The Mob Run Pizzerias of NYC | Devoured

The Mob Run Pizzerias of NYC | Devoured

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-You know, let's face it, if you're a wannabe John Gotti, there's easier ways to make a living. -There's a lot of pie in The Big Apple. -I feel a little uncomfortable discussing it. Especially, I don't want to mention names. Um... -And everyone wants their slice.

-And what people think of as the Mafia in the underworld is known as Cosa Nostra, and they're involved in things that people don't quite realize they're involved in. -It's a business where blood... -It's quite common for disputes that are personal in origin to become crime family business. -...and money... -I haven't worked on a case of this nature for stealing a-a pizza recipe.

-...are ingredients in a killer sauce. -You pay in cash, so, I mean, it wasn't exactly a news flash that Lulu may be coming home with money. Somehow or another, Italian Americans attract an audience when there's drama, and the ultimate drama is organized crime, because you're talking about guns and death.

-We're all competing for stomachs, so if somebody is selling you food, technically, you're my competitor, you're my -- you're my enemy. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -It is one of the most iconic and beloved places in New York, L&B Spumoni Gardens, owned by the same family since the 1930s. Tonight, there is breaking news in Brooklyn. Sources say the co-owner has been shot dead. -Dough, sauce, and cheese...

Three simple ingredients that have evolved into a complex recipe for crime in New York, weaving some beloved local pizza places into the fabric of the city's organized crime. -The link between some of the foods you eat and the Mafia is closer than you might think, particularly in New York. We know that there is this connection between certain food places and organized crime. -What would the crime families do if they found out that you were talking about them? -So many police here investigating the shooting death of the co-owner of L&B Spumoni Gardens. Louis Barbati was shot dead in his own home.

-L&B Spumoni Gardens is in, uh, in Brooklyn. They're known for their signature square. What makes it famous -- Has the cheese underneath.

It's cheese and then the sauce is on top. Delicious. -I know a lot of people that lived in that neighborhood who have moved all over the world. When they go back to Brooklyn, the first thing they do is go to L&B. -L&B is such an institution. I mean [Laughs] go there tomorrow in August when it's 90 degrees out. Good luck. I mean, you're going to wait for 45 minutes

to get a piece of pizza. -So how does a beloved pizza maker end up gunned down, and the press and police are speculating about a possible mob hit? The answer lies in the extremely competitive history of New York City pizza and its connection to organized crime. Let's start with the pizza. ♪♪ ♪♪ -Pizza became the quintessential New York street food because of the social environment, because of the economics, because of the large concentration of Italians.

There's this incredible fierce loyalty for the local pizza. [ Siren wails ] ♪♪ -We're on the corner of Spring and Mulberry, which is really the old epicenter of Little Italy, and we're going to be checking out the original address of the pizzeria that became Lombardi's. Probably the most important address in pizza history and was thought to have been the first pizzeria in the United States. -Scott. How you doing? -How you doing? Been so long. -I know. Well, I'm hanging out. How are you doing?

Gena used to go to Lombardi's. She had her wedding -- Well, you had your wedding reception there. -My bridal shower. -Your bridal shower. -1951. -I'll see you later, Gena.

♪♪ This is the spot. This used to be a pizzeria. 1898 was when the first oven went in. Lombardi's took over the space in 1908, then left it, then came back 10 years later and ran it right up through the late '50s when Gennaro Lombardi died. -John's, Lombardi's, Totonno's, Patsy's...

These pizza makers were icons, and if you think about really all of those places what they have in common, they're all named after the original pizza maker, and that tells you something about how these people felt about the pizza, because the pizza was their identity. They named the places after themselves because they were telling the world who they were through the food. They weren't saying, "I sell New York-style pizza," or, "I sell coal-oven pizza." "I make my pizza.

My pizza tells you who I am." And all of the great places had that in common. -When Gennaro Lombardi came over to the United States, he started to craft what we now know as an American style New York-style pizza.

So a lot of people copy us. Uh, some people overtly copy you. Other people covertly copy you. You know, like, former employees, they may use -- you know, go through your trash to get -- to -- to find out what your recipes are and stuff like that. We've had that happen over the years.

♪♪ -But L&B Spumoni Gardens was different. Founded by Italian immigrant Ludovico Barbati, L&B didn't just serve up a version of that triangular slice made ubiquitous by Lombardi. Instead, L&B created something all its own. ♪♪ -So, this is definitely a neighborhood staple after all this time. We started in 1939.

