To generations of families he is known simply for serving up authentic food across a number of Italian eateries in Edinburgh.
But, this week the godfather of the city’s Italian food scene has been awarded with one of the highest civilian honours from the Italian Government.
Tony Crolla of Vittoria Group has been awarded ‘Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy’, known as “Cavaliere” in Italian – crowning his legendary status both home and abroad.
The honour is bestowed on foreign nationals and expatriates for their work in the promotion of Italian national prestige abroad, upholding and preserving cultural heritage, enhancing friendly relations and co-operation with other countries and ties with Italy.
And heading the gradual proliferation of much-loved authentic Italian offerings from Leith to Morningside, Tony certainly fits the bill.
From 1970 when the sunshine of Leith shone on the first Crolla project, a cafe on Leith Walk, the family business has rippled through the city reacting to the changing tastes of the city’s food scene.
But at its heart remains an emphasis on traditional Italian food and hospitality and a family ethos, echoing from its origins nearly 50 years ago.
And to have that vision and passion recognised from the country of his heritage is a moment of immense pride for Tony.
“I’m very privileged to accept this award and distinctive title from the Italian government - it’s very special and gratifying.
“It is a really special honour. But this is also not a one man band - the success of the business is down to all the people who are part of it.
“I must also take this opportunity to thank my family for their continued support and commitments over the years, our wonderful staff and suppliers who have helped my family build a business we are proud off, and of course the thousands of customers who support us across all our venues enjoying the hospitality we are famous for.”
Presented at Stockbridge Church by Italy’s Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Raffaele Trombetta and in the presence of Scotland’s Fiona Hyslop, the award recognises Crolla’s devotion and passion for Italian food, drink and culture, and his tireless promotion of Italy’s heritage in Scotland and around the world, through his work with local communities and projects within the hospitality business.
Italian Consulate General in Edinburgh Carlo Perrotta, said: “Mr Crolla has been given the award for his entrepreneurship and for helping many young Italian nationals arriving in Scotland for the first time with employment opportunities”.
Tony’s son Alberto Crolla added: “We are extremely proud of our dad on getting this great honour. We have idolised him all our life within the business and at home.
“He is more than just our dad. He also our friend.
“We want to continue the great work he has done in building a business that we can continue to be proud of.”