We Celebrate the Life of the “Original Maria”

Marias-Italian-Kitchen-Marie-Alfano-Memorial Picture

Marie Giordano Alfano
February 14, 1933–June 5, 2019
Beloved Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Trailblazer, Chef and Storyteller

The legacy of her food and stories will live on.

Marie Alfano (ne Giordano) was born on February 14, 1933, in Hoboken, New Jersey. Her Mother Luisa (Louise) Falcetano emigrated to America from Naples, Italy. Her Father, Joseph Giordano, was born in New York (a truck driver). He died when Marie was nine years old. Marie lived with her widowed Mother and three older brothers, Matty (Matteo’s Restaurant), Mikey (Matre’D Matteo’s Restaurant) and Junior Giordano (Trucking).

Marie graduated from Demarest High School in June 1949 when she was just 16 years old. She was top in her class and her mother told her she should become a Judge. But going to college was not an option because her mother was tragically killed in a car accident December 7, 1949, while Marie was a passenger in that car. This event changed her life forever. Her brother Mike became her guardian and she was cared for by a loving neighbor who took the role of her “Mama.” At 16, she met Donald Alfano who wooed her with his flashy red convertible. They were married in Hoboken when she was 18. He was 19. She gave birth to Louise, Cissy and Madelyn. The family then moved to Long Island, New York, and she gave birth to Donald and Matthew. With five small children, she opened a small delicatessen in Copiague. Donald was a truck driver, and when he saw how successful Marie’s little Italian Grocery store was, he quit truck driving. They worked together until their move to California in 1968. The reason for the move was to be close to her brothers Mike and Matty (Matteo’s). Family is everything to Marie. She and Donald both worked for Matteo’s (Donald in the “front of the house” and Marie in the “kitchen heart of the house”) for a several years.

In 1970, Marie and Donald purchased the Village Mart Grocery Store in Brentwood Village, California, and converted a broken down market into a beautiful neighborhood store with prime meats, the best produce, and internationally imported groceries.

Marie was always ahead of the trends! She would make meatballs and homemade sausages in the meat department on a small electric skillet. With the slightly bruised produce, she would create ratatouille—who even knew what that was in 1970? Customers craved for more, and Marie turned the one-car garage into the Village Mart Take Out. A customer said, “You should call it Maria’s because after all, you are the creator.” So with limited funds, she hired an artist to paint Maria’s Italian Kitchen on the front window. That’s how the famous Maria’s Italian Kitchen was born. The immediate family referred to it as the “take out” because there were no tables and chairs, just a simple take out window. Once again Marie was ahead of her time!

Her greatest pleasure was cooking for family and friends while watching them savor her food. She treated everyone with the same warm and direct attitude. She loved being around people, and people loved being around her.

On June 5, 2019, she was tragically killed in a car accident in Palm Springs, California. She had just finished grocery shopping to prepare meals for neighbors and friends (everyone was her friend).

She lost her husband Donald Alfano in 2000; son Donald “boy” Alfano in 2002; granddaughter Alexes Berardis 2007, and grandson Max Reitzin 2000.

She is survived by her daughters, Louise Berardis-Budnik and husband Bruce; Cissy Blum; Madelyn Alfano and husband Dr. Jeffrey Tucker; and her “Baby” son Matthew Alfano. Her grandchildren include JJ Berardis, Cpt. Nicolas Reitzin, Josh Tucker, Danielle Tucker, and great grandchildren Mia and Loki Berardis.

We will miss her smile, her sense of humor and most of all her cooking and cursing.

Funeral services were held on Wednesday, June 19, at Holy Cross Cemetery

 

In lieu of flowers, please donate to the American Red Cross by clicking here.