“Celebrating 10 Years of Casa Belvedere”
Casa Belvedere Ambassadors
We would like to acknowledge Casa Belvedere’s extraordinary “Ambassadors”. These individuals were designated as “Casa Cavalieri” (Knights) or “Casa Dame” (Dames) for their dedication to the mission and goals of The Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere, their commitment to the betterment of Staten Island, and their many other professional achievements……
Vincent D’Antuono is the owner of Pastosa Ravioli of West Brighton, Staten Island, and prides himself on providing authentic Italian food specialties, incorporating the many Italian recipes, traditions, and customs handed down through his family to his clientele.
Vincent has been the recipient of many prestigious awards, including most recently the Staten Island Community Cornerstone Award. It is because of his generosity and contributions to our community that the DaVinci Society of Wagner college honored Vincent with the 2014 community Service Award. Vincent was also recently featured on NY1 as an outstanding Community and Business Owner.
Today, Vincent and his family reside in West Brighton which affords them the accessibility to their business and allows them to be hands-on with the community. Vincent was the first President of the Forest Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) which works to improve the area, making it more inviting and beneficial to customers and businesses alike. The D’Antuono’s make it their priority to give back to those in need by supporting not only the immediate neighborhood by also various community organizations, charities, houses of worship, schools, and especially veterans.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, he served almost three years in active duty in the United States Army with the 440th Army Bank/18th Airborne Division and also served another 3 years in the U.S. Army reserves. He was a professional tenor sax and jazz musician during the early 1960’s and toured around the country allowing him to meet and play with many legendary entertainers. He is also a published songwriter.
Vincent has been married to his wife, Elizabeth for 48 years. They have two sons, Michael and Vincent Jr. who work in the business, and one grandson, Michael. He loves to golf and actually won the Senior Olympics in 2015.
Paul Dapolito III
Paul Dapolito III prides himself on being a businessman, family man, and philanthropist.
From July 2008 to the present, Paul has been a private investor, trader, and community volunteer. He was also a member of the Coffee, Sugar and Cocoa Exchange and the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT), since 1984, which was acquired by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in 2007 where he actively assisted to negotiate for NYBOT’s interest and the conditions of the ICE merger proposal.
As a volunteer, he is currently serving as Vice-Chairman of the Emergency Children’s Help Organization (ECHO), and also it’s Executive Committee. With his assistance, in 2016, ECHO surpassed $1.25 million dollars in grants awarded. He was also a volunteer for the Commodity Exchange Center Children’s Fund, a charitable organization founded for the benefit of disabled and terminally ill children.
But first and foremost is the love he has for his family. he has a wife Joann of 31 years and two healthy children Ashley and Paul IV and enjoys spending as much time with them as possible. In the past, he volunteered as his son’s little league coach and coached girls soccer at Staten Island Academy for his daughter.
Paul also enjoys football games at all skill levels, hockey, basketball, baseball, and especially boating.
Bill; a native Staten Islander is the owner and operator of four successful food markets. In 1984 he opened his first store together with his long-time friend Michael Valenzo who passed away in February of 2015. To date, the four stores are a staple in Staten Island and Queens. Prior to going into business Bill worked for a company called Scaturro Food Markets, a small chain where he was responsible for opening new stores and operations. Bill also studied electrical engineering both in McKee High School and College. Bill is on the Board of Staten Island Visiting Nurses as well as the Tri-State Italian American Congress. He is also an affiliate of the Met Food Advertising committee. He is an active participant in the Staten Island Advance cookbook each year which helps the children’s campaign. In addition, he donates to many local charities including Eger’s nursing home, Marine Corp league, the Sillar Foundation, FDNY911. Toys For Tots, Boy scouts, and all local churches. Bill is also a member of the Victory Blvd. Merchants Association and founding member of Casa Belvedere.
Bill is married to his best friend Cathy for 41 years. Together they have three children William, Lisa, and Jessica whom he is incredibly dedicated to. He now is the proud grandfather of three grandchildren, Liam, Colette, and Vivian.
Born Frank P. Aversa, the oldest of five children to Giacomo & Joanne Aversa in Brooklyn, NY in 1953. Attended St Teresa’s Elementary School in Queens before moving to Staten Island in 1964, then attended IS 2, New Dorp High School and SICC, and later achieved continued certification in Environmental Engineering. Joined the family construction business in 1972 and married his high school sweetheart, Karen, in 1973. Frank and Karen raised three children, Frank Jr., Marissa and Nicholas and have nine grandchildren.
