Carroll Gardens rallied behind big shot pizzaiolo Mark Iacono this week, championing the man — not just his marinara.
Last Friday, Iacono, 44, the owner of Lucali, was brutally stabbed in a vicious knife fight with lifelong paisan Benny Geritano, 38, an ex-con with alleged mob connections. Iacono took the worst of it, but prosecutors said both men will now face attempted murder charges.
Those who knew both men said they couldn’t be more dissimilar.
“Mark is not that kind of desperate person who’d attack someone in the middle of Smith Street on broad daylight,” said John Heyer, a sixth generation Carroll Gardens resident. “He’s a calm, cool collected guy. I find it hard to believe that he was looking to attack someone with a knife.”
Other old timers agreed.
“Mark’s a good kid. He started that business from nothing. He comes from a good family,” said a resident who requested anonymity.
“He’s a clean cut kid,” added a woman whose known Iacono for years. “A real gentleman. He’d always say, ‘Let me buy you a cup of coffee.’”
Still, Iacono’s pizzeria has mob ties, having once employed Dominick “Black Dom” Dionisio, the Colombo crime family soldier, when he was awaiting a trial for armed robbery.
“That’s like his cousin. When you know a guy for so many years, when you’ve grown up together … how can you refuse them?” said a resident who knows Iacono.
Geritano, neighbors claim, is a street tough with a temper.
“There have always been shadows around Benny,” said an old-timer, lowering his voice. “Word on the street is that this guy is trying to make a name for himself.”
It’s unclear what sparked the fight. One report says it was over a woman, another says Geritano was collecting a loan.
Whatever the cause of the brawl, the incident harkens back to the tony area’s less-effete past. Fifty years ago, mobsters such as “Crazy” Joey Gallo ruled the neighborhood.
But the only constant in New York is change, and young men in skinny jeans have replaced the old men who munched cigars on the corner of Court Street and First Place.
“Maybe Benny didn’t realize that the neighborhood’s changed,” said resident Deb Scotto.