Russell Ciolli, Owner of Grimaldi's, Dies at 39

Visitation Saturday and Sunday, Mass and burial Monday.

Russell Ciolli, owner of Grimaldi's Pizza, died Wednesday. He was 39.

Honored as Business Person of the Year in 2009, Mr. Ciolli was very active with the Garden City Chamber of Commerce, serving as a "dedicated director" of the board for the past four years.

"Ever willing to open his business to facilitate breakfast chamber meetings, he was instrumental in the development of the Friend of the Chamber Card, which will be part of his legacy, that will continue to help the vitality of our business community," said John Wilton, president of Garden City's Merchant Committee. "His untimely demise is tragic for his family and our community as a whole. God speed Russ."

Since its grand opening in Garden City, Grimaldi's has been dubbed the anchor restaurant on the northern end of Franklin Avenue and a favorite "haunt" amongst Adelphi students.

After Mr. Ciolli's father, Frank, acquired the famed Grimaldi's Pizzeria (located under the Brooklyn Bridge) from Patsy Grimaldi he headed west to Arizona to help his brother, Joseph, open one. When he returned to Long Island, Mr. Ciolli and his wife, Jennifer, further expanded the business, opening their own Grimaldi's right here in Garden City.

Mr. Ciolli leaves behind many family and friends, including wife Jennifer, daughter Ava Victoria and son Hunter Michael. Visitation is Saturday and Sunday, 2-5 and 7-9 p.m. at Park Funeral Home, 2175 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park. A Mass will be held at St. Aidan's Church in Williston Park Monday at 10 a.m. Interment to follow at Locust Valley Cemetery. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Wounded Warrior Veterans of America or The American Heart Association.

Jack O'Niel November 26, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Sorry to hear this; what happened?
Peter J. Tomao November 26, 2011 at 08:55 PM
Russell will be missed. He was an important part of the Garden City community.
Publius November 26, 2011 at 09:09 PM
This is very sad. My condolences to his family.
Nick K November 27, 2011 at 02:12 AM
Rest in peace . We pray for the family
Frank November 27, 2011 at 03:49 PM
what happened to a 39 year old healthy man??
Suzanne Eigl November 27, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Russ was a great part of the Garden City business community Having served on the board of directors for the Garden City Chamber with him I know just how dedicated he was to our community It was my honor to co-chair the Friend of the Chamber Merchant Card Program with him The program was to reward people for shopping in Garden City what a great idea! Russ past away unexpectedly of a heart attack reminding us all how fragile life is He was loved and respected by many many people for his kindness I have lost a very dear friend a one of a kind person My heart goes out to his family and other friends To me one word sums up Russ Unforgettable
Margot green November 27, 2011 at 08:08 PM
I knew Russell only as a neighborhood child. It seems he grew up to be a very well respected businessman. This is so very sad. My condolences to the entire Ciolli family. Margot Green
Billy Evans November 28, 2011 at 03:19 PM
My wife and i loved russ and the crew from grimaldis . we have been going there since its opening and thats when we had the pleasure of meeting russ he was deffinetly a good friend and a truely unique and was not what you would expect from a garden city resturant owner he had a big heart and was a great person ,kind , generous and lets not forget he was fun to hang with russell with two ss and two ll s you will be missed and one thing for sure heaven just became a better place ..but one thing for sure its gonna suck here with out you .. Billy and Aggy .
Drew Art Guy @ Sunflower Fine Art Galleries November 28, 2011 at 06:34 PM
Terribly sad news. Thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.
Lara November 28, 2011 at 11:04 PM
we went to grimaldis for dinner saturday night and what a somber vibe there was. our usual waiter told us what happened and it's certainly a sad turn of events. our hearts go out to the family with this passing and what's going on with the original grimaldis moving in brooklyn. :/
Seven Costanza November 29, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Russ was always smiling when I walked in. Great guy. Will be missed. Prayers for Jennifer and all.
Jaime Sumersille November 29, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Thank you for leaving such kind sentiments about Mr. Ciolli and his family. It seems like he was an integral part of this close-knit community. Our condolences to his friends and family. Jaime Sumersille, Regional Editor Patch.com