Everyone who has been to Mr. Martino’s Trattoria remembers their first time visiting the old school Italian restaurant on East Passyunk Avenue that occupies a former 19th century hardware store. It’s BYOB, open only on weekends, and to make a reservation you have to call, likely ending up on the phone with Mr. Martino himself, who kindly helps you find a table. This past week, the restaurant family announced that the trattoria’s namesake, Marco Farnese — aka Mr. Martino — had died.
Mr. Martino’s Trattoria just passed a 30-year milestone at the corner of East Passyunk Avenue and Morris Street in January, but had stayed closed throughout the pandemic, so celebrations for the milestone were put on hold. The running joke at Mr. Martino’s is that a sign celebrating its 25th anniversary has been hanging in the same place for five years. In a neighborhood that has seen more than its fair share of change during not only the coronavirus pandemic but over the past decade or more, Mr. Martino’s has been an idiosyncratic stalwart frozen in time, where baked ricotta, veal tortelloni, and simple desserts feel of a different era. After Farnese’s passing, an update on when the restaurant will reopen is still forthcoming.
Mr. Martino’s co-owner, chef, and Farnese’s wife, Maria Farnese, shared a celebration of Farnese’s life on Instagram over the weekend.