Restaurant reopens after owner’s sudden passing

Local News

A Roanoke County restaurant has reopened for the first time after the sudden passing of its owner.

Sal’s Italian Restaurant in Bonsack was back open Monday. Last week, restaurant owner Salvatore Scotto DiCarlo, 57, was kayaking on Carvins Cove when he fell off his kayak and was not wearing a life jacket, according to authorities.

Whether they’re sizzling onions for sauce or preparing pizzas, members of the Scotto family keep busy inside the kitchen of Sal’s Italian Restaurant. But now, things aren’t the same.

“He was my best friend, my teacher, my coach in life,” said Michael Scotto, Salvatore’s son. 

Michael learned how to cook from his dad, who immigrated to the United States from Italy. The father-son duo ran the kitchen together.

“It’s one of the experiences I’ll never forget,” Scotto said. “From cracking jokes to him actually pushing me to work a little hard to be a better man, a better cook, just a better person.”

After he beat lung cancer, DiCarlo took up kayaking, according to family members. It was a pastime that became an important part of his life.

“He was doing something that he truly loved to do, and he was out there,” said Gennaro Scotto DiCarlo, Salvatore’s son. “Kayaking was his post-cancer getaway.”

Friends and customers left flowers, cards and condolences at the restaurant that bears his name. It was an outpouring of support family members said they never expected.

“At first it was tough, but then it got smoother as the people told us how much this restaurant and the food meant to everybody,” Michael Scotto said of the restaurant’s reopening.

His sons said there’s no other option but to keep Sal’s open – even without Sal himself.

“That’s one thing he would want, is just to continue forward with his legacy, and that’s what we’re continuing to do,” Michael Scotto said.

Sal’s Italian Restaurant in Bonsack was DiCarlo’s third restaurant in our area. Previously, he owned restaurants in Salem and Christiansburg, according to the family.

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