Erminio Iantosca was a man to be admired. The living embodiment of the American dream, Erminio immigrated to the United States from his birthplace in Naples, Italy in the mid-1960’s. Arriving in Boston, MA, there Erminio met his soon-to-be wife, Josephine and together, moved to Naples, Florida in 1973, after honeymooning in the coastal town a shortly before. Within two years, Erminio and Josephine opened Mama Mia’s Pizza – still in its original location on U.S. 41 in Moorings Plaza – 45 years later. Over its duration, Mama Mia’s has become a touchstone for the city; a local hang out, a family dining spot, a landmark.
Erminio and Josephine began a family too, three children — Kristina, Joseph and Erminio Jr. — who all helped put in long hours at the pizzeria. The youngest, Erminio Jr., took an interest in jet ski racing at an early age, and his father was all for it. With his support, Erminio Jr. has become one of the most recognized names in modern runabout racing. Not only was he the father of professional Sea-Doo racer Erminio Iantosca Jr., but also one of the most beloved personalities throughout the personal watercraft racing community. Effervescent, warm and always willing to share a laugh, Erminio Sr. became the supportive dad for many racers beyond his own.
This past April 1st, the Mama Mia’s Pizza Facebook page posted the following announcement:
“On Easter Sunday, the world has lost a truly special man. We are deeply saddened to say that Erminio Iantosca has passed. You know Erminio as the The Boss of Mama Mia’s Pizza for the last 43 years in Naples, FL. My Dad, our father, was hard working and dedicated his life to family, friends, and to everything he put his hands on. We want to celebrate his life and cherish all the love he spread to so many people throughout the years. While are hearts are heavy, we will stay strong and remember how Erminio has blessed us all. We “Thank you” for all your prayers, love and support – you mean a great deal to our family.”
Immediately, an outpouring of love, condolences and support came rushing in from across the globe. Not only was Erminio beloved for his son’s success as a racer, but because Erminio Sr. was legendary for being one of the friendliest, most welcoming faces at every race venue – or every time he greeted you from behind the counter at his pizzeria. We had the honor of visiting the Iantosca family at Mama Mia’s a handful of times, and will sorely miss Erminio’s smiling face. As per the article, the restaurant will continue to serve the people of Naples, as reported by a report in the Naples Daily News. As Kristina Iantosca said, “My dad didn’t bust his ass all these years for it to fold.”
Erminio’s service will be held this Sunday, April 8 from 2-6pm at Fullers Funeral Home on Pine Ridge Road in Naples, Florida.