The food industry, integral to our basic survival, has long been a focus and target for underworld domination.
As far back as Ciro Terranova – infamous as “The Artichoke King” of New York City, who gained a monopoly on the importation and distribution of artichokes – a staple of the Italian dining table – the Mafia has sought to control and monopolize key segments of the food industry.
From the Fulton Fish Market to the Bronx Terminal Market, from the wholesale meat district on Manhattan’s Westside to wholesale food distributors who supply the litany of restaurants, catering houses, diners, pizzerias, and nightclubs that dot the five boroughs and the thousands of retail food shops and chain stores around the greater metropolitan area and beyond, the mob has permeated every single facet of our daily life.
Now don’t get me wrong; the vast, vast majority of these businesses are simply wonderful!
They provide the highest level of quality and products and bring a level of enjoyment to the public that few others could ever match!
In fact, I don’t know where we’d be if not for the magnificent influence of the Mafia within the food industry.
I, for one, personally frequent and consume products from many of these companies – so-called mob-owned restaurants and nightspots. And I can tell you that wiseguys know their stuff when it comes to good food. Lol….
Having grown up in homes where their grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, and wives were all wonderful cooks, mob guys typically know their way around the kitchen very well and what good food is, in general.
So, it’s almost natural that after making some money, they would go into the food business in one fashion or another. It’s very often near and dear to their hearts.
Do they sometimes look for the edge over the competition? Maybe, but ultimately what comes to your table is top quality!
Some of the very best restaurants in the city and its outer environs were, and are, owned by knockaround guys.
And the public simply loves it!
Both the cuisine, and when it’s known that a “mafioso” owns the place, the reputation as a mobbed-up joint, soon becomes the talk of the town –with the public flocking to make reservations!
Always a major drawing point for its success and popularity, New York City simply loves their mafiosi!
And whether it’s Italian cuisine most typically served, or any other style food the kitchen is turning out, the public can usually count on the finest veal, prime beef, first-grade fish, and whatever else comes out on your plate….. because “good fellows” take great pride in what they serve.
When you dine in a wiseguy’s place, it’s as if you were invited into their “house”. And you can count on a sumptuous meal!
And their nightspots… from floor shows like that of the famed Copacabana and Latin Quarter, that offered the finest in top-name entertainers, and world class discos, to quiet little piano lounges and cheaters joints tucked away on side streets, have provided what has made New York City…… well New York City, since the days of Prohibition!
And I dare say that the Big Apple would never have had the stellar reputation it does as the entertainment capitol of the world if not for our local “good fellows” !
What I’ve compiled below are extensive lists of “mobbed-up” food companies and businesses that through the years were alleged to be either owned outright or to have had hidden wiseguy partnerships.
I divided the lists by wholesale manufacturers and suppliers of varied food products, restaurants and nightclubs, catering halls, neighborhood gin mills and lounges, retail food stores, and a smattering of South Florida establishments thrown in as well, which were owned by New York wiseguys.
And not to be forgotten, the boys even considered the gay and lesbian sector; the mob being ahead of its time in recognizing their needs, too.
Mafiosi covered all bases. Those goodfellas were something else!
…. and remember, this list is but a slight fraction of the countless thousands of businesses guys had their fingers in over the years….
Enjoy!…. and Buon Appetito!
Vitello, Pollo, e Bistecca
• New Prosperity Meat Market (Giacomo Scarpulla)
• Porko Pork Co. (Anthony and Salvatore Carillo and Ciro Perrone)
Western Beef Supermarkets (Peter Castellana)
• Pride Wholesale Meat Market (Paul Castellano and Peter Castellana)
• Murray Meat Packing Co. (Joseph Pagano and Peter Castellana)
Faicco Meat Market (Alfred Faicco)
• Emcee Meats, Inc. (Paul Castellano)
• Bronx Butchers, Inc. (John Ardito)
Blue Star Meat Markets (Paul and Carlo Gambino)
Pane e Cose Dolci e Pizza
• Grimaldi Bakery (Giuseppe Grimaldi)
• Dominick’s Bakery (Harry Tantillo)
• Andolino & D’Amico Bakery (Simone Andolino)
Sapienza Bread & Bakery (Salvatore Mussachio)
• Leonard’s Bakery (Frank Mangiapane)
• LaRosa Bakery (Michael LaRosa)
Ferrara Bakery (Vincent Aloi ?)
