‘Giorgio's Room' memorializes victim of ‘pizza murder'

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:51

    HAMBURG-Giorgio's Room, the dream of a young man named Giorgio Gallara, has finally become a reality. George, as he was known, was one of two victims of the so-called "pizza murder" seven years ago at the hands of two men who were tried and convicted. He was 25. Now, his parents, Angelo and Connie, and sister, Angelica, have made Tony's Pizza, Route 94, Hardyston/Hamburg their job and their mission. George had a plan when, at the age of 20, he took over ownership of a pizzeria where he previously had worked for several years. On April 19, 1997 it all changed when Gallara and his friend and employee, 22-year-old Jeremy Giordano, were murdered while delivering a pizza in what was apparently a "thrill" killing. After recovering from their initial sorrow, his parents, who did not have experience in operating a restaurant, decided to take over the pizzeria. George's parents came from Italy in 1971, and their children, born in the United States, inherited their work ethic. Angelica, a graduate of Montclair State University, has chosen to work with the family at the restaurant. Their workday usually begins at 8:30 a.m., and isn't over until 11 p.m. The restaurant is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. When the karate school next to the restaurant closed, they began to think about their son's plans, and opening a dinner room became their goal. Their wish was to do it in his memory. "When we are in this room, we feel like he is here," Connie Gallara said through a tearful smile. "My son is here helping me. I still can't go through there (Franklin); he's always on my mind." Their many friends helped in whatever way they could, and the work was completed in little more than six months. Their customers have become their friends. One customthey now count as a friend, Betsy Edsall said, "They are special people." Best friend Richie Wetterauw, who works at the pizzeria, recalled when he and George were friends at Sussex County Vocational-Technical High School where they studied cooking. "We were like family, like brothers. Such a great love of life; just like one big family. The room was what George always wanted. It's incredible that it's come this far, to see his dream finally come to fruition." Giorgio's Room has been used only for catering showers and parties, but Angelo Gallara expects to open on a regular basis sometime in the near future. Giordano, the other victim, was memorialized through the opening of Jeremiah Deli/Restaurant in Lake Hiawatha. Their killers, Thomas Koskovich a