Rosina Fabrizio is the "zia," the aunt, the great-aunt, and the soul of the restaurant above which she still lives, fresh as a daisy, at the age of 82. Having led a life filled with hard work, she is living proof that "work is health."
Born in a small Campanian village called Pratola Serra, the seventh child in a family of 14, Rosina was 17 years old when war and conscription emptied her house of adult males. Times were tough; to put bread on the table, she would walk for kilometers, carrying some 10 kg of merchandise on her head. There was no gasoline, merchandise had to be transported, and the poorest poor, who didn't have mules, had to rent their leg power.
After the war, the men couldn't find work and the family went hungry. Rosina then moved to England as a domestic worker. Her salary for a six-day workweek in 1949? Two sterling pounds (about 4$). When guests of her widowed employer mentioned that their daughter was looking for "an Italian girl that makes the house shine," Rosina found herself in the heart of London, working for rich Britons who paid her 5 pounds a week - a sum she sent home dutifully.
But Rosina detested the city, and she soon moved on to another job, this time in a convent in the countryside. Her sister, 7 years younger than Rosina, soon joined her, but not for long: during a two-week summer vacation in Pratola Serra, she fell in love with a young man who wanted to emigrate to Canada, where three of Rosina's brothers were already living. Thus, the Fabrizio sisters made landfall in the port of Montreal on November 22nd, 1959. Soon, Rosina worked as a cook in a small hospital on the corner of Bellechasse and De Lorimier, where she served a rich Italian Montrealer who was convalescing after lengthy surgery. In 1969, when Medicare laws forced the hospital to shut down, he loaned her the money she needed to buy a restaurant on the corner of Clark and Mozart.
Rosina never married. She was too busy taking care of others, especially her three nieces, Carmine, Assunta and Maria, whom she raised after their parents passed away. Now, they run the restaurant with their cousin Michele, but Rosina lurks in the kitchen every day - there is plenty of work to go around!