Popular Valley Stream restaurant owner and longtime Five Towns resident Alberto Francesco Natale Occhiuzzo, better known as Goldie, died on Jan. 10 of natural causes. He was 90.
Occhiuzzo owned Goldie’s Restaurant, on Dubois Avenue in Gibson, a popular place for birthday parties and other celebrations and a common meeting spot for local organizations. He opened the restaurant 52 years ago, and Goldie’s quickly became known as a place to eat, socialize and dance. Noted jazz musicians Duke Ellington, Doc Severinsen and Mousey Alexander appeared there over the years.
Born on Dec. 25, 1923, in Inwood, Occhiuzzo attended Lawrence High School, and was drafted in 1942. In World War II he was a bombardier who attained the rank of sergeant, took part in 25 missions over Europe with the U.S. Army Air Force, and was recognized for his service in the Battle of the Bulge.
Before opening Goldie’s, Occhiuzzo owned a cabaret club in Brooklyn, then PrimaDonna on Madison Avenue in Inwood. He lived in Cedarhurst with his wife, Midge.
“You went to Goldie’s, it was like home,” said Occhiuzzo’s nephew and Village of Cedarhurst Mayor Andrew Parise. “We were together all of our lives, and I never heard someone say an unkind work about him.”
Occhiuzzo loved clowns, and had more than 50 clown paintings hanging throughout his restaurant. He had to rebuild his collection after a fire in 1965 shut Goldie’s down for six months.
On Dec. 28, he was joined by 110 family members and friends to celebrate his 90th birthday at the Italian Heritage Club in Manhattan. Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks played, and Occhiuzzo was doing the Lindy that night. His son, Donald, said that his father’s death came as a surprise because, despite feeling a little under the weather, he had no serious illness.
Occhiuzzo was an avid golfer, and had two holes-in-one at major golf clubs over the years. He started out as a caddy at the Woodmere Club in his teens, which is where he earned the nickname that stuck with him for 75 years. “Nobody knows who Albert is,” Donald Occhiuzzo said, “but everybody knows who Goldie is.”