Joseph Gallo, nicknamed “crazy” by fellow mobsters, was a Red Hook–born gangster specializing in typical 1950s and 1960s mafia activities such as extortion and racketeering.
But he made a fatal mistake on the night of his 43rd birthday, on April 7, 1972. After visiting the Copacabana nightclub, he stopped into Umberto’s Clam House on Mulberry Street in Little Italy. It was around 5 a.m. Supposedly a rival mobster saw him enter Umberto’s; within minutes, gunmen entered the restaurant and start firing.
Gallo was hit five times, staggered out to the street, and died. He’s buried in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.
There’s the crime scene at Umberto’s early the next morning. Apparently Gallo thought he was safe there because of an unwritten agreement among gangsters that Little Italy was off-limits to bloodshed.
Umberto’s Clam House has since relocated a few blocks away, on the corner of Broome and Mulberry Streets in ever-shrinking Little Italy.
What happened when Gallo loyalists tried to avenge his murder? Here’s the story of a hit gone very, very wrong.