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10 Businesses Supposedly Controlled by the Mafia


5
Restaurants and Pizzerias
As delicious as Umberto's Clam House probably is, it's better known as a mob hangout. Bettmann/Corbis
As delicious as Umberto's Clam House probably is, it's better known as a mob hangout. Bettmann/Corbis

Anyone lucky enough to have eaten at a famous mob hangout, like Rao's in the Bronx or Umberto's Clam House in lower New York City, knows the Mafia is connected to some delicious restaurants. Even the lesser-known mob spots, like PortuCale Restaurant & Bar in Newark, New Jersey, allegedly the former base of money laundering operations for more than $400 million brought in by the Genovese family, supposedly serves really delicious meals [source: Golding].

The Mafia's foodie reputation has an even richer history. In the 1980s, for instance, the Sicilian Mafia relied on the so-called "pizza connection" to ship heroin and cocaine to mob-run pizzerias in towns throughout the U.S. using cans of San Marzano tomatoes. Even cheese and olive-oil makers could be shaken down to export heroin [source: Lubasch].

Today, mob-run pizzerias, restaurants and cafes are everywhere. A recent sweep of Rome, for example, resulted in the seizure of 27 restaurants and cafes, plus assets worth 250 million euros. This included the extremely popular Pizza Ciro, which had been in business for more than 10 years and was said to be used to launder money from drugs, loan sharking and extortion. An estimated 70 percent of restaurants and bars in downtown Rome are thought to be in the hands of organized crime, producing more than $1.35 billion euros per year. Even Germany is home to more than 300 mob-run restaurants. And it's not always easy to tell that you're in a mob-run establishment. Unlike the dingy, tacky or smoky joints of the past, these fronts have high standards and good reputations [source: Conti].


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