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The restaurant with moral standards

The overflow crowd at lunchtime, Antica Focacceria San Francesco
The food is so good and the prices so reasonable that the crowd spills out the door a full hour before traditional Sicilian lunchtime. Not so bad, though, because across the piazza is the fabulous medieval ( 1300s) Basilica di San Francesco. To see what they serve, go to www.afsf.it for mouth-watering photos of food. After owner Vincenzo Conticello denounced the mafia for trying to extort protection money from his fifth-generation, family-run restaurant, established in the 1800s, he received death threats, and the state posted a policeman with a machine gun outside his establishment. Not exactly conducive to a pleasant lunch or supper. He lost many customers, including the mafiosi who used to have him cater their weddings and baptisms. He fled to Milan, where he opened a new branch, and tourists and northern Italians flocked to it not only for the food but also for his now famous sense of civic pride and courage in not giving to the mafia. Once that happened, he was able to rehire 14 employees he had had to lay off in Palermo, and hired even more. Now he has branches in Milan, Rome, Hong Kong, Munich, and Berlin.
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