Nunzios Italian restaurant in Miami, Florida closes

title=s,red sauce dishes in Miami’s western suburbs, Nunzio’s Ristorante is closing its doors.” title=”Roberto Auricchio, owner of Nunzio’s, with a platter of meatballs in the restaurant’s kitchen. After nearly 50 years of serving classic red sauce dishes in Miami’s western suburbs, Nunzio’s Ristorante is closing its doors.” loading=”lazy”/>

Roberto Auricchio, owner of Nunzio’s, with a platter of meatballs in the restaurant’s kitchen. After nearly 50 years of serving classic red sauce dishes in Miami’s western suburbs, Nunzio’s Ristorante is closing its doors.

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Nunzio’s Ristorante was more than just a red sauce joint, serving simple Italian-American classics for nearly 50 years to West Miami’s dormitory communities.

The mall restaurant was a dream for a struggling immigrant family. Nunzio Auricchio left behind a threadbare life in the small town of San Giuseppe Vesuviano, where he sold groceries from the trunk of his car, to open a restaurant where his wife and five children could work and prosper.

It has become a South Florida classic. Serving gigantic, family-style portions of baked ziti, cannelloni, Parmigianas – along with a few improvised dishes named after mom and dad – Nunzio’s was a perfect mid-week stop for weary families and quiet special occasions.

But after 48 years, the last children working in the restaurant will close it permanently. The restaurant will not renew its lease when it ends on March 27.

“I want to take the memories of this place with me, but not the burden,” said current owner Roberto Auricchio, 60, Nunzio’s second youngest son.

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Miami, March 16, 2022 – A family photo in the dining room of Nunzio’s restaurant. Current owner Roberto Auricchio is seated second from left. The original owners, immigrants from Italy, have passed away and all of their children who helped run it are retiring. Jose A. Iglesias [email protected]

The oil crisis of the 1970s gripped the Auricchio family. Nunzio’s wife, Gilda, asked her sister who owned a classic Brooklyn red sauce restaurant, Mario’s, if she could sponsor her family and help them get started in the restaurant business in America.

The Auricchios from Italy and Gilda’s parents from New York moved to Miami, where they opened a restaurant together. It was first called Mario’s until Nunzio bought it two years later and renamed it in his honor.

In this 30-seat restaurant, his two daughters and three sons all played a part (when they were old enough). Nunzio and Gilda, who had learned the recipes from her aunt and uncle, faithfully reproduced them in a shopping mall on the corner of Coral Way and 97th Avenue SW until 1986, when a fire in the center commercial damaged their restaurant.

They closed for a year – but when they reopened at the current location at 11433 SW 40th St., it was packed with loyal diners.

“(The guests) feel like a second home when they come here with their family,” Roberto said. “It’s a friendly, family place where they can share memories.”

Sisters Erminia and Maria-Nunzia returned to Italy to get married. But the brothers, Biagio, Roberto and Francesco, continued to run it with their parents.

That is until Gilda’s death in 2015. Heartbroken, Nunzio died a year later. Biagio, who worked there in the moonlight as a waiter while teaching Italian and French at Miami Dade Collegeretiree and Roberto have handled day-to-day operations for the past few years.

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Nunzio’s owner Roberto Auricchio, right, poses for a photo with waitress Marcela Tondi in the restaurant’s kitchen. Jose A. Iglesias [email protected]

But with no children, nieces or nephews interested in taking over the family business, Roberto decided to drop the restaurant.

“I don’t want the nuncio’s name to be sullied if someone else takes it over and ruins it,” he said.

Roberto and his team have spent the last few weeks saying goodbye to diners. Longtime waitress Marcela Tondi, originally from Argentina, says she has “a knot in her throat” when she thinks of Nunzio’s end. “Every day we say goodbye,” she said.

Don’t mourn the little restaurant, said Roberto. For nearly 50 years, she supported a family and its dream.

“I finished what I promised myself to do,” Roberto said. “And now it’s time to move on.”

This story was originally published March 17, 2022 7:04 a.m.

Miami Herald editor Carlos Frías won the 2018 James Beard Award for Outstanding Coverage of the Food Industry. Originally from Miami, he is also the author of the memoir “Take Me With You: A Secret Search for Family in a Forbidden Cuba”.

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