Frank is a managing partner at Aversa Bros Industrial Contracting & Engineering Inc. from 1973 -present. He simultaneously held the CEO position at Mid-Atlantic Environment Group From 1986 – 1998. And continues to successfully manage the day to day operations including sales, contract agreements, construction and remediation plans of commercial & industrial facilities.
Mr. Aversa coached hockey at a variety of levels in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He is the former Vice Chairman of the Richmond County Republican Party, Former Chairman of Casa Belvedere, Board Member of The YMCA, Associate Director Of The Staten Island Business Core and an active member of the Verrazano Chapter of Kiwanis.
In 2015, Frank and Karen began “Arden Services LLC” a full service inspection and reporting company for residential, commercial and industrial properties, in the tri-state area.
Born and raised on the North Shore of Staten Island, his parents William and Rosemarie instilled a strong work ethic and commitment to the community. William attended Curtis High School and played football for the Warriors. He continued his education at Wagner College where he met his wife of 32 years Bianca. William continues to leave a footprint on Staten Island through his company Formica Construction and by co-founding Flag Container Services. He also built and rebuilt Atlantis Marina and Surf City Marina where he is co-owner. His generosity and willingness to give back has earned him many awards. He is the recipient of Award of appreciation from Wagner College Alumni and Athletics and Three time recipient of the SI Chamber of Commerce Building awards. William and his wife are founding members of Casa Belvedere. He has been a member of Tiro a Segno for 25 years. William has two children, a son William and daughter Juliana.
I am here today not to celebrate myself but to celebrate my two Grandfathers, two men who emigrated to New York in 1919 and 1921 respectively.
Lorenzo Pucciarelli was born in Salerno Italy in 1889, He arrived in America in 1919 without his family, and settled on Saint Mary’s Avenue in Rosebank. When he earned enough money, Lorenzo sent for his wife Teresa and eldest son Antonio, who was born in Italy. Lorenzo was a manual laborer who had six children, five of whom were born on Staten Island. My father Joseph, born in 1926, was Lorenzo’s third child. My grandfather passed in 1934 when my father was 8 years old. The depression was tough on the Pucciarelli family but my father and his siblings supported their mother and home and four of the brothers became butchers. All six of Lorenzo’s children and grandchildren lived and thrived on Staten Island.
Domenico Proscia, my maternal grandfather, came to America from Bari Italy in 1921. Domenico started an Ice and Coal business with his brother Giacomo. He met his wife Ciarina in New York and married in 1925.Domenico was very successful and soon turned his coal business into Fuel oil. He amassed a large portfolio in Real Estate as well as operating his thriving Fuel Oil and Plumbing business. Domenico had two sons and a daughter. The sons, of course, worked for my grandfather. My mother Lucy was a good student, went to college, and met my father while she was working at a Bank.
My parents married in 1951 and had three sons. My two brothers and myself all were good students attended college and became happy and successful.
My course of studies started in the natural sciences and then I gravitated to Economics, earning an MBA in International Finance. After forty years working in various positions dealing with commodities and Imports, I have retired, spending some of my time volunteering at Casa Belvedere.
In fact, ALL of my Pucciarelli and Proscia Cousins attended College, became successful and lived and thrived in New York. My eldest cousin Anthony became a Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a College Professor.
All of this presents an amazing story when we consider the very humble beginnings of my forebears who were brave enough to leave their native country and take their chances in America.
Roy Raineri was born In 1952 in Palermo, Sicily. At the age of twelve years old, the Raineri family immigrated to the United States of America and settled in Brooklyn. Roy graduated from New Utrecht High School, after graduation Roy started pursuing a Graduate Gemology Degree from the Gemological Institute of America, another step in what would become his lifelong passion of being a jeweler and model maker.
Roy’s father, a second-generation jeweler, taught him the art of jewelry making at an early age. After graduating from GIA, Roy joined his father in the family business and together they continued to expand the business that was started in 1965, at that time a one-man operation at the Paramount Diamond Exchange, located in New York City’s original diamond district on the Bowery.
Roy’s son Nick also followed the same path, joining the family business. Today, 52 years later with the help of his children, Raineri Jewelers is still a family owned and operated business and is still located on the Bowery, employing a full staff of Jewelers, Polishers, Watchmakers and Sales associates. Raineri Jewelers services an extensive customer base, specializing in bridal, custom made jewelry and fine watches.
