One of Huddersfield’s best-known restaurateurs who helped create the town’s first pizzeria has died aged 80.
Mario Bortoletto was born in Monaco but lived in Italy before arriving in England in 1960. Initially he worked as head waiter at The George Hotel in St George’s Square and met his great friend and business partner Nino Granata who was then working at the Queen’s Hotel in Huddersfield town centre.
They both enjoyed great culinary talents and decided the time was right in 1972 to set up their own Italian restaurant, the legendary Quo Vadis, on the corner of John William Street and St Peter’s Street which set new standards of dining in the town.
Three years later in 1975 they branched out by establishing an equally legendary Neapolitan-style pizzeria Sole Mio, in the Imperial Arcade.
And if that was not enough Mario also set up Trattoria La Scala near the university which was also successful.
Nino’s son, Nadio Granata said: “Mario was my mentor and I learned so much from him - not just about food but about life too. He was a very philosophical man who thought deeply and had a wide range of interests.
“He was a brilliant fly fisherman, was a massive dog lover - Boxer dogs in particular - and a talented artist who used to paint with Ashley Jackson.
“When they set up Quo Vadis it was A la Carte, sophisticated cuisine and was one of the finest restaurants in the north of England.
“He was very passionate about food and wine who always had an eye for quality. He would never scrimp on quality. I spent many hours talking to him about all manner of things including politics and travel. He was a natural, brilliant marketer too.
“He was a very private man but when you got close to him he was very generous with his time and advice.
“I worked for him when he set up Pasta Gallo D’Oro business in Mirfield, the first fresh pasta factory in the north of England. He was a real pioneer.
“It came about because they had so many customers in their restaurants who asked if they could get pasta for themselves to enjoy at home.
“He was very good friends with the Lodge brothers who owned various supermarkets in Huddersfield. He supplied them with fresh pasta for many years.”
Mario married a Belgian lady, Monique, in September 1961 with whom he had two children, Marie Claire and Francois known as ‘Fred’.
Monique of Edgerton, said: “He enjoyed wine and cigars almost until the end.”
Mario died on January 12 at Leeds General Infirmary. Funeral arrangements will be revealed later. All enquiries to McNulty Funeral Home, 25 New North Parade, Huddersfield.