The subterranean space was fondly dubbed “the Crypt” when it served as the bar area of the elegant double-height Della Robbia Grill restaurant in the Vanderbilt Hotel. The restaurant interior has a vaulted ceiling of Guastavino tile framed by polychrome ornamental tile by the Rookwood Pottery Company of Cincinnati.
As part of a 1967 modernization, the hotel was split into apartments and commercial space, the grand public rooms were destroyed, and most of the original Della Robbia Grill was converted to a parking garage. The bar room and a portion of the grill room escaped demolition and was reborn as a new restaurant. Today, it is one of only two intact interiors finished in terra cotta by Rookwood Pottery. The space was designated as a landmark when the Friends of Terra Cotta drew attention to it after the terra-cotta-finished Marine Grill was removed from the nearby Hotel McAlpin. The Della Robbia bar remains in situ as a stunning surround for diners in Wolfgang’s Steakhouse.
Photographs 1–3 by Larry Lederman © All rights reserved
Paraphernalia courtesy Friends of the Terra Cotta Collection