Written by Christy Hinko Saturday, 04 May 2013 00:00
It is not likely that most people celebrate a milestone birthday by surrounding themselves with nearly 200 of their closest friends and family members, are presented with the key to the county, and make a generous donation to a friend’s charity. This is exactly what Umberto Corteo, owner of the Original Umberto’s of New Hyde Park, did on April 16 to celebrate his 70th birthday.
Before presenting the Key To Nassau County, County Executive Ed Mangano shared a brief story about Corteo’s migration to America, “He [Corteo] represents the American dream; he came here with so very little.”
Born outside of Naples, Italy, Corteo worked his father’s farm to help feed their family of 13; he is the seventh of 11 children.
When Corteo arrived in America, he settled in Brooklyn, taking restaurant jobs for little money, and sending much of what he made back to his family in Italy.
In 1965, after saving and planning, the Original Umberto’s of New Hyde Park was opened.
Mangano said, “Umberto Corteo really represents all that is good with small businesses here in Nassau County; he’s very generous and gives back continuously.”
Similarly, good friend and business association, Richard “Big Daddy” Salgado of Coastal Advisors, LLC in New Hyde Park said, “I don’t know anyone greater than this man [Umberto] when it comes to being a loyalist and what Long Island is all about.”
Notably, in 2007 with the help of Salgado, Corteo established Pizza Fridays for the New York Giants football team, on their journey to the Super Bowl.
“We take pride in, and believe those Pizza Fridays for the Super Bowl influenced the New York Giants’ victory,” said Mangano.
Also in attendance were New York Giants Defensive Ends Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre Paul who presented Corteo with a personalized Giants’ jersey.
Corteo graciously thanked his friends and family for sharing his birthday celebration and in turn, gave a $15,000 donation to Tuck’s R.U.S.H. For Literacy foundation.
Corteo told Anton Newspapers, “It’s a beautiful thing to do,” explaining that he feels that people are equal and deserve the chance to be better, his reasoning for gifting Tuck on his own birthday.
Tuck, and his wife, Lauran, founded Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy in 2008, raising funds to be able to donate books to children in New York City and Central Alabama communities.
Tuck said, “He [Corteo] has a kind heart and he always asks me, ‘What do you need; what can I do to help you?’”
Tuck later shared with Anton Newspapers that he was surprised by Corteo’s generous donation to his foundation, which he learned of only minutes before arriving at the birthday celebration.
Tuck said, “When I am old and gray, sitting on a rocking chair somewhere, the kids today are going to be the ones making the choices that rule this world, so I am going to do my part to make sure they have the education and tools.”