They started serving the ice cream on the the horses' wagon around the neighborhood, and then it just expanded into pizza, a restaurant, and everybody's been coming here ever since. -It's all in the sauce. The sauce is different than any other pizza in New York.

You know, recipes, there's only a select few people that know them, and it stays that way. ♪♪ -A little fresh olive oil on top. Like a pro, this guy is. ♪♪ There he goes. There it is. This is why people come back. -The people that own the pizzeria live not too far from the pizzeria, and they're really immersed in the community.

So the neighborhood responds to that. They have a connection that goes beyond just what's on the plate, but also what's in their hearts. ♪♪ -Just an upside-down. The upside-down Sicilian pizza here at Suprema is really homage to L&B Spumoni Gardens in Gravesend, Brooklyn, which is the place where, if you see a pizza with the sauce on top of the cheese on a rectangular Sicilian base, that's a reference to -- to L&B Spumoni Gardens. ♪♪ -Serving up an imitation of one of New York's most celebrated slices could be seen as a compliment. But in the city where pizza and organized crime are inextricably linked, ripping off a recipe could also be an act of war.

-When a place like L&B Spumoni Gardens, which has been making pizza since the '50s, when, when their signature slice, this upside-down Sicilian with the sauce on top of the cheese, uh, when that starts to get replicated, they get upset, and they get very upset when it's someone they know or someone who has worked for them. ♪♪ -So, at some point, a man named Gene Lombardo, who was an associate of the Bonanno organized crime family, had two sons who had worked at L&B and stole the recipe for the sauce and the pizza and used it to open a place on Staten Island called The Square, which advertised itself as selling L&B style pizza. ♪♪ -In a city like New York, locals will tell you it's a crime to eat bad pizza, but no one's going to jail for eating a frozen pie or Papa John's. That's not to say no one has ever gone to prison over something bought or sold at a pizza place.

-The Sicilians appear to have done their heroin dealing for more than 10 years before American authorities caught onto them. These are FBI surveillance pictures. -Naturally, there have always been people who are willing to exploit neighborhood businesses, and, you know, in the famous Pizza Connection story, they were using those -- those pizzerias as an outlet. -The largest drug bust of its time, uh, known as the Pizza Connection.

22 Sicilian pizzeria owners all got pulled in, because it wasn't flour in the flour bags. [ Whispering ] It was heroin. ♪♪ -Recently, the FBI rounded up a number of people and charged them with being part of an elaborate heroin distribution network in America. For some of the suspects, small-town pizza parlors were their cover. -What this case revealed is that over a decade, more than $1.6 billion of heroin was smuggled from Turkey

to -- to Italy to the United States. -FBI agents who watched the Sicilians said the heroin and the millions of dollars in profits from heroin were often carried around in plain brown grocery bags. -Of the 28 people that the Italian police asked us to arrest in the United States over the weekend, 22 of those were charged in that case. -Are more arrests expected in this country? -I think a great deal, uh, more is -- is going to flow from this.

♪♪ -There's always going to be predators, there are opportunists, and there are sociopaths. But is that our real story? There are 60,000 pizzerias in America. How many of them are outlets for heroin distribution? ♪♪ -But organized crime families have long been a dangerous silent partner in many New York City businesses, and mostly cash places like pizzerias have been an especially attractive target. -There are five major La Cosa Nostra organized crime families in New York City. They're the Colombo family, the Gambino family, the Genovese family, the Bonanno family, and the Lucchese family. [ Siren wailing ] -Yeah, the Colombo crime family was, you know, affiliated with, uh, L&B, you know, and the, uh, The Square was affiliated with the, uh, Bonanno crime family.

That's -- That's New York. -I don't feel comfortable doing that, Colombos and Bonnanos. If I get killed, it's on you. -In every neighborhood where there's a Mafia presence, there are extortions of local businesses, certainly including pizzerias. -Yeah, the mob was always known for taking their, uh, slice of the pie from local businesses. It was almost like an insurance that you had to take that, you know, you had to pay very month, and if there was any problems, then, you know, I guess you would call them, and they would deal with it.

