A beloved Dyker Heights restaurant has received the Hollywood treatment.
Colandrea New Corner Restaurant, 7201 Eighth Avenue, which opened its doors in 1936 as a one room pizzeria, was selected by Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese as a location for his highly anticipated Netflix exclusive film “The Irishman.”
The film, which stars legendary actors Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, and has shot scenes all over the tristate area, including Staten Island, took an interest in the 81-year-old restaurant, much to the delight of the family that owns it. It is the first time filming has occurred in the establishment.
“They originally had a couple of scouts come in about eight or so months ago,” said Joe Colandrea, director of marketing for the eatery as well as son of the owner, Vincent Colandrea. “We didn’t really know what it was for. They were just looking around the restaurant. Eventually, we found out that it was for such a high profile movie and they came back a couple of times to look at each of the three rooms and the kitchen, and once they got really interested, they brought a whole team in.”
During the summer, Scorsese himself made a trip to New Corner. “He wanted to visualize how this scene was going to play out, what needed to be done in terms of changes to the restaurant, to make it look right for the scenes that they wanted,” Colandrea said. “From there, it just took off.”
From Monday, October 16 through Wednesday, October 18, the restaurant was transformed into a set for the movie about a mob hit man who recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa. The first day involved prep work and getting different furniture and awnings up. Tuesday, October 17 was the day when scenes were shot with De Niro and Pesci.
Scorsese was there the whole day, as were De Niro and Pesci. “Pesci called me aside,” Colandrea recalled. “It was surreal. I was talking to him for a while. He looks different than he did way back then but he sounds exactly the same.”
The shoot meant a lot to the family that has been a part of the community for eight decades. “We are a smaller restaurant in Brooklyn. My great grandfather started the restaurant in 1936 as a pizzeria and in 1963, he passed it down to my grandfather and now my dad and uncle (Steven) run it,” he said. “My grandfather passed away right before Scorsese came in. We told him that he’d be coming. I think he understood what we meant but if they were alive to see the scale of the event, they would be very proud to know that such a high profile movie with such a great professional film crew and actors, and Scorsese himself, would be in our restaurant.”
As for the cast and crew, Colandrea described them as kind. “They were very professional,” he said. “When they weren’t filming, they were the nicest, down-to-earth people, super friendly, not the type of people that want nothing to do with you.”
Loyal customers were also very excited about the filming even though the restaurant was closed to the public those days. “The reaction on social media has been incredible and of course, the phone calls my uncle and father were getting,” Colandrea said. “It was a lot more than I expected. I knew people would be excited for us, but it’s overwhelming the love and support we are getting.”
Colandrea made a point of thanking New Corner’s customers for their support. “Without them we wouldn’t have gotten this great opportunity,” he stressed, “so we’re indebted to their continued loyalty throughout 81 years.”