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Remo and Josie’s great big 75th wedding anniversary

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | It was all in the family — and all about family — at a 75th anniversary bash for a beloved Greenwich Village couple as their extended clan gathered at Villa Mosconi restaurant on MacDougal Street for a surprise party.

Remo and Josie Antinori, 97 and 92, live on Thompson Street between Houston and Bleecker Streets — in the same tenement building where Josie was born in 1930.

Their actual anniversary is Sept. 4. But one of their daughters, Lisa Petrocelli, said the get-together to mark the “unbelievable milestone” was scheduled for late April “to throw them off,” so they wouldn’t suspect what it was all about.

(Photo by The Village Sun)

Back in the 1940s, Remo, an Army veteran, was working as a mailman and living on E. 33rd Street, near where he grew up. He recalled, as a kid, playing “a lot of stickball and Chinese handball.” His father made mattresses by hand.

One day, Remo’s friend Hank urged him to meet Josie.

“Hank pushed him — they went on a blind date,” Petrocelli recalled.

The couple married in 1948, when Josie was just 17. She and her four siblings lived in various apartments in the building — Remo and Josie were on the top floor. Meanwhile, Josie’s mother lived in the ground-floor apartment and was the building’s super. But after her mother fell and broke a hip, Josie and Remo took over as the supers and moved in with her on the ground floor.

Remo and Josie, both of whose parents were immigrants, went on to raise four children there, two girls and two boys. The couple took care of the building as supers into their 60s, with Remo also holding down his postal worker job.

Today, in addition to their four children, they have five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, with twin great-grandkids due in October.

Longevity runs in the family. Remo’s mother lived to 100.

“She never went to a doctor in her life,” Petrocelli noted.

Meanwhile, Remo sports an impressively lush mane of white hair.

“He has all his hair,” his daughter marveled. “He has better hair than all of us at 97.”

Patched in by Joe Petrocelli, Hank Francovig, who originally introduced the couple to each other, made an appearance from California via a video call. (Photo by The Village Sun)

During the lunch, in Villa Mosconi’s glass-roofed backyard garden, Hank Francovig, the matchmaker who started it all, was patched in from California via a video call to say hi.

“You missed the artichoke!” he quipped of Remo’s salad.

Meanwhile, Remo told a reporter sitting next to him to enjoy: “Mangia… drink wine,” and a bit later, “More wine. Salud!”

Joseph Chiappetti offered his tooth in a toast. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Spirits were high. The party was a lot of fun.

Holding out his glass while toasting the couple, Joseph Chiappetti, a cousin, declared, “I could give you my arm. I could give you my leg. But instead I give you — my tooth!” With that, he promptly reached into his mouth and popped out a fake chomper as the room erupted in laughter.

There was a break from the toasting — it was time to dig into the main course. There was chicken parmigiana, branzino, veal Marsala, stuffed pork chops, lobster fra diavolo.

Josie and great-granddaughter Arianna blowing out the candle on the cake. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Josie, in her remarks, quipped about past efforts to have a honeymoon that never quite panned out satisfactorily for various miscues — at least to hear her tell it. But now, she said, this one would finally do the trick.

“I now am married 75 years,” she proclaimed, “and tonight is going to be the biggest honeymoon we ever had.”

“Blink if you need help, Remo!” someone called out, as everyone cracked up.

Toward the end, in a family tradition, Josie responded to calls from the crowd to flash her bra, and she did, promptly flipping up her shirt to cheers. Someone always has to do it — and, well, it’s usually Josie.

“My mom was like Estelle Getty from ‘The Golden Girls’ and a cross with Judge Judy — holds no punches, no shades of gray,” Petrocelli said. “My dad’s passive, very laid-back — that’s probably why it works.”

Family members came in from around the tristate region. (Courtesy Lisa Petrocelli)

Summing up her feelings at the end of the party, Josie told the room, “Really, I’m a family person. It’s all been family for me. It’s always the family first. Vacations, we took the kids to Cape May. That was my enjoyment my whole life, family.”

“Thank you for coming,” Remo told everyone. “I hope to see you the next 75 years.”

Family members converged at the restaurant from all around the tristate area — New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut. Of course, many cousins had also grown up on Thompson Street. One ran the famed Zito & Sons Bakery, on Bleecker Street near Cornelia Street. Every day the bakery would deliver 20 loaves of bread to 172 Thompson St. and it would be distributed to the five apartments.

Cousins Mario and Lydia Chiappetti recalled that all the kids went to school at either St. Anthony’s or Our Lady of Pompeii — but that no one could ever figure out why they were sent to one school versus the other.

Mario noted how Josie “took care of everyone — she was the super,” hosting Easter and Thanksgiving get-togethers in her small apartment. Things could get a bit tight, though.

“We had 45 people — and five dogs — everyone standing and eating,” he said.

Remo and Josie cross the threshold. (Courtesy Lisa Petrocelli)

Ryan Antinori, 25 — “I’m the youngest grandchild,” he noted — lived with Remo and Josie for a while when he was going to school in the city, to save on rent. They made him feel right at home.

“Josie’s the best,” he said. “She always wanted to cook for me every night — even at her age. She’d always want to do my laundry. They’re the best.”

As for choosing the event’s venue, Petrocelli said it wasn’t hard. Villa Mosconi is her favorite restaurant.

“We’re here every Saturday,” she said. “I visit my parents and I come here.”

However, word has it that the family that owns the restaurant is selling the building. They will reportedly continue to run Monte’s Trattoria, though, their other Italian eatery, a bit north from there, also on MacDougal Street.

So the setting of the next Remo and Josie party might be different. But that won’t change the bonds of family love, which, as Josie so aptly said, are what really matter.


  1. Starship Trooper Starship Trooper July 24, 2023

    I lived above Josie and Remo for six years

    They are two incredibly dear people..

    God will continue to bless them…..

    • Lisa Petrocelli Lisa Petrocelli July 25, 2023

      Hello this is Lisa, Josie & Remo’s daughter. What is your name so that I can give them your nice message? Thank you.

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