Sarah Conigliaro, 89, co-owner of restaurant

May 25, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Sarah Conigliaro, retired co-owner of a popular Northeast Baltimore restaurant, died of complications from a stroke and Alzheimer's disease Sunday at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium, where she had lived for the past six years. She was 89.

Born Sarah Russo on Albemarle Street in Little Italy, she attended St. Leo Parochial School and was a 1932 graduate of the Institute of Notre Dame.

The next year, she married Samuel Conigliaro, and the couple opened S&S Food Market in a rowhouse in the 7100 block of Harford Road in 1934.

"She and my father were never separated more than 24 hours," said her son, Santo Conigliaro of Maryland Line. "She was the kind of person, when we caught a man breaking in the window of our house, said, `Don't call the police. He must be hungry.' She sat him down at the kitchen table and fed him spaghetti. His hand shook the whole time."

After operating the grocery store for nearly 20 years, she and her husband gave up the business when a supermarket opened nearby.

In 1952, the couple converted the store into Angelina's, a restaurant they operated in partnership with Mrs. Conigliaro's sister and brother-in-law, Angelina and Joseph Tadduni.

Mrs. Conigliaro cooked alongside her sister.

"My grandmother made homemade everything -- raviolis, breads, sauces in the Sicilian style," said Mrs. Conigliaro's granddaughter, Maria L. Tiderman of Shrewsbury, Pa. "The family, including three sisters, lived in the same block of Harford Road. So there was always family around. Her customers liked that."

Mrs. Conigliaro used lump crab meat, mayonnaise and beaten egg in her crab cakes, which she broiled. The dish became well-known.

"She sat me down and taught me how to make a crab cake," her granddaughter said. "She was good-hearted, people-oriented and very generous. She was as known for this as she was for her food."

After the family sold the restaurant in 1969, the Conigliaros opened the Parkville Delicatessen in 1975 and operated it for a decade. Mr. Conigliaro died in 1995.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church, 5310 Harford Road, where Mrs. Conigliaro was a member.

Survivors, in addition to her son, sister and granddaughter, include another sister, Laura Schwind of Timonium; five additional grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. A son, John J. Conigliaro, died in 1999.

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