The legendary families who ran Wales Italian cafes

If you grew up in the valleys then one thing more or less connects each little town across South Wales and that is the good old Italian café.

From Caerphilly to Treorchy and Merthyr Tydfil and loads more – below we have found in the archives a few pictures of the cafés and how things used to be – now would anyone like a steamed pie to really take us back?

As you can see from these pictures, the café was the place that all the cool kids hung out at in the late ’50s.

Just look at that Wurlitzer jukebox – no doubt playing the latest rock n’ roll ditty by The Drifters or The Isley Brothers.

An Italian cafe in Treorchy. Heads turned towards the jukebox at the Italian cafe on a Sunday evening – April 26, 1959.

A scene on a Sunday evening at an Italian cafe in Treorchy – April 26, 1959.

An Italian cafe in Treorchy, Mid Glamorgan, Wales. These two girls are lucky to have found a quiet spot in an Italian cafe on a Sunday evening. But it is a certainty that they will not have the luxury of so much room for long – April 26, 1959.

The Italian café was more than a place to eat – it was the place to meet up with friends and plan what was going to happen, now and in the future.
Lives were mapped out amongst copious amounts of tea/coffee and steamed pies. These were the community centers of their day.

Pino’s Cafe – Caerphilly

Pino’s Cafe, Caerphilly back in March 1994

Back in March 1994, Pino’s owner Giuseppe Antoniaz was retiring, marking the end of a business set up by his father almost 60 years ago.

The café is now called Café Tyfu, but back in 1994 it looked very different.

Cafe owner Giuseppe Antoniazzi in Pino’s Cafe, Caerphilly, where Giuseppe is retiring, marking the end of a business set up by his father over 90 years ago – March 1994.

Station Cafe – Porth

The Station Cafe in Porth was the place to go in Porth for miners as they stopped off to get refreshments before their night shift.

Back in 1992, brothers Aldo and Renato – Ron – Bacchetta, spoke to the South Wales Echo regarding their history.

Their father Serafino Bacchetta was 14 when he came to Wales and later on, the Bacchettas had a part share in a fish and chip shop in Abercynon, where Ron was born but when he was six months old they moved the cafe to Station Square in Porth .


Joseph Gambarini outside The Prince’s restaurant, Pontypridd – April 1996.

Prince’s in Pontypridd has been a welcome feature of Taff Street, Pontypridd since it was opened in 1948 by Dominic Gambarini.

In 1972 his twin sons – Joseph and David – took over at the age of 18. Joseph continued to oversee the business with his son William after his brother retired but, in early April, the community was shaken when it was announced Joseph passed away suddenly at the age of 66.

Jo & David Gambrini – pictured in 2004 inside Prince’s Cafe, Pontypridd.

Station Cafe – Merthyr Tydfil

Viazzani Station Cafe

Viazzani’s Station cafe is one of the best places for food in Merthyr.

The cafe was opened in 1947 and is now in the more than capable hands of Mario Viazzani.

Brothers Tony and Frank Viazzani pictured at Station Cafe, Merthyr Tydfil – October 1992.

Carpanini’s Cardiff Arms Cafeé – Treorchy

Luisa Carpanini pictured in 2008

Established in 1947 by Ernesto & Luisa Carpanini. Luisa, speaking to the South Wales Echo in 2008, the then 91-year-old said: “I have lovely memories of those early years in the cafe. Treorchy was a very busy place then and we used to be open all hours, sometimes until two in the morning.

“Everyone would pop in for a gossip and there used to be lots of courting couples who would come here for a cup of coffee.

“The cafe was also known as Ernie’s after my late husband. Over the years I have served three generations of families while behind the counter.”

Station Cafe – Treorchy

The Station Café, AKA Dom’s, served frothy coffees and steamed pies for more than 80 years but closed for good back in 2019.

The café was opened by Joe Balestrazzi in 1935. Domenico Balestrazzi, or ‘Dom’, took over the reins from his father Joe in 1965.

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