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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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BERTOLINI, Tonio Mario

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BERTOLINI, Tonio Mario. (Pescara, Italy, April 1, 1944--Dubuque, IA, June 19, 2017). The son of Antonio and Carmela Bertolini on April 1, 1944, Mario had a humble upbringing in a close knit family in a small, farming community in rural Italy. He left home at the age of fourteen and spent several years apprenticing at a resort in San Serrano, Italy. He perfected his culinary skills and refined his legendary charm. Later he joined the Alpini, the elite mountain military corps of the Italian Army. Mario wed his best friend, Angelina Tucci, in their hometown in 1969. Weeks after marrying, they moved to New York to do just that.(1)

In 1977, Mario and Angelina opened MARIO'S ITALIAN RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE on Main Street. The restaurant was the center of their family life. Their children, Lidia and Dina, worked alongside them through the years. Mario was so proud of his family, especially his girls, and taught them that every meal should create a memory. Mario's Italian Restaurant was a gift to the community. It soon became THE place to celebrate family, often with the signature dish--panzarotti. (2)

Mario lit up a room with his charismatic smile. Sitting on his favorite stool at the bar, he greeted patrons with a look in the eye, a shake of the hand, a kiss on the cheek, and if they were very lucky, a big hug. (3)

As stated in the Telegraph Herald editorial page:

              He was never elected to anything. He didn't serve on the city council or the
              school board. He wasn't a corporate executive, major philanthropist or local
              power broker.
              Yet Mario Bertolini, in his own simple and friendly way, helped shape the
              personality of the Dubuque community. (4)

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Source:

1. Obituaries. http://hosting-22883.tributes.com/obituary/show/Tonio-Mario-Bertolini-104889228

2. "Our View: Mario Bertolini, Dubuque Icon," Telegraph Herald, June 18, 2017, p. 16A