Friends, families, and locals of the Bronx’s Little Italy took to the streets on May 8th to pay homage to Michele “Mike” Greco, a neighborhood institution. Greco, who owned the famous Mike’s Deli since the 1950s, died in 2019 at the age of 89. His legacy lives on in his three children Louisa, Marco, and David, and now, with a new street name called “Mike Greco Way.”
Greco immigrated to the Bronx from the southern Italian region of Calabria in 1947 at the age of 17 with $50 to his name. He first began working for a Bronx butcher shop, later falling in love and marrying the boss’s daughter. He opened Mike’s Deli inside the Arthur Avenue Retail Market in the early 1950s. Since then, the deli, where his son David spends most of his dark working, has been serving up fresh antipasti, hang-dried sausages, and scamorza. Greco’s classic Italian dishes earned him the name of “The Salami King of the Bronx.” A New York Times obituary on Greco said he would often belt out a Puccini or Verdi aria when working in the deli, and would always cry with happiness when he was interviewed.
“My father would start the day with either one or two things,” said David to the Bronx Times. “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.” At the ceremony on May 8, David had a glass of wine to honor his father.
The street renaming took place on the corner of Hughes and Crescent avenues in the Bronx’s Little Italy. The ceremony was initiated by Father Ortega, a priest at a local church, with a prayer and a wine toast. Mike’s Deli supplied sandwiches, pizza, desserts, and wine for the ceremony. “This street dedication is really going to be an honor to Mike, just celebrating his life, his commitment to his family, his culture, the community, and the deli,” said Alyssa Tucker, assistant director of the Belmont Business Improvement District.
The ceremony was also attended by Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson. “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.”
Mike’s Deli has been thriving under David’s command, gaining even more popularity and widespread appeal on TikTok. David said he’s planning on keeping Mike’s Deli a strictly Bronx Little Italy staple and family business.
Asia London Palomba
Asia London Palomba is a trilingual freelance journalist from Rome, Italy. In the past, her work on culture, travel, and history has been published in The Boston Globe, Atlas Obscura, The Christian Science Monitor, and Grub Street, New York Magazine's food section. In her free time, Asia enjoys traveling home to Italy to spend time with family and friends, drinking Hugo Spritzes, and making her nonna's homemade cavatelli.