Owner of Famous Brooklyn Pizzeria Spumoni Gardens Shot Dead: Was it a ‘Botched Robbery?’
Last week, New York mourned the loss of one of its most popular pizzaioli. Louis Barbati, 61, co-owner of L&B Spumoni Gardens pizzeria in Gravesend, Brooklyn, was shot dead outside his Dyker Heights home Thursday night in what police are calling a botched robbery attempt.
While hundreds of fans, family, and friends gathered at Barbati’s wake this weekend sharing memories and slices of Spumoni’s famous doughy pizza, the NYPD are working to gather intel on the killer’s motive. Barbati was carrying about $10,000 in cash and a loaf of bread when he got off work at 6:30 pm. He was shot while walking from his car to his home. Surveillance video shows the shooter was waiting for him to show up.
"It was a botched robbery," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said in a statement. "That is our thinking right now...Mr. Barbati does not normally carry that amount of money. That, along with the perp waiting for him for him to pull up and approach him there."
Media reports suggest however that the murder may have had more sinister undertones. Barbati was in the midst of a mob war over a stolen pizza sauce recipe, The Daily News reports. A criminal case in 2012 charged that Frank Guerra, a co-owner of Spumoni Gardens through marriage — and allegedly a member of the Colombo crime family who had been acquitted of a double murder — attempted to extort money from from a former Spumoni Gardens employee, whom he accused of lifting the sauce recipe and selling it to competitors on Staten Island. The charges were later dropped.