SHARE
COPY LINK

MAFIA

Spanish ‘La Mafia’ restaurants banned after Italian complaint

EU officials ruled that the branding of a Spanish restaurant chain named 'La Mafia' is "contrary to accepted principles of morality", Italian media reported on Thursday.

Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's 'La Mafia' restaurant chain had been going from strength to strength. Photo: Screengrab/YouTube

The Italian government had called for the name to be changed following an investigation by La Repubblica newspaper, but its requests were rejected by the restaurant and Spanish authorities.

Earlier this year authorities said the word “mafia” was now so widely used across the world that it did not necessarily relate to the Italian criminal organization.

The Office of Brands and Design, part of the European Union's Office for Intellectual Property, has now reportedly accepted Italy's complaint about the use of 'mafia' in the brand name, forcing the eateries to change their name.

The news came from Italian farmers' organization Coldiretti on Thursday, which has campaigned for years against the use of the word 'mafia' in brand names.

“Unfortunately the case is not isolated, and all over the world from Mexico to Sharm El Sheikh, there are 'Cosa Nostra' restaurants and pizzerias,” Coldiretti noted.

“The EU must now stop the commercial use of an infamous 'brand', which exploits stereotypes of mafia organizations, oversimplifying and almost normalizing it. This phenomenon has brought pain and grief throughout Italy,” said Coldiretti's president, Roberto Moncalvo.

“Adding insult to injury, as well as the grave damage to image, this is also an economic exploitation of the 'Made in Italy' label. Counterfeiting and falsifying Italian food is an industry which has now exceeded €60 million and has cost Italy 300,000 jobs, according to a Coldiretti analysis.”

'Lots of marketing, few scruples'

The La Mafia chain had been a rare success story during Spain's economic crisis,  growing steadily since opening in 2000. Its full name is “La Mafia se sienta a la mesa” or ' The mafia sits at the table', and its restaurant features pictures and decor inspired by the Italian crime syndicate.

It already has 39 restaurants across Spain and is about to open two more in the Canary Islands.

One of Italy's top writers on organized crime, Attilio Bolzoni, visited two La Mafia eateries in Spain back in 2013, aiming to investigate the success of a business with “a lot of marketing and few scruples”.

“In times of crisis, we are growing,” the firm’s public relations manager Pablo Martínez told the Italian journalist at the time.”We didn't create the name, we just use it.”

Martínez stressed that images of violence were prohibited in the firm's restaurants and that the model was the mafia of the movies, such as The Godfather.

“We apologize to those Italians who feel offended (by the name) but that’s not our intention.”

The article caused an immediate reaction in Italy.

Marco Anzaldi, an MP with Italy’s Democratic Party, called for an official complaint to be lodged, and following an appeal from Sicilian MP Claudio Fava, whose own father was killed by Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia, the Italian government requested that the controversially named Spanish eatery either change its name or be forced to close.

Italy's anti-mafia commission, the Italian Embassy in Madrid and Coldiretti backed the call.

The restaurant chain has yet to make a statement on the EU ruling.

In August 2013, a a Sicilian politician and anti-mafia commissioner lambasted restaurants in Denmark for naming pizzas and sandwiches after a notorious crime gang after stumbling across an Al Capone pizza in Copenhagen.

He said the dishes “exploited the worst stereotypes about southern Italy and criminals”.

READ MORE: 'Europe needs to wake up to the mafia'

 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

FOOD & DRINK

The best vegan and vegetarian Spanish dishes

These are two words that don’t often go together – vegetarian and Spanish, as most vegetarians and vegans will only know too well, however, it may come as a surprise to discover that there are a few Spanish dishes that naturally do not contain any meat or fish.

The best vegan and vegetarian Spanish dishes

Whether you live in Spain or you frequently travel here, if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan you’ll know that finding traditional Spanish dishes can be tricky. But if you don’t want to have to eat international food all the time, you will discover that there are several meat and fish-free dishes that are Spanish classics. 

Espinacas con garbanzos

A dish traditionally found in southern Spain in Andalusia, this is essentially exactly how it’s translated – spinach with chickpeas. The dish has a long history dating all the way back to the Moors, who ruled southern Spain for almost 800 years. Completely vegan, the spinach and chickpeas are made into a type of stew with herbs and spices like paprika and cumin. Often pine nuts and raisins are added to the mix too.

READ ALSO: What did the Moors ever do for us?’ How Spain was shaped by Muslim rule

Spinach and chickpeas is a classic Andalusian dish. Photo: Xemenendura / Wikimedia Commons
 

Escalivada

A classic vegan dish from Catalonia, escalivada is a mix of slow-roasted vegetables, usually onions, peppers and aubergines. It can be eaten as a type of topping for large toasts called torradas and can sometimes have goat’s cheese melted on the top.

