Senior Distribution Manager for Disney Publications, Ron Staino, has Italian roots and a passion for real neighborhood life
by Frances Madeson
Ron Staino moved to Co-op Village two and a half years ago, letting go of a rent stabilized apartment in Chelsea because he was seeking a more residential neighborhood, not one that was being overrun with galleries and bars, tourists and night crawlers. He wanted to create the kind of life “where you know your local drycleaner and pharmacist, and say hi to your neighbors.”
He comes by his attraction to village life honestly. Ron’s a first generation American, born of Italian parents from tiny towns in the Calabrian hills (his father is from Spezzano Piccolo, the hometown of Gianni Versace). Ron learned to speak the southern dialect so he could communicate with his extended family, most of whom remained in Italy. It’s “a beautiful part of the world,” he says, “where people really know how to enjoy life.”
Ron’s worked at Disney Publications for twelve years. It’s the largest publisher of children’s books in the world, and he’s currently the Senior Distribution Manager, supervising the production of magazines likes Family Fun and Disney Adventures. Ron admits that when he started at Disney, he didn’t have a favorite character, but now he’s leaning towards Goofy. With a degree in Communications from Mount St. Vincent in Riverdale, Ron originally planned on becoming a journalist. But after finding work in publishing on the ad selling side, he realized that he enjoyed being a “handson project manager.” He likes to “build systems from scratch or take broken ones and fix them.” In fact, things are running so smoothly that Ron’s been asking for more challenging projects at work. “My office is in Union Square, and if I’m not engaged, I tend to gravitate up to Home Depot. I told my bosses, this is costing me!”
But as much as Ron enjoys his work, he loves coming home. “This neighborhood is a treasure,” he said. “My friends all live down here; I run in East River Park; I walk everywhere; and sometimes even use the gym. I think their fingerprint ID system is great, and for $10 a month just belonging makes me feel healthy.”
Ron was “egged on” by his mother, a successful decorator, to make the leap to homeownership. “A real go-getter who sets a personal goal and rides it like the wind,” his mother is one of his most important influences. Both she and Ron’s sister love visiting him in his 19th floor apartment, with its sweeping views of the downtown and midtown skylines, views that Ron finds inspiring, and refuses to cover with curtains. His mother complains that “people like you will put me out of business!”
Weather permitting, Ron makes full use of his balcony, drinking his morning espresso outside before going to work, and growing basil and other herbs for the Italian specialties he prepares in his serious cook’s kitchen. This kitchen is where Ron invested most of the effort and resources in his renovation. It features a Viking stove, SubZero refrigerator and Bosch dishwasher, all stainless, contrasting elegantly with the custom cherry cabinets. The floor is laid on a diagonal with porcelain tiles the color of butter, which he also used for the backsplash.
An avid music lover with an enormous collection of CDs and DVDs, he frequently listens to Bob Dylan and George Harrison, while cooking raviolis bought from Piedmonte in Little Italy, where he also buys his cheese. But he makes his own sauce, using fresh tomatoes, which he boils to remove the skins, and then simmers with garlic and herbs (sometimes, but not always, adding half an onion).