It is not your average Parisian dining experience, but it may add a little extra frisson to the fettucine.
The daughter of a notorious mafia killer nicknamed The Beast has opened a restaurant in Paris – and she has called it Corleone after her hometown, the infamous lair of Sicily’s Cosa Nostra.
Corleone, in the rugged interior of Sicily, shot to worldwide fame after being immortalised in the Godfather films starring Marlon Brando.
Now its name – and the sinister associations that go with it – has been appropriated by Lucia Riina, 39, the youngest daughter of former Cosa Nostra boss of bosses Toto “The Beast” Riina.
After complaining that she could not build a life for herself in Italy, she moved to France with her husband, also from Corleone, and their two-year-old daughter.
Customers hoping to sit down to Al Pacino porchetta, Scarface scallops or anything else mafia-themed will be disappointed.
The bistro, located near the Arc de Triomphe and called ‘Corleone by Lucia Riina’, promises a regular menu of “authentic Sicilian-Italian food”.
The coat of arms of Corleone – a lion rampant holding a heart – hangs on the wall.
The bistro offers “a welcoming atmosphere” – something not often associated with Ms Riina’s father, who for years led a reign of terror in Sicily, assassinating not just his rivals but also anti-mafia investigators and journalists.
Ms Riina, a keen painter who sells her work online, has long complained that she is the victim of prejudice in Italy because of her father’s notoriety.
When her daughter was born in 2017, the town of Corleone, which is desperate to turn away from its mafia past, refused to pay her the baby bonus to which new mothers are entitled.
She accused the Italian State of regarding her as “dirty and ugly” because of her father, who was serving multiple life sentences when he died in prison of cancer in November 2017. He was 87.
While in prison he ordered the murder of a 13-year-old boy who was kidnapped in a bid to stop his father from become an informer. The child was strangled and his body dissolved in acid.
But the opening of the restaurant has gone down like a plate of cold carbonara back home. The mayor of Corleone is furious that the town is being associated with the bistro, saying it brings it into disrepute and revives its dark past.
“There are plenty of restaurants called Corleone in the world, but to associate a restaurant with a person like Riina – a butcher, a murderer, is frankly unacceptable and will harm our reputation,” said Nicolo Nicolosi.
“We want Corleone to be known as a town of peace and of cultural traditions.”
He said he would write to Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, and the Italian embassy in Paris to lodge a formal complaint and ask for “support for a town that cannot bear this sort of thing any longer. The name of Riina should no longer be associated with Corleone.”
It is highly doubtful, however, whether the Italian government will have either the authority or the inclination to challenge the existence of the restaurant.
The issue goes way beyond Paris – around the world, there are mafia-themed eateries and food products.
They include a chain of pizza restaurants in Spain called La Mafia, where customers eat beneath images of Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, as well as products such as a wine from the Napa Valley called Il Padrino (The Godfather) and a jar of spices from Germany named Palermo Mafia Shooting.
There is even a Mafia Cookbook, which is promoted as "the perfect cookbook for anyone who wants to make the kind of food that Tony Soprano only dreams about."
“Mafia theming is a business worth millions of dollars around the world, from Mafiozzo coffee in Bulgaria to Chilli Mafia snacks in Great Britain and Sauce Mafioso which is on sale in Brussels,” said Coldiretti, the Italian national farmers’ association, which has been highly critical of the phenomenon.
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