Lina Pacio (chef)
Jerry Crisci (owner)
73-16 Northern Boulevard Jackson Heights, NY 11372
Jerry has owned Armondo's for 50 years. He came over from Naples to Long Island City when he was eight years old. After college, he taught junior high school-level social studies at St. Rita's Roman Catholic Church in Long Island City.
Jerry's brother taught him how to cook because "he knew I wouldn't be happy with the money that teachers were getting paid in the 70s. Just in case you ever want to own a restaurant, it's good to know how to cook."
In 1972, Jerry quit teaching to buy Armondo's with a loan co-signed by his parents and sister.
Ten years ago, Mexican-born Lina Pacio received a spatula as a gift from the head chef at Il Bastardo for working her way up the line -- "a great worker" -- to become the sous chef.
The head chef told her to use it right away and create a dish. She made "a fish with pistachios and Champagne sauce, spinach and asparagus." He told Lina to take the spatula wherever she goes, "like a good luck charm."
She adds: "It looks like it is, because so far, so good."
Lina keeps the spatula at her station in the kitchen or sometimes where the napkins are stored. Everybody knows that spatula belongs to Lina.