When prominent OC philanthropist S. Paul Musco died in September at age 95, he was lauded in the Business Journal as a successful businessman and an arts patron who supported myriad organizations, from Opera Pacific to Chapman University’s Musco Center.
Being Italian, he also loved Italian cuisine.
He often dined at Antonello Restaurant, and later when Antonello’s Chef Franco Barone opened his own restaurant, Musco and his wife, Marybelle, were regulars there.
“He helped us in many ways,” Donatella Barone told me when I dined at Il Barone last month. “He was family. He inspired us. We could not stop listening to his stories. He has done it all. You just don’t see that anymore. His life story is so inspiring. He just cared about everyone.”
Donatella said that at their old location near the John Wayne Airport, Musco would dine at Il Barone for lunch and return for dinner three to four times a week.
“His new routine was to go to our Bottega,” near the restaurant. “Every day, he was there at 8:30 in the morning; anyone that walked in he bought everything for them. He was an amazing man.”
During the pandemic, Donatella said she delivered food to the Muscos, and now to Marybelle.
Donatella revealed that they have to close the Bottega after nine years, and are looking for a new spot.
“We have a good product and hope we can keep it going.”
As for Il Barone, the dinner business is good, but lunches are not like they were.
“All the executives are not back to work so lunchtime is not what it used to be,” she said.
“All the buildings are empty. This is where the deals and meetings are. We see a few, but we used to do 120-150 people at lunch, but we’ll hang in there, it will come back. It’s a matter of when.”
“You have to have the love and passion in this business,” she added. “We have a good product, so it’s a matter of getting back to somewhat normal.”
Il Barone: 900 Bristol St. N., Newport Beach, (949) 955-2755, ilbaroneristorante.com