Joseph Giordano is shy when it comes to speeches.
“I’m a terrible public speaker,” he admitted.
But he’s front and center at civic meetings and always at the ready for donating his well-known Italian food from his store Riviera Ravioli, a Morris Park staple for decades.
It’s his efforts in being a good neighbor that brought him at the forefront to accept the Citizen Award during the Bronx Columbus Day Dinner Dance on Sunday, September 30, a week before the second biggest Columbus Day Parade in the state marches along Morris Park Avenue.
“I was flattered,” said Giordano, 76. “Obviously it might be a good for my business.”
Rooted in Morris Park since 1946, Riviera Ravioli at 643 Morris Park Avenue first opened as a deli, selling cold cuts and other meats.
It morphed into a pasta distributor, selling a variety of high-end pastas ranging from tortellini, cavatelli, manicotti, fettuccini and, of course, ravioli.
His award is a first for Giordano, who spends hours at the businessre, serving a client base ranging from gourmet food stores to restaurants and hotels.
But his Italian enterprise is not the only thing Giordano is known for.
A proud member of the community for decades, longtime merchants know Giordano as the store owner who schlepped up and down the avenue for donations to the annual Morris Park Christmas lights.
Like today, the process has been a struggle, according to Giordano. “It was like pulling teeth.”
What’s easier and fulfilling these days is Giordano’s philanthrophy, offering his homemade food free of charge to area churches, including St. Claire’s and St. Dominics.
“I usually give food to the church when the nuns are having guests,” he said.
Giordano also boasts a proud Italian heritage. A first generation American, Giordano keeps Italy in his heart, visiting his parents’ homeland on seven occasions. He actively brushes up on his Italian, a language he thinks is eroding from the Italian-American landscape.
“The language is disappearing,” he said. “It’s being taken out as a language requirement.”
Tony Signorile, who heads the parade, summed up Giordano’s drive best:
“He does a lot for the community,” said Signorile. “He’s always there.”
This year’s parade steps off at noon at White Plains Road, making its way up Morris Park Avenue, and turning left at the reviewing stand at Williamsbridge Road.
Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383