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Giants star Tuck honored at New Hyde Park eatery

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Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2012 1:14 pm | Updated: 3:24 pm, Thu Feb 23, 2012.

He received a key to the county from Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and took a lesson from the owner of Umberto's Pizzeria & Restaurant on how to make a Grandma pizza.

For New York Giants defensive star Justin Tuck, the celebration of his team's victory against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl continued last week with a visit to New Hyde Park.

The trip was capped off when Umberto's owner Umberto Corteo and his son Gaetano presented Tuck with a $10,000 check for R.U.S.H. for Literacy, the non-profit initiative Tuck launched for children from low-income New York City communities in 2008.

"I'm humbled to be here. I'm happy to call you my friend," Tuck said to the elder Corteo.

Tuck also offered high praise for the pizza that was the Giants' midday meal on the Friday before their recent Super Bowl victory - and every Friday for the past four seasons.

"The pizza's so good, the veterans make the rookies wait until they're done," Tuck said.

Tuck also had a message for the fans who showed up outside Umberto's to catch a glimpse of the Giants' imposing defensive lineman.

"It's been something you can't put words to. But thanks for your love and support," he said.

Corteo promised to continue his support of Tuck's cause and to persist with more pizza deliveries.

"I'm going to double the order from now on. Hurray for the Giants," Corteo said.

Mangano called it a "great day" for Nassau County, noting that the Giants Super Bowl victory "brings big business" to the county, with Umberto's role as an example.

"They say politics is all grass roots. Here for the Giants to win it's been all grass roots," he said.

Mangano also praised Tuck as a football player and a philanthropist.

"He made some spectacular plays in the Super Bowl. He's a spectacular charitable man," Mangano said.

The news about the Giants traditional Friday lunch special became a footnote to their Super Bowl lore when the younger Corteo made a very special delivery of 15 pizzas - the standard fare - to their practice in Indianapolis the Friday before the game. He made special arrangements with Delta Airlines to put the pizzas, stored in custom insulated containers that maintained a heat of 200 degrees, in overhead bins for his flight to Indianapolis.

"I was just in time," he said. "They were so happy to see me come to their practice on Friday."

The Giants have been eating Umberto's pizza at practices in the Meadowlands every Friday since the end of the 2006 season, courtesy of New Hyde Park native son Richard Salgado, president and CEO of Coastal Advisors LLC, a Manhattan-based insurance business.

Salgado insures eight of the Giants, along with 500 professional athletes in other sports - and Umberto's.

Player had sent text messages to Salgado to let him know they wanted the same order of pizzas that he had been personally delivering to their Meadowlands practice facility since the end of the 2006 season sent to the site of the Super Bowl.

So Gaetano Corteo made the longest delivery of his career at Umberto's.

"I wanted to keep their lives as consistent as possible," Corteo said.

Tuck said he and his Giants teammates have had a "great relationship" with Umberto Corteo and his son ever since Michael Strahan started the tradition of ordering pizzas for Friday practice six years ago. On Friday, with their donation to his literacy initiative, he said the relationship is stronger.

"I hope to have more impact off the field than I have on the field," Tuck said.

Salgado said he and Tuck are aiming to make R.U.S.H. (Read, Understand, Succeed and Hope) for Literacy a national organization.

"We want to raise as much money as possible. [Tuck] is one of the few who gives back," Salgado said.

Reach reporter Richard Tedesco by e-mail at rtedesco@theislandnow.com or by phone at 516.307.1045 x204

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