Home LifestyleHoboken 101 Remembering Hoboken’s Martha DePalma of Leo’s

Remembering Hoboken’s Martha DePalma of Leo’s

by Aida
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On Easter Sunday, April 8th, Martha DePalma (nee DiTerlizzi) passed away at the age of 81. Though born in Jersey City, Martha was a Hoboken girl through and through, spending nearly her entire life in the Mile Square. The daughter of Leo and Tessie DiTerlizzi — the founders of Leo’s Grandevous — Martha helped a great deal in making Leo’s the iconic fixture it is today, but she paved her own path, too, trailblazing through whatever came her way: data entry, supply chain logistics, motherhood, and of course, the family business. The Hoboken community will miss Martha deeply, and The Hoboken Girl team sends all our love to her children, Nick + Grace (who now own Leo’s), and their families. You can read Martha’s obituary here.

In celebration of the incredible Martha DePalma, we’re sharing the history of her parents’ business and Hoboken landmark, Leo’s Grandevous, located at 200 Grand Street. Read on to learn more about Leo’s and its historic Hoboken roots.  

When it comes to a place chock full of Hoboken history, Frank Sinatra’s travels seem like a given. And that path, of course, brings us to Leo’s Grandevous, one of the oldest restaurants in Hoboken. Here’s the back story and history of Leo’ Grandevous, located at 200 Grand Street downtown:


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Founded in 1939, Leo’s is known as one of the Mile Square’s oldest restaurants and is known for its delicious Italian home-style cooking. The founder of the restaurant, Leo DiTerlizzi, and his wife Tessie, created recipes for the restaurant that were basically taken from her recipe book (and are still used!).


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According to NorthJersey.com, the restaurant began as a working man’s saloon on 2nd and Grand. At the time, Leo’s was the trendsetter of all restaurant trendsetters. Case in point: Leo’s was the first bar to actually have a television, per the Hudson Reporter.

Read More: This Hoboken Titanic Survivor Went on To Star in The First Movie About the Ship

Leo’s daughter Martha and her friends would spend time watching shows at the bar — since it was actually a big deal to have a television in those days. In fact, Leo’s was the first place to have cable, which attracted crowds from out of town to stop by and watch the Rangers games (since the games were barely on network stations). Tech-wise, the Italian hotspot was also known for its jukebox that played Frank Sinatra’s tunes only, of course.


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Speaking of Sinatra, there’s a reason the restaurant is pretty much an ode and shrine to Ol’ Blue Eyes in the present day; it’s a memorial created by Sinatra’s BFF Leo in the 1930s — when Sinatra was becoming a hit in the local clubs in the Mile Square and in other parts of North Jersey.

Leo would travel with Sinatra to all of his gigs, but once Sinatra really gained popularity nationally, he moved out of Hoboken to the West Coat — without turning back (le sigh). And although the crooner moved out of Hoboken, Leo’s remained the place where locals would stop by for drinks and talk about their old pal Frank. Many customers have continued to enjoy the fact that Leo’s is such a tribute to Frank Sinatra, and as a result, these patrons started offering Leo some old photographs of Sinatra in Hoboken, which he began to hang on the walls.


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As the decades went on, Leo’s expanded into a family-friendly restaurant (which includes Sunday dinners — a fave Italian tradition).

Currently, Leo’s is owned by Nicholas DePalma (DiTerrlizzi’s grandson) and Sergio DeNichilo (DiTerrlizzi’s grand-nephew). DiTerrlizzi and his wife Tessie passed away in 2001, and these guys have been running the restaurant ever since.


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So, even though it’s not the same as the original 1930s situation (but really, who wants a “men-only” bar anyway), it’s totally legit to sit at the famous half-moon-shaped bar, and drink whatever your heart desires (especially a tall wine pour and some meatballs, their specialty). If you’re lucky, Leo’s might even put on the jukebox so you can do a little time travel of your own.

See More: A Tour of Frankie Valli + The Four Seasons’ Favorite North Jersey Spots

In 2019, to celebrate the restaurant’s 80th anniversary, Mayor Ravi Bhalla and the City of Hoboken honored the locale with a special street renaming. The event will took place on Saturday, April 27th at 3:00PM at 200 Grand Street (with a block party happening before the ceremony at 12:00PM).

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