Francesco Basile, 99, who opened Mama Nina’s in Oneonta in 1970, passed away on Jan. 17, 2021, in Naples, Fla.
He was born on Oct. 16, 1921, to Giuseppa Lombardo from Castelvetrano and Antonino Basile from Carini, Sicily. Francesco was the eighth of 14 children and the last sibling to pass away.
Francesco was 34 years old when he immigrated from Sicily to the United States with his wife, Maria Ruffino, 27, and their children, Antonino, 9, Giuseppa, 6, and Rose, 4. They sailed out of Palermo on the ship called Saturnia on Dec. 24, 1955, and arrived on Jan. 4, 1956. In 1970, Francesco and Maria opened Mama Nina’s without any knowledge of the food industry. At the age of 65, when most people are retiring, Francesco and Maria opened their second restaurant, Mama Maria’s in Stamford.
Francesco enjoyed his garden of tomatoes, zucchinis and more. Every autumn, he made his homemade wine. Francesco and Maria enjoyed many expeditions and cruises to Greece, France, Portugal, Spain, Israel, Hawaii and their beloved country, Italy.
At age 75, Francesco and Maria retired in Naples, Fla. His wife of 54 years, Maria, predeceased him in 2010.