BRONX TIMES REPORTER, MARCH 2 BTR 9-APRIL 4, 2019 17
Michele Greco (l) with his son David. Photo courtesy of Mike’s Deli and Arthur Avenue Caterers
Mike Greco, ‘Lion of Belmont,’
Mike’s Deli owner, passes at 89
BY ALEX MITCHELL
“I’d rather live a day as a lion than
100 as a sheep,” was the mantra of Michele
Greco, the famous owner and
chef of Mike’s Deli in the Arthur Avenue
Retail Market. He lived 89 years
as the lion of Arthur Avenue, passing
away on Wednesday, March 20.
It’s a bit ironic that a self-confessed
playboy only made his way to America
in 1947 after being kicked out of a seminary
in Calabira, Italy.
“He was the defi nition of the
American Dream,” said David Greco,
Mike’s son and current operator of
the renowned deli. “He came here and
wanted to be American,” Dave also
That dream became reality in the
Bronx during the 1960s, when the deli
just started coming into its own.
Mike prided his eatery on the quality
of its product (especially the fresh
mozzarella), to the extent of making
personal deliveries into Manhattan.
“Everyone can buy the same thing
around here, it was his outgoingness
and his service that made the deli
standout,” Dave said, noting that his
dad’s blue eyes certainly helped in
winning customers over along with
hopping onto tables, even at age 85.
“He lived to entertain,” Dave said.
Mike’s outgoingness came in part
from an interest in fi lmmaking and
acting, which he had put aside to pro-
vide for his family.
That didn’t stop him from making
a cameo appearance as painter in
the fi lm ‘Six Degrees of Separation,’
As a matter of fact, Mike even made
the crew stop fi lming to have director
Fred Schepisi change his line to a
more authentic Italian phrase, according
“If you didn’t meet my father you
missed out,” Dave said.
Like Frank Sinatra, Mike Greco
did things his own way and it certainly
showed. Whether it was starting his
day at 7 a.m. with a piece of prosciutto
and glass of cognac, to plenty of other
escapades, there truly was nobody else
like him. That’s why chefs like Emeril
Lagasse and many other celebrities
know Mike’s Deli as their ‘go to’ spot
in the Bronx.
After Mike’s passing, famous
Bronx actor and lifelong friend Chazz
Palmenteri was one of literally hundreds
to come by the retail market, to
pay his respects to Dave and the rest of
the Greco family.
As a matter of fact, well know Msgr.
Hilary Franco presided over Mike’s funeral
Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel
church on Tuesday, March 26.
They met at the seminary in Italy.
Rest in peace Mike, Arthur Avenue
won’t be the same without you.
The ‘Big Mike Combo’ of mortadella, ham, salami, capicolo, provolone, sweet peppers, lettuce,
tomatoes, onions and dressing on a hero. Schneps Media/Alex Mitchell