Old School Pizzeria Turned Movie Set

Located in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, Sam’s Restaurant stands as a nod to the neighborhood’s rich history. This 94-year-old establishment, originally a vibrant Italian American social club during the Great Depression, now frequently serves as a backdrop for film productions, with its latest project being its 59th and most substantial in terms of budget. The restaurant, with its classic wood-paneled dining room, was a hive of activity as the crew transformed it into a period-appropriate setting, complete with carpenters adjusting decor and technicians meticulously managing every detail.

Louis Migliaccio, the 67-year-old owner of Sam’s, has witnessed the transformation of his restaurant from a bustling local hotspot to a preferred filming location. Despite the changes, Migliaccio remains a quiet observer during the chaotic flurry of filming days, often stepping outside to watch the street life from a distance. His role during these times shifts towards ensuring the smooth operation of the set and safeguarding the privacy of the film crew and cast, which he views as part of his responsibility.

The restaurant’s interior, reminiscent of its early 20th-century origins, features red vinyl booths and vintage decor that attract film crews seeking an authentic old-New York ambiance. However, on non-filming days, the challenge of attracting regular diners persists. Sam’s relies on the intrigue of its film set reputation to draw tourists and newcomers who are often unaware of its historical significance.

On days without cameras, the restaurant struggles to fill its seats with the same energy and bustle that the film crews bring. The dichotomy between its role as a film set and a functioning eatery highlights the ongoing struggle of maintaining its identity amid changing times and a transforming neighborhood. Sam’s Restaurant, while celebrated on screen, continues to navigate the realities of modern Brooklyn, preserving its legacy while adapting to an ever-evolving cultural landscape. It’s certainly worth taking a peek if you’re in the area, either to enjoy some great food or to watch a film in progress.


James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)