Vesuvio, famed bread shop in Soho, is sold
By Albert Amateau
Pat Giordano, above, whose family recently bought Vesuvio Bakery from Tony Dapolito, right, seen here last November.
Photo by Akiko Miyazak
Vesuvio Bakery, at 160 Prince St., where Anthony Dapolito, unofficial Mayor of Greenwich Village, has presided for more than two generations, changed hands last month.
The new owners, Christine Gigante and her sister-in-law, Lisa Gigante, are neighbors of Dapolito and plan to carry on the business selling bread and adding tables where sit-down customers may order espresso and panini.
Our grandparents were from Naples and we all grew up in the neighborhood together, said Pat Giordano, Christine Gigantes brother, who said he was not an employee but was minding the store on Tues. April 22.
Giordano said the Gigante sisters-in-law intend to bring the old world back to the inside of the store like it is on the outside. Nevertheless, he said, the window would continue to display bread the way it has for more than 80 years.
Reached at the Village Nursing Home, where he recently returned due to weakness, Dapolito said of the new owners, They really want to carry on the tradition. Ive known the family all my life.
Dapolito, 83, worked as a boy in the bakery on Prince St., decades before the neighborhood came to be known as Soho. His father and mother, Nunzio and Jennie, immigrants from Naples, opened it in 1920 and Tony went on to own it after they died.
The bakery has frequently been used as an historic-looking setting for movies and commercials.
Dapolito joined the fight that stopped Robert Moses from demolishing a large swath of the Village in the 1950s and became a community activist, serving 45 years on Community Board 2, the citys longest-serving community board member. He was chairperson of the board 12 times and is currently chairperson of the boards Parks Committee.
Known alternately as Mr. Playgrounds for his work in creating several new park and playground spaces in the Village, a few years ago the Thompson St. playground a half block from the bakery was re-named Vesuvio Playground in Dapolitos honor.
Dapolito suffered a stroke in September of last year and thought then of selling the bakery. He spent some time recuperating in The Village Nursing Home but returned to his South Village home when he recovered.
The deal with Christine and Lisa Gigante closed at the end of March.
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said, If there is anyone or anything thats a cultural institution in the Village its Tony Dapolito. Id love to see the bakery continue; its one of the things that makes the Village special.