You know, it was almost like a protection fund -- Make sure nothing happened to your, you know, restaurant. -And if you own a business, it's far easier to pay $100 or $200 a month to organized crime than to report it. Imagine if you're operating a business and just trying to make a living and you have to give over money to the Mafia every week or every month.

Doesn't matter if you've made money or not, doesn't matter if you've lost money, um, and they're not providing you a service. I mean, nominally, it can be considered for protection, but they're protecting you from themselves. -Or protecting you from something that could cut into the profits you hand over to your crime family partner, like the theft of a pizza recipe that made Lulu Barbati's L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn so hugely successful. -Stealing a recipe is just -- You can't have it. It's a serious matter.

It sounds like it's not, but it's a serious matter. It's been -- The sauce recipe has probably been in, uh, in that family for generations, and you just don't take it and go open up another place. -Especially when it's a former employee doing the stealing. -So it -- it obviously caused a rift between the -- the L&B and -- and The Square. -It was more than a matter of pride.

When The Square began selling a nearly identical upside-down Sicilian pizza, the stolen recipe was now stealing real money out of the pockets of everyone profiting off L&B. -L&B Spumoni Gardens was like the favorite pizza of people living in Gravesend and Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and after the Verrazzano Bridge was built, a lot of those Italians ended up moving to Staten Island, and so they would come back to L&B to get their pizza. Once a place opens up on Staten Island that does a similar pizza, now suddenly, there's a chance of your customers being lost to the Staten Island one.

And as a business owner like at L&B, you can understand why it might be upsetting. -A member of the Colombo crime family named Frank Guerra decided he needed to send a message on behalf of L&B Spumoni Gardens. Guerra wanted Gene Lombardo, the owner of The Square pizzeria, to know that a line had been crossed.

So Guerra went to his best friend, a man named Anthony Russo, another member of the Colombo crime family with a reputation for violence. ♪♪ -They came up with a plan, which was to go to The Square, the place in Staten Island that Gene Lombardo opened, and to demand reparations from Gene Lombardo. The plan was to go with a third man, another Colombo family associate known as Frankie Notch, real name Frank Iannaci. Guerra and Iannaci would confront Lombardo and lure him around the corner, where Russo would be waiting. Russo was going to assault, uh, Gene Lombardo.

-But was taking revenge on The Square for ripping off L&B just the opening move in a deadly game? One that would end with L&B Spumoni Gardens' owner Lulu Barbati gunned down on the sidewalk outside his house. -The owner of a popular pizzeria found shot to death outside his home. ♪♪ -Lulu Barbati owned and operated L&B Spumoni Gardens, selling his famous square Sicilian pizza to long lines of customers. But Lulu's pride and bottom line both took a hit when his former employee Gene Lombardo used a stolen recipe to sell an identical pie at his pizzeria The Square.

This began a turf war over pizza, and the soldiers in this fight happened to have ties to the organized crime families of New York. -I'm a pizza maker, a pizza teacher, pizza consultant. I've been making pizza since I was 13 years old, so, uh, 52 years. It's the only thing I've ever done. I'm completely unemployable were it not for pizza, and, uh, it's become my life.

Uh, as I start, as I put the sauce out, and I use the ladle like a paintbrush. You know, in a competitive environment like New York, I think it's pretty easy to see how the culture of pizza and the way that it's handed down from generation to generation could end up being very fiercely protected. And if you insert a rumor of organized crime or that outside threat, I think you have a volatile situation.

♪♪ -Growing up especially on the South Shore of Staten Island, I knew a lot of, uh, mobsters. Where we grow up, you really can't -- You don't discuss those kind of things. I mean, I feel a little uncomfortable discussing it. ♪♪ ♪♪ Especially, I don't want to mention names. Um... You're either the son of a-a fireman or a cop, or son of a mobster.

[ Laughs ] Um... Oh, man. -Ironically, both the mob and the police can serve as lifelong professions, complete with org charts and career ladders to climb.

-There's a corporate structure, believe it or not, to the Mafia. You have associates, and then you have soldiers, and then you have captains. Then you have what they call the family's administration, which is the consigliere, you have the underboss, and then you have the boss. ♪♪ -So it's quite common for disputes that are personal in origin to become crime family business.

