Cuisine scene with Italian American roots

Long tradition of restaurants within families
Cuisine scene with Italian American roots
Pasta from Francesca's Al Lago

Numerous eateries in our town, past and present, were the inspiration and perspiration of local Italian American families with names such as Amato, Capadona, Di Salvo and Schiro, including at least a couple of dining dynasties.

Biagio Gargano, born in Sicily in 1936, gave us Gargano’s Pizzeria, the Monastery and Bellini Italian Restaurant. Younger brother Gino operated his namesake place on State Street for 50 years until it closed in 2013 (his famous lasagna lives on at the two Gino’s Italian Delis). The youngest brother, Peppino, likewise named his restaurant after himself–first located above Gino’s on State Street, and until it closed in 2010, on the Square where Nostrano is today. Along with daughter Angela, he now markets some of his celebrated pasta sauces and meal starters at several area markets. Biagio’s son, Pete, along with his family, run Bellini today, which Pete has announced will close by the end of the year.

Three generations of the Schiavo family have known how to please their patrons. Jimmy Schiavo opened the first restaurant, the Stone Front on Regent Street, and later an upscale supper club, the Continental on East Washington Avenue. His son, Tony, began his career in the hospitality industry as a young boy when a dishwasher didn’t show up for work at his cousin’s restaurant, Amato’s Holiday House. He and wife Rose Marie would go on to operate Antonio’s, a trattoria on South Park Street. In 1998, with sons Nick and Jim, they opened Cafe Continental on King Street which quickly became a downtown dining landmark. It closed in 2011 and was briefly succeeded by restaurants operated by the sons in Fitchburg.