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Charting 120 Years of Aliotos in San Francisco

A scion of S.F.’s most soap-operatic family is running a dark-horse race for mayor this year. But her story is just one of dozens the Aliotos can tell.

SLIDESHOW

Giuseppe Alioto

(1 of 15)

Annunzio Alioto

(2 of 15)

Annetta Alioto Lazio

(3 of 15)

Joseph Alioto

(4 of 15)

Thomas Alioto

(5 of 15)

Joseph M. (1943–) and John (1945–) Alioto

(6 of 15)

Thomas Cincotta (1950–69)

(7 of 15)

Mario “Brother” Alioto (1922–2003)

(8 of 15)

Angela Alioto (1949–)

(9 of 15)

Stephanie “Bunny” Alioto Wilhelm (1921–96)

(10 of 15)

Mario Alioto (1960–)

(11 of 15)

Angela “Angel” Cincotta (1963–)

(12 of 15)

Michela Alioto-Pier (1968-)

(13 of 15)

Angela Mia Veronese (1969–), Adolfo Virgilio Veronese (1971–), Joseph Alioto Veronese (1973–), and Gian-Paolo Veronese (1976–)

(14 of 15)

Chiara Mia Veronese Lind (1999–)

(15 of 15)

If San Francisco voters feel déjà vu while filling out their ballots in June, they can be forgiven. That’s because former supervisor Angela Alioto is competing for mayor again, having previously run in 1995 and 2003. Apparently, hustling for votes is in her DNA: She’s the daughter of two-term mayor Joseph Alioto, who served from 1968 to 1976. In fact, if any clan could claim to be San Francisco’s first family, it would be the Aliotos. (Additionally, Angela’s son Joseph Alioto Veronese has declared his intent to run for district attorney in 2019.) Ever since the eight Alioto siblings landed in San Francisco in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, descendants of theirs have occupied public offices both low and high—not to mention served millions of bowls of cioppino and Dungeness crab on Fisherman’s Wharf. “There are a lot of members of my family,” Angela says. “And each has some pretty amazing stories.” Here, a guide to the Alioto galaxy.

The Fisherman: Giuseppe Alioto (1887–1961)
A stowaway from Palermo, Sicily, the preteen Giuseppe arrived in San Francisco in 1898 and met his future wife while fleeing the 1906 fire and earthquake. “He was running down the pier,” Angela says, “when my other grandfather, Thomas Lazio, put out his hand and in Italian said, ‘Salta, giovanotto, salta!’” (“Jump, young man, jump!”) Three Alioto boys and one girl ended up marrying three Lazio girls and one boy and raising their families together in a gray-walled apartment house at 572 Filbert, behind Liguria Bakery.

The Restaurateur: Annunzio Alioto (1892–1933)
In 1925, Giuseppe’s younger brother Annunzio opened a stall on Fisherman’s Wharf selling seafood, which turned into a restaurant in 1932, a year before his death. It was there that his wife, Rose, was among the first to serve the iconic San Francisco dish cioppino. Alioto’s Restaurant is still open today.

The Matriarch: Annetta Alioto Lazio (1905–2003)
At eight years old, Giuseppe’s sister arrived in San Francisco, eventually marrying Tom Lazio. In the 1940s the two launched the F. Alioto Fish Co. After Lazio’s death, two branches of the family sued over her $1.2 million house in Belvedere—an argument over debt that added to bad blood dating from 1983, when former mayor Joseph Alioto’s son Joseph M. Alioto fired his cousin Mario N. Alioto from the family law firm.

The Mayor: Joseph Alioto (1916–98)
Born to Giuseppe and Domenica Alioto, Joseph worked as a lawyer before entering politics. In 1967, following the death of state senator and mayoral front-runner Eugene McAteer, Alioto stepped in as the last-minute Democratic candidate—and won. As mayor, Alioto championed BART and the Transamerica Pyramid, though his plan to run for governor in 1970 was derailed after Look magazine alleged links to organized crime. (He sued, and a jury found in his favor.) His reign coincided with the rise and fade-out of the Zodiac Killer as well as a 1975 strike by police during which a bomb disguised in a box of See’s candy detonated at his house. In 1974, his wife, Angelina, disappeared for 18 days. Upon her return, she said she had been touring California’s missions; she filed for divorce several years later. Alioto later married Kathleen Sullivan, the daughter of the owner of the New England Patriots. (Sullivan once dated then-closeted U.S. congressman Barney Frank.) Facing more than $70 million in unpaid tax bills after Joseph’s death, Kathleen was forced to sell the couple’s Pacific Heights mansion in 2003.

