Leonardo Coppola was born in Monte di Procide, a small town in the Campania region that faces the island of Procida, Il Mattino reported, and emigrated to the US with his family when he was 14.
Coppola, who was married and had an eight-year-old son, died while trying to protect a woman from her armed husband in the food court of a shopping mall in Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday, Florida Today reported.
The gunman, 57-year-old Jose Garcia-Rodriguez, also died after shooting himself. His wife, Ida Garcia-Rodriguez, was left wounded.
Coppola, an accomplished chef and restaurant owner, moved to Florida from New Jersey last September to open a pizzeria, Scotto Pizza, in the mall.
Robert Pluta, who took over a restaurant once owned by the Coppola family, described Coppola as "a good man" who "died a hero".
"His place in heaven is assured," Pluto told the news agency, Associated Press (AP).
"He gave his life for that girl. He was a true hero."