It can be a hybrid of a personal and crime family dispute, and that's exactly what this was. ♪♪ -A line had been crossed, so Frank Guerra, Anthony Russo, and a man named Frank Iannaci went to assault Gene Lombardo for stealing the pizza recipe from L&B Spumoni Gardens. ♪♪ -Gene Lombardo himself had been seen in the kitchen area of L&B looking at ingredients and sauces. Guerra was really suspicious, and, therefore, he used the resources of the Colombo family, meaning other members and associates, to get revenge when he believed his family had been disrespected.

♪♪ So, what happened was a little different than the plan. Those three men, Russo, Guerra, and, uh, Iannaci, went to The Square. Russo waited around the corner. Guerra and Iannaci did confront Lombardo. Guerra yelled at him about disrespecting Guerra's family, and Iannaci then assaulted him. He smacked Lombardo in the face.

-When word of the assault gets back to the two crime families, their respective bosses look for a way to keep the dispute from escalating. -So I know that they, yeah, the L&B and The Square, they wound up having a sit-down. A sit-down is when two higher-ups in in the mob, I guess, would discuss, you know, discuss what the, uh, appropriate action would be to rectify the situation. It's actually so the groups don't take matters into their own hands. -They had that sit-down.

They discussed what had happened. Lombardo was under the protection of the Bonanno family. Russo reiterated Guerra's demands, uh, which primarily were for a partnership with Lombardo, which would've meant ongoing payments based on profits, uh, that The Square made. -The Colombo family presents a choice -- Offer up a slice of the profits from The Square as retribution for stealing L&B's recipe, or pay them $75,000 in cash to settle the wrongdoing. ♪♪ The two sides negotiate and finally agree on a one-time payment.

The matter seems to be resolved, perhaps because the Bonanno family had a bigger interest in the pizza business to manage than one pizzeria on Staten Island. ♪♪ -Part of the pizza business happening was the cheese business, which was huge and super lucrative. And one of the people who got involved in the business very early on was a guy named Joe Bonanno, AKA Joey Bananas. So this is a known mobster, a known criminal, and he becomes a partner in a company that became the Grande Cheese Company, which is still around today and is without a doubt the best pizza cheese company in the United States. All the good pizzerias in New York City use it. But its foundation was it was really started off by a couple people who were known to be criminals.

♪♪ -Organized crime makes a lot of money extorting local businesses of all types, and it's much easier when that's, uh, you know, a mom and pop type of place rather than a corporation. ♪♪ -I-I've heard tons of stories where somebody would get a phone call. -The caller would offer to begin supplying the pizzeria with cheese from Joey Bananas' company, in case their current supplier couldn't deliver for some reason.

-And then the next day, they find out that, like, that chee-- that factory burned down or something. You know, pretty clear to see what was happening in those situations, but, uh, yeah, these are stories that I hear from the '70s and '80s when running a pizzeria in New York was a little crazy. People showing up and seeing, uh, you know, hearing that the staff that closed up the night before, that they were threatened, people came in, a window is smashed. -And sometimes if a pizzeria refused to buy Joey Bonanno's cheese, they might get a visit like the one Gene Lombardo received when members of the Colombo crime family waited outside The Square's front door. -Going after members of organized crime families is really difficult. They are extremely surveillance-conscious, far more aware of how law enforcement operates than other types of criminals.

It really is a profession for them. And they know the investigative techniques, so they will very rarely discuss crimes over the phone or in text messages, which you do see gang members do pretty often. Even sophisticated gang members, uh, generally don't assume they're being watched. Members and associates of La Cosa Nostra, organized crime families, always operate under that assumption.

So if you go up on a wire, let's say, they won't say, "Let's meet at this particular place." They won't name the place, and they won't say what they're going to meet about. They won't usually discuss the crimes, uh, on the phone call. -All of this makes law enforcement's job even tougher and their chances of prosecuting a case of extortion against a rival pizzeria almost impossible. Instead, they often need to rely on informants or flipping someone from a crime family into a witness. -Sometimes if you are able to flip a trusted member of associate who can make recordings in person, not over the phone but in person, you will get people discussing historical crimes with someone they trust, perhaps someone they've committed crimes with themselves.

-And that's just what happened in the L&B and The Square case. -So, Anthony Russo, he was arrested in 2011 in a 39-defendant case. He and Frank Guerra had been best friends for a very long time, and he cooperated about the extortion of Gene Lombardo and other crimes they had committed together.