• Catania Bakery (Giuseppe and Calogero Catania)
• Restivo Bakery (Biaggio Restivo)
Roma Bakery (Eli Zeccardi and Benedetto Cinquegrana)
• Catalano Bakery (Salvatore Catalano)
• Pellegrino Bakery (Rocco Pellegrino)
• Cafe Giardino (Giovanni Gambino)
• Nobile Cafe (Thomas Eboli)
Parisi Bakery (Camillo Parisi)
• Cafe Viale (Cesare Bonventre)
• Cafe Valentino
• Cafe Licata (Vito and Pietro Licata)
King of Pizza chain (Vincent, Joseph, and Matteo Falcone)
• Alberti Bakery (James and Andrew Alberti)
• Cafe Scopello (Felice Puma)
• Mille Luci Cafe (Vincenzo Napoli)
Al Dente Pizza (Giuseppe Ganci)
• Cafe Aiello (Antonino Aiello)
• Empire Yeast Co. (Giuseppe Traina)
• Bonventre Bakery (John Bonventre)
• Di Lisi’s Bakery (Salvatore Barbato)
Pesce e Scampi
• Romano Fish Co. (Peter and Carmine Romano)
• South Street Fish Co. (Angelo Presinzano)
John Pollock & Sons, Inc. (Frank Presinzano)
• Endicott Fish Co. (Bartolo Guccia)
• Unnamed fish company (Joseph Lapi)
Neptune’s Nuggets – frozen shrimp, clams, and fish
(Emanuel and Thomas Gambino and Murray Kessler)
Formaggio, Olio D’Oliva, e Pomodori
>> Sunshine Edible Oils Co.
>> Carmela Mia Packing Co.
>> Santuzza Oil Co.
Filippo Berio Olive Oil
Mamma Mia Imports, Inc.
Mamma Mia Packing Co.
Colavita Olive Oil
• Ocera Cheese Co. (Thomas Ocera)
• Vermont Creamery (Vincent Falcone and Thomas Ocera)
• Falcone Dairy Products, Inc. (Joseph, Matteo, Vincent Falcone, and Joseph Curreri)
Roma Foods, Inc. (Salvatore Profaci and Louis Piancone)
Grande Cheese Co. (Joseph Bonanno and John DiBella)
Saputo & Sons Dairy (Joseph Bonanno)
La Prima Wholesale Foods, Inc. (Robert Falvo)
Progresso Foods, Inc. (Anthony Barresi and Walter Falcetta)
Eagle Cheese Co. (Filippo Casamento)
Conte Meat Markets and Conte Supermarket chain – Key Foods (Pasquale Conte)
• Gourmet Cheese Corp. (Joseph and John DiBella)
• Ferro Foods, Inc. (Frank Ferro and Paul and Frank Gambino)
• Piancone Pizza Palaces (Michael Piancone)
Frutta e Verdura
• Top Tomato Produce Markets (Carmelo Sciandra)
• Bronx produce markets (Gandolfo Sciandra)
• Ross Trucking Co. – banana haulers (Peter DeFeo and Philip Aqualino)
Bronx Terminal Produce Market
Many varied wiseguys owned stands and companies here.
• Standard Fruit – second largest supplier in the country (Pasquale Mormando)
• Zappola Wholesale Produce (George Zappola, Sr.)
• Manny’s Fruits (Saverio Maimone)
• First Ave. Fruit Exchange (Anthony Ciccone)
Vino, Liquore, e Soda
• Super Beverage Distributors (Saverio and Pasquale Monachino)
• Hi-Fi Beverage Corp. – soft drink distributor (Matthew Ianniello and Benjamin Cohen)
Giuseppe and Antonio Magliocco
Sunland Beverage Co. (Giuseppe Magliocco)
Peerless Importers, Inc.
Alpine Wine & Liquor Co.
Joseph Barbara, Sr.
Mission Beverage Co.
Canada Dry Distributors
Saratoga Mineral Waters (Giuseppe Arcuri and Lorenzo Brescio)
Hoffman Soda Co. (Michael Catalano, Aniello Dellacroce, and Martin Goldman)
• Frontier Liquor Distributors, Inc.
• Montana Beverages (John Montana)
• Utica Liquors, Inc. (Joseph Falcone)
• Arcuri Liquors (Joseph Arcuri)
• Regal Wines & Liquor (Salvatore Speciale and Vincent Rao)
And related food and liquor workers unions, and support firms:
• Local # 174 Butchers Union (Frank Brescio, Lorenzo Brescio, and Moe Block)
• Amalgamated Meat Cutters Local #464 (Frank Pizzi, Gerardo Catena, and Irving Kaplan)
• Various Restaurant, Hotel & Bartenders Union Locals (Vito Pitta, Ignazio Agone, and George Papageorge)
• Allied Retail Butchers Assn. (Paul Castellano and Frank Guglielmini)
• Bari Restaurant & Pizza Equipment Co. (Genovese borgata asset)
• United Seafood Workers Union – Local #359 (Carmine and Peter Romano)
…..and many more union locals dedicated to the various divisions of the food industry.
Restaurants, catering halls…
Bars, nightclubs, lounges…
Fast-food joints, food trucks…
…WISEGUYS HAD ‘EM ALL!
NEXT WEEK…Part II
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