Grand Central Oyster Bar Video

For my upcoming book on American nightlife I’m including examples of some of the best continental style fine dining restaurants remaining in these United States.  Mr. Sven A. Kirsten (of Book of Tiki fame) is my brilliant photographer and together we’ve traveled to Las Vegas, New York, Miami Beach (actually Ft. Lauderdale), and Chicago documenting fabulous high-end restaurants from top to bottom.  Los Angeles is next followed by New Orleans in May.

My goal is to show that there are still wonderful mid-century (or older) fine dining restaurants in America that have the atmosphere and authentic character of an earlier time, a time that I document in my upcoming pictorial history, America After Dark.

Grand Central Oyster Bar is located in the bowels of Grand Central Terminal and opened at the same time as the station: 1913.  Here’s what it looks like before the crowds arrive. Be sure to notice the Guastavino tilework that makes the interior one of the most spectacular in the U.S.

… and just look at this plate of shellfish!

Here’s a one-and-a-half-minute video that I shot during our photo session at Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City.

About Peter Moruzzi

Author and historian Peter Moruzzi is passionate about the middle decades of the 20th century: its nightlife, classic dining, and architecture. Born in Concord, Massachusetts and raised in Hawaii, Moruzzi graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and later attended the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. In 1999, he founded the Palm Springs Modern Committee (PS ModCom) an architectural preservation group. He is the author of "Havana Before Castro: When Cuba Was a Tropical Playground," "Palm Springs Holiday: A Vintage Tour From Palm Springs to the Salton Sea," "Classic Dining:Discovering America's Finest Mid-Century Restaurants," "Palm Springs Paradise: Vintage Photographs from America's Desert Playground," and "Greetings from Los Angeles."
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7 Responses to Grand Central Oyster Bar Video

  1. DeSoto says:

    The incandescent light bulbs lining the arches on the ceiling look very 1913 to me, like the outdoor electric signs which were rapidly escalating in size and number in New York City at the time. These signs initially just used regular light bulbs, without any colors, thus leading to the name “The Great White Way” for Broadway. Neon supplanted light bulbs for signs starting in the 1920s.

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  2. Dean Curtis says:

    Can’t wait for the new book to come out!
    Seeing these wonderful photos, I look forward to going back to NYC and eating there. One of my favorites in NYC is Keen’s Steakhouse, since 1885. But I haven’t been going there that long!
    I love the Dal Rae also, and Taylor’s, and The Buggy Whip, and…there’s just so many great ones in L.A.!
    In New Orleans for the great old places I recommend Galatoire’s (ask for waiter Michael Dominici), Tujague’s, Casamento’s, and Arnaud’s.

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    • Keen’s in New York is terrific, as is Gallagher’s Steakhouse on West 52nd Street (with the huge glass-walled meat locker). My Italian grandfather, Celeste Moruzzi, worked as a cook at a Boston steakhouse from the 1930s through the 1950s. Apparently, on the East Coast, you’d often find Italians as the owners and/or cooks at these places.
      You are so right about Southern California and its concentration of vintage high-end restaurants. In Orange County there’s the Five Crowns, the Arches, and the Riviera at the Fireside – all terrific fine dining experiences.
      I’m glad you mentioned New Orleans as that is the final stop on our American restaurant tour for the book. We were given short shrift by Galatoire’s for shooting there and we’re not yet sure that we’ll be allowed to photograph Commander’s Palace. We may move on to Tujague’s and…

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      • Dean Curtis says:

        I loved the food at Commanders Palace and appreciate its long history, but I didn’t get a time warp, back-in-time experience eating there, like the other places I mentioned. It felt just like it is – a Victorian house vastly remodeled in the 1970s (entire walls were removed and large windows added). It’s a beautiful restaurant indeed, but not my style (think Laura Ashley).

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  3. Carlos King says:

    Wonderful pictures Peter. I love fine dinning, specially restaurants were one can get all dolled up and have a wonderful experience. This past year in the winter I spent several weeks in Manhattan, and there are some fabulous restaurants with remarkable and opulent architecture one is located inside the Waldorf Astoria and then my favorite is located in Philadelphia, PA and it is named Le Bec-Fin, it is by far the top 5 star establishment for fine french dinning the surprise element to this restaurant is that downstairs there is a speakeasy type bar that is adorned with wonderful rich masculine dark woods. I am excited for you next book and cant wait to have it in my hands!

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    • You’ve got to visit the Dal Rae restaurant in Pico Rivera http://www.dalrae.com/. Established in 1958, you’ll find the best tableside Caesar Salad available in Southern California They also serve my favorite dish, Lobster Thermidor, along with Oysters Rockefeller, Cherries Jubilee (flamed tableside), Steak Diane (ditto), and terrific cocktails. I live for continental style fine dining and Dal Rae is it!

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