Salvatore Giusti, 79, bricklayer, skillful cook

Posted: April 02, 2014

WHEN SALVATORE Giusti arrived in the Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos to visit his daughter in September 2006, he discovered that a World Series of Poker tournament was scheduled.

Salvatore considered himself a fair poker player, having sharpened his skills at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, and when he was asked to join the tournament as an amateur, he couldn't say no.

The tournament ran for three days, and Salvatore came out No. 30, out of 100 amateurs.

"He was very proud of that," said his daughter Antoinette Sottak, who lived in Turks and Caicos for 13 years.

Salvatore Giusti Jr., a bricklayer, outstanding cook in the Italian tradition, devoted traveler, Army veteran who served with Elvis Presley, and loving family man, died March 26 of complications of melanoma. He was 79 and lived in Northeast Philadelphia.

Sal was such an exacting cook that he would pack the ingredients for his special gravy in his suitcase when he visited his daughter because he didn't trust finding them in the exotic locale.

He was a cook in the Army from 1957 to 1959, in the same outfit as Elvis Presley in Frankfurt, Germany. It was unlikely that Elvis ever ate Sal's cooking, however, because the singer usually lived off-base with his family.

As a bricklayer, Sal worked mostly out of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1, but also took on private jobs.

Basically a soft-hearted guy, Sal could be tough when he had to be. During one private job, his son, Salvatore III, fell off a scaffold and banged his head. He was treated at a hospital and was ready to call it a day, when Dad ordered him back to finish the job.

"He was excellent at his craft and was appreciated not only for his skills, but for his work ethic," his daughter said.

Sal was a fussy eater and wouldn't let anybody else cook.

"He worked all day and would come home and cook the dinner," his daughter said. "Every Sunday, he served his special gravy and meatballs at family gatherings. He believed olive oil and garlic are the keys to successful cooking."

Salvatore was born in Philadelphia to Antoinette and Salvatore Giusti. He graduated from Northeast High School and joined the Army.

He was a history buff, with special interest in the Civil War. He memorized the names of every president and their vice presidents in the order they served.

A passionate Phillies fan, he made frequent excursions to the ballpark. The fact that he had three daughters didn't deter him from taking them to games.

"He made us all baseball fans," Antoinette said.

In his youth, friends thought Sal looked like actor Robert De Niro.

"He looked fierce, but he was soft-hearted," his daughter said. "He was an old-fashioned guy. He had a few simple pleasures."

When his daughters brought boyfriends home, Sal would ask them to take out the trash, giving the boys a look at what life might be like in the Giusti household.

Sal married Barbara Marzano on Sept. 27, 1963. They lost their first son, James, at 6 weeks. Besides his wife, son and daughter, he is survived by two other daughters, Deborah Mohnssen and Barb Kane; a sister, Clara Ricciutti; and seven grandchildren.

Services: Were yesterday. Burial was in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

comments powered by Disqus