THE four Lenzarini brothers arrived in Australia with next to nothing in their pockets but a determination to make something of themselves.
Leaving behind the lush green mountainous region of their home in the province of Lucca, Garfagnana in Tuscany, the flat brown harshness of WA in the 1950s was confronting to say the least.
Struggling with language and homesickness Narciso, Carlo, Stefano and Florindo worked in a variety of jobs, including at an orchard in Karagullen.
When Florindo became assistant chef at a restaurant, the brothers were inspired by his passionate urgings to open The Romany in Northbridge in 1958.
Now the oldest Italian eatery in Perth, The Romany is still going strong after more than 60 years, although no longer owned by the family.
Meat and three veg (usually boiled and tasteless) had been standard fare for anglicised Aussies in the 1950s and ‘60s and garlic was looked on with such deep suspicion that “garlic muncher” was used perjoratively to describe Italians (and Frenchmen). Even pasta was deemed too exotic for the xenophobic tastes of the time.
Very few shops stocked staples dear to the heart of lovers of Italian food, so the brothers were driven to make their own.
Demand became so great they imported equipment from Italy and began selling pasta direct to the public, which soon spread beyond immigrant communities.
With the brothers getting older and the long hours working at the restaurant taking their toll, the Romany was sold in 1988.
That heralded in a new venture, with the next generation of Lenzarinis ramping up the pasta business under the name
Narciso, now 85, is the last surviving brother but there’s plenty of children and grand-children coming up through the ranks to ensure the family business continues.
“Now we have gone to the third generation,” Linda Lenzarini says.
The family has received plenty of recognition over the years for its achievements, including a gong from the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Lucca, which recognises those promoting Italian culture outside Italy.