STATEN ISLAND LEADERS IN BUSINESS, CULTURE, AND THE ARTS SHARE GREATEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENTS, CELEBRITY STYLE ICONS, AND GO TO COMFORT DISHES

BY ERIK SCHONING, LAUREN ROONEY, AMANDA MCCOY PHOTOS BY AMANDA DOMENECH, ALEX BARRETO, AND VIOLET KARYN PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

Chef Franco Ortega
Owner and Executive Chef, Italianissimo Ristorante italianissimony.com
This seasoned chef knows how to deliver a world class dining experience, even in the midst of tumult. Ortega has navigated through all the ups and downs a 26-year-old business is bound to encounter, including a seven-month hiatus due to a pandemic that no one could have predicted. He credits his “amazing” customers and devoted staff for being able to not only survive, but thrive.

New York and New Jersey families have been celebrating special occasions at Italianissimo for generations. Chef Franco noted he’s proud to be hosting many christenings as of late for babies born to patrons whose own christenings were celebrated at the restaurant more than 20 years prior. is year the chef made a few updates to the aesthetic of the restaurant to keep the look fresh and modern. But two things that will never change, he said, are the top-notch service and amazing food people in the area have come to know and love.

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Believing in myself for all these years and looking forward to the future years to come.

Northwell A22 SPREAD

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CULINARY COMFORT DISH?
I enjoy so many dishes but I would have to say one of my favorites is our grilled seafood platter, which has been a popular staple on our menu for many years. This dish comes with many deliciously grilled delights, including (but not limited to) octopus, shrimp, clams, calamari, and oysters.

WHO IS YOUR CELEBRITY STYLE ICON?
Myself.

 

 

 

 

Billy Lynch
Vice President of Property Management, The Nicotra Group officespacestatenisland.com
Billy Lynch has done it all. The vice president of property management for The Nicotra Group was an NYPD detective for more than two decades. After he retired, he took a job with the Nicotras, climbing the ranks of the company over the years. Today he cares for a dozen Class A office buildings and over 415 acres of land on the West Shore of Staten Island. Because many of the Nicotra tenants are medical offices, Lynch is always on call 24/7.

“If the tenants need something, we are there,” Lynch said. “I know our hard work makes our tenants’ work weeks easier. We always do more than what’s expected.”

Property management is a constant job in all seasons. Lynch ensures that parking lots are plowed in the winter and parking spaces are freshly striped in the summer. Lynch has never seen his work with The Nicotra Group as an early retirement; if anything, the work has been an opportunity to grow the professionalism and real-world experience he picked up during his time working for the city. When he’s not keeping up with his massive portfolio of responsibilities, he enjoys spending time with his family and enjoying all that Staten Island has to offer.

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENT?
I was an NYPD detective for more than 20 years and working alongside everyone on the job who served our city made me proud every day. When I retired, I had three young children at home, and I needed to fi nd a new job. I’m proud that working at The Nicotra Group over the last two decades, I found more than a job — I found a second career. Lois and Richard Nicotra have a unique vision for property management. They believe that our “tenants are royalty.” It’s my job to make sure that all our tenants feel that way every day.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CULINARY COMFORT DISH?
One of my favorite dishes is the short ribs at Lorenzo’s Restaurant, Bar & Cabaret. My wife Marie and I enjoy watching the cabaret shows each month. We love to “get away” so close to home and see a show on the Lorenzo’s stage. Paired with a nice glass of red wine, the short ribs are the perfect comfort food to end the work week and kick off the weekend.

WHO IS YOUR CELEBRITY STYLE ICON?
I’d have to say Bruce Willis. My favorite movie is Die Hard, and so many of his characters are heroic in an everyman kind of way. I have a new baby granddaughter, McKenna, and I want her to grow up knowing that every man and woman can be a hero in their own life – just work hard and do the right thing.

 

 

 

 

 

Tricia Shevack
Branch Manager, Envoy Mortgage / tshevack.com
Tricia Shevack is used to her clients leaving New York but the 20-year mortage industry veteran has no plans of leaving Staten Island anytime soon. Shevack is the branch manager of Envoy Mortgage, a full-service company offering a flexible range of products. Shevack is licensed in a number of states, an advantage that allows her to help local clients looking to purchase second homes or relocate. But Staten Island is her home, and she’s made her name helping everyday people make dream homes a reality.

