Where there's pizza, there's mafia
Interesting but probably not entirely surprising report in today's La Repubblica on organized crime control of bars and restaurants in Italy--some 5000 (at least) out of 115,000 total establishments. I'm guessing CHers would not typically guest these spots (some of which were opened but never had customers), most all of which were money laundering gimmicks. In Sicily, the mafia business is also in "pizzo" or extorting food businesses, sometimes for thousands of euros/year each. The owner of the famed Antica Foccacceria San Francesco in Palermo has been a vocal opponent of this squeeze. Article's in Italian, but worth it for the names alone. As Don Tommasino advised Michael Corleone, newly exiled in Sicily, "A cura"--be careful.
Maybe I've just seen too many movies, but I've been under the impression for a long time that restaurants the world over are easy prey for organized crime, because the delivery of anything perishable -- like fish or newspapers -- can be delayed until you fork over money to release it.
It also seemed to me when I lived in New York that many restaurants stayed open for years with no visible customers, and I assumed they had some other unadvertised purpose.