The ‘salami king of the Bronx’ gets immortalized in Little Italy

Mike Greco
Michele “Mike” Greco was colloquially known as the “salami king of the Bronx.” On Monday, May 8, locals and old friends came out to celebrate the street renaming for Mike Greco who passed away in March 2019 at the age of 89. Among those in attendance were his three children; daughter Louisa and two sons Marco and David, with the latter serving as the proprietor of Mike’s Deli for more than 30 years.
Photo ET Rodriguez
Mike Greco came to the Bronx from Calabria, Italy in 1947 and opened Mike’s Deli inside of the historic Arthur Avenue Retail Market in the ’50s. The delicatessen serves up Italian classics like scarmoza, hang-dried sausages and fresh antipasto. Most days David Greco can be found working behind the counter chatting up customers and offering free samples. Photo ET Rodriguez
City Councilmember Oswald Feliz, presented David Greco, son of Mike Greco, with a citation of merit in Michele “Mike” Greco’s name as he applauded Mike’s legacy at the Monday street renaming. “My father would start the day with either one or two things,” said David Greco. “Either prosciutto and dried mozzarella — or he would make a steak for breakfast and a glass of wine at eight-o-clock in the morning.” David Greco had a glass of wine at the morning ceremony in honor of his late father. Photo ET Rodriguez
The pizzas were flowing more generously than the wine as a wood-fired stove was cooking them up in the middle of Hughes Avenue. The personal pies had a bright sauce, fresh cheese and that wonderful carbon flavor that comes from cooking in an open flame. Photo ET Rodriguez
There were hugs, kisses and firm slaps on the back as old friends reminisced about Mike Greco. “I knew him when I came from Albania in 1991,” said Milanno Ukehaxhaj. “I came with no English, so he opened his arms like my second father.” Ukehajax is the owner of Gaetano’s Delis in Connecticut and says of Mike Greco, “there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t mention his name in the deli. Everything I know is because of him.” Photo ET Rodriguez
Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson came out to recognize the “salami king of the Bronx” as Mike Greco was affectionately known. “We don’t just name streets after anyone,” said Gibson. “We name them after prominent figures who have given, who have served, who have sacrificed, who have dedicated their time, who love their neighbors and their family.” Photo ET Rodriguez
The street renaming took place on the corner of Hughes and Crescent avenues in Little Italy. Father Ortega of the nearby Mount Carmel Church started the ceremony with a prayer followed by a wine toast. “Mike Greco was a true patriarch of the community — this is a celebration of his life,” said Alyssa Tucker, executive director of the Belmont BID. Photo ET Rodriguez
There was a spread of freshly made sandwiches, pizza, desserts and wine available for all to enjoy courtesy of Mike’s Deli and Arthur Avenue caterers — the latter David Greco created through the success of his father’s business. David Greco enjoyed his own celebrity status when he was featured on Food Network’s, “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” winning for his eggplant parm. Photo ET Rodriguez
Francesco Live was the musical entertainment of the day, singing Italian folk songs behind a DJ booth with a mural of Mike Greco. Live was joined by Michael Fava (left) who came from Italy to the Bronx as a 15-year-old boy not knowing any English. Mike Greco gave him a job at his deli. “He was firm, but fair — it’s a lot of things I carry on in my professional career today,” said Fava of Mike Greco and his work ethic. Photo ET Rodriguez

Reach ET Rodriguez at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes