Tributes have been paid to a well-known former Lynn restaurateur who died in Italy earlier this month.
Antonio Scotto di Marrazzo, who ran Antonio’s Wine Bar on Baxter’s Plain for more than 30 years, died on January 4.
Leading the tributes was his wife Titina, who said his family “meant everything to him”.
She said: “Antonio was born on the beautiful island of Procida, in the Bay of Naples, known for its proud seafaring tradition, its history, giant lemons and artichokes.”
Titina said he had previously been an engineer officer in the Merchant Navy. The pair met and settled in Dersingham, before he undertook two years of catering training in London.
She said: “He opened Antonio’s Wine Bar in 1975/76 and King’s Lynn was never the same again. He introduced pizza,lasagne, bruschetta, pasta fagioli and genuine Southern Italian cooking.
“There was no mozzarella in King’s Lynn, the only olive oil you could buy was a tiny bottle from Boots for earache.
“Parma ham was unheard of and the only bread was traditional English loaves,so Antonio went to Mr. Smith on London Road and together they created French sticks and panini.
“Antonio loved his contact with people, always smiling, charming the ladies by kissing their hand and making them feel safe if they came in alone.
“He was a natural showman, and with his very little English and Italian looks, he soon had a packed wine bar.
“He was a family man, his family meant everything to him, and his two wonderful children Adriano and Francesca of whom he was so proud are evidence of this.
“Every year he brought his family back to Procida for the summer to discover their roots and they grew up loving his island home.
“He retired back home to Procida in 2006, and loved growing vegetables, being in the sun, sitting at bars watching people, and preparing for his adored grandchildren to visit, but he always missed his friends and wine bar in King’s Lynn. Rest in peace dearest Antonio.”
Former customers have also remembered him.
Richard Crisp said: “It really was a gem of a place and of course this was due to the amazing welcome and service that Antonio afforded whenever you walked through the front door.
“I was so sad to hear about Antonio’s sudden and untimely departure. He was a really good bloke, an excellent restaurateur and for many years a good friend to all of his regular customers.”
Ruth Freeman said: “So sorry to hear this. Used to go in Antonio’s regularly from when I worked in Lynn from 1979 until Antonio left.
“Loved the place and nowhere else in Lynn has ever come close for me. RIP Antonio.”
Amanda Travis said: “Sad to read. Loved many a good meal in Antonio’s.”