ROME – Italy has complained to Austrian authorities about a Vienna pub selling sandwiches named after Italians slain by Sicilian mobsters.
The foreign ministry said Saturday that Italy’s charge d’affaires in Vienna “intervened to sensitize” local authorities, including the city of Vienna and the economy ministry, after a menu of the Don Panino pub has upset Italians in Vienna and public opinion in Italy.
Naming a sandwich for Giovanni Falcone, a prosecutor killed by a Mafia bombing in 1992 and saying on the menu Falcone was “grilled” like a sausage offended his memory and is “unacceptable,” the ministry said.
Another sandwich is named after Giuseppe “Peppino” Impastato, who rebelled against his mobster father in a tiny Sicilian town as a youngster, used his program on a local radio station in the 1970s to ridicule and denounce Cosa Nostra, as the Sicilian Mafia is known. In 1978, his body was found, blown up by dynamite, on the railroad tracks outside town, and the slaying blamed on mobsters. The menu describes Impastato as being ‘’baked in a bomb attack like a chicken.”
Other dishes on the menu are named after top Italian mobsters as well as one of Cosa Nostra’s most famous turncoats, Tommaso Buscetta, whose testimony helped convict hundreds of mobsters in Italy. The foreign ministry said joking about people who died fighting the Mafia is offensive.
“It was especially underlined to the Austrian authorities how using the names of persons who distinguished themselves in the fight against the Mafia, done in a distorted way and for merely commercial aims, is not only in poor taste, but also highly offensive to the memory of these very people who have paid the highest price and disrespectful toward those who work daily to defeat the Mafia phenomenon,” the ministry statement said.
The Don Panino pub’s site says it was closed, but it was unclear when the update was posted. Italian state TV, describing the menu affair as a diplomatic flap, said the eatery had been closed for some time.
Austrian foreign ministry media officers weren’t answering their phones. A woman answering the phone at Vienna’s city hall said there was no one available on the weekend to speak about the pub.
Italian state TV said the pub was run by Italians, and that it was Italians living in Vienna that were behind the drive to close it.