Italian Mobster Opens Organized Crime-Themed Burger Joint, Charges Prosecutors Double
A new burger joint opened in the suburbs of Rome today and, under normal circumstances, that wouldn't be particularly newsworthy. But this clearly isn't normal circumstances, since the owner of Buzzi's Burgers is a convicted murderer, drug trafficker, and well-connected Italian mobster.
Salvatore Buzzi told an Italian news outlet that the idea for the restaurant came to him during his most recent stint in prison (and his release is still being contested by prosecutors). Instead of trying to distance himself from his criminal past, Buzzi is clearly reveling in it. According to Corriere Della Sera, the menu at Buzzi's Burgers is filled with references to the Mafia and to other criminals.
There are sandwiches named for the organized crime dramas Gomorrah and Suburra (and the latter is loosely based on the Mafia Capitale investigation that sent Buzzi back to jail), while the hot dogs, burgers, and even the salads are named after various bosses and members of the Banda della Magliana criminal organization.
The pricing structure also varies based on how Buzzi feels about certain professions. "In this club everyone pays, friends, relatives and acquaintances," he said. "But prosecutors pay double, and judges pay triple."
Unsurprisingly, not everyone is delighted about Buzzi's new venture. Luigi Ciotti, a priest who founded the anti-Mafia organization Lìbera, compared it to the "vulgar, offensive [and] unacceptable" chain of Spanish restaurants called La Mafia.
"The fact that such an initiative can now be implemented in our country is a matter of deep concern," he said. "Since eradicating an evil is too tiring and calls into question wider power structures, it is normalized, it is pretended that it is less serious than it is by associating it with consumer goods such as food."
La Mafia se Sienta a la Mesa (The Mafia sits at the table) opened its first restaurant in Spain in 2000, and within a decade, several dozen of the restaurants were scattered throughout the country. The restaurants all featured framed photos from The Godfather, and references to real and imaginary Mafia dons. That did not go over well in Italy, where politicians filed formal complaints with the European Commission, urging it to close the "gravely offensive" restaurants.
In 2016, the European Union's Office for Intellectual Property decided that the chain's name and theme were "contrary to accepted principles of morality," and said that the restaurant should have to change its name. Two years later, the European Union's General Court rejected its appeal to keep the trademark for the name, ruling that it was "likely to shock or offend" the families of Mafia victims.
All that hasn't slowed La Mafia down, though: the restaurants can still be found from A Coruña to Zaragoza. Maybe Buzzi's Burgers knows what it can get away with after all.