By: Rich Pollack Special to the Delray Newspaper
Most people who have been to Delray Beach’s Caffe Luna Rosa know it as an outstanding beachside restaurant, offering quality food and an impeccable atmosphere.
But look closely and you’ll discover that the restaurant is also a gallery of sorts, with photos covering almost every inch of available wall space.
Behind every photo there’s a story.
The eye-catching photo of Roy Orbison with Beatles John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Star was taken in England on the singer’s 28th birthday.
Nearby, there’s the photo of Yankees Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel, and Whitey Ford, taken at Bahia Mar while the team was in Fort Lauderdale for spring training.
Of course, no Italian-style restaurant would be complete without a photo of Frank Sinatra and you’ll find a number of photos of the Chairman of the Board as you scan the dining room.
And it’s not just celebrities. There are also quite a few photos of customers mingled with images of friends of Caffe Luna Rosa founder Fran Marincola and pictures of his family.
“There’s a lot of history all over the walls,” Marincola says. “Wherever you sit, you can see a photo and you can learn something interesting.”
Many of the photos are merely snapshots taken in the restaurant, while others are collectables that Marincola either purchased or received as gifts.
Several are from the famous 500 Club in Atlantic City, courtesy of Paula Jane D’Amato, daughter of the club’s founders and a former neighbor of Marincola’s.
Among his acquisitions are two special items on prominent display.
One is Mickey Mantle’s 1954 contract with the Yankees and the other is a Bruce Springsteen guitar signed by the Boss.
Those and other conversation pieces take customers down memory lane.
“People ask questions about the photos all the time,” says Bonnie Beer, a partner in the restaurant. “Customers want to know who the people are in the photo, why we have it and where it came from.”
Many of the pictures came from Marincola own family photo albums.
On one wall is a photo of his father in the grocery store he opened in Pennsylvania and nearby is an old picture of his grandfather in a delivery truck. There’s the picture of Marincola’s parents on their wedding day and quite a few photos of Marincola’s first business on the Jersey Shore boardwalk.
Another wall is reserved as a tribute to longtime customers who have died.
Marincola says he got the idea to have a photo gallery while living in New York.
“I used to live on 58th Street and there was a big art dealer living across the street,” he said. “I could look up and see the art on the walls of his apartment. I liked that idea and decided to do it myself.”
You will find a smattering of fine art from Salvatore Dali and a Rene Fini’ pencil drawing, there’s art from Cuba and some from Russia that Marincola has brought back with him, but mostly the photos tell the story of Caffe Luna Rosa and those who created it as well as those who have supported it over the years.
“It’s the story of my life and of Caffe Luna Rosa,” he said.
For Beer, who has been a part of the Luna Rosa family for decades, the photos help to provide guests — whether regulars or vacationing visitors — a better chance to sense of what the restaurant is all about.
“It gives a little more insight into the people who created the restaurant and the people who are our customers,” she said. “It’s just another reason to come to Caffe Luna Rosa and get to know our family.”