Joe's Superette at 349 Smith Street the way it was until the summer 2011
Leo was the owner of Joe's Superette at 349 Smith Street. He had taken over the Italian deli from Joe, his former boss, in 1985. Though Leo was known for his amazing hero sandwiches, which he prepared with a big smile, it was his deep-fried rice balls and prosciutto balls that made him famous. At lunch time, customers would wait patiently in a long line to place their order. If they came in for a sandwich, they would invariably add: "And give me some prosciutto balls with that."
(My kids used to call them yum-yum balls and my favorite Leo sandwich is still the Italian tuna with mayo, tomato and shredded lettuce on a hero.)
Sadly, Leo passed away in May 2011, his store closed shortly afterwards and the wonderful old store sign that even predated him is long gone. Many in the neighborhood still miss him. I know I do.
That's why I was so delighted to find out that his niece Christina made a short film about her uncle. It not only tells of his move from Italy to this country at age 15, and his time as a Brooklyn deli man, but includes wonderful interviews with Joe Alameda, Joanne Rizzuto, Peter Demetrio, and Charlie Benevento, who knew Leo for most of his life.
Thanks for sharing this, Christina. What a beautiful tribute to Leo.