A memorial service will be held on January 19, 2018 for well known, longtime Martinez restauranteur, Vince Amato, who died on January 7 following a long illness. He was 86. Vince is best known for the more than four decades he and his late brother, Jack, owned and operated Amato’s Restaurant and Bar, founded by his father and mother, Pete and Mary Amato in 1933. For years Amato’s was one of several fine Martinez Italian restaurants that attracted customers including prominent political, business and sports people not only from Martinez but throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Under Vince and Jack’s management, it became the town’s favorite dining room on Friday evenings attracting regular customers who could be seen week after week on the same barstool or in the same booth. Vince, his brother, and two sisters were raised at the restaurant, where they worked as soon as they were able to handle tasks suited to their age. In fact, Vince was the only Martinez Junior High student known to drive his own car to school at age 13 because before and after school he was responsible for picking up and delivering food and other supplies needed to operate the restaurant. His mother, a legendary master of Italian cuisine, taught Vince to cook. He used his skill as a ‘chef’ during his Army service. While he was a skilled and passionate cook, it was behind the bar that he became the focal point of the popular spot as an entertaining storyteller. Celebrities and prominent regional, state and national political figures felt relaxed and at home in the restaurant. Notable guests included his cousins San Francisco Mayor Joe Alioto and Joe DiMaggio. Additionally, prominent figures such as Oakland Raider owner Al Davis, and a long list of Hollywood stars of the 50s and 60s, including June Allyson, Crockett native Aldo Ray, and the famous movie director Sam Peckinpaw were among those you might see when you walked in.
Vince’s claim to fame was his ability to make a great martini and his firm belief that the famous cocktail was invented in Martinez. Vince’s expertise was valued as he served as the star expert witness in two martini origin mock trials.
While everyone knew Vince to be a great storyteller and entertainer behind the bar, he was also a warm and dedicated family man. On the weekends, he and his late wife, Shirley, could be found hosting dinner parties for family, hunting and fishing buddies, and other friends they had made over the years at the restaurant and elsewhere.
An avid hunter, fisherman and antique collector, Vince specialized in antique decoys and was known for his expertise. He was the pre-eminent collector on the West Coast. He would receive calls from all over the country asking for help in authenticating decoys.
His interest in decoy collecting led him to join the Martinez Antiques Association and serve on the board of the Martinez Historical Society. He was a lifetime member of the Martinez Gun Club, and also belonged to the Martinez Sportsman Club, Crockett Bass Club, the Elks Club in Vallejo, and Ducks Unlimited.
He is survived by his children, Cha-Cha Amato Hughes (Mark), Debbie Amato, Robert Amato and his sister, Catherine Amato Lucido; his grandchildren, Hunter and Marcella Hughes, Paulette Amato Carpoff (Jeff), Bobby Amato (Catherine), Lance Amato (Priscilla) and Vincent Amato-Boeder and seven great-grandchildren. Preceding him in death were his wife, Shirley Amato, his parents, Peter and Mary Amato, his brother, Jack Amato and his sister, Marie Amato Goodman.
Memorial services will be held at 12 noon on Friday, January 19, 2018 at Connolly and Taylor Chapel, 4000 Alhambra Avenue, Martinez.
Memorial contributions may be made to Ace Hospice, 85 Moraga Way, Orinda, CA 94593, Martinez Historical Society, P.O. Box 14, Martinez, CA 94553 or to a charity of your choice.