On the chilly night of October 24, 1903, over 600 Italian immigrants set sail for the new world from Palermo, Sicily aboard the Italian Prince. Hidden among them in a lifeboat was Giuseppe Gambiino, a 21-year old Sicilian, who had slipped onboard the Sicilian Prince in the hope of making a new life for himself in America.
A week later, when the ship docked in Le Havre, France to pick up additional supplies and passengers, Giuseppe snuck above deck to watch the excitement. He spied the incoming passengers and his eye was caught by a certain Miss Mary O’Reilly.
A 19-year old red headed Irish beauty from Dublin, Mary was to join her parents in Brooklyn. Of a slightly higer class, Mary was a 2nd class passenger, but a determinded Giuseppe made his way to her side, and over the course of the 3 week voyange, the determined Sicilian and the feisty Irish lass fell in love.
Docking at Ellis Island, in New York on a drab November morning, the young couple, fearing that Guiseppe would be arrested, and Mary’s parents would separate the pair forever, the couple planned to convince the inspection officer that they were newlyweds.
The weary officer grumbled, “Names?” Mary looked the officer in the eye and stated, “Mr. and Mrs. Guiuseppe O’Gambino” . He slowly peered up from his spectalcles.
“What kind of name is that?”
“It’s Irish Italian”, she replied.
A few years later, after much hard work, frugal living, and the inevitable acceptance of the O’Reily family, the couple started a neighbourhood bar nand eatery in New Yrok’s Lower East Side, serving their distinctive Irish Italian fare to the local community.
This melting pot of food and drink perfectly matched the melting pot of lower New York, and the O’Gambinos legend was born.