THE owner of an Italian restaurant that welcomed some of the UK’s top dignitaries, footballers and celebrities – including former Prime Minister David Cameron – has thanked his customers.
The Pizza House, in London Road, Hilsea, which shut last month, was well known for its traditional Italian decor and its lovable but eccentric owner Giuseppe Mascia.
Planning permission to convert the restaurant into offices was applied for and granted earlier this year as 65-year-old Giuseppe was retiring. The former site has now been decked out as offices to cater for Elite Care Services – a family-run nursing and care staff supplier.
Speaking to The News, Giuseppe said: ‘I want to thank my customers for their loyalty over the years.’
He said one of his favourite moments over his 40-year career was hosting David Cameron in August 2009.
‘He was a very nice man,’ said Giuseppe.
Following the then-Conservative leader’s visit, Giuseppe created Pizza Cameron – a spicy mixture of Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, peppers and onions – in the politician’s honour and donated the profits to Fareham charity The Rainbow Centre.
He raised more than £2,000 for the centre, which helps children with cerebral palsy.
Giuseppe said he was also proud to have hosted a range of celebrities including TV presenter Gaby Roslin, footballer Peter Crouch, former Pompey manager Harry Redknapp, boxer Frank Bruno, plus many more.
As well as its celebrity connections, the restaurant also attracted headlines when Giuseppe’s giant pepper mill was stolen in 2009 – only for a customer to spot it at a car boot sale four years later, buy it and return it to the restaurant.
Giuseppe said he was now looking forward to spending more time with his family – including his two-year-old grandson, who is also named Giuseppe.
Fans of Italian food needn’t be too disappointed, as Giuseppe’s son Christian continues to run Italian-style deli and cafe Casa Sarda, a couple of doors along from the former Pizza House.
Portsmouth’s council leader Donna Jones said it was sad to see the place close. She said: ‘It is always sad when one business ends, especially one that’s so well known. However it is great news that it is remaining an employment site and that a new company has moved in.’
She wished the family well.
‘Giuseppe certainly was a character, and most people knew him,’ she said.
‘I wish him well in his retirement. He has earned it after 40 years in the restaurant trade, I wish him and his wife all the best.’
Elite Care Services, which started in 2001 with a team of four, now has more than 300 clients on its books and employs 25 staff. It is due to hold an official opening at 10am on Monday.