IT was a day Giuseppe Mascia thought he’d never see.
A huge pepper mill that was stolen from his Pizza House Restaurant in Hilsea, Portsmouth, has been handed back after it was taken four years ago.
Someone turned up with the iconic grinder, which Giuseppe used to famously use on people’s dishes, after their mum bought it at a car-boot sale for £8.
She remembered hearing about a group of customers stealing it and thought it had to be the one. The man was offered the money back that his mum paid but he declined.
He instead accepted a glass of bubbly before going on his way.
The pepper mill, which comes from Sardinia, Italy, was a special present given to Giuseppe from his brother Massimo for his 40th birthday 22 years ago.
‘I can’t believe it,’ Giuseppe said.
‘I thought I had lost it forever.
‘For me, it’s like winning the lottery. It’s something I treasured.
‘The customers have been asking me ever since it was stolen where it had gone.
‘I was too embarrassed to tell them what had happened.
‘Some people thought it was a joke.’
The pepper mill will now be stored in a secure cabinet on the wall to ensure it’s not taken again.
A welcome home party will be held at the restaurant tomorrow from 6pm.
Guests will be treated to a glass of bubbly when they arrive and donations can be made to The Rainbow Centre, Fareham, which supports children and adults with serious illnesses.
A cheque for £2,000 will also be presented on the night by Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt to the worthy cause.
The money has been raised through sales of Pizza Cameron; a spicy mixture of Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, peppers and onions.
It was named after Prime Minister David Cameron after he visited the very popular restaurant in August 2009.