I am saddened to report that Vic Santeramo has died. He passed away yesterday at the Heritage Nursing Home here in Mason City. He was 84.
I first met Vic in 1961 when he came to Mason City to scout out the town for the possibility of opening a pizza house here. The rest is pretty much history. He opened on South Federal with a small restaurant directly across the street from what was then the Strand Theater and Harry Sweet Shop and immediately one store front North of the Silver Saddle Bar. That Pizza House set unarguably the standard for pizza in North Iowa. The world passed through it’s doors. I was in there the night Count Bassie came in; his band had played that night at the Surf Ballroom. And the next morning the band bus was parked on South Jackson because one of the greatest bands in the history of America were not allowed to rent rooms in Mason City or Clear Lake.
Vic and I became fast friends, it was the same time Jim Chimbidis and I opened the Red Llama on Delaware….many of you will remember that bar. It was the first bar in all North Iowa with carpet on the floor and no beer signs inside or out. And the then Police Chief Stanley McClintock refused to sign our application for a beer license saying; “I’m not signing any permit for a Greek wearing a beard.” We got the license anyway.
Vic had magic in his hands, he was one of the greatest cooks I ever met. His sugo (sauce) was better than any I ever tasted in Italy. His family came from Bari and he learned his trade at his mother’s elbow. He made “home mades” that would melt in your mouth…and he shared those abilities with many of us…they were priceless gifts that could never be bought in any store.
After Vic sold his resturant he moved to Colorado to be closer to his brothers. Recently he moved back to Mason City, a town that he grew to love. He suffered from a pulmonary illness which took his life. May his memory be eternal…..