Dubuque community remembers beloved restaurant owner, Mario Bert - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque community remembers beloved restaurant owner, Mario Bertolini

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Mario's Italian Restaurant in Dubuque is filled with longtime customers, many who had a special connection with the owner, Tonio Mario Bertolini.

He opened the popular restaurant 40-years ago. "He would teach me different expressions in Italian, a little bit off color, but he would teach me normal things, what to say to girls, things like that," said Jeff Stiles of Dubuque.

At the age of 73, Bertolini died Wednesday night, after recent health problems. 

His family says, the day was like any other. "He came down here, and got to greet people, have his wine, have a steak for a meal, his espressos like he did every night. Got in with his best friend Mike and took him home in for the night, just a normal night. Kind of a loss of breath after he was laying down and it was quick, but peaceful," said Ryan Robinson, his son-in-law.

He was known for treating his customers like family. "He'd shake your hand. He'd kiss all the women's hands at the bar, you know. He used to say, Ruby bring me a water. And he used to have a bowl of soup, and then he would have a little of this, a little of that, he was a happy man," said Michael Maggio, Bertolini's best friend of 35-years.

Those who knew him say he loved food, his restaurant, his family, and Dubuque. "He fell in love with the city, the hillsides, and the terrain, was a lot like Italy in his hometown area, and he thought he'd give it a go," added Robinson.

Bertolini leaves behind his wife Angelina, his daughters, and many other family and friends -- also his beloved customers.

The visitation is set for Sunday, June 17th at Behr's Funeral Home in Dubuque from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Funeral service will be held the following day, Monday, at Church of the Resurrection at 10:30 a.m. 

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