The Mystic: Thomas Alioto (1947–2016)
The son of Mayor Joseph Alioto and owner of two San Francisco coffee shops named Café Continental prepared astrological charts for his customers. Beginning in the 1960s, Thomas studied the writings of Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, which also influenced Governor Jerry Brown.

The Wannabe Shipping Magnates: Joseph M. (1943–) and John (1945–) Alioto
In 1974, Joseph M. and John—sons of Mayor Alioto, and Angela’s brothers—were enmeshed in a scandal over their purchase of the Pacific Far East Lines shipping company, which used city-owned piers and owed millions in back rent and pension payments. The mayor cosigned the brothers’ loan and appointed a family friend who served as the campaign manager for his 1974 gubernatorial run as port director. Just before Mayor Alioto left office in 1975, a court found against him for conflict of interest. The port director became a vice president at the shipping line, which went bankrupt in 1978.

The War Hero: Thomas Cincotta (1950–69)
The grandson of Tom and Annetta Lazio, Private First Class Thomas Cincotta joined up with the Marine Corps in 1968 and died in combat in Vietnam the next year.

The Cousin: Mario “Brother” Alioto (1922–2003)
The mayor’s cousin worked from 1941 to the early ’70s for the F. Alioto Fish Co. and served in the Coast Guard during World War II, monitoring ships exiting and entering the bay. “During the war the Coast Guard dropped a [submarine] net under the Golden Gate Bridge and removed it only for brief periods to let fishermen come and go,” his son said in Mario’s obituary. “And he knew who they all were.”

The Candidate: Angela Alioto (1949–)
Before Angela came along, Joseph Alioto and his wife had only sons. “They went to the Vatican and asked Pope Pius XII for a girl,” she says. “I was born nine months later.” Growing up as the daughter of the mayor had its disadvantages. “Dad was never home for dinner,” Angela says. But it had its advantages, too. She could sneak out of the house to hang out with Bob Dylan and George Harrison in the Haight during the Summer of Love. Angela married and had her first child at 19 before returning to law school at 29 and earning a seat on the Board of Supervisors from 1989 to 1997. There she authored one of the first smoking bans in the country, increased funding to combat HIV/AIDS, launched a needle exchange program, and wrote a sanctuary city law. After she left office, Angela went into civil rights law. “We’re serious workaholics,” she says of her family. “We came here working our fannies off, and here we are 120 years later, still working our fannies off."

The Academic: Stephanie “Bunny” Alioto Wilhelm (1921–96)
Each one of the mayor’s three sisters, Stephanie, Presti, and Nunnu, graduated from UC Berkeley before or during the Second World War, a time when few women were allowed into higher education. Stephanie, known as Bunny, became a professor of art history at USF and in 1978 helped to found the Museo Italo Americano at Fort Mason.

The S.F. Giant: Mario Alioto (1960–)
Mario started as a bat boy for the Giants in 1973, eventually entering the team’s front office in 1983. In 1999 he achieved a kind of immortality, introducing the first modern bobblehead giveaway. (It was Willie Mays.) From 2016 to early 2018 he chaired the board of the S.F. Chamber of Commerce. Today he’s an executive VP with the Giants.

The Crabber: Angela “Angel” Cincotta (1963–)
The granddaughter of Annetta Alioto Lazio, Angel runs the Alioto-Lazio Fish Company, the Dungeness crab and fresh fish retailer on Fisherman’s Wharf started by “Nonno Tom” Lazio and Annetta. When Annetta died in 2003, Angel took over the operation with her mother, two sisters, and nephew.

The Supe: Michela Alioto-Pier (1968-)
Paralyzed from the waist down in a skiing accident at 13, the daughter of Joseph M. Alioto served on the Board of Supervisors from 2004 to 2011, authoring a tax break for the biotech industry that stimulated Mission Bay’s boom. Earlier, when she ran for Congress in 1996, her brother and a cousin—who was then a KRON intern—were caught carrying out a scheme to access her opponent’s press releases and schedule. And before that, in 1991, she sued grandfather Joseph after lending the family law firm money that she said had not been repaid. In his defense, the former mayor blamed her father (his son). Got it?

The Kids: Angela Mia Veronese (1969–), Adolfo Virgilio Veronese (1971–), Joseph Alioto Veronese (1973–), and Gian-Paolo Veronese (1976–)
Angela’s children are, respectively, a lawyer at her firm, a chef with restaurants in Glen Ellen and downstairs from the family law office, a member of the S.F. Fire Commission likely to run for district attorney next fall, and a businessman.

The Next Generation: Chiara Mia Veronese Lind (1999–)
At 18 years old, the daughter of Angela Mia has already started her political career: In 2016 she was appointed to a seat on the San Francisco Youth Commission, a board Angela created in 1995.

 

Originally published in the May issue of San Francisco

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