NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - Soccer. Italian food. Queens, New York. These three elements bond the Acquista Family.
In January, Carlo Acquista, the second oldest of the five Acquista brothers, was named, Head Coach of Fordham Men's Soccer.
"I'm really excited for the challenge," says Acquista, sitting in his family's restaurant, Acquista Trattoria on Union Turnpike in Queens.
A Westbury New York native, Carlo was a member of the 1996 St John's Men's Soccer National Championship Team.
Reminiscing about that season, Acquista says, "It was fantastic. Best experience possible. As a freshman, you just want to play a little bit and get some minutes and grow into your role. I was fortunate enough to play in a good amount of games and star a lot of games."
In our conversation over Sicilian wine, olives and caprese salad, I ask Acquista what made him want to go into coaching?
"My time at St John's." He immediately answers, saying "I've always wanted to be in sports, especially soccer, obviously. It's my love and my passion, but St. John's helped me develop."
Carlo's had a successful coaching career, winning over 62-percent of his games at Adelphi over eleven seasons. And in 2018 he worked a scout for the New York Red Bulls. And yet Carlo is the one Acquista brother out of five, that does not wore at the family restaurant, Acquista Trattoria, just across the street from St. John's University, where their authentic Italian dishes are inspired by their father' Rosario's Sicilian roots.
Acquista explains, "Alessandro's our chef. Alessandro went to school, culinary school. He spent some time in Italy. My brother Joe, my oldest brother, is the general manager of the restaurant. My brother Paulo, who's Alessandro's twin, he was actually in soccer to begin with … he's been our director of operations and business development. And then there's Fabio. Fabio, our youngest brother, has learned from the best and the worst of us, you know? And he's developed into a very good manager himself."
Carlo's father, Rosario Acquista and his mother, Maria, known as "mama Tiramisu" were both born in Sicily, coming to the States as teenagers, and raising their five boys on pasta and soccer.
"And as soon as my kids were born, in the crib, you put the soccer ball. That's all they had. And they started playing soccer," says Rosario from behind the bar in his restaurant.
Rosario has always been in the food business, and when a building was up for sale across the street from the Campus of St. John's... Carlo had a suggestion.
Rosario says, "We come in, we bought the pizzeria and we started from there. And St. John's, I mean … everyone comes here. (Legendary St. John's Men's Basketball Coach) Lou Carnesseca's 90th Birthday was over here (pointing to a table.) … At Acquista Trattoria."
Over 18 years, Acquista Trattoria has become a hot spot for all of St. John's Athletics.
In August, Fordham played at St. John's in a preseason game. Yes, the Rams ate their pregame meal at the trattoria. Next season, Acquista will get to face his Alma Matter in a regular season game, thanks to his former St. John's soccer coach, David Masur, who is still at the helm of the Red Storm Soccer team.
"For me, just for coach to add us to the schedule, is massive," exclaims Carlo.
As Rosario delivers fresh spaghetti, meatballs, and basil to the table where Carlo talks about his career and family … everyone raises a glass of Sicilian wine saying, "Salute! Buono fortuna, Fordham Rams!"