Recently, Shevack joined the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, a move that’s enabled her to connect with the business community at large and learn from her peers in every field.

“I’ve been in the mortgage industry for more than 20 years on Staten Island, but I’m starting to realize there’s a lot of people I don’t know,” Shevack said. “I really want to get out there and network with people that I have never met before.”

Whether her clients end up in South Carolina or Florida, or are just looking to refinance their long-time home on the North Shore, Shevack aims to be there to help. And she’s putting down roots to make sure she can be there for Staten Islanders for a long time to come.

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENT?
My proudest accomplishment was the realization that I change lives and truly make a difference. In the early 2000s I had a retired FDNY fireman make an appointment with me for a cash out refinance. He came in with his wife and explained to me that his medical bills were piling up; he was a 9/11 first responder and couldn’t maintain his home due to all his health conditions. I wrote a three-page letter to my underwriting department, engaged in endless phone calls with management, and escalated to the highest authority, fighting hard to make sure that we were able to help a man who selflessly helped others. I cried at his closing. I was glad that I was able to give him some peace of mind.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CULINARY COMFORT DISH?
I am very basic: I like ice cream. I am happy with a plain coffee ice cream from our local ice cream shop on the North Shore. It is homemade with real coffee and homemade whip cream and just makes me so happy and content.

WHO IS YOUR CELEBRITY STYLE ICON?
If I had to choose one it would be Lori Greiner. Many know her from the show Shark Tank. Her style is simple and sophisticated, classy and classic. She isn’t flashy at all and doesn’t have to wear revealing clothing to showcase her strong entrepreneurial business sense while commanding respect from her peers.

 

 

 

 

Gina Dente
Store Manager and Women’s Buyer, Garmany garmany.com
A fashion enthusiast since childhood, this Garden State native worked in high-end corporate retail for several years for big names like Neiman Marcus and Dolce & Gabbana before joining Garmany in Red Bank. Though she originally signed on as a part-time associate six years ago, Dente now serves as general manager and leads the womenswear division of the high-end fashion retailer. Though her role bears several job responsibilities, Dente noted the most rewarding aspect of her career is the confidence and joy that’s associated with finding the perfect outfit.

“Something as simple as a new outfit can change a person’s entire day,” said Dente. “It can bring out such a confidence in them. I love to see customers smile, and to know that they are so excited to go to an event or special occasion and take pictures. I love that they entrust me to find their perfect look.”

Describing her own style as seasonless and sophisticated, Dente noted she’s thrilled to see the post-COVID return of special occasion wear. “Loungewear had its moment, but people are excited to get dressed up and go out again.”

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Becoming Garmany’s first female store manager and helping the womenswear department grow and thrive.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CULINARY COMFORT DISH?
Anything pasta!

WHO IS YOUR CELEBRITY STYLE ICON?
Victoria Beckham.

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew Terranova
Owner, Steakhouse 85 / steakhouse85.com
Retirement didn’t sit well with Matthew Terranova, so what does a longtime restaurateur (he was the previous owner of the East Brunswick Fish Market for 35 years) do to combat boredom? Open a new restaurant, of course! Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick has been serving up the highest quality meat, creative cocktails, and good company since 2008. The official steakhouse of Rutgers University Athletics Department, Steakhouse 85 and its lasting success is a testament to Terranova’s passion for the restaurant business. “I’ve always loved being around my customers, and it’s a joy to see people happy while enjoying a meal.” He said it was a no-brainer to open the restaurant in New Brunswick, his wife Karen’s hometown. “As one of New Jersey’s largest cities, New Brunswick has a need for a great steakhouse. It’s a hub for education, technology, and medicine. We are proud to have a close relationship with the leaders of Rutgers, Johnson & Johnson, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and Saint Peter’s University Hospital.”

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Starting a business and watching it grow into something successful.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CULINARY COMFORT DISH?
I love a good eggplant parmesan. It’s always been my favorite.

WHO IS YOUR CELEBRITY STYLE ICON?
Frank Sinatra.