Roy is proud of his heritage and feels strongly about the preservation of the Italian traditions. Italians have and continued to contribute to our great country in all aspects of life. It is important to teach our children what our parents instilled in us, with foundations like Casa Belvedere the goal becomes easier because of the programs and activities that are offered. Roy and his family are proud supporters of many charities such as: Autism Research, Kids for Kids St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Juvenile Diabetes, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and a proud member of the Ben-Bay Kiwanis organization.
Louis Barrella has been a dedicated Music Educator for over 40 years, specializing in Music and Opera Appreciation in schools and for many Cultural Organizations. Most importantly, he has given workshops and organized student trips for the Education Department of the Metropolitan Opera for 35 years and continues to do so.
He has been a Guest Lecturer at Colleges, Museums, and Cultural Institutions throughout the Metropolitan Area; is a Board Member of the Enrico Caruso Museum; teaches an Opera Class at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, is on the planning committee for the new Italian American Museum, has hosted Opera Nights at the Columbus Citizen’s Foundation and co-hosted events for the Mario Lanza Society. He has made over 650 presentations since 1993, including over 40 for us at Casa Belvedere since 2010. He has also assisted in many of the other events here including the annual Car Show & Festa, Golf Outings, Special Dinners, the Presepio, and Outdoor Film Nights.
In 2003, he received the Dr. Leonard Covello Lifetime Achievement Award from The Italian Teachers’ Association for his Outstanding Contributions to Italian Culture which he proudly continues to promote!
Bob Cutrona is the president of President-One Services, Inc., a full-service maintenance and construction company. Bob’s background is in finance and accounting, and in the earlier part of his career, he worked as the head of finance for Ralph Lauren and Bloomingdale’s. In 1995, Bob was one of the founders of Victory State Bank. Bob is committed to empowering and mentoring young people and has taught business classes as an adjunct professor at the College of Staten Island. He has also participated in mentoring programs with the Chamber of Commerce and the Staten Island Economic Development Corp. Bob serves on many boards on Staten Island, including Richmond University Medical Center, The College of Staten Island, Eden II, and, of course, the advisory board for Casa Belvedere. He also is very active with the JCC and Camp Sunrise. Bob lives on Emerson Hill with his wife, Jennifer, and two beautiful daughters, Marley and Mia. Bob is also the proud father of two sons, Robert and David, and the proud grandfather of Tazio. When not serving the community, Bob enjoys skiing, music, politics, and watching the New York Mets.
Joseph Ferrara is a second-generation builder with nearly 30 years of construction and development experience. As one of the creating principals of BFC Partners, Ferrara has been an integral part of the firm’s growth, and has been responsible for the construction and development of over 8,000 affordable and market rate units throughout the city.
While still involved with the construction process, Ferrara has made managing the firm’s branding, marketing and leasing initiatives his primary focus. He’s the creative force behind the firm’s award-winning sales galleries, and recently sold through the company’s latest high-profile, such as Schaefer Landing in Williamsburg, Toren Condominium &7 Dekalb in Brooklyn. He also brought his eye for design to the selection of the finishes used in the public and private spaces within each of the BFC developments.
Under his direction, BFC has received multiple marketing awards for branding, collateral material, interior design and first-class sales galleries, and he is currently leading the marketing efforts for over 2 million square feet of mixed-use developments in addition to the firm’s latest project, Empire Outlets, the first retail outlet center in New York City.
Under his creative direction, Ferrara is a founding member of “Destination St. George” – NYC’s Urban Getaway. An international marketing alliance formed to promote tourism through a multitude of channels to the borough Empire Outlets NYC calls home. He has recently been honored by the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy as an individual who has steadfastly contributed to the resurgence of Staten Island.
In years 2016, 2017 and 2018, Ferrara was ranked in the New York Commercial Observer’s top 100 list of the most powerful people in New York City’s real estate. He is a board member of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC), the lead advocates for economic development in Staten Island. He is also on the board of directors for Snug Harbor Cultural Center &Botanical Gardens.
