Umberto's Clam House

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Umberto's Clam House
Restaurant information
Established 1972
Current owner(s) Robert Ianniello
Food type Italian, seafood
Street address 132 Mulberry Street (between Grand Street and Hester Street) in Little Italy in Manhattan
City New York City
State New York
Postal/ZIP code 10013

Umberto's Clam House is an Italian seafood restaurant located at 132 Mulberry Street (at Broome Street[1]) in Little Italy in Manhattan (New York City), New York, United States[2] (two blocks north of its original site).[1] Umberto's became known for its "tasty dishes of calamari, scungilli, and mussels", but initially became prominent, weeks after opening, for being the site of "one of the more sensational Mafia murders in New York City in recent history".[1] The restaurant was founded and is owned by members of the Ianniello family.

History[edit]

In 1972, the establishment's founder, Umberto Ianniello, opened the restaurant at 129 Mulberry Street (at the northwest corner of Mulberry and Hester Streets[3]). The restaurant was both the hangout of Umberto's son, reputed Mafia leader Matthew ("Matty the Horse") Ianniello[4] and (according to Judge Edward Weinfeld of the Federal District Court in Manhattan) secretly owned by Matthew.[5]

Two months after opening, on April 7, 1972, New York gangster Joe Gallo was shot and killed at the eatery,[1][6] where his party of family and friends[7][8] (including his daughter,[9] wife, and bodyguard[10]) had stopped for an early morning snack after celebrating his 43rd birthday[11] at the Copacabana.[11] A rival gangster spotted him and sent in hitmen shortly after Gallo was seated at a butcher block table in a back corner.[12] After sustaining five shots, Gallo stumbled out into the street and died.[11]

Matthew was at the cash register that night but fled to the kitchen[12] and missed the entire attack; he later claimed no prior knowledge of the attack and was not charged in relation to it.[citation needed] As The Nevada Daily Mail reports: "the proprietor dove into the kitchen and lay on the tile floor with his hands over his eyes as soon as Sonny Pinto and two out-of-town torpedoes known only as Cisco and Benny came in the side door blasting. The next thing he knew, Pete "The Greek" Diopoulis, a Gallo bodyguard, was pushing a gun in his face and pulling the trigger but only clicks came out because it had been emptied trying to save Joey."[12]

In 1986, Judge Weinfeld sentenced Matthew Ianniello to six years in prison on a racketeering charge that involved skimming over $2 million from bars and restaurants (including Umberto's Clam House, the Peppermint Lounge, and a topless bar called the Mardi Gras, all in Manhattan), secretly owned by Matthew; his business partner Benjamin Cohen of North Hills, L.I.; and seven associates.[5]

Between 1986 until 1994, the Federal Government oversaw the restaurant's financial operations and daily operations, after trial evidence led them to believe that income was being skimmed.[1][4] In 1994, with the restaurant suffering increasing losses, the establishment's control was turned over to the current owner, Matthew's younger brother, Robert Ianniello,[4][13] who is listed as the restaurant's principal owner.[4]

In 1999, the restaurant was closed due to lack of funds and the building was sold,[14][15] but it reopened in 2000 in a new location, a few spots north of the original site (from 129 to 132 Mulberry Street).[1][16] Today, the space formerly occupied by Umberto Clam House is occupied by Italian restaurant Da Gennaro.[17]

In popular culture[edit]

The Mafia hit and its locale were recalled in media coverage of the death of the actor Jerry Orbach, who became friends with "Crazy Joe" Gallo after playing a character who was modeled on him in the movie, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (1971), based on a novel by Jimmy Breslin.

In Bob Dylan's 1976 song "Joey", Umberto's Clam House is briefly referred to as "a clam bar in New York".

Umberto's is mentioned in season 1 of The Sopranos by Tony's next door neighbor, who is trying to seem authentically Italian.

As of January 2005, the Zagat Survey restaurant guide notes: "patrons of Umberto's are often tourists 'who expect the 'Sopranos' cast to arrive.'"[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Joseph P. Fried (January 9, 2005). "FOLLOWING UP: Still Serving Italian, Long After a Mob Hit". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Zagats Review". Zagats. 
  3. ^ Nina Roberts, Globe Correspondent (October 7, 2007). "Yes, parts have been yuppified, but Little Italy eats as well as ever". Boston.com. 
  4. ^ a b c d Selwyn Raab (February 12, 1994). "Umberto's, of Clams and Bullets Fame, Is Paroled". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ a b "Ianniello Is Sentenced In Racketeering Trial". The New York Times. February 16, 1986. 
  6. ^ "The gruesome end of Crazy Joe Gallo". Ephemeral New York. February 7, 2009. 
  7. ^ Skillings, Pamela. "Manhattan, New York: Photo Tour of Sites of Famous New York Deaths". About.com. p. 9 of 11. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  8. ^ Gage, Nicholas (May 3, 1972). "Story of Joe Gallo's Murder". New York Times. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  9. ^ Dunford, Martin (2009-01-02). The Rough Guide to New York City. ISBN 9781848368262. 
  10. ^ "Joseph Gallo". The Biography Channel website. 2013. Retrieved 8 Sep 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c Greg Morabito (August 26, 2011). "A Guide to New York's Mob Restaurants". New York Eater. 
  12. ^ a b c Hugh A. Mulligan (May 5, 1985). "In These Eateries, Pasta Was Served With Bullets". The Nevada Daily Mail: 3A. 
  13. ^ ARNOLD H. LUBASCH (December 31, 1985). "9 OF 10 FOUND GUILTY IN SKIMMING TRIAL". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ Lewis, David L. (December 19, 1996). "Umberto'S Totally Clammed". New York: Nydailynews. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  15. ^ Jacobs, Andrew (December 22, 1996). "Umberto's Is Rubbed Out". Nytimes. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  16. ^ Grimes, William (May 24, 2000). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; Fill It Up, and Check the Olive Oil". Nytimes.com. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  17. ^ Skillings, Pamela. "Manhattan, New York: Photo Tour of Sites of Famous New York Deaths". About.com. p. 9 of 11. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°43′6.33″N 73°59′51.53″W / 40.7184250°N 73.9976472°W / 40.7184250; -73.9976472