Owner of ‘America’s Oldest Pizzeria’ Lombardi’s Can’t Open at Parx Casino Due to Mafia Ties, Judge Rules

Posted on: October 11, 2019, 08:17h. 

Last updated on: October 11, 2019, 10:40h.

The stepson of a reputed Mafia capo won’t be opening a pizzeria at Parx Casino in Pennsylvania anytime soon, a Commonwealth Court ruled this week.

Is Mafia dough behind America’s oldest pizzeria? Owner Michael Giammarino (pictured) says no. (Image: Wall Street Journal)

Michael Giammarino runs Lombardi’s in New York’s Little Italy, which opened in 1905 and claims to be America’s oldest pizzeria.

In December 2017, he and his consultancy firm, Sonic Services Inc., were ruled unsuitable to hold a gaming services license, which scuttled plans to open a branch of Lombardi’s at Parx.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board cited his familial connection to John Brescio, who was once named by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor as a captain in the Genovese crime family.

Joe Fudge and the Cannoli King

But Giammarino claimed regulators had it all wrong and went to court to clear his name. He said he no longer sees his stepfather and was unaware of his alleged Mafia connections. He also claimed he did not personally know the two allegedly mobbed-up intermediaries who had approach him about setting up shop at Parx.

These were John DeLutro, who goes by the sobriquet “Baby John the Cannoli King,” and Joseph DeSimone, aka “Joe Fudge,” who, according to various sources, was once tortured by notorious former Philly Mob hitman John Veasey with a power drill.

The court heard that Parx officials had recruited DeSimone, a regular customer, in 2014 because of his connections in the New York restaurant industry, unaware that he was a member of the Bruno/Scarfo crime family of Philadelphia.

DeSimone brought the casino officials to Lombardi’s, where Brescio gave them a tour and served them pizzas.

‘Integrity of Gaming’ at Stake

As per PennLive, Judge P. Kevin Brobson noted that in Giammarino’s testimony to the gaming board about Brescio, he said, “I don’t socialize with the guy. I don’t have any business dealings with him. All I do is go to work and I run the business.”

But gaming board investigators had found found Brescio had created a trust involving the pizzeria to which Giammarino was the sole beneficiary.

Brescio’s relationship with Giammarino…seems to present layers of business and personal connections between the two men,” Brobson wrote. “There is substantial evidence to support the (gaming) board’s finding that Giammarino and Brescio were associates at least at all times relevant to the investigation.”

Brobson ultimately agreed with the control board that Giammarino’s involvement with Parx would “tarnish the integrity of gaming to the public.”

But, for his part, Giammarino said in an interview with Philly.com last year that he had long given up on the idea of working with Parx and was just trying to set the record straight.

“Everybody’s going to make the assumption that I’m mobbed-up, and it’s not true,” he complained. “I just don’t understand how all these people’s misdeeds got basically tattooed on me.”