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The Untold Truth Unveiled: Exploring the Fascinating Story of Sbarro

The Untold Truth of Sbarro: A Fascinating Journey of Success, Controversy, and Resilience

The woman behind Sbarro: Carmela “Mama” Sbarro

At the heart of Sbarro’s success story is the indomitable spirit of Carmela “Mama” Sbarro. Born and raised in Mussolini’s Italy, Mama Sbarro developed a passion for food at a young age while working in a butcher shop in Naples. In 1956, she immigrated to Brooklyn with her husband and three sons, and in 1957, the Sbarro family opened their first restaurant in Bensonhurst.
Despite the challenges she faced, Mama Sbarro worked tirelessly for her customers, serving them from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day in high heels and impeccable makeup. Her commitment to quality and unwavering work ethic made the family restaurant a success.

From cheesecake to pizza: Sbarro’s Evolution

While Sbarro is now synonymous with pizza, it wasn’t always intended to be a pizza place. In its early years, the Bensonhurst deli served a variety of Italian dishes, including plates of chicken parmigiana, smoked mozzarella, and prosciutto sandwiches. But in response to a growing demand for quick meals, Sbarro introduced pizza by the slice in the 1960s to cater to its working-class clientele.
Over the years, Sbarro expanded its menu to include a variety of culinary offerings, positioning itself as “New York’s leading home caterer of quality Italian food. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Sbarro decided to narrow its menu to focus primarily on pizza, salads, and breadsticks.

Sbarro’s alleged ties to the Mafia

Like many tales of New York’s Italian food scene, Sbarro’s history is intertwined with the shadowy world of organized crime. While Sbarro has never been directly implicated in criminal activity, allegations and claims have been made over the years.
In the 1980s, Sbarro was implicated in the trial of Genovese mob boss Frank “Funzi” Tieri, with prosecutors alleging that the restaurant was used to launder money. In 2012, documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act suggested that Jewish mobster Julius Bernstein had been extorting money from Sbarro on behalf of the Genovese crime family since the 1960s.
It is important to note, however, that these allegations remain largely unproven, and the truth behind Sbarro’s alleged mob ties may never be fully revealed.

The roller coaster ride of Sbarro’s success

Sbarro’s journey has been marked by both triumph and adversity. At its peak, the restaurant chain boasted hundreds of locations across the United States and millions of dollars in sales. But over the past decade, Sbarro has struggled financially, filing for bankruptcy twice.
In 2011, Sbarro emerged from its first bankruptcy after implementing various changes, including store closures, debt reduction, and menu enhancements. However, the company filed for bankruptcy again in 2014, citing declining sales and an outdated business model.
Despite these challenges, Sbarro has managed to rebound and expand its global presence. With over 600 locations in 28 countries, Sbarro continues to serve its iconic pizza to customers around the world.

The Tragic Times: Sbarro and International Terrorism

In addition to its struggles in the business world, Sbarro has also faced tragic events related to international terrorism. On September 11, 2001, two Sbarro locations were lost in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, resulting in significant sales losses for the chain.
Less than two months before 9/11, Sbarro experienced another devastating terrorist attack. In August 2001, a Palestinian suicide bomber targeted a Sbarro in Jerusalem, taking the lives of 15 innocent people. This attack highlighted the ongoing conflicts in the region and brought international attention to the violence endured by Israelis and Palestinians.
Despite these heartbreaking events, Sbarro has shown remarkable resilience and determination to move forward.

Continuing the Legacy: Sbarro’s Future

Today, Sbarro is far from throwing in the towel. While it may have experienced setbacks and closures in the United States, the company is expanding its reach internationally. With new locations opening in countries such as Uruguay, Romania, Russia, and Costa Rica, Sbarro is striving to bring its signature New York-style pizza and Italian cuisine to new markets.
In addition, Sbarro has adapted to changing consumer preferences by offering online ordering, delivery services, and a focus on quality ingredients. The company continues to innovate and evolve to meet the demands of today’s customers.

Bottom line

The Untold Truth of Sbarro is a compelling story of resilience, success, controversy, and adaptation. From the indomitable spirit of Mama Sbarro to its alleged ties to the Mafia, Sbarro’s history is filled with fascinating stories that have shaped its identity.
While facing challenges and setbacks along the way, Sbarro has managed to persevere and expand its presence worldwide. Today, it continues to serve its beloved New York-style pizza and bring a taste of Italy to customers around the globe.
As Sbarro looks to the future, it remains committed to providing delicious food, exceptional service and a memorable dining experience. Whether you’re grabbing a quick slice on the go or enjoying a full Italian meal, Sbarro invites you to join its storied journey of flavors and traditions.


Who was the driving force behind the success of Sbarro?

Carmela “Mama” Sbarro, a determined and hardworking woman, played a pivotal role in building Sbarro into a successful restaurant chain.

What is the history of Sbarro’s menu evolution?

Initially serving a variety of Italian dishes, Sbarro eventually introduced pizza by the slice in response to the demand for quick meals. In the 1990s, Sbarro narrowed its menu to focus primarily on pizza, salads and breadsticks.

Were there any ties between Sbarro and the Mafia?

While Sbarro has never been directly implicated in criminal activity, there have been allegations and claims made regarding its ties to the Mafia. However, the extent and truth of these allegations remain largely unknown.

How has Sbarro handled financial challenges?

Sbarro has faced financial difficulties and has filed for bankruptcy twice. It implemented strategies such as store closures, debt reduction, and menu enhancements to emerge from its first bankruptcy. Despite subsequent challenges, Sbarro has managed to expand globally and adapt to changing consumer preferences.

Has Sbarro experienced any tragic events?

Yes, Sbarro has experienced tragic events related to international terrorism. Two Sbarro locations were lost in the 9/11 attacks, and a suicide bombing at a Sbarro in Jerusalem in 2001 resulted in the loss of innocent lives.

What does the future hold for Sbarro?

Sbarro is focused on international expansion, with new locations opening in several countries. The company is also adapting to modern consumer demands by offering online ordering and delivery services, while maintaining its commitment to quality ingredients and a memorable dining experience.

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