On a busy Saturday night in February, a new kitchen worker at Ducali Pizzeria on Causeway Street snapped while being teased by a co-worker and beat the man to the floor, where he tried to smash the guy's face into broken shards from glassware that had tumbled there during their fight, police and the family that owns the restaurant said at a hearing today.
What happened next, after police officers arrived shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 9, however, sparked differing accounts by police and the Frattaroli family at the Boston Licensing Board hearing - and anger by family patriarch Filippo Frattaroli.
Filippo Frattaroli, his wife, Anna, his son Philip and their attorney, Daniel Toscano, appeared before the board to address several police citations for the fight and its aftermath, which included "failure to cooperate" with police, not having a manager on premises as required by state law and city regulations and not having an employee list available for police - along with citations for having an employee attack another with a dangerous weapon. The citations list both Ducali and the neighboring Filippo Ristorante, which the family also owns and which shares a kitchen with Ducali.
According to Philip Frattaroli, who normally manages the restaurants but who left early that day after falling ill, what apparently happened was that the worker, who had only been on the job for a couple weeks, was already stressed out because it was a Saturday night, when the kitchen is very busy. When another worker began teasing him, he snapped and charged the man, Frattaroli said. Glassware went flying, the new guy got the better of the seasoned worker and began pounding him on the floor before being pulled off, he said.
According to police, arriving officers found the victim with swollen, red eyes and cuts to his nose and arms. EMTs were called and took him to Mass. General for treatment, including checking whether any glass had gotten into his eyes.
Police said that after somebody told them the attacker might be packing a gun, restaurant workers, in particular pizza makers in the kitchen, clammed up and refused to talk, forcing them to bring in additional officers for what turned out to be a fruitless search for an angry man with a gun running around the North End.
"They refused to answer any questions," licensing Det. Eddie Hernandez said, reading from a report on the incident. "They merely continued to work on pizzas."
In fact, Filippo Frattaroli was at the restaurant at the time, but never identified himself as the manager, police said. The police hunt for the attacker was also hampered because the restaurant did not have a required employee list at the time, Hernandez said.
But Toscano said it was all miscommunication due to the stress of the moment and the fact that English is not Filippo Frattaroli's native language, which led him to misunderstand what a seemingly angry detective was asking him. Toscano said the Frattarolis are well regarded restaurant operators and residents of the North End, who have never had any problems in their 43 years of operating restaurants there and that they had no intentions of interfering with a police investigation.
Filippo Frattaroli grew angry as the hearing continued; he said he's never in his life been treated so poorly by police. "After 43 years, it was terrible the way he treated me, terrible," he said. "He treated me like a second-class citizen."
The elder Frattaroli does not normally manage Ducali and the adjoining Filippo, but was filling in for Philip, who does, but who said he left around 5 p.m., after coming down with a 24-hour bug. Filippo Frattaroli briefly left Ducali to check in on Lucia, one of his other restaurants, a short distance away, but rushed back when he got called about the fight - getting there even before the police, whom a restaurant worker had called when the fight broke out.
Philip Frattaroli said he had an employee list, but on his computer in a restaurant office. He told the board he was unaware he had to have a hard copy available for police in case of an incident like the fight.
The board decides Thursday whether the Frattarolis could have prevented the fight or the other issues identified by police and, if so, whether any punishment is warranted.