May 18, 2024

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Elio Sgambati, retired Italian chef and restaurateur, dies at 76

Elio Sgambati, 76, a chef and restaurateur who introduced the cooking of his native Italy to Philadelphia in the 1980s, died Tuesday, Dec. 22, of congestive heart failure.

Mr. Sgambati, born in Naples, retired from the restaurant company in May 2016 when he bought Hosteria da Elio, his quaint, modest trattoria on 3rd Road close to South, following 15 a long time.

It was rare to dine at Hosteria da Elio with out his stopping at your table to chat. He created marvelous pasta dishes, notably gnocchi and lasagna — and would tell you this with pleasure, in the following breath recommending his magnificent desserts, this sort of as tiramisu.

He and his wife, Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, achieved in Rome shortly soon after she arrived to research at Temple University’s Rome campus. He aided her and a mate transfer into their condominium, explained his son, Michele. At the time, he owned a cafe with his brother.

They have been married in 1976 and moved to her hometown of Philadelphia in 1985 to discover a reading expert for their son. “The plan was to continue to be for a 12 months or two, but issues fell into location,” explained his wife, a literary consultant and founder of the African American Children’s E-book Undertaking. The pair had been separated for 28 several years, she mentioned, but remained on superior phrases.

Arriving in Philadelphia, Mr. Sgambati grew to become chef at Il Gallo Nero, then a desired destination Italian cafe on 15th Street in the vicinity of Latimer. “He liked the simplicity of the food items and connecting with people today,” his spouse said.

Mr. Sgambati went on to cook at other restaurants, which include Bistro Romano in Society Hill and Spiga D’Oro in Primos. He and a husband or wife owned Cafe Calamari at 16th and Chancellor Streets in Heart Metropolis, ahead of he opened Hosteria da Elio by himself in 2001.

When Michele was a teen, he introduced him to get the job done as a busboy, instructing him that really hard operate pays off.

“The only way to see him for a while was to either keep up late at evening with him and watch Benny Hill, or to go to do the job with him,” his son claimed. “That’s when I made a like-dislike romantic relationship with restaurateuring.”

In addition to his spouse and son, Mr. Sgambati is survived by a daughter-in-regulation, Tavia Sgambati, and granddaughter, Giuliana Sgambati.

A funeral Mass is planned for 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 7, at Our Girl of Lourdes Church, 6315 Lancaster Ave., Philadelphia. Burial will be non-public.

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