Obituary: Katherine Romano / Her cooking inspired Carnegie restaurant

Nov. 20, 1924 - Oct. 28, 2013

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It was on a Pittsburgh streetcar some 60 years ago where Katherine "Kay" Romano met her eventual husband, Domenick.

She was heading to her job at Kaufmann's department store. He was on his way to class at Duquesne University, finishing up his degree after serving during World War II.

"It was a Pittsburgh story," said her son, Nick Romano.

They dated, married, built a family, traveled the world and brought their discoveries back to Western Pennsylvania, where he opened Ciao Italian Cafe in Carnegie, an enterprise Mrs. Romano helped run after his retirement.

Her recipes -- and her famous sauce -- became the inspiration behind Ciao 2, an Italian Cafe in Robinson opened by her granddaughter and her granddaughter's husband.

Mrs. Romano died Monday after a brief illness. She was 88.

Born in Imperial, Mrs. Romano spent most of her life in Carnegie. She attended the small business college that eventually became Point Park University and worked a couple of jobs before that fateful ride on the streetcar.

After marrying in 1948, she helped her husband open an accounting, real estate and investment firm the following year, where she worked for more than two decades. In 1973, she helped her son, Nick, establish an international travel firm.

She loved to travel and eventually crafted recipes from all of Italy's 20 regions, which are still used at the restaurant.

"She was always a magnificent cook, but we use her inspiration, her recipes, her sauce," Nick Romano said.

For a time, her sauce was bottled and sold in grocery stores throughout the area.

She and her husband, who died in 1994, were active in the Democratic Party and attended John F. Kennedy's inauguration as invited guests. She also was a lifelong Steelers fan and season ticketholder and a Pirates fan.

"I think that kept her going," Nick Romano said of the Pirates' recent playoff run. "There wasn't a game on TV or radio that she missed."

In addition to her son, Mrs. Romano is survived by a sister, Theresa Bagnato of South Fayette, one granddaughter and five great grandchildren.

Visitation will be today from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., followed by a Mass at 10 in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Carnegie.

Michael Sanserino:, 412-263-1969 or on Twitter @msanserino.


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