SEPTEMBER 2021 • LONGISLANDPRESS.COM 103
VINCENT’S CLAM BAR
PRESERVING THE ITALIAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
Vincent’s co-owner Tony Marisi.
(Courtesy Anthony Gentile)
BY ALAN KRAWITZ
For more than 38 years, the iconic Vincent's
Clam Bar in Carle Place has been
preserving the Italian American experience
for scores of diners across Long
Island, New York City, and beyond.
The original Vincent's began life as
a popular clam pushcart in Manhattan’s
Little Italy neighborhood and
later evolved into Vincent's Clam Bar
restaurant on Mott and Hester Streets
in 1904. The Little Italy location is still
open and continues to be a sister property
to Vincent's Carle Place.
"We both started out working at Vincent's
as waiters, while we were going
to college," recalls Bobby Marisi, who
co-owns Vincent's with his brother
Tony. He says the restaurant went up
for sale and they decided to buy it in
Bobby says that the restaurant started
out with a small but loyal following.
"At first, we thought the place would
be like a Dunkin’ Donuts, where all
we had to do was run it," as he recalls
that there was a commissary for the
restaurant that prepared all the food
and brothers would call in the orders
But he said that system broke down
"within three months" and then they
both had to scramble and basically
learn how to run an Italian restaurant
Fast forward to nearly four decades
later and many obstacles along the
way, and Vincent's has seemingly
perfected a simple concept that yields
"consistently good cuisine," according
to regular customer and former Sopranos
star Joe Gannascoli.
With the help of marketing director
Anthony Gentile, who grew up in the
same Ozone Park, Queens neighborhood
as the Marisi brothers, Vincent's
has transcended the concept of just
a memorable Italian restaurant to
become a purpose-driven brand that
emphasizes more than just a great dinner:
giving people a great experience
and giving back to the community.
Vincent's concept of giving back takes
many forms, such as its involvement
in environmental efforts to help replenish
oyster populations and keep
Long Island's waterways clean. One
such project, Half Shells for Habitat,
uses donated clam shells to hatch new
oysters, which help to filter and clean
In addition, the restaurant has made
a regular practice of giveaways to
"We always give back to diners, with
something on the house for nearly every
table that comes in, whether it's a
bottle of wine for a special event or an
appetizer or dessert," Bobby explains.
Tony adds that the practice reinforces
Vincent's place in the experience business,
meaning that people come back
when they've had a good experience.
Bobby estimates Vincent's
about $10,000 in
food and other
week. "It helps
form a bond with
During the pandemic,
was already delivering
food to first responders
Island and New York
dollar amounts I was spending on
food," said Gannascoli.
Bobby says that they had to "pivot
hard," to takeout, in order to keep the
staff of nearly 100 working and the
restaurant going despite the inside being
closed for more than two months.
"Like everyone else, we experienced
staffing issues, and it was hard to get
people to work."
But, he says, they were well positioned
for the adjustment since they already
did a lot of takeout. "We already had
a 40,000-name email list," said Tony.
"We had lines going almost out to Old
In the kitchen, several chefs oversee
the preparation of time-honored,
classic Vincent's dishes including
baked clams, shrimp Parmigiana,
linguine with clam sauce,
penne alla vodka, chicken Marsala,
And of course, Vincent's continues
to sell its now world-famous,
120-year-old recipe red
sauces — mild, medium, or hot
— in area supermarkets and
Desserts are also homemade, with favorites
including creme brulee, apple
pie, Napoleon, and cannoli.
Gentile says it's all about making their
customers "brand ambassadors."
Some of those ambassadors include
an impressive list of celebrities such
as former Yankee greats Jim Leyritz
and Don Mattingly as well as comedian
Andrew Dice Clay and actor Chazz
Bobby adds, "We're in the happiness
business. Food is the vehicle, but happiness
is the result."
About the restaurant business,
both brothers say it takes a lot of
They want to franchise, but that has
yet to happen. "There's lots of people
interested but no one has committed
yet," says Bobby. "It's difficult to find
the right people who really want to
live the Vincent's experience."
He adds, "I don't think there is a more
difficult business today than the
Tony says also that consumers are
much more knowledgeable than ever,
thanks to social media and the prevalence
of celebrity chef cooking TV
"Long Island and city residents are
more worldly and intelligent, they
travel all over, they've been to Italy,
so they know how to compare the
food they had there to what we might
serve them here."
Gentile says, though, that no matter
how sophisticated the diner
becomes, Vincent's continues
to "push the envelope," adding,
"We never rest on our laurels."
Gannascoli adds, "The brothers
are so on top of everything, they
make every night special, like
their first night in business."
Vincent’s Clam Bar is located at 179
Old Country Rd. in Carle Place. It can
be reached at 516-742-4577. Visit at