West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 17 | Sept. 26 - Oct. 2, 2007


Elizabeth Giunta, of Arturo’s restaurant, dies at 71

By Albert Amateau

Elizabeth Giunta, who, with her late husband, Arturo, and their son and daughter, ran Arturo’s restaurant on Houston St. for 50 years, died Fri., Sept. 21, at Cabrini Hospice at the age of 71.

She was diagnosed 10 years ago with cancer of the esophagus, which recurred recently, according to her daughter, Lisa Giunta, who with her brother, Scott Giunta, continues to run Arturo’s.

Known as Betty, Elizabeth Keefe was born on MacDougal St. in the Village to Elizabeth and William Keefe. She went to Our Lady of Pompeii School and to Washington Irving High School, where she was the prom queen in 1954.

As a teenager she loved opera and sang in the Amato Opera Company when it was on Bleecker St. She met her husband, also born and raised in the Village, when he was a waiter at Frank’s restaurant on Bleecker St.

“My mom was on a date with another guy at Frank’s when my dad walked in and she told her date, ‘I’m going to marry that guy,’” Lisa said. “She found out he worked there, and so she went a couple of times with her mother or a girlfriend. She gave him tickets to come and hear her at the opera. That’s how it started.”

After high school, Betty Keefe worked as a model and as a dental assistant. But in June 1957 she joined Giunta as a partner in the restaurant at 106 W. Houston St., which they opened with money borrowed from family and restaurant equipment on trust from a dealer on the Bowery. They were married in January 1958. Her husband died Feb. 8 last year