In last week’s episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey when Rosie Pierri revealed to Victoria and Joseph Wakile that she is gay, the setting for the touching heart-to-heart was Hasbrouck Heights Pizza.
And on Friday night owner Celestino Gencarelli and other members of the state’s restaurant community joined RHONJ stars for an evening of great food, music, and dancing to benefit the National Brain Tumor Society.
Held at Masina Trattoria Italiana in Weehawken, N.J., which overlooks the Hudson River waterfront, the free, invitation only event was hosted by Robyn Levy, owner and publisher of DiningOut New Jersey magazine.
The special RHONJ guests included Kathy Wakile and husband, Richard, their son, Joseph; Rosie (Kathy’s sister), and Caroline Manzo and sons Albie and Chris. Articles featuring the Wakiles and Manzos have appeared in Levy’s publication. Levy, Albie and Chris are also the stars of her new 11-episode web reality show, Dining Out with the Manzos.
“Normally I like to do an event for Dining Out (magazine) at least twice a year,” Levy explained. She says she has become friends with Kathy so they talked about doing something together. Kathy became involved with the brain tumor society after Victoria was diagnosed with a tumor at 10. It was later determined to be benign.
Friday’s event was free, but guests were given the opportunity to make donations to the organization. Levy said that in addition to restaurant owners and advertisers, guests included other entrepreneurs, friends and family.
“It brings people together,” Levy added. She said she also saw the evening as a networking opportunity for guests looking to build their businesses in a tough economy.
Kathy said that more than $3,000 was raised, adding that the money will go toward brain tumor research and care and support programs for people with these tumors and their families.
She noted fortunately Victoria’s brain tumor was operable. ”She bounced back right away – so many others are not as lucky.”
The brain tumor society reached out to Kathy when Victoria’s story was aired as part of Real Housewives. ”Through reality T.V. great things can happen,” Kathy said.
Victoria was not able to attend the event since she had planned a trip to Florida with friends, but she will have her own “Victorious Angels” contingent in the New York Brain Tumor Walk to be held Saturday on Governor’s Island. Kathy is chairman of the walk and Friday night’s donations were accepted for Victoria’s team.
We also wanted to ask Rosie and Kathy about some of the recent goings-on on Real Housewives.
After Rosie came out to her niece and nephew on the show, how did she feel about revealing something like that in such a public way?
She said it was well worth it. ”If I could help one person out there struggling…I don’t want any kids to waste their 20s and 30s the way I did…I suffered and held it in, for what?”
“Just do it and be done with it,” Rosie added. ”Hiding secrets wil f***king eat you up inside.”
Since Friday was also the day that the family feud involving Teresa Giudice, her sister-in-law, Melissa Gorga; and cousin, Kathy, was aired on The View talk show, we also wanted to ask about that.
Teresa reportedly refused to share the couch with the other two ladies – which Kathy says surprised them. She noted the show was actually taped on Tuesday.
Separate cars are sent by The View to pick up guests, Kathy explained, and celebrities get their own dressing rooms; so she said she and Melissa were in the dark about Teresa wanting to appear solo. Melissa and Kathy haven’t been in contact with Teresa since the September reunion show.
“That was shocking and very surprising,” Kathy said. She added The View hosts are ”five dignified journalists and public figures (including Barbara Walters). What did she think was going to happen on that couch?”
She said Teresa acted like she was the only one who would be uncomfortable if the three sat next to each other. It turned out Teresa had her say about the family rift while Kathy and Melissa waited in the green room for their turn.
Kathy noted she and Melissa were willing to sit with Teresa in any case though it wouldn’t have been easy. “It was not just awkward for her, but for everyone.”
photos: Bravo, GettyImages