It’s a regular Tuesday afternoon for Sal Valentinetti delivering pizza in Albertson. As he picks up an armful of orders at da-Angelo pizzeria, a customer coming in stops him.
“Hey, you’re that guy,” the man says. “ ‘America’s Got Talent,’ right? Frank Sinatra song? You were awesome, man.”
“Yeah,” Valentinetti says, smiling wide. “Thank you so much!”
These days, Valentinetti is not your average Long Island pizza delivery guy; he’s become a local celebrity. Life has changed for the 20-year-old from Bethpage since appearing on the NBC reality show, where he wowed judge Heidi Klum with a rousing rendition of “My Way” and advanced straight to the quarterfinals, which airs live on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
“Every time someone recognizes me from the show, it’s a celebration,” says Valentinetti. “My experience on ‘AGT’ was awesome and surreal. A few weeks ago, who was I?”
DELIVERY IN STYLE
Gearing up for the first run of the day, he packs four pizzas and a bunch of entrees into his white 1998 Cadillac DeVille, which is decked out with tinted windows, pinstripes and his nickname, “The Voice,” emblazoned on the trunk.
“I’m a huge car guy,” says Valentinetti who is a proud member of the Cadillac Club of Long Island. “When people see a Cadillac, they respect it.”
On his way to his next delivery, Valentinetti gets a call. “Ma, I’m working. Is everybody all right?” he says, quickly finishing the conversation.
“She calls constantly.”
Indeed, Valentinetti’s family is a tight-knit group. They all traveled as his personal entourage during his audition for the show.
“My family is my rock. We stick together,” he says. “Wherever we go, we take over.”
Next stop: a doctor’s office in Great Neck, which has ordered two pies, several pasta dishes and bottles of soda.
“I don’t eat this stuff no more,” Valentinetti says, looking down at the pizza. “I’m all about grilled chicken and vegetables these days.”
In addition to working with a vocal coach, he’s been prepping for his next appearance by dieting and working out with a trainer.
“I’ve lost over 50 pounds,” he says. “It’s all diet and exercise. There’s no way around it.”
The comments begin as soon as he arrives.
“Sal, can I get a picture?”
“You’re cute — I love you!”
“I’m Italian, I totally get you.”
Then come the hugs, kisses and poses for selfies. The small crowd demands an impromptu performance. Valentinetti obliges, singing “Fly Me to the Moon.” Everybody melts — to a point.
“Can you believe after all that, they didn’t even tip?” he says, after the elevator doors close.
Valentinetti is signed up to continue his studies in the fall at St. John’s University, where he is majoring in mass communications and minoring in business.
“I was looking to get into public relations and marketing,” he says. “Entertainment was never a practical career for me. It didn’t seem like something I could actually do until ‘AGT’ happened.”
When he arrives at a hair salon in Mineola for a delivery, the owner greets him warmly — in Italian.
“Grazie, amico!” he says.
“Prego!” Valentinetti responds.
He walks out smiling, holding up a bill.
“My first tip of the day,” he says. “$20 . . . how you doin’?”
MAKING IT BIG
In the evenings, Valentinetti does gigs at restaurants such as Cassariano in Mineola and Il Mulino in Roslyn, but he has bigger plans.
“I’d love to host my own variety show, this way I can sing and incorporate my personality into it,” he says. “Imagine being paid to be you for the rest of your life — how lucky is that?”
First step: Performing live on television.
When Klum recently went on “The Tonight Show,” she told host Jimmy Fallon, in her best New York accent, “Sal is my goomba from Long Island. He’s the best. I want to go to his mother’s — have macaroni and the gravy!”
Klum gave him more love than Jennifer Lopez did when he appeared on “American Idol” during season 14. J.Lo didn’t respond to his friendly flirtation.
But, Valentinetti made a fan out of the toughest “AGT” judge of them all, Simon Cowell.
“Sal was one of my favorite auditions of all time,” Cowell says in a phone interview. “What I love about him is his swagger, his confidence and the fact that he’s an old soul. I love everything about that guy.”
When asked about his chances in the competition, Valentinetti gets serious.
“Listen, I came here to win. I believe you are as good as you make yourself,” he says. “I think my chances are pretty good if I keep doing me. People seem to like that.”
‘AMERICA’S GOT TALENT’
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, NBC/4