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Italian ambassador to Singapore calls out Amoy Street's Gotti Italiano restaurant and mafia-themed event: ‘Not illegal, but is definitely of a dubious taste'

The restaurant has since apologised, but says that it also recognises the importance of preserving its brand identity with regards to concerns on its name.

The restaurant’s branding and choice of name for an event was called into question by Italian ambassador to Singapore Dante Brandi (left). (Photos: Dante Brandi Facebook, Gotti Italiano Facebook)
The restaurant’s branding and choice of name for an event was called into question by Italian ambassador to Singapore Dante Brandi (left). (Photos: Dante Brandi Facebook, Gotti Italiano Facebook)

SINGAPORE – In the crowded world of F&B, it isn’t uncommon to see restaurants give themselves creative names to stand out from the crowd. However, one Amoy Street restaurant’s name has caught the attention and ire of the Italian ambassador to Singapore.

Ambassador Dante Brandi made his thoughts known in a Facebook post on Friday (8 March), writing, “Mafia is not what my country is proud of”, referencing Gotti Italiano’s name and branding of an event.

The restaurant on Amoy street opened in November 2022 and shares its name with John Gotti, the infamous mob boss of the Gambino crime family in the US.

Brandi’s remarks were also made toward the event that Gotti was planning to hold on Friday named Hip Hop Mafioso.

Why Ambassador Brandi feels using Gotti’s name is distasteful

Brandi elaborated in his post that people have died and are still dying and suffering from what the mafia have done.

"Naming your club after an infamous criminal family and catching clients with an 'Hip Hop Mafioso' night is certainly not illegal, but -allow me to say- is definitely of a dubious taste," Brandi wrote.

He added that there was already a lot of literature on the mafia, and that “the world can be spared” from more.

Brandi has been the ambassador of Italy to Singapore and Brunei since 1 September 2023. He first joined the Italian foreign service in 2000 and was previously Consul General of Italy in Ho Chi Minh City.

Gotti Italiano apologises, removes social media promotion of event

The restaurant has since responded to the post and apologised for any offence or discomfort that the restaurant’s branding and event name had caused.

Gotti Italiano also said that it had removed all social media promotion of the event.

“We are committed to ensuring that our present and future branding and promotional activities will be mindful and respectful to Italian culture and history,” said the restaurant.

The restaurant also told local media CNA that "despite the event starting at 7pm", it had taken action to remove "all marketing communications associated with the event as soon as possible" after receiving Brandi's note at 8pm.

It said there were "no mention of any mafia personnel or related culture at the event" and will future events are both respectful and "in line with cultural sensitivities".

According to CNA, while the restaurant has noted the concerns about its name, it also recognises that preserving its brand identity was important, adding that it was open to "constructive dialogue" and was "considering all options moving forward".

Another restaurant that also faced issues with its name and logo

This is not the first time a Singapore restaurant has chosen a name associated with individuals that other countries consider distasteful.

Another F&B outlet that courted controversy with its name and logo was the now-defunct Escobar bistro.

The bar’s initial logo was based on drug lord Pablo Escobar and it led the Colombian embassy in Singapore to send an official note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying that it paid tribute to the “worst criminal in the history of Colombia”.

During the uproar about the name, the owner of Escobar shared that he had received threats, and the threats continued even after he changed the logo. The name of the bar was not changed as Escobar is a common Latin surname. The bar has since shuttered, with its last day of operations taking place on 29 July 2023.

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