2017 American Cancer Society ~ Highest fundraiser across all of NYC
2016, 2017 & 2018 ~ Observer Power 100
2015 ~ Neighborhood Catalyst Award ~ Brooklyn Building 1000 Dean Street
Best High Rise & Best Penthouse ~ CNBC Worldwide Property Awards ~ The America’s
2014 US Maxxi Silver ~ Marketing Excellence – Brand Development & Positioning
2014 Addy Award ~ Collateral Material, Brochure & Campaign
2014 Urban Pioneer Award
Private Developer of the Year ~ National Housing Conference
John J. Profaci
Mr. Profaci began his career as a broker to the foodservice industry representing Italian food products and cooking oils after graduating from St. John’s University with a degree in marketing. In 1978, a business acquaintance introduced Mr. Profaci to Enrico Colavita of Compobasso, Italy, who was visiting the US on his honeymoon. Intrigued by Enrico’s descriptions of his family’s stone olive oil mill in the hills of what is now known as the Molise region of Italy, Mr. Profaci agreed on a handshake to import Colavita extra virgin olive oil into the US.
John J. Profaci, “John Senior” to staff and colleagues, is credited with making genuine Italian extra virgin olive oil available to millions of consumers throughout North America. Through Mr. Profaci’s pioneering efforts, the Colavita line of Italian specialty food products is distinguished in home and professional kitchens for authenticity and the highest level of quality.
Mr. Profaci is equally dedicated to his community. He received the Business Achievement Award from the Federation of Italian American Organizations in 2005 and is a member and sponsor of the National American Foundation (NIAP). A member of the International Rotary Club for nearly 20 years, Mr. Profaci was named Man of the Year by the Verrazano Rotary Club in 1994. He co-chaired the March of Dimes in Staten Island’s fund-raising galas in 1992 and 1993. Mr. Profaci served as a Treasurer of the North American Olive Oil Association in 1994 and 1995.
In 2009, Mr. Profaci was awarded an Oscar from the Culinary Institute of America for his work in helping to change the dietary habits of the American Cuisine. In 2012, he was inducted into the Specialty Food Association’s Hall of Fame in recognition of his help in building the EVOO category in North American Markets.
Mr. Profaci and his wife Connie, owner of Connie Profaci Realty in Staten Island, have four sons who joined Colavita USA after college. Sons Joseph and Anthony are the company’s corporate attorneys and John and Robert, who manage all aspects of the business from the company headquarters in Edison, NJ.
Michael (Mike) Randazzo was born on February 27, 1964 in Brooklyn, NY. He lived in Bensonhurst and at the age of 5, he moved to Staten Island, NY.
Mike was the oldest of 4 siblings to the proud parents Nicholas and Theresa. Robert, Joseph and his dearly departed sister Cathy were very close growing up. Nicholas was a Partner of the popular The Barge Restuarant in Sheepshead Bay where they were the proprietors for over 20 years. Mike grew up in the back of the restaurant and at a very young age learned the value and benefits of hard work. He was a bus boy, Waiter and eventually worked side by side with his father in the Kitchen.
Mike graduated St. Joseph by The Sea High School in Staten Island. Shortly thereafter he attended Devry Institute in NJ where he received a degree in Electrical Technology.
His first job post degree was that for Telecom Plus. He worked as a telephone equipment installer for 15 years. His last large assignment was designing trading turrets on Trading floors for major brokerage houses. After Telecom Plus Mike accepted a position with Redwood Brokerage on Wall Street as their Chief Technical Officer.
In 2008 Mike accepted a position with OPI Construction where he is currently a Partner. OPI Construction is a National commercial construction company. They do major construction Nationwide for Fortune companies like Verizon, Goldman Sachs, Chase, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Barclays to name a few.
Mike is very involved in causes and charities. Mike was a Board Member for the Muscular Dystrophy Association; an affiliate with the Turn Two Foundation sponsored by Derek Jeter; in 2010 was the Honoree for the Child Abuse Prevention Program; is currently a Board Member of Adrienne’s Helping Hand Foundation. A childrens reading program. Mike is also currently a Board Member of Casa Belvedere, an Italian cultural foundation in NY and most recently was Named Man of the at the Italian Tribune 2018 Columbus day Galla.
Mike met the love of his life Linda on a school bus at the age of 15. They have been together ever since. They have been married 34 years and have 2 wonderful sons Vincent and Michael. Mike and his family all currently reside in Staten Island, NY.
