The Culinary-Cultural Nexus – NYC at its Best

A Permanent Exhibition of Hayko Oriental Carpets at Nanni Restaurant
by Rogier F. van Vlissingen © 2014


Restaurant Nanni has been a New York Institution for more than 40 years, since its founding 1968 by Luigi Nanni, a native of the Abruzzi region of Italy, offering an innovative fine Italian dining experience, at a time when the dominant experience of Italian food was simplistic, with a heavy reliance on the garlic and oil. Nanni brought Italian cuisine to Manhattan diners. On an average day reservations may come in from all over the tri-state area, and as far away as London, or Texas. With its convenient location, within striking distance of Grand Central Station, it is one of the many New York secrets that seems reserved for those in the know. You would pass it by, unless you knew.

The monthly exhibit of a Hayko’s Carpet will be on the left wall, right after the telephones. Every month there will be one “Nanni Special,” for patrons of the restaurant, and an open invitation to visit The showroom of Hayko Fine Rugs and Tapestries in Long Island City, for a chance to inspect the rug, which will be exclusive to Nanni patrons during the month of the display.

NEW YORK, July 1st, 2014


Hayko Fine Rugs and Tapestries left the East Side three years ago, but returned today with a permanent exhibit at the famous New York restaurant Nanni. Every month there will be a picture of a single Hayko’s carpet on display at Restaurant Nanni, at 146 East 46th Street, New York,off the corner of Lexington Avenue. It will be a special selection for Nanni patrons.


Luigi Nanni passed away in 1998, but the Nanni tradition was continued by the current owners, Victorio Miriel and Silvo Sclano, who bought the restaurant from the estate in 2004. Victorio is the public face of Nanni,you’ll meet him when you come in, Silvo runs the kitchen in the best of the Nanni tradition, offering quality trattoria cooking for discerning New York diners. Once you enter under the non-descript Burgundy red awning that has the name on it, you will pass the coat check and a small area with some tables upstairs, next to the bar and then you go down a few steps to the main dining room, which has Italian paintings painted directly on the walls. When you enter you’ll usually be greeted by Victorio, who handles the reservations. You will forget you were in Manhattan. It is an enclave of casual elegance that allows you to forget the hustle and bustle of the day.


Hayk Oltaci, is a master craftsman, and expert in Oriental carpets, and at his showroom/studio in Long Island City (9-20 35thAvenue, Space 3D – he offers all of sales, cleaning and restoration. The “Nanni Special” is a circa 100 year old Kurdish rug3.9 by 6feet, with repeated serrated hexagons in red and ivory on a dark blue background. Stylized continuous bird and latchhook designs in red, blue, and green on an ivory primary border. Undulating lines and squares on the light-brownand dark-brown secondary borders.


Hayk and Victorio got to know each other when Victorio once bought a small area rug for his apartment at Hayko’s studio. Through the mutual friendship with the writer of this, the idea was born for a permanent exhibition at Nanni. And so, two New York cultural institutions meet in a shared endeavor,which adds an interesting touch to the Restaurant, and extends the presence of Hayko’s carpets to Manhattan.


In writing this, I looked up an old review by Mimi Sheraton in the New York Times from 1978, which would be just before the time I first got to know the restaurant, which remains one of my all-time favorites in the city.You can sign up for the email list, to get the announcement for the “Nanni Special” every month, as well as other “Hayko” news, at

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