MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – Approximately 300 packed the L’Affaire on East 22 in Mountainside to honor the three, Elizabeth-bred Colicchio Brothers, as the Elizabeth Chapter of UNICO Citizens Of The Year, on October 18. UNICO is an Italian service organization dedicated to giving back to the community.
Although all three have succeeded in their own spheres, they credited their experience of growing up on South Broad Street in an apartment building surrounded by family as their formation.
As Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage observed, “I watched them grow up. They played baseball, and they succeed in their own right. What is more important is that they stayed together, and they have never forgotten where they came from.”
That was apparent was the three brothers recalled the joys of growing up in Elizabeth.
“If the nuns at Saint Mary’s could see me now,” began Tom Colicchio, famous for his television program Top Chef where he has won two Emmy awards. He is also the founder of New York’s Gramercy Tavern and an author of awarding winning cookbooks. “I thought very differently than most people. My father encouraged us to do have we loved. From my mother, we got a love of reading. She taught us to never go away from where we grew up. That translated into our lives as adults, this idea that we have to give back. What is what being a citizen is about.”
Added Phil, “Mike ate all the meals. Tom would get all the recipe, and our father told us to marry correctly.” He mentioned his wife, Lila, and sisters-in-law Sue and Lori. Phil went on to become the point guard in the Kean University’s Minuteman 1984 Union County basketball championship and the UNICO Brian Piccolo award winner. As the head coach of Linden Tigers Boys Varsity Basketball, he has won seven New Jersey Tournaments of Championships. The Star Ledger has twice named him State of New Jersey Coach of the Year, and MSG Network named him Tri-State Coach of the Year.
Mike is a certified public accountant who has lived in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. He also loves music and is the lead singer of The Vinnys, a classic rock band that played at the Gala. “It was always three of us against the world,” recalled Mike. “But I am and always will be their biggest fan.”