960s, eating such rich bounty was expected at a place like this.

My brother's bar mitzvah, in 1965, was the last big event I remember at the restaurant: it closed in the spring of 1966. But the memories of the stars, the glamor, and the food—oh my the food—will be with me for life.