♪♪ -At a sit-down brokered by the Colombo and Bonanno crime families, Gene Lombardo settled the dispute with L&B Spumoni Gardens for a one-time cash payment. The matter seemed resolved. ♪♪ ♪♪ -For the federal agents investigating New York City's crime families, the theft of a pizza recipe and the extortion of a competitor were only part of the massive case they were building.

-Russo, Guerra, and, uh, Iannaci often went to a social club run by a captain in the Colombo family. His name was Reynold Maragni. In 2011, Anthony Russo, he was arrested in a 39-defendant case with Reynold Maragni and others. -Today, more than 800 federal, state, and local law enforcement officials have arrested over 110 individuals, including dozens of La Cosa Nostra members and associates. This is one of the largest single-day, uh, operations against the Mafia in the FBI's history.

-Reynold Maragni was a cooperating witness. Only after he was arrested, he was able to make some recordings. He made a tape of Guerra discussing the dispute. -And the audio recording included Guerra admitting to the dispute.

He says on the recording, "That was personal." It's possible Guerra was suspicious of Maragni at that time, and Guerra is a savvy guy. He probably knew that if the dispute was truly 100% personal, it may not be chargeable as a racketeering act.

-But even as law enforcement was wrapping up the investigation that exposed the battle between L&B Spumoni Gardens and The Square, across town, the mob and local pizzerias had cooked up a much more nefarious scheme. -Breaking this morning, the takedown of a cocaine ring with global reach. The multinational sting operation had targets stretching from New York City to Italy.

-There are restaurants throughout New York City that are mob-connected, and one of these places was a place where Ralphie Cuomo, who is known as Raffie, opened what's known as the first Ray's Pizza in New York City. -So, there was Ray's. It was like the definitive New York slice at one time, for better or for worse, and from that, of course, beco-- There are imitators and claimants to the throne.

There was Famous Ray's, there was Famous Original Ray's, Original Ray's -- any variation of Ray that you could think of. -And Raffie Cuomo, when he opens up his pizzeria, he becomes a member of organized crime. He's hooked in that world, and that's going to be as much a part of his business as the cheese and the tomato sauce and the recipes.

He's a soldier. That's a Lucchese crime family operation. This happened below the ovens in the pizzeria. There were meetings in the pizzeria.

So as you're going in to get some pizza and meatballs, the guy who's smiling and handing you the pizza, five minutes later is downstairs making a deal. -Much like the heroin-smuggling Pizza Connection operation from years earlier... -It wasn't flour in the flour bags. [ Whispering ] It was heroin. -...illicit drugs and pizza were again being sold

out of the same location. -We remain committed to prosecuting La Cosa Nostra in New York, in the United States, and in collaboration with Italian law enforcement here. -In 1969, Cuomo was found with $25 million worth of heroin in the back of his trunk. He went to prison, came out, went right back to Ray's, went right back to dealing heroin in in the business.

Any business that deals in cash is really good for organized crime. It's a lot easier to wash the money. What I mean by wash it is to launder the money.

And they had a person at the bank who is handling the money for them. So that's how this crew operated. -There's always going to be people in every business that are tempted by a fast buck.

The first Ray's Pizza on Prince Street started out in the 1950s when there was still an organized crime component. But, you know, that was unfortunately very common in that neighborhood at that time. -After the bust of the Pizza Connection in the 1980s, people thought "Well, this could never happen again, right? You can't have this huge type of case where people are bringing in drugs, and it's mixed with pizza, and -- and this is happening across an inter-- on an international scale. That couldn't happen again, right?" Well, pizza and drugs once again were mixed. -But what about the neighborhood dispute between L&B Spumoni Gardens and The Square? It appeared to be settled. Water under the Verrazzano Bridge.

Both pizzerias were thriving. Louis Barbati was selling more pizza than ever before. -I became friendly with the people who own the L&B Spumoni Gardens.

I've been friends with the Barbati family for at least 15, probably close to 20 years. We're close. We're family. Louis, it was his whole life. Lulu, we called him Lulu -- That was his whole life. Friendly guy, would, like, mind his business.

Wasn't -- Wasn't a gossiper, wasn't a -- You know, "How you doing? Good. How's your wife? Good. How's the kids? Good, good, beautiful. I'm so happy to hear that. What do you want?" You know, and then he'd get you some food. -But beneath L&B's brisk business and its owner's terse conversation, was the dispute with The Square still simmering? -The owner of a popular pizzeria found shot to death outside his home.

