La Lanterna opened in 1977 by Carlo "Vittorio" Antonini, an avid sailor and sportsman with a passion for food and drink, who immigrated just a decade before from Liguria, Italy along with his wife, Marisa.
Having found success in their first business, Caffe Verdi of Bleecker Street, Vittorio and Marisa saw a tiny federal style townhouse at 129 MacDougal Street for rent and decided it was the perfect space for their next endeavor in the Bohemian and bustling neighborhood of Greenwich Village. This NYC Landmark building (and its identical brother and sister to the North-131 and South-127 built circa 1828) was originally an investment property constructed by notorious Bowery hat merchant Alonzo Alwyn Alvord that later transitioned from residential to mixed commercial use. Notable tenants and historical anecdotes include famed portrait photographer Nickolas Murray; folk musician, anti-war and environmental activists Pete and Toshi Seeger; Eva Kotchever's lesbian speakeasy, Eve’s Hangout (one of the first gay bars in the heart of residential NYC) and use of the underground vaulted brick storage cellars as part of the Underground Railroad.
While La Lanterna started out in just the front dining room with a small menu of strong Italian coffees, perfectly toasted tramezzini and a classic pastries like Baba Rum and Tiramisu, under the watchful eye of Vittorio Jr it has continued to expand over the years, now offering a large range of lasagne, pizze, panini, salads, an extensive bar menu, a total of four dining rooms including a fully glass enclosed backyard Garden and the pre-Covid jazz haunt of 19 years- Bar Next Door.
After Vittorio Carlo’s passing in 2009, the restaurant legacy is carried on by Marisa, Vittorio the son and Vittorio the grandson, changing as little of the old charm as possible while bringing the same full ahead commitment to the original mission statement. You can still find his wife, Marisa, in the dining room 7 days-a-week chatting with guests about i tempi fa and making sure the ship stays on course.
Join our family in this extension of our dining room and homeland Italia. We can't wait to host you.