I’ve always been fascinated with gangsters, and it’s surprising that I waited until retirement to finally watch the Sopranos. The HBO series finished its sixth and final season over twelve years ago. Of course, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather was the mafia standard, released in 1972. I’ll have to go back and watch it again. I also enjoyed Boardwalk Empire, one of my first cable binge-watching encounters, starring Steve Buscerni. This show got me hooked on premium cable channels that are the centerpiece of my retirement entertainment. 

When I’m in Chicago, I can feel the influence of Al Capone and have often toured the sites of his Gangsta’ empire, including the Frank Nitti safe in the basement of Harry Carey’s. (See Post #907). Today, I’m in New York City, another famous hub of Gangsta’ activity. I’m having lunch with a friend’s son Spark’s Steak House, a restaurant I selected because of it’s mob history. It was called to my attention in another retirement binge-watching moment through the Showtime series Billions. They also featured Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn, NYC’s third oldest steakhouse, after Old Homestead and Keen’s, as I’ve somehow drifted off-course from mafia to steak. You can probably tell I’m hungry!

Spark’s Steakhouse is also known for their wines, an East Coast champion of Robert Mondavi and other California Napa Valley wines. It was the lure of these wines and a good steak that probably made New York mob boss Paul “Big Paulie” Castellano a restaurant regular. Unfortunately, his habit became his downfall, gunned down by John Gotti’s hit-man just outside the door. A scene from the show Billions showed two of its key characters laying on the ground staring up at would of been Castellano’s final view of the sky above. I immediately marked Sparks down as a place to eat in New York City, and treated my son’s friend to a little “love” – a pricey steak lunch – Gangsta’ Style.