STATEN ISLAND LEADERS IN BUSINESS, CULTURE, AND THE ARTS SHARE FIRST JOBS, FAVORITE ARCHITECTURAL STYLES, AND THE MOST LAVISH AMENITY IN THEIR ULTIMATE DREAM HOMES
BY ERIK SCHONING AND ARCHANA AITHAL ROSE PHOTOS BY ALEX BARRETO AND TOM ZAPCIC
Vito F. Cardinale
Founder and President, Cardinale Enterprises, cardinaleenterprises.com
Cardinale is a mechanical engineer who knew at a young age that he wanted to be a developer. In the 1980s, he founded Cardinale Enterprises, and since then the company has built developments in upstate New York and Staten Island, as well as shopping centers in New Jersey. Among his proudest achievements, he said, was being a part of the creation of the Linda E. Cardinale Multiple Sclerosis Center in Freehold.
This self-described “country boy” is determined to find a cure for MS, and plans to donate all of the proceeds from the company’s newest sports and entertainment venture, Adventure Crossing (in Jackson), toward building one of the largest brain institutes in the country. “We’re going to do research on brain lesions and transmit information to MS labs around the world,” he said. “My focus is to end this disease on earth before I leave it.”
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT? My first job was working for Eutectic Corp as an engineer where I met my mentor, Tony Rotolico. I learned some invaluable lessons from him.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ARCHITECTURAL STYLE OF HOME? Lakefront cabins. I was a huge fan of the TV show Ponderosa, and that style of home just reminds me of that show.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM HOME’S MOST LUXE AMENITY? A picture of my family on the front porch.
Design Director, American and International Designs designamericanyc.com
Known for her stylish and restorative approach to interior design, Susan Arann has forged a name for herself in luxury residential, commercial, and hospitality design, working with impressive names like RitzCarlton and Hilton. She said, “I always had an inclination for fashion and interior design as a young woman, which led me to open a women’s boutique in St. George, Staten Island, where I learned a great deal about fashion, textiles, and color. is education was fully expanded when I was soon after awarded the number one salesperson in a leading retail furniture store. Also, my interactions with customers and staff at Castro Convertible in Times Square as store manager helped continue my development and interest in all aspects of interior design. Eventually, as a result of my work and educational experience, I felt empowered and secure enough to launch my own interior design firm.”
Not afraid of professional challenges, she added, “NYC can be competitive, but I’ve developed a niche in hospitality, healthcare, and all forms of residential design. And as a result of my design work, I was asked to take on a number of interior design leadership positions, including the presidency of American Society of Interior Design (ASID) New York. My long and productive relationship with industry professionals also has served my clients very well.”
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT? It was two first jobs in the same week, one to redesign the executive offices of a large subsidiary of a Gulf Oil corporation, and the other was designing a model home in a new residential complex. I learned to be on the site regularly, follow up on all aspects of the project, work closely with the contractors, and manage the client’s expectations and their need to understand specific design decisions.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ARCHITECTURAL STYLE OF HOME? My favorite residential architectural style is Victorian, which always exhibits a state of grandeur, inside and out.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM HOME’S MOST LUXE AMENITY? The ultimate dream home must have exceptional and balanced lighting to meet the mood the client desires.
CEO, Brooklyn Window and Door / brooklynwindow.com
Brooklyn Window and Door has been around since 1987, and in its thirty-five year run has become a premier distributor in the borough and beyond. Today the company is helmed by Mike Tellone, who took over from his stepfather, Robert Hehner, in 2008. Tellone is a family-oriented businessman, and he’s run the company with a consistently personal touch.
Brooklyn Window and Door carries a range of products from industry heavy hitters, like Andersen, Velux, and Jeld-Wen. The business does hardware, skylights, moldings, and, of course, windows and doors. But according to Tellone, their real calling card isn’t so much what they sell but how they do business. Hehner was a contractor before founding Brooklyn Window and Door, and since the company’s inception, reliability and accountability have always been at the forefront. According to the CEO, design and product trends are always changing, but that pledge isn’t going anywhere.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB, AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT? My first job was doing windows. In the summertime from age 13 to 15, I would be a helper, installing windows and doing siding. I fell into this business because of that.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ARCHITECTURAL STYLE OF HOME? I’m a huge fan of center hall colonials. I’m an old-fashioned guy.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM HOME’S MOST LUXE AMENITY? An indoor swimming pool and gym. It would actually not be for me; it would be for my kids, so they could enjoy sports and swimming in the home.
Co-Owner and Chef, Zio Toto Ristorante / ziototo.com
Anna Napoli has made Sicilian food her business but as a Sicilian-American, it’s her life, too. Napoli, along with her brother Filippo Giuffre, runs a Tottenville Italian restaurant called Zio Toto (the name translates loosely to “Uncle Sal,” their father’s nickname). Under the guidance of chef Chicco Asante, the restaurant has evolved over the years into a hybrid Italian joint, serving up Sicilian classics alongside northern Italian staples and, of course, pizzas.
Napoli has always loved the intimacy of working in family restaurants. Restaurant work has been her entire career, and Zio Toto is a full family affair, from the management and staff down to the recipes. This authenticity has resonated with Staten Islanders, as Zio Toto has become an increasingly popular spot for parties, anniversaries, and other celebrations. For Napoli and her brother, it’s been important to offer the local clientele a comfortable atmosphere while delivering an elevated menu that is anything but ordinary.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB, AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT? My first job was working for our first family restaurant we opened 20 years ago. I learned good leadership and communication skills.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ARCHITEC – TURAL STYLE OF HOME? I would say a Mediterranean-style villa, like on the Amalfi coast.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM HOME’S MOST LUXE AMENITY? To have a vineyard with a winery.
Realtor, LoRusso and Rodriguez Realty Group lorussoandrodriguezrealty.com
There are few types of houses Marian Rodriguez hasn’t sold. The veteran realtor made her name selling in Staten Island and Brooklyn with Awaye Realty, and last year she expanded to the New Jersey market, partnering with Lillian LoRusso in LoRusso and Rodriguez Realty Group. How committed is she to her newest market? Last month, she moved there, settling in Colts Neck.
Rodriguez’s skills and adaptability have made her especially valuable to clients moving from Staten Island to New Jersey a classic and familiar progression for families seeking more space and a less hurried pace of life. From Sheepshead Bay to Todt Hill to Freehold, she’s seen just about every kind of property.
But no matter the home, the stakes are never low in real estate. Rodriguez has always given her properties the attention and love they deserve.
“You’re helping people make probably the biggest purchase of their life,” she said. “It has a lot of emotional attachment, your home, because it’s the center of your life. I love my home, I love entertaining and hosting holidays. So I enjoy guiding people and finding a home that that’s them. I like being part of the process.” I “It has a lot of emotional attachment, your home, because it’s the center of your life. I love my home, I love entertaining and hosting holidays. So I enjoy guiding people and finding a home that that’s them. I like being part of the process.”
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB, AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT? I was a secretary for someone who did property management, and I liked it. I enjoyed the business. And that’s what gave me a foundation.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ARCHITECTURAL STYLE OF HOME? Mediterranean. I designed my old house from scratch and it was all about Mediterranean. I love that style.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM HOME’S MOST LUXE AMENITY? A robot housekeeper!