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#BravoGenealogy Blog Series: Melissa Gorga

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

I apologize for the hiatus on #BravoGenealogy feature posts, but I hope you've enjoyed my social media posts and some of the non-BravoTV content I've also been sharing! I've been exploring several Bravolebrity trees over the past couple months, but with the Real Housewives of New Jersey (#RHONJ) now in full force, I decided it would only be fitting to put the one and only Melissa Gorga on display.

What We Know

Melissa Ann (Marco) Gorga was born on March 21, 1979, and grew up in Toms River, New Jersey, but also spent some of her formative years in Boca Raton, Florida. She is the daughter of Donna (Ceravolo) Marco and the late Anthony who died tragically in a car accident in 1996. She also has two older sisters, Kimberly and Lysa. Of course, she is married to Giuseppe "Joe" Gorga with whom she has three children, Antonia, Gino, and Joey, and is sister-in-law with fellow New Jersey housewife, Teresa (Gorga) Giudice.

Melissa has enjoyed being centerstage from a young age.

Throughout my research on Melissa, I spent a lot of time looking through newspapers learning about her family. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when I found this sweet photo of Melissa ready to perform in an original opera "about families and how they've changed over the years" titled, "Melting Pot of Dreams" with The Rusty Dusty Opera Company of Cedar Grove Elementary School in Toms River.

Melissa elemetnary opera
Ready to perform in a May 20, 1992, post from the Asbury Park Press.

A relative from each side of her family tree died the same day and their obituaries were posted on the same page.

Much of my time spent combing through newspapers I was focused on obituaries, which provided a wealth of information on members of Melissa's family tree. I had to do a double-take though when I saw the last names "Marco" and "Ceravolo" on the same page and not connected directly to Melissa. Her paternal grandfather, Carmen N. Marco, and her maternal great-uncle, Matthew Ceravolo, both died on January 7, 1986, and had their obituaries published just inches from each other in the next day's edition of the Newark Star-Ledger.

newspaper obituaries
Obituaries of Melissa's grandfather and great-uncle published the same day in The Newark Star Ledger.

Surprise! Melissa's ancestry is Italian. But she should still take a DNA test!

All roads led to Italy when following Melissa's paper trail. She seemed to have roots all over country, including Minturno in southern Lazlo, the Campania region, and Sicily. Despite many people taking a DNA test to learn more about their ancestry composition, the most valuable aspect of testing is actually found in the DNA matches. In a recent episode, Melissa mentioned that a medium told her she has a paternal half-sister somewhere out there. If Melissa sincerely thinks this is the case (and even if she doesn't because it's fun anyway), TAKE A DNA TEST! I highly recommend testing first at AncestryDNA because they have the largest database and the ability to transfer raw data results elsewhere. (And of course, I can help you out!)

Google Image Minturno
A Google Maps screenshot of Minturno, Italy, where family on Melissa's maternal side listed they were from.

Family has always been a centerpiece in Melissa's family tree.

Despite just being a piece of paper, a record can tell a story. I always love when I come across immigration records and try to piece together the story from the information. For example, I think about how strong Melissa's great-grandmother, Anna (Creo) Ceravolo (later Latone) must have been when only in her twenties left her mother behind and departed from Naples with her 7 year old son, 2 year old daughter, and 14 year old sister, to Ellis Island to reach her husband.

ship manifest
Ship manifest for Melissa's great-grandmother and family who sailed on the SS Nord America from Naples and arrived at Ellis Island on November 26, 1907.

And even though an ocean separated them, Melissa's ancestors didn't forget their roots or their family left behind. Her great-grandparents, Antonio and Maria (Guarisco) Tamburello returned to Italy at least once, sailing to Palermo in 1950. Based on obituaries, Antonio had at least one relative, a sister, who still lived there.

Tamburello ship manifest
Ship manifest for Melissa's great-grandparents sailing to Italy in 1950.

Melissa isn't the first woman in her family to balance both her home life and a career.

A major plotline for Melissa over the years has been the tension between being a stay-at-home wife and mother and her rapidly growing professional life. Her husband, Joe, seems to still wish that Melissa was home more, and he just recently shared he would like the same for his only daughter, Antonia, because that's what he knows and grew up with. However, that wasn't the norm in Melissa's family, and Melissa's grandmother, Jennie (Tamburello) Marco, seems to have groomed the way for her granddaughter. The 1940 census recorded Jennie's occupation as an operator in a beauty parlor. According to her obituary, she was a wonderful mother, grandmother, and cook, committed to church life, and also a former employee at Bradlees Department Store where she worked 27 years before retiring around the age of 73. Clearly, Melissa is also doing what she knows and finding a way to have it all.

Tamburello 1940 census
1940 census for the large Tamburello family. Melissa's grandmother, Jennie, is listed in yellow.

Enjoy learning about Melissa Gorga's family history? Genealogy is not just for Bravolebrities! Contact me at, and I can do the same for you!


Which Bravolebrity's ancestry would you like to learn about? Follow me on social media:

Use hashtags #myfamilygenie and #bravogenealogy to let me know your thoughts!


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