Calçots with romesco sauce

Another much-loved Catalan vegetarian dish is calçots with romesco sauce. Calçots are like a cross between a spring onion and a leek and are only available in the winter or early spring seasons. They’re typically grilled over an open fire until blackened. You must then remove the burnt exterior with a pair of gloves before dipping them in the romesco sauce. The sauce is a concoction made from toasted almonds and hazelnuts, tomatoes, garlic, toasted bread, olive oil, vinegar and dried ñora peppers. They can be a bit messy to eat, so restaurants will often give you a bib to wear too. 

READ ALSO – Recipe: How to make, eat and enjoy calçots

Try some calçots at a traditional calçotada. Photo: Esme Fox
 

Gazpacho

A dish that many are familiar with, this cold soup is traditionally from Andalusia, although it’s likely you’ll find it all over Spain in the summertime. It’s made from blended tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, bread, olive oil and garlic. 

Gazpacho is a cold tomato soup. Photo: Ирина Кудрявцева / Pixabay

Paella de verduras

Ordering paella in Spain can be tricky for vegans and vegetarians because the most traditional either contain seafood or rabbit, chicken snails and butter beans, like the ones from Valencia. Many places, however, now offer a paella de verduras, featuring only vegetables. Restaurants will use whatever is in season, whether that’s artichokes, green beans, peppers, asparagus, mushrooms or courgettes. The only difficult part is that many places will only do paellas for two or more people, so you have to hope your companions are willing to eat the vegan version too. 

A vegetable paella is completely vegan. Photo: Corophoto / Pixabay
 

Berenjenas con miel

This simple tapas dish translates as aubergines with honey and is essentially deep-fried aubergines usually dipped in bread crumbs or battered and then drizzled with molasses or treacle which is actually miel de caña, not the type of honey from bees. Although you can find it in many places in Spain, it’s typically from Andalusia and is very popular in Granada and surrounding areas.

A plate of berenjenas con miel is always a veggie favourite. Photo: Esme Fox
 

Patatas a lo pobre

Poor man’s potatoes might not sound very appetising, but this dish of fried sliced potatoes with onions, peppers and garlic is actually delicious. Again you’ll find it mostly in Andalusia, particularly in the Alpujarras mountains, just south of Granada.

Try some patatas a lo pobre in the Alpujarras. Photo: pxhere

Pisto

Similar to the French ratatouille, pisto is a stew made from cubes of aubergines, onions, peppers, courgettes and tomatoes. It comes from the region of Castilla-La Mancha and is often served with a fried egg on top. To make it vegan, simply ask for it without the egg.

Pisto is similar to the French ratatouille but is often served with an egg. Photo: Arnaud 25 / WikiCommons
 

Ajo blanco

This white garlic soup is a tasty combination of almonds, garlic, olive oil, bread and white wine or sherry vinegar. It comes from the areas around Málaga and Cádiz and like gazpacho is served cold. It’s sometimes served topped with grapes too. 

Ajo blanco is often served with grapes. Photo: cyclonebill / WikiCommons

Croquetas de boletus, ceps or espinacas

Croquetas are a favourite tapas dish throughout the country, and while many of them are filled with jamón (ham) or even squid ink, there are several vegetarian varieties too. Unfortunately, they are not vegan because they’re made with bechamel sauce, which contains dairy. The bechamel is mixed with various flavours and then covered in breadcrumbs before being deep-fried. Vegetarian varieties come in varieties such as boletus or ceps (types of mushrooms), espinacas (spinach) or cabrales cheese – a blue cheese from Asturias. 

READ ALSO – MAP: How well do you know your Spanish cheeses?

Try croquetas filled with spinach, mushrooms or cheese. Photo: Ralf Gervink / Pixabay

Salmorejo

Salmorejo is a cold soup similar to gazpacho, but it’s much thicker and creamier. It’s typically made from just four main ingredients – tomatoes, bread, olive oil and garlic. You can find it all over Andalusia, but it’s actually from Córdoba. Often it’s topped with ham and boiled egg, so simply ask for it sin jamón y huevo for it to be vegan. 

Ask for your salmorejo sin jamón for it to be vegetarian. Photo:Javier Lastras / Wikimedia Commons

Tortilla de patatas

One of the two only non-vegan dishes on our list is the classic tortilla de patatas, which you can find all over Spain and is definitely a meal you can rely on if all else fails. It is of course made from eggs and potatoes, but Spain is very divided on whether you should add onions or not. The Local is firmly on the onion side! 

Do you like your tortilla with or without onion? Photo: Luis MGB / Pixabay
SHOW COMMENTS