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Slain Cicero pizzeria owner had sought ‘American dream’

Giovanni Donancricchi64 was fatally shot when he confronted robber his Cicero pizzeriAlbano's early Thursday.

Giovanni Donancricchia, 64, was fatally shot when he confronted a robber at his Cicero pizzeria, Albano's, early Thursday.

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Updated: July 22, 2013 6:45PM

Giovanni Donancricchia was married to his business, a Cicero pizzeria that boasted its ranking by the Travel Channel as one of the top 101 places to chow down.

“He was pretty much the standard European-seeking-American-dream guy when he came here,” said his son, Saverio Donancricchia, 35. “Whether he was sick or disabled, he was always there.”

Giovanni Donancricchia was fatally shot early Thursday in a robbery attempt at the pizzeria, Albano’s at 5913 W. Roosevelt.

The 64-year-old pizzeria owner and his wife, Angela, were closing up the restaurant when the robber came through the back door, pointed a gun at Angela Donancricchia and demanded money. Giovanni Donancricchia confronted the assailant and told his wife to go outside to call the police. Outside, she heard a shot and returned to find her husband lying on the floor.

He was pronounced dead at the scene just before 1 a.m., according to the medical examiner’s office. Cicero Police spokesman Ray Hanania said there was no additional information about Donancricchia’s death.

“She’s devastated,” Saverio Donancricchia said about his mother. “This is the man she’s been married to for over 40 years. They have three kids, six grandkids. It’s devastating.”

Donancricchia came to Chicago from Sicily in 1968 at the age of 19. He worked odd jobs — at a pizzeria, as a garbage man — until he had enough money to buy a pizzeria of his own. He had always wanted to start a restaurant, even in Sicily, his son said.

“He took his business really seriously,” said Saverio Donancricchia. “It is the old Chicago restaurant, where the guy cooking is the guy running the place.”

Saverio Donancricchia and his two sisters — Maria Romo, 34, and Benedetta Fleischer, 40 — grew up working at the pizzeria, a favorite hangout for Cicero Police.

“I didn’t always like working there, but it taught me a lot,” said Saverio, who started when he was 10 years old.

He said the pizzeria would remain closed for a couple days, and the family isn’t sure what will happen to it.

“For someone to have to pick it up would be difficult but to give it up would be a true tragedy,” he said. “My father was truly the captain of this ship.”

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