MIDLOTHIAN

Anthony Cucci’s family migrated from Palermo, Sicily to start a new life in New York City in 1945. 73 years later, he honored that bloodline by opening his own Italian restaurant.

With his family working in the restaurant business for several decades, Anthony said he has watched his parents in a kitchen for as long as he could remember. His father, Salvatore, opened his first restaurant — The Original Pizza and Italian Villa — in Arlington in 1980, while his mother, Rita, began La Gondola, which was voted “Best in Mansfield” by “The Living Magazine” in 2014.

“I retained everything he taught me,” Anthony said. “If I was in the oil patch and I had an awful week or couple of weeks, I would always go to help.”

To honor his family’s restaurant legacy, he opened Bellucci’s Italian at 2000 F.M. 663 Suite 100, which had its ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, Oct. 19.

When the Cucci’s first moved to America in the 1940s, Anthony said his grandparents, father and uncle came in on a steamboat called, “The Newer Columbo.” Anthony said his children marvel at the stories he tells them about his family coming to America.

“My little daughter’s in second grade,” Anthony said. “She was talking about Christopher Columbus, and I was joking like ‘Yeah, your great-grandmother came on the Mayflower.’”

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Anthony said his family moved to Texas in 1980, noting he was 18 when he decided he wanted to invest himself more in the family business.

“Right out of high school, I told my dad I wanted to learn how to be a cook,” he recalled. “First thing he told me was ‘I am not going to train you.’”

Anthony said his father sent him to work as an apprentice for two years under one of his friends who was the head chef at the Adams Mark Hotel in North Carolina. After his apprenticeship, Anthony briefly retired from the restaurant business before he began work in the oil industry for 15 years.

Anthony said he and his wife, Patchara, moved to Midlothian in 2008 to be closer to Cleburne, which began to undergo fracking earlier that same year.

“As soon as I seen it, I fell in love with it,” Anthony said. “I took everything I made and made a future here.”

Five years later, Anthony’s father Salvatore passed away. Anthony decided to open up a restaurant in honor of him.

“He always wanted me to go up and do my own,” Anthony said.

Around April, the Cucci’s were looking for available spaces to open his restaurant. He saw a bunch of bulldozers working around his future restaurant location, and he decided it was a great spot and wanted to pursue it.

“I begged my wife,” he said. “I was like, I have to open a restaurant there. I have to.”

Several months later, Anthony opened Bellucci’s Italian and featured his father’s original menu in honor of his memory. Anthony said he named the restaurant “Belluci’s” after his children and his family’s name.

“My daughter’s name is Isabella, but I call her ‘Bella,’” he explained. “My son’s name is John Luca, but I call him ‘Luca.’ We kind of squeezed them together, and put my last name and came up with ‘Bellucci's.’”

With his family in attendance at their ribbon-cutting ceremony, including his uncle, Cliudeo Santinelli, and his 90-year-old grandmother, Vita Cucci, Anthony said his family is proud he’s back in the family business and hopes to do their legacy justice.

“I know we’re Italian and I know what we bring,” he said. “I don’t consider myself a Yankee. I consider myself Texan.”

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David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX

469-517-1456