The original Umberto’s in New Hyde Park has been a Zagat rated pizzeria and restaurant for years. Owner Umberto Corteo came to America as a teenager. He opened the famed restaurant in 1965 with his brother Joe. Umberto’s has been a staple in the community for over 40 years.
Umberto’s traditional décor is stunning. The multi level establishment has grown over the years, expanding to fit the needs of the community. Umberto told me that when he first opened, he only had a storefront. The upstairs banquet room was his bedroom. The popularity of the food left Umberto no choice but to expand and serve his clientele with love.
Although many claim the fame, Umberto’s is the home of the original Grandma Pizza slice. In fact, the story of the invention of this superb delicacy hangs on the wall in the lower level of the restaurant. I had two slices and will be back for more.
I was honored to have had lunch with Umberto. Former Jet player Erik Coleman stopped by and dined with us, which made the lunch even better. The appetizers started with flavorful dried meats, warm fresh bread and heavenly cheeses all made in-house. The Frutti Di Mare, which has to be the BEST I have ever had as you can taste the freshness of the calamari and shrimp. Simplay delectable! The dish was preceded with a Capricciosa salad. I was starting to feel full but I kept on eating knowing Italian tradition and good conversations are entangled with food.
Being the middle brother of thirteen children, Umberto shared numerous stories of family love and festivities. His journey for The American Dream brought culture and an authentic way of life to Long Island. This uniqueness and class is seen on the menu, and in the final dish I devoured… the homemade sausage and broccoli rabe. Yes, I said it, homemade. The zesty flavor and texture of the sausage were superb. The meat was piquant, savory and cooked to perfection. My mouth is still watering. The freshness is unlike any other sausage you will find in the area. Speaking of fresh – if I can take it back to 1987 – even boxing great Bernard Hopkins, Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, Voctor Cruz, actor Robert Davi and Fox News commentator Richard Salgado have enjoyed Umberto’s pizza for years. Now that’s Fresh!
By Alysia Stern