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Remembering Fiorillo’s Restaurant: Being There Was Being Home

Santa Clara is losing a long-time institution: Fiorillo’s Restaurant. After 52 years, Fiorillo’s closed its doors for the last time on June 22.

A native of Brooklyn, NY, Vincent Fiorillo began his restaurant business as a pizza and sandwich restaurant on the Peninsula and subsequently relocated to El Camino in Santa Clara. In 1999, he built a standalone building on the Alameda that included an elegant lounge and a banquet hall.

Vincent died in 2010.


“It’s a different world for the restaurant business today,” said Michael Fiorillo, who ran the business since 2010 with his sister Rene. “It’s been a great run. My father always said he owed his success to the people of Santa Clara. The city, the mayor, the council — they were always very supportive.”

For many Santa Clarans, Fiorillo’s was like home, and whenever you ate there, you could count on meeting someone you knew.

“The Burdick family has been going to Fiorillo’s since it was on El Camino Real in front of the Mervyn’s shopping center,’” said Santa Clara native, retired city employee and current producer of Santa Clara’s Showtime, Robin Burdick. “We went so often that when Vinnie would see us all trooping in, he’d holler out, ‘The Burdicks are here!’

“It was always great to go in, grab something delicious to eat and visit with the Fiorillo clan,” Burdick continued. “Being there was like being home with your own family – a warm, inviting atmosphere, great food, and lots of talking and laughing. So many people celebrated so many things at Fiorillo’s – birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations of life.”

Fiorillo’s was a favorite of longtime city history librarian Mary Hanel.

“The food and atmosphere was also special in their banquet room,” Hanel said. “I remember attending Emma Kaliterna’s 100th birthday party in the banquet room.  After Patricia Mahan’s funeral at Mission Santa Clara, the reception was at Fiorillo’s. Elaine Boiko’s Celebration of Life was also held there.

“My brother and sister-in-law took me there to celebrate one of my birthdays a couple of years ago,” she continued. “When Bob Byrd retired from being President of the Harris Lass Museum, the Board took him and his wife Shirley there for lunch.”

Another Santa Clara native, Jeannie Mahan — a member of Santa Clara’s noted Mahan family — was another member of the Fiorillo’s extended restaurant family.

“Fiorillo’s had this way of making everyone feel welcome and accepted and part of the family,” she said. “I spent many enjoyable Saturday evenings there having dinner with my family.

“When I reached out to Fiorello’s for my sister Patty’s reception after her funeral mass, Michael told me they did not do lunches anymore,” she continued. “When I told him it was for my sister Patty [former Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan], he said, ‘For your family, we will open the restaurant, and I will take care of everything and make it wonderful for her.’ I was very touched by this kindness. It certainly was service above and beyond, and that’s how they treated their beloved customers.”

The Fiorillo family is also known for its generosity to the community who gave so much to Santa Clara and the surrounding community.

“In 2021, Mission City Community Fund honored the Fiorillos by awarding them the 2021 Burdick Business Award,” said Burdick. “I was so proud to present that plaque to Mike and Elaine. The restaurant is going to be sorely missed.”


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