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Mother Is Secret Ingredient in Family Business

Every proper Italian family needs a matriarch. And for the Cuomos in Yorktown, that figure would be Gemma. The wife and mother of the owners of Don Tommaso’s Bistro Italiano and Pizza Beat couldn’t be more proud of her boys.

Gemma is used to answering questions for her husband, whose thick accent sometimes makes communication a challenge, especially over a phone. She doesn’t mind, she knows her family’s history by heart. “Before he came to America, Tommaso worked for his parents in their bakery. They were breadmakers. When he came here, he started working in pizza restaurants," Gemma says.

It was through her friends that Tommaso met his business partners. Eventually, they opened Pizza Beat in Yonkers in 1976. When an opportunity came along to open a more family-oriented restaurant, they took it.

Don Tommaso’s is run primarily by their son, Thomas. The menu features classic Italian fare, including fried calamari and sauce and pastas. Gemma particularly likes the seafood stew, though she admits that at heart she is a pizza fanatic.

She also works in the restaurant with her husband and son when she can. It’s important to her to be a part of the family business, and she is proud that both her husband and son work in the industry.

Community is a big part of the mixture for the Cuomos. Gemma said that one of Tommaso's favorite things is meeting his customers. And they have been in Yorktown for so long it was important to name the restaurant after the patriarch. “We wanted people in Yorktown to know that this is his place, because they know and recognize him,” she says.

She and Tommaso have now been married for 41 years, and Gemma shares the secret to their long marriage. “We never saw each other,” she laughs. “I was always working days and he was always at the restaurant at night.”

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