After nineteen years in business on Seventh Avenue between Seventh and Eighth Streets, Tonio's restaurant has closed. The owner, Antonio Gaita, has decided to retire, and there's a rumor that his restaurant, a classic old-school red-sauce joint, where Antonio himself could usually be seen going table to table greeting his loyal regulars, will be transformed into a Dunkin' Donuts.
Tonio's was never known as a great restaurant, but that old world charm (imported, along with Antonio, directly from Avellino, a little town near Naples) attracted many a devoted follower over the years, who would show up near-nightly for baked clams, shrimp oreganate, scungilli marinara, chicken marsala, and other traditional Italian fare. It's layout, a dining room nearly invisible from the street along with a small bar in the back, was about as old-school NYC Italian as it gets.
It's just a rumor as of right now, but someone tweeted to FIPS that a Dunkin' Donuts will be moving into the space. I'll keep you updated as to whether that's true or not, but as of right now there's no reason to doubt it.