After the Carpellos and their neighbors had retired for the night, the entire block awoke to the ominous sounds of multiple vehicles screeching to a halt, squad car lights flashing, the smell of smoke in the air, and the escalating blare of sirens from the direction of the local firehouse. Angie, JJ, Luigi, and Caterina rushed out of bed and to the front door. Stepping outside onto the stoop, they saw most of their neighbors standing outside in their bedclothes and robes, watching flames shoot out of the windows of Chichi’s kitchen. A blockade of unmarked cars and traffic officers re-directed traffic at the corner.
As the first fire engines pulled up, adding more color and pressurized streams of water to the already flashy scene, a handful of plainclothes detectives led by their sergeant, Detective Daniel Scarpelli, arrived and surveyed the grounds surrounding the restaurant. Scarpelli, taking care first to put protective gloves on his hands, turned, unnoticed, toward the kitchen side door and entered the smoldering ruins.
Not a single soul suspected that Scarpelli also worked on Molinari's side and knew all about the numbers racket run out of Chichi’s, including the bookies' names associated with the operation. Those details getting into the wrong hands would collapse his main source of moonlighting income, so he was not about to let anyone else discover them amid the chaos of the fire and water or the inevitable scouring search for evidence of the fire’s origin.
Moving quickly once inside the kitchen—firefighters and other officials had not yet declared the building safe to enter—Scarpelli grabbed every betting-numbers sheet and list of names he could find, those that were not entirely burnt. What remained he stuffed into his pockets before slipping back outside to the topsy-turvy scene—a decidedly successful, undetected reconnaissance run! His inside knowledge guaranteed complete success at removing all lists and numbers while escaping any suspicion of complicity or guilt. Because of his police force status and position on the Mafia payroll, he thought I have all the cover I need.
* * *
“Girls, get away from the door and go back to bed,” ordered Luigi, concerned that they would see more than they should.
The sisters, in turn, laughed and begged him to stay until the excitement dissipated. He insisted they return to bed and go to sleep, and off they went.
Word on the street suggested that one of the chefs accidentally burned some food while cooking, notwithstanding the severity of the flames the residents witnessed before the firefighters arrived. Of course, those neighbors on the block, who knew better, returned to bed for whatever time they had left to get rested before the crack of dawn.
Luigi woke up still determined to treat his family to a nice dinner someplace. At the Carpello breakfast table, the family talked over where they might like to dine. Since Chichi’s was out due to the ongoing investigation, the family agreed to eat at nearby Milo’s after much back and forth.
Milo’s Restaurant, located on Lorimer Street between Devoe Street and Metropolitan Avenue, only two blocks from the Carpello family home, was a good spot for pizza, scungilli, or Capozzelle (roasted lamb’s head—Angie’s favorite). But Milo’s had a reputation.
Counterpointing the excellent food prepared and served there, patrons regularly referred to Milo’s as the “Bucket of Blood” because of an unfortunate incident associated with the restaurant’s location. Due to his daughters' young ages, Luigi declined to explain when one of the girls brought up the subject, saying it did not matter.
Milo’s operated inside the lower-level, first floor of a row house. Next to the restaurant’s entrance, steps led to the structure above the eatery. One day, legend had it that some young, adult men sat and chatted on the stoop for some time and then stood up and departed, leaving one of them behind with an ice pick stuck in his ear. His blood trickled down his torso and the stoop stairs before a waiter discovered the murder. The horrific incident, par for the course within certain WB circles at the time, handed the popular restaurant a timeless and infamous legacy that seemed to last forever, and the establishment stayed alive only because of the quality of its food!
Was the unfortunate incident too messy to qualify as a Mafia hit? Was it a sophomoric attempt to impress someone, an indiscriminate rite-of-passage, or simply an argument’s poor outcome?
Difficult to prove, the real answer likely went to someone’s grave in Williamsburg Brooklyn.
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