By Lisa Kava
Giuseppina Zingone, of Zingone Brothers, the long-standing, family-owned grocery store on Columbus Avenue between 82nd and 83rd Streets, passed away on March 9, 2023, at the age of 91. Her son Dominick Zingone was by her side. She was predeceased by her husband, Ralph, and her daughter, Mary Zingone Vinci, who died in May 2022, at the age of 58, from cancer.
Giuseppina was known to neighborhood residents by her American name, Josephine, and was considered to be the matriarch of Zingone Brothers, where she spent nearly 50 years working as a cashier.
Born on February 24, 1932, in Praiano, Italy, on the Amalfi Coast, Josephine was one of 11 children. Her father was a farmer and a winemaker. Josephine’s childhood job was to stomp on the grapes used to make the wine, Dominick told West Side Rag.
Josephine married Ralph Zingone, the son of Domenico Zingone, who founded Zingone Brothers on the Upper West Side in 1927 with his brother Vicenzo. Josephine came to America by boat in 1958. The trip took one week, making stops in both Nova Scotia and Canada, Dominick said. Josephine and Ralph Zingone lived at 162 West 84th Street, where they raised their two children.
Initially a stay-at-home mom to Mary and Dominick, Josephine began to work as a cashier at Zingone Brothers after her husband’s death in 1976. “She needed to take over responsibilities at the store after my dad died,” Dominick said. “The language barrier was tough, but she was a hard worker and determined.” She worked daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Family was important to Josephine. “My mom always made sure that our family stayed together,” Dominick continued. “We were together on holidays and really anytime. We traveled to relatives often by train. She was a wonderful person and a wonderful mother. She acted as both a mother and a father to Mary and me after my father passed away.”
Josephine enjoyed a special relationship with her granddaughter Gabriella Vinci, 25, Mary’s daughter. “My grandmother was an instrumental part of my life,” Gabriella told the Rag in a phone interview. “When I was younger my mom would drop me off at my grandma’s apartment. We would spend the day together at the Museum of Natural History or the Children’s Museum.”
As she grew up, Gabriella viewed her grandmother as a role model. “I would spend school breaks at the store. I would sit at the register with my grandmother. She knew how to add everything in her head. She knew the name of every customer that came in. She knew the price of everything.”
“I always admired her strength and independence,” Gabriella continued. “She lost her husband when she was in her 40s. She took on the role of both mother and father to my mom and my uncle. She went from being a stay-at-home mom to running the business.” Gabriella noted that her grandmother overcame health obstacles, such as breast cancer and Covid at the age of 88.
The Zingones are a close-knit extended family and work together as a team. Ralph Zingone’s brother, Nicholas, and his two sons Nick Anthony and Richie are at the store daily. “We all work together,” Dominick said. “Uncle Nick always picked out the vegetables. Nicky Junior does groceries, Richie does dairy, frozen food, and accounting. I do ice cream and beers. We are all cashiers and take orders. Mary used to do accounting too. It is too quiet here without her.”
“My grandmother and my mom were generous, caring, and loving,” Gabriella Vinci said. “Now that they have both passed away, they will live on through me. My mom called us the three generations.”
The funeral took place on Monday, March 13th at the Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church at 213 West 82nd Street. Donations in Josephine’s memory may be directed to the church where she was a devoted member for 65 years.
Wow. Quite a life. Condolences to her family.
Great testament to a great woman!
Condolences to the Zingones. Pillars of the neighborhood
Fly high Bella Señora
Will love ❤️ you forever
Pace e amore a Dominick, Gabriella e alla famiglia Zingone. Lacrime per la perdita di Giuseppina e Mary.
Josephine was always so kind, and it was quite the adjustment to not see her in the store regularly, and then they lost Mary last year, which must have been very hard on Josephine. I am sending condolences to the whole family!
I love this family. Our hearts are with you.
A beautiful woman…she will be missed by family and friends alike.
She will be missed by many…
Thank you for the lovely tribute. She will be missed. Always a friendly face and pleasant experience shopping at Zingone’s.
Condolences to the Zingone family.
The Zingone Family really have served the neighborhood well for so many years. They remind us of what it is to have family businesses in the community instead of big chain stores where for the most part you are faceless and nameless. I remember Mary and Josephine well. They were lovely people and brought warmth and care to the all who shopped there. Condolences to the Zingone Family.
Condolences to the lovely Zingone Family .
A life well lived. Have always loved the “homey” feeling of our favorite NYC fruit store and the lovely family that runs it. Our condolences to the Zingoni’s.
They have some of the freshest produce in the nabe.
Lived in the area starting in the 1960’s. Used to pick up the “end pieces” of cheese bricks at discount prices.
Eyup, macaroni and cheese on a budget.
Thank you, Zingones!
A wonderful tribute to a special wife, mom, and grandmother. My condolences to Dom and the family.
Zingone Bros is the jewel of the Upper West Side, and the Zingone family its treasure. The entire neighborhood mourns the loss of your mom and wishes you many more decades of success running your delightfulful store.
I didn’t realize Mary had died. Such a tragic loss of a lovely human being.