Brooklyn Trial Proves That Mafia Really Just Comes Down To The Spaghetti and Meat Balls

Joseph Massino, a mob boss for the Bonanno Crime Family, has taken the witness stand in Federal Court in Brooklyn. The Bonannos are one of the five families that (allegedly!) control New York’s organized crime and this marks the first time that someone of Massino’s stature in the family is testifying for the government. However, there seems to be more on Massino’s mind than just murder- it’s food! The trial has been more of a chronicling of the city’s restaurants and a listing of favorite dishes rather than a testified account on murder. Massino is a witness against, get this, “Vinnie Gorgeous,” who killed a Bonanno associate named Randolph Pizzolo. Throughout, as the NYT has noted, Massino’s time on the stand the court has been bombarded with references to food. It seems as if every single illegal act that Massino and the Bonanno family committed happened over a plate of spaghetti.

Obviously, the stereotypical association between the mafia and meatballs isn’t something we’ve never heard of before, but Massino’s testimony has comically piled high the allusions to menus and meals – with the references to food only outweighed by the man himself. If the numerous references weren’t enough, Massino’s weight speaks for itself (plus he was a restaurateur and ran a sandwich truck, too). Basically, everything he said had to do one way or the other with food. Here are some of our favorites from his testimony:

- When the prosecutor asked him about a scheme he cooked up in prison to persuade a security guard to sneak in things for him, he responded: “He was bringing in food for us, cold cuts, shrimp, scungilli.”
- During a secretly recorded conversation, also taking place in jail, with the person Massino was testifying against, Massino could still not get food off his mind: “I’m belching, I’ve got a lot of heartburn, a lot of agita…I’ll tell you one thing, that sausage wasn’t bad, bo.”
- When Massino was on parole and couldn’t talk to other known members of the mob he got a job as a “consultant” at King Catering in Long Island. While at King Catering he held meetings about illegal business with his brother-in-law in the walk-in-refrigerator to avoid detection from bugged devices.
- Several restaurants were mentioned as well where crime went down: Cafe on the Green (Bayside, Queens) where a shooting took place; Napa & Sonoma, also in Queens, where the victim of the shooting that was the focus of the trial through a tantrum; and lastly he mentioned Via Oreto on First Avenue where the restaurant was claimed as Bonanno territory over the Genoveses. When Massino was arrested, he owned a restaurant called Casablanca in Maspeth, Queens, but a front man was used as the name on the menu of the owner. Food tour, anyone?

So what have we learned from this? If the opportunity presents itself, always, always, take the cannoli.

[Photo: NYT]


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