When increasing numbers of Italian immigrants arrived in the Kings Cross area in the late 19th century they missed the culinary delights of home. Pastas, olive oil, olives and cheeses were in short supply until an astute hardworking local man by the name of Luigi Donatantonio decided to import local produce from his native Italy. He set up a delicatessen in Clerkenwell and initially began supplying to his friends and family and then in the years that followed to a flourishing Italian restaurant scene.
A family business in every sense of the word it continued to grow and the Donatantonia brand became a household name for the Italian community for more than a century. Zena and Mary, Luigi’s granddaughters recall working for the family business when it moved from a small deli on Farringdon Road to a warehouse in Blundell Street, a short walk from King’s Cross Station. Their mother now ran the business after their father passed away. Here’s their story.
Story by Lainy Malkani