-My assistant Danita, she got the first call that, you know, on the news, and they killed the owner of L&B Spumoni Gardens. I was out of the country. She told me that it was Lulu. I was on my honeymoon. I was on the beach.

My last day. My secretary Danita was crying, and she's like, "They killed Lulu, they killed Lulu." I was like, "What?" ♪♪ -Louis Barbati continued selling pizza for years after the peaceful resolution with The Square. Both pizzerias served an upside-down Sicilian in their own neighborhoods, The Square on Staten Island and L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn.

Then one day, everything changed. ♪♪ -Lulu was leaving work as he does every regular day. Nothing abnormal about it, except there was extra cash in the cash register, and he was bringing it home. It was approximately $15,000. ♪♪ And as he was going in, uh, his wife and kids were in the house, and they hear, "Bang, bang, bang," and they run to the door, and, yeah, it's upsetting to talk about.

I mean, he was -- He stayed with them for a little while. You know, the one son's calling 911. They're taking paper towels and trying to plug up the holes, it's... And he was gone very quickly. ♪♪ -A family lost a husband, a father. A community lost a business owner that had been an integral part of that that community for decades. He was a victim.

-This is video from an interview News12 Brooklyn did with him while visiting L&B Spumoni Gardens years ago. He talks about what makes the family business so special. -We're like one of the old-time people that stayed together. Uh, you know, everything is usually franchised and gets kind of watered down, but we're still the original family, and we try to keep it that way. -On Facebook, L&B Spumoni Gardens posted a message reading, "As we mourn the abrupt and heartbreaking loss of our beloved Louis, we appreciate the outpouring support and goodwill during these hardest of times.

The family respectfully wishes for privacy to grieve." -He was just, he was just a great guy. He was a family man, a great guy. He was great to his wife, his kids. He was a good neighbor.

-Immediately after Louis got shot, I mean, the -- the law enforcement reaction was tremendous, for many reasons. Obviously, it's a homicide, but so many of the law enforcement community eat at L&B Spumoni Gardens and knew Lulu, so it was even personal for them. ♪♪ -And that's the, you know, that's the real story.

Everybody knows that when you're cooking, there's more to it than the recipe. We've all been given recipes and not been able to replicate them no matter how closely we try to, because there's the touch of the person that's making the food, the care, the connection, the background. There's so much going on beyond what's just on the plate. -They're still investigating the Barbati family, the whole L&B empire, and is there anything else going on, is there something we don't know about, the things they always look at -- Is there a girlfriend that he had and her husband came and killed him? Is there a gambling debt that he owed? It was no secret that L&B was doing very well. I mean, you just had to pass by.

I mean, at 10:00 on a Thursday night, there's a line waiting to go sit in the restaurant. Forget about waiting to get pizza. So it's obvious that -- that money is coming in, and you know a lot of times when you buy pizza, you pay in cash, so, I mean, it wasn't exactly a news flash that Lulu may be coming home with money. But he didn't come home with money every night.

I mean, he was targeted on the night that he did have money. ♪♪ -Was it a simple robbery gone wrong? Did it have its origins in the dispute over the stolen recipe for the iconic upside-down Sicilian square? Or did Frank Guerra, the Colombo crime family associate, decide to enact revenge for being charged with extortion? Was Guerra especially angry when his friend and former enforcer Anthony Russo turned against him? ♪♪ -So, Anthony Russo testified publicly in Guerra's trial, and he testified about the extortion of Gene Lombardo and other crimes they had committed together. After a trial, Frank Guerra was convicted of a drug count.

He was convicted of obtaining and selling prescription opioids and selling it for for quite a lot of money. ♪♪ He was acquitted of the, uh, extortion of Gene Lombardo and The Square, but in federal court at the time of sentencing, a judge can take into account not only the crime of conviction but also other crimes a defendant has committed, including crimes that the defendant has been acquitted of. In this case, the judge who sentenced Guerra, um, had presided over his trial, so she had access to all of the evidence the government had offered, including the testimony of Anthony Russo who had participated in most of Guerra's crimes, and she found by a preponderance that Guerra had in fact extorted Gene Lombardo and committed other crimes, um, including participating in two murders.

