Picture it... Sicily... 1932.

Antonino Barbaro (Nino) was born in the town of Santa Lucia Del Mela in the province of Messina in Sicily on March 23, 1932. The oldest of 7 children, Nino lost his father on December 25, 1946 and at the age of 14 was now responsible for supporting his siblings and his mother. Working closely with a local pastry chef named Vittorio Nicotina, Nino became an accomplished pastry chef and cook over the next few years.

In the late 1950's, Nino met the woman he'd marry. Rosetta Malara was born in Archi, Milazzo, just seven kilometers away from Santa Lucia Del Mela in Sicily. We won't go into details here, but suffice it to say that it was love at first sight. In 1961, Rosa's family moved to the town of Salo' in the province of Brescia. Nino stayed in contact and had set his sights on making a life for himself and Rosa.

In 1964, Nino emigrated to Canada and registered in ESL classes at Central Collegiate in Barrie. He began working at Hill Refrigeration and saving all that he could, opened the Pizzaria Italia on Mulcaster Street in Barrie in 1967 with his sister Pina and brother-in-law Eugenio.

The stage was now set and Nino returned to Italy to marry the woman of his dreams and bring her to a new life in Canada. They were married on October 14, 1967 and promptly moved to Barrie and the new family business. In December 1968, Rosa gave birth to their first son, Frank. With a young family and a business they plugged away for another year until an opportunity arose back in Salo'.

A local hotel was up for sale and so they sold their share of the Pizzeria Italia to Pina and Eugenio and purchased the Hotel Belsito in Salo'. There Nino expanded his repertoire of the culinary arts and hospitality industry. In November of 1971, the family expanded again with the birth of Luigi.

Now with 2 young boys and a Hotel to run, yet another opportunity presented itself. A buyer was interested in the Hotel. After much thought, they sold the hotel and returned to Barrie in 1973 to open Nino's Italian Restaurant.

The restaurant has been at 298 Blake Street since it opened in 1973 and is now being run predominantly by Luigi Barbaro, but if you show up at just the right time, you may still see Nino in the kitchen helping out or have the pleasure of being served by Rosa in the dining room.