Back when Amsterdam’s East and West Main Streets still combined to constitute the in-city portion of State Route 5, the traffic that used to flow past Minnitti’s Grill on Amsterdam’s West Main Street was quite heavy. So heavy in fact, that if me or my two older brothers happened to stray too close to the busy thoroughfare on our bikes, Grandma Cinquanti would scream “Stoppa, stopppa, you gonna get keeeeeeled!” She was only slightly exaggerating.
As heavy as this traffic flow used to be, it really didn’t have an impact on who went into Minnitti’s. It was a neighborhood bar with absolutely no parking available. Most of the folks who frequented the place walked to it. When I was a kid, there used to be as many guys standing outside the place as there were inside. This outdoor forum would include Sarge, Uncle Nick, Chet the Russian, Tippy and Harpo. The topics of their conversations included all the things men talked about inside bars except that Minnitti’s was so physically small inside, these guys would talk about it outside.
The place was actually built in the basement of the Minnitti family home at 261 West Main Street. I believe the business originally began as a speakeasy during prohibition. The original proprietor was John Minnitti. He and his wife, the former Philomena Sculco raised a family of three boys and a girl. The oldest boy Frank, who is today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant and the daughter Martha, would be the ones who would take over the business from their parents and make it a West End institution. Their cousin, Martha Sculco would provide the secret ingredient to the establishments’ long-term success, a thin crust pizza recipe that was completely different from any other pizza in Amsterdam and absolutely delicious.
From the first time I walked into Minnitti’s as a toddler in the 1950’s until my last visit there, which probably took place some time in the late 1970’s, nothing about the place changed. In fact, I actually think some of the same people sitting at the bar on my very first visit were sitting in the same exact stools on my last.
Frank Minnitti never changed either. He had graduated from Wilbur Lynch High School in 1934 and completed…
The rest of Frank Minnitti’s birthday post will be published in the second editionof A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam NY Birthdays, which will be available for sale right after Thanksgiving. To make sure you get your hands on one of the first copies, join my mailing list here.
The first edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam NY Birthdays, which features my birthday posts for 320 current or former Amsterdam residents, is currently being sold at Liberty Fresh Market, on Route 30 in Amsterdam. You can also purchase it online here.
The family of this AHS basketball legend who shares Minnitti’s April 10 birthday also owned a popular Rug City tavern.