Today was not the day I was going to get whacked and I would make sure of it. I sipped on a glass of Yuengling and constantly peered over my shoulder. Was I paranoid? Perhaps. Was I feeding into the subject of this article? Yup.
Having a job with a loose schedule affords me such luxuries as being able to hit an East Village bar in the middle of a weekday afternoon. Problem is, I’m going in alone, with no backup, and no gun waiting for me hidden in a toilet stall.
7B — creatively named for being located on the corner of 7th Street and Avenue B — has a very clear place in the Godfather saga. About an hour and a half into the debatable “better than the original” second installment, the small Manhattan watering hole, also known as the Horseshoe Bar, sets the stage for an assassination attempt on Franceso Pantangeli, a soldier in the Corleone family.
Let me get this out of the way: there is no way Part II is better than Part I. You lose Marlon Brando, James Caan and Richard S. Castellano and trade them in for Robert De Niro, a Jewish gangster in Cuba and more dialogue for Fredo. Not to mention Duvall’s character was far less interesting in his second go-round. While young Vito Corleone’s rise to power dating back to the old country is a truly captivating subplot, his son Michael’s transformation from American war hero to crime boss remains in the forefront of my Francis Ford Coppola memories.
Anyway, back to 7B and the purpose for my visit. You see, “Frankie Five Angels,” as some friends of ours would call him, had been having some trouble with the Rosato brothers in New York. Michael, angling to improve his standing with rival Hyman Roth, refused to interfere. As he says, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Pentangeli is ordered to have a peaceful sit down with the Rosatos in order to appear cooperative.
And we find our stout gangster taking the meeting at the pub in question. It’s the one scene featuring Danny Aiello, who comes from behind to strangle Five Angels with the purposely misleading threat, “Michael Corleone says hello.”
Of course, the hit is botched, a shootout on the street ensues, and Pentangeli agrees to testify against his former Don.
The brick exterior remains unchanged. At least some of the old traditions remain intact. In contrast the interior…pretty sure when watching the scene there wasn’t a photo booth in the background. There’s one in place now — but it’s currently out of order. In fact, today that might serve better as a hiding place for a pistol.
Nothing like a nice Jewish boy sitting on a bar stool, pretending that an assassin is getting ready to take him out. Now that I think about it, flying solo makes my visit more authentic. I’ve said and done plenty of things that I regret in my life, but none so great as to have me knocked off in a dark saloon. Or perhaps I lack the foresight to see the shot to the back of my head coming. I probably wouldn’t climb the ladder very well within a crime syndicate. And in all the Godfather pictures, I don’t remember anyone sipping beers. I could’ve been real creepy and ordered some red wine to enjoy by myself in the relatively empty bar.
I came for the history. I stayed for the alcohol. Yet, even without the Academy Award for “Best Bar to Set Up A Mafioso Murder,” 7B is a kick-ass dive. 108 Ave. B., New York, NY, 212-677-6742
Read the previous installment of On the Set on Food Republic.