What were the odds? Two gangland-like shootings, about 2,700 miles apart, within 24 hours of each other. They weren't related, but they did have one thing in common. Both took place in or outside a restaurant named Bella Napoli Cafe.

Weirder still, two other cities — many miles and many years apart — also had gangland murders in restaurants that just happened to have that same name.

Philadelphia Inquirer, August 28
For the first time in years in Philadelphia, a woman fell, critically injured, under a hail of gangster bullets.
The leaden rain was intended for the person of Angelo Dellapi, more generally known as “Patsy” Augustine, as he sat on the steps of his Bella Napoli Cafe, Passyunk and Washington Avenues, at 7th Street, shortly after 11 o’clock last night.

“Patsy” escaped the death that had been planned for him, but his wife, Angini, 37, who was seated beside him, fell wounded with a slug through her right eye.

The attempt to “rub out” Dellapi probably marks the outbreak of a new beer war in South Philadelphia, police conjectured.

“Patsy” and his wife were seated on the steps with Mrs. Marie Araselli, of 2525 South 11th Street, who also was unharmed, when the gunmen’s car roared past the cafe.
As it did, a sawed-off shotgun was poked through a window.

“Patsy,” evidently on the alert for such possibility, shouted to his wife and then threw himself face foremost on the sidewalk.

The trigger was pulled, the slugs raining over the prostrate form of Augustine. One of the slugs penetrated his wife’s right eye and she fell beside her husband.
The gangster car roared on its way.

At Pennsylvania Hospital it was reported the wound sustained by Mrs. Dellapi probably will cause her death.

Because of the rapidity with which the entire episode was staged, no one was able to obtain the license number of the machine. Witnesses said there were four men in it.

A group of persons sitting on the steps of a house at 1107 Passyunk Avenue just escaped the rain of bullets. Some of the slugs chipped stone from the walls of the house. One slug shattered a huge plate glass window in the front of the Napoli cafe, that broke to bits, spraying the sidewalk.

Police were unable to immediately determine what the shooting was about. Although Bella Napoli has been raided on occasion, Augustine has no police record. He has operated the South Philadelphia cafe for years.

Police offered the possibility some sort of new war is in the making in South Philadelphia over beer disputes, and the well-established “Patsy” may have been made one of the first targets in a new fight for control.

There was no actual basis for this belief, however, and detectives, confronted as ever with the blank wall of silence from those concerned, were attempting to ferret out the reason for the attempt to murder Augustine and track down his would-be slayers.


Berkeley (CA) Daily Gazette, August 29
HOLLYWOOD (UP) — A woman, traditional figure of many gang shootings, was questioned today by detectives striving to piece out an explanation of why two men met violent death as they sat dining in an exclusive cafe.

Harry Macklay, 29, of New York, and F. Keller, of St. Louis, were identified as the victims of a murderous fusillade at the Bella Napoli Cafe last night.

The “execution” squad was composed of three well-dressed men, who sought them out at the table, shot them down without a word, and then retreated to the street where a large sedan driven by a fourth, accomplice, purred at the curb.

Within a few hours police were questioning Miss Sonia Dresnick, She was taken into custody at her home in Long Beach after police learned Macklay and Keller had driven to the cafe in a car registered in her name. The woman denied knowing the pair, claiming a friend had borrowed the car a few nights before. She was brought here for renewed questioning.

Selecting a list of possible motives, police checked off as most likely gambling warfare or gangland retribution. The fact the victims were easterners and slain in typical eastern gang fashion, unique to Hollywood, led to the theory they may have been hunted across the continent.

The gambling theory was supported by the discovery of cards of gaming establishments on their persons. They were said to have been well acquainted at Long Beach and Mexican border resorts.

Macklay was a familiar police figure in Hartford, Connecticut; Kansas City; New York and Los Angeles. Police said he also was known as Harry Frank and Abe Frank. Although he was not armed, he carried a gun permit over the signature of Surrogate Judge Christy Wagner of New York City. Another card found in his pockets indicated he owned a haberdashery at 32 West 45th Street, New York City.

Both men had been living in luxurious quarters at the Ambassador Hotel from August 8 to 19, according to police.

I found nothing to indicate the Philadelphia shooting was ever solved. The one in Los Angeles was not. As far as I was able to determine, the California victims finally were identified as Harry Mockley and Frank Keller (aka Frank Harris), and were labeled New York gangsters, likely killed for encroaching.

As for Bella Napoli Cafe, that was a very popular restaurant name at the time. (What made the one in Los Angeles "exclusive" was never explained. I mean, how exclusive can a place be if three killers can just walk in off the street?)

Seems that 16 years earlier, an earlier, and completely separate Bella Napoli Cafe in Los Angeles was the scene of a confrontation that resulted in shots being fired outside, but no one was hit.

More interesting things happened in two other cities that just happened to have a Bella Napoli Cafe.

The one in Chicago was Al Capone's favorite restaurant. It seems to be accepted as true that Joe Aiello, an enemy of Capone, tried to bribe the chef at the Bella Napoli Cafe to poison Capone's minestrone soup. Instead, the chef told Capone about it, and pretty soon Aiello's pals were bumped off one by one until Aiello himself ingested the bullets that killed him.

Finally, on August 10, 1955, a mobster named George "Tiger" Balletto was gunned down at Bella Napoli Cafe in Providence while he sat at the bar drinking an orangeade and vodka. The hit was arranged by Providence mob boss Raymond Patriarca.