-But none of the secret recordings or testimony answered the question of why Lulu Barbati was killed. It remained a mystery, even as who killed him was uncovered. ♪♪ -When I make a pizza, I'm not just making a pizza that represents me. I'm making a pizza that's the sum total of everybody who has influenced me in my life -- Everybody that ever loved me, everybody that ever cared about me enough to teach me something. And when I make the pizza, when I touch the dough, when I approach the oven, I hear their voices, and if I can hear those voices, I can keep those voices alive, so the pizza grants immortality to the people that I love. ♪♪ -But as L&B's owner Lulu Barbati lay bleeding from fatal gunshot wounds outside his home, his family was less concerned about his legacy as a pizza maker and more focused on the who and why of his murder.

The link between family-owned businesses and the business of crime families left law enforcement trying to untangle where one ends and the other begins. ♪♪ -Immediately after Louis got shot, initially, everyone is looking towards this organized crime link between the homicide, L&B Spumoni Gardens, and the defendant. They found the video of the individual by the house, and then in a short time, they found a video of him also by the store.

I was in the courtroom when his -- I don't know if it was his wife, but it was the mother of his child identified him on the video in the courtroom. It was a pretty powerful moment. "Yes, that's him right outside, uh, of Lulu's house before the murder took place." And then finally they realized, "We don't have really a motive except it's just a robbery." There's no organized crime links here, so the Feds cannot hold onto the case. So then they handed it over to the Brooklyn district attorney's office.

The case went to trial. Brooklyn district attorneys did a great job proving that this was the individual who shot and killed Lulu. -A Long Island man has been found guilty in the murder of a pizzeria owner. A jury took less than a day before returning the verdict against Andres Fernandez.

It was in June of 2016 when Louis Barbati was found dead of gunshot wounds as he arrived at his Brooklyn home with more than $15,000 in cash. -Nobody knows why. Why'd you kill Lulu? Because you wanted the money out of the bag? The guy didn't even take the money. Money was just there. Why? We don't know, and at this point, we'll never know.

♪♪ -And as for Frank Guerra, the Colombo crime family associate who represented Lulu and L&B Spumoni Gardens' interests, his justice was swift and severe. He was charged for drug crimes, extorting Gene Lombardo and The Square pizzeria, and two murders. -After a trial, the judge who sentenced Guerra had access to all of the evidence, and she found by a preponderance that Guerra had in fact extorted Gene Lombardo and committed other crimes, including the murder of Joe Scopo in 1993, which was a pretty significant event in the -- in the Colombo family. The judge, she took all of that into account and sentenced him to the top of his guidelines' range for his drug crime, which was 168 months. -Did the punishment fit the crime? Lost in the story of Louis Barbati's tragic death is an entire lifetime of bringing joy to hundreds of thousands of customers. His upside-down Sicilian square pizza was a work of creative inspiration, and his battle with his former employee over that recipe is now part of New York pizza lore.

Every time you eat a slice of upside-down Sicilian from The Square or L&B Spumoni Gardens, a part of what you're about to enjoy is due to him. ♪♪ -Several years ago, I did a presentation with a food historian, Mimo from Naples. Got up in the morning, and Mimo was making a cup of coffee. He had a little pocket scale. He weighed out the beans to the gram, and he took the temperature of the water.

He ground the beans by hand. He made this cup of coffee. Took him about 20 minutes. And then when he made the coffee, he held it up to the light, and he looked at it, he smelled it, and then he drank it. And I said, "Mimo, you know, if you were an American, you would've just put the Keurig cartridge into the machine, pushed the button, and you'd have a cup of coffee in 20 seconds." And he said, "That's because Americans consume like sharks.

They move forward with their mouths opening, and they never really think about the food and how it got there." When we consume anything, we should think of everything that it took for that food to get to the plate or to the cup. ♪♪ By the time that food gets to the plate, a lot of things had to go right, and if you think about all of those things, you don't have to consume as much, and you'll still be satisfied. But if you don't think about it, if you move forward like a shark moving your mouth, you're never satisfied.

And as pizza makers or as chefs, that's really what we're looking for. We want you to not just eat it and say, "Oh, this is good," or, "This is bad," or, "I like this," or, "I don't like it." We want you to think about the food. What's the story? What are the -- What are the voices behind this food? ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

2022-02-18 15:32

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