Umberto’s Clam House
Just two months after Umberto’s Clam House opened at 129 Mulberry St. in Little Italy, mobster “Crazy” Joe Gallo was shot and killed while seated at a table in the back corner.
Gallo was a mobster in the Profaci crime family in New York City who got into a life of crime early. After he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, he earned his unsettling nickname.
He rose quickly through the ranks and after a particularly brutal takedown of a rival family head, Gallo expected a hefty reward. He was not given the reward and so he began to plot his revenge against Joe Profaci, the head of the family.
Profaci caught wind of Gallo’s plot so he decided to take care of his disgruntled subordinate and authorized a hit on him.
It was April 7, 1972, and Gallo had come to the restaurant to celebrate his birthday with his wife, sister, and daughter. He didn’t notice that an associate of a rival mob family was seated at the bar and, upon seeing Gallo, walked to a nearby hangout to recruit gunmen to kill Gallo then and there.
“The idea of him being shot in front of his family and in Little Italy was extraordinary shocking,” said Otway. “The nature of his execution was a message.”
Gallo and his family were sitting down at their table in blissful ignorance when four gunmen entered the room, guns in hand. The men opened fire just as Gallo stood up and pulled out his own gun to fire back.
Thinking fast, Gallo knocked a table on its side and used it as a shield while he inched closer to the door, likely hoping to draw fire away from his family.
The hitmen discharged 20 rounds total and a bloody and bullet-riddled Gallo managed to stagger to the sidewalk before collapsing outside of the restaurant. The gunmen fled the scene leaving a mortally wounded Gallo lying on the ground for police to see.
At her brother’s funeral three days later, Gallo’s sister issued an ominous warning, saying, “The streets are going to run red with blood, Joey.”
Not long after the shooting, the blood-stained sidewalk was cleaned and Umberto’s was soon open again for business — as if the whole thing never happened.