Brian was raised in Brooklyn and attended Lafayette High School. He then attended Wagner College and Ross University Medical School. After graduating medical school, Brian completed a residency in family practice at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, St. Mary’s Hospital in Hoboken, New Jersey. During this time, he met Lora Giacomoni who would become his wife. After completing his residency, Brian settled in Staten Island where he maintains a private practice and is a member of Northwell Health Physician’s Partners. In addition to his private practice, Brian is also a police surgeon for the New York Police Department and an adjunct faculty member of the Physician’s Assistant Program at Wagner College. Brian had been recognized by numerous agencies for his contributions to the medical profession and his philanthropic activities. Brian received the Citation of Excellence from Bensonhurst Volunteer Ambulance Society, the President’s Award from the New York City Police Department Honor Leg neon, the New Jersey Italian Police Society Humanitarian Award, the Brooklyn Law School Award for Humanitarian Affairs, the New York City Police Department Detective Endowment’s Association Citation of Recognition for Humanitarian Services, the National Coalition of Columbia Association Humanitarian Award, the Leone Di San Marco Award in Law Enforcement for Dedication and Humanitarianism Award from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, and the Humanitarian of the Year award from the New York Police Department Detective’s Endowment Association. Brian is a member of numerous Law Enforcement associations. He is also a Diplomate of the American Academy of Family Practice and the American Medical Association. Brian is a staunch supporter of Italian American heritage and advocates for perpetuating the rich Italian cultural traditions. Brian lives in Prince’s Bay with his wife, Lora Giacomoni and his three children, Jonathan, Andrew, and Daria.
Frank Naso has been building and developing properties in Staten Island for 30 years. He is a second-generation builder, who has presided over and managed the successful development of over 1500 homes throughout Staten Island and approximately 200,000 square feet of commercial space.
Frank is a graduate of St. John’s University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance. He then attended New York University for his Master of Science degree in Real Estate Development and Investment. He is the former president of the Building Industry Association of Staten Island and now the chairman. He is an active member of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and is currently on the Board of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation.
Carol Ann Benanti
Carol Ann Benanti is the Inside Out columnist, features writer and AWE Arts and Entertainment reporter for the Staten Island Advance and SILive.com Staten Island Media Group.
As Inside Out columnist she’s afforded the opportunity to expand on anecdotal observations of current and former Staten Islanders, to shine the Advance spotlight on individuals and local not-for-profits and to connect and often reunite borough residents.
She was a reporter and features writer in the Advance’s Lifestyle Department, the Happenings Editor, the Inquiring Photographer in an Advance segment called “Just Asking” and a former Advance Restaurant Reviewer writing under the pen name, Jolie Verde.
She also was the Word Search columnist, a popular feature originally introduced as a way to commemorate the Advance’s 100th anniversary.
A Brooklyn College alum, Mrs. Benanti is an honorary member of Omicron Delta Kappa, (ODK) the National Leadership Honor Society at Wagner College, Grymes Hill.
She is a board member of the Iron Hills Civic Association and a member of the National Association of Italian-American Women.
Mrs. Benanti has been recognized by a number of charitable and civic organizations including the Emergency Children’s Help Organization, (E.C.H.O.), a foundation whose mission is to amass resources for children in need, New Direction Services, a feeding ministry that assists children and contributes to a children’s food pantry which feeds thousands of needy Staten Islanders, the Iron Hills Civic Association, the Pakistani Civic Association of Staten Island, the Miss Staten Island Scholarship Pageant Association for her role in advocating and supporting the mission of Miss America Organization and by Spotlight Theatre, a local theater company, for promoting the arts on Staten Island.
She also received honors for outstanding community service from the North Star Lions Club, the Visiting Nurses Association of Staten Island and the World of Women (WOW).
For her commitment to Staten Island she was honored by New York City Arts Cypher, a non-profit organization that promotes positive values through arts and entertainment and by the St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina Society.
To commemorate Italian Heritage Month, Mrs. Benanti was presented with the Italian-American Heritage Award by Borough President James P. Molinaro during a ceremony that celebrated Italian history and culture.
Mrs. Benanti was a recipient of the DaVinci Society of Wagner College’s Community Service Award. She also was the honored by the Italian Club of Staten Island Foundation’s during their annual dinner gala.
Mrs. Benanti also was the recipient of the Fourth Estate Award from the American Legion’s National Public Relations Commission presented to an individual, publication or broadcast organization for outstanding achievement in the field of journalism.
For their community involvement, both she and her husband Anthony were lauded by the Staten Island Friends for Hospice Care.
A supporter of the arts, Mrs. Benanti studied acting, dance and voice in Manhattan, and appeared in several off-Broadway productions.
She currently resides in Dongan Hills with her husband, Anthony. Together they are the parents of two sons, Joseph and Anthony, two grandsons, Joseph Sebastian and Everett Jon and a granddaughter, Vivian Rae.