04:30AM, Friday 04 April 2014
A restaurant that made Windsor a haven for Italian food fans over more than half a century is to close this weekend.
La Taverna in River Street shuts its doors tomorrow after 52 years.
It was one of the first Italian restaurants outside Central London when Peppino and Pauline Battocchi opened it.
Peppino, now 81, said: "It opened on June 6, 1962. We were married on June 16 and I became a father in March, 1963."
His daughter Maria, who has helped him run the restaurant for years, says there is no question of it continuing without him.
She said: "La Taverna is my father and without him there is no La Taverna."
Peppino is now 81. He was born in Savona, Italy and worked in Milan, Switzerland, and Germany before coming to London where he was head waiter at the Talk of the Town for six months.
Visiting friends in Windsor he spotted the ideal site for a restaurant of his own.
The grandfather of four, said: "I had decided that I would retire when my head chef Alfredo Mannini went. I plan to rest for a few months and I will go back to visit Italy - but I certainly mean to keep in touch with my old customers."
One of his many appreciative celebrity customers was Sophia Loren when she was filming in Britain in the 1960s.
Maria said: "She said it was like eating at home again apart from the coffee. She missed her son and I was invited to her trailer as a little girl and sat on her knee."
Customers have been coming in all week to say goodbye.
Maria said: "A man who proposed to his wife here 45 years ago came back last Friday with their children and grandchildren - it is now a family of 11."
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