Francesco was born in Calabria, Italy on November 11, 1916. He was the third of nine children and the son of one of the builders of the Brooklyn Bridge. His love of food came at an early age, when as a young child he had an extra- large spoon made for him so that he would be able to eat larger portions when eating with his family.
In the early 1940’s he was called to serve and, as a WW II POW he cooked in the prison’s kitchen; probably what saved his life. In October, 1968 he migrated to the U.S. and settled in The Bronx, NY where he worked at his cousin’s restaurant first washing dishes, then as a salad maker followed by Assistant Cook and finally Chef.
In 1975 along with his brothers, Francesco, became the proprietor of a restaurant in Monroe, NY named “The Oasis.” Soon after, he returned to The Bronx and worked at a pizzeria/restaurant with his son Domenic in Yonkers, NY. A few years later, he returned to work at his favorite restaurant Gino’s where he worked until the age of 65 when he “officially” retired. However, he continued to work at Gino’s as the night crew manager overseeing the clean-up crew, as well as, ensuring everyone was served breakfast. His family was finally able to convince Francesco that he should stop work altogether at the age of 80.
His passion for cooking was not limited to the restaurant; it continued in his personal life, he loved to garden and cook everything he planted. He cooked meals at home for his family and friends, as well as, making home-made sausage, tomato sauce, and home-made wine. His pleasure in life was to over-feed anyone that walked through his door and you could not leave his house unless you ate something and drank a glass of his wine.
The love of food and cooking was passed on to his son, Giuseppe, who has owned restaurants in Dutchess County, NY for over 3 decades and to his son, Domenic, who owned restaurant/pizzeria for many years. This passion for food lives on, not just in his sons but also two of his grandchildren, two of Giuseppe’s sons, Frank and Luigi. They have named this restaurant in honor of their grandfather, Francesco – his love of life, family, and food. Francesco loved to talk to his sons – and anyone who would listen – about cooking and how to make certain dishes – always over a plate of food and, of course, a glass of wine.
Francesco passed away in April, 2010 at the age of 93. He left a legacy that we all hope to carry on…his love for life as well as his passion for food.