New Kid on the Block: Maxwell’s

Like the “Est. 1938” sign on its door, the name of Maxwell’s—which just opened at 59 Reade—is an homage to an old inhabitant of the space, a restaurant called John Maxwell’s that was indeed established in 1938. “We did a lot of research,” explains Alex Tortolani (above), who co-owns the place with Mike Casey, a firefighter at Engine No. 1 on Duane Street. “The building was built in 1896 as a five-story boot-and-shoe factory. After a fire, it was just one story.”

Most recently, of course, it was Spaghetti Western—and as anyone who ever set foot in there can tell, Tortolani and Casey left well enough alone. “Our contractor said, ‘I’m not touching the bar,'” says Tortolani, although it did end up getting sanded and polished. “And you can’t get smoky mirrors like these anymore, because people aren’t allowed to smoke in bars.” The booths and center partition are also intact, but the new owners did replace the floor and do a lot of work on the back of the house. While the decor hews to the classic (complete with Tony Bennett on the jukebox), there are idiosyncratic touches—a pair of tall palms as you walk in, massive floral arrangements (a bartender amiably complained about the berries one drops all over), a piano out front to attract attention.

“We like P.J. Clarke’s, J.G. Melon, those kind of bars,” says Tortolani, which gives you a clue as to where the menu is headed—burgers, flatbread pizza, chili con carne, mozzarella sticks. But there’s also duck confit; homemade hummus; lobster mac and cheese; salads with organic, local greens; and guacamole. Tortolani’s recent experience as general manager of the Dos Caminos on Park Avenue South may explain the latter.

Delivery should be available as soon as September, with brunch service kicking off in the fall. More urgently, the sidewalk east of Maxwell’s—long taken over by construction on Reade57—could reopen as early as this week, and the scaffolding will hopefully be removed soon, too. And on the horizon, teased on the website, is Club Lombardo: Tortolani and Casey are mulling ways to use the sub-basement, which extends all the way to Chambers. One thing is decided: They’re already building a bocce court.

Maxwell’s is at 59 Reade (bet. Church and Broadway), 212-285-0070; Maxwell’s opens at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

Recent NKOTB and First Impression articles:
Caravelli’s Pizzeria
Kansas Gallery
White & Church
Goodie Girl Café
Space B
Hionas Gallery
Aminah et les Amis



  1. Love the idea of an old pub atmosphere and multi-ethnic menu –
    I’ll be there.

  2. Went last night and enjoyed their chicken fingers and the lobster mac and cheese with truffle oil. It was pretty empty and the music was a bit intense but I’m most definitely coming back for happy hour.

  3. My kind of place in my kind of neighborhood. Could very well become my favorite (well, together with Cercle Rouge) I’ll try surf and turf.

  4. Great Bar,…..friendly place with a very welcoming staff!! We cant wait to go back again!!!!