Before it was Russian Samovar…
The history of Russian Samovar starts well before the restaurant itself. Originally Jilly’s Canteen, and owned by friend of Frank Sinatra, Jilly Rizzo, Samovar was the go to hot spot for Sinatra and The Rat Pack. In homage to Sinatra, Johnny Carson, and the good old boys, we decided to maintain the original red banquettes from back in those days. We also preserved the original bar as featured in The Manchurian Candidate and even unearthed original artwork from the talented people who frequented Jilly’s before we were fortunate enough to acquire this landmark location.
In 1986, Roman Kaplan, founder of Russian Samovar acquired the property and was joined in 1987 by friends and business partners: Legendary dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and Nobel Award Winning poet Joseph Brodsky. Baryshnikov’s baby grand piano is still used daily by our performers and guests can still request the Brodsky table, where the legends used to sit and drink away the hours. Guests of private events also enjoy our private dining room, where Baryshnikov filmed Sex in the City.
Samovar has remained a celebrity hangout over the years. We’ve been lucky enough to feature impromptu shows by Liza Minelli and rumor has it that Mel Brooks adapted The Producers to film while sitting at our bar. Voice actor Kieth David pops in for dinner and a song whenever he’s in town. And the cast of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 awaited nervously until the sun rose for their first review.
Despite the history literally adorning our walls, we like to think of ourselves as a family. We haven’t given up on the old values of comfort and acceptance, and we hope to share our family with yours.
Thank you for joining us today, and we hope you will return soon!