MARCO Giove, one of the last surviving members of Sheffield’s founding generation of Italian restaurateurs, has died, aged 89. The funeral will be on what would have been his 90th birthday.
HE was a slim, slightly built, man from Brindisi, Puglia – he certainly did not look tough enough to be a handy flyweight boxer – who emigrated in the early Fifties to find work in the steelworks at Staveley.
The work was hard and he soon realised that using his fists was easier and could make him money.
“He used to visit the local fairground boxing booths and win money. His cousin, also called Marco, would point to him and bet the promoter that he would beat his man. He’d win more often than not,” says his son Marco junior, who runs Marco @ Milano on Archer Road.
They went all over the country until the ruse was stopped after the message went out to beware of two Italians, one big and one small!
It didn’t pay to tangle with Marco. Before he came to England he’d joined the Italian Navy at 19, serving six months of his two years in the cooler. A Southern boy, he was picked on by a senior officer from the North so the plucky little rating threw him overboard.
His good looks also belied his age. He appeared much younger, fooling an 17-year-old girl called Anne, from Rotherham, whom he met at Sheffield’s Locarno dance hall in 1961 and married later that year. She thought he was about 24 when he was, in fact, 32. He told her just before they were married!
She must have forgiven him because they went on to have six children: sons Vincenzo, Marco and Stefano and daughters Susanna, Louisa and Francesca. It is a big family but Marco himself is one of 11 children.
The following year the couple went to live in Italy where their first three children were born. For Anne, the lure of home was strong and they returned to Sheffield and opened their first restaurant, Marco’s, on Abbeydale Road, in 1973.
There were few other Italian restaurants in the city and for many diners it was their first experience of pasta not from tins!
Then followed a succession of restaurants. The business moved to Worksop, Doncaster then Crookes (below,l eft), also as Marco’s, then as La Dolce Vita on Abbeydale Road, Martini on Campo Lane, Delle Rose off West Street and back to La Dolce Vita, which again became Marco’s (below, right). He retired around 1992.
But the family hadn’t retired. Son Marco Jnr ran first Rossi’s, now Marco @ Milano, while Vincenzo (Vinnie) had Buon Deli at Broomhill.
Marco, known as il Capitano (the Captain) kept himself busy, dealing in wine among other enterprises. Customers at Remo’s, Broomhill, before it developed its menu, would have seen him come in with a tray of, perhaps, home-cooked lasagne for owner Remo Simeone to sell for lunch.
Marco died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, August 10, surrounded by his family at home in Crookes.
The funeral will be at St Vincent’s RC Church, Crookes, at 1pm on Tuesday, August 27, followed by a wake in the church hall. His ashes will be scattered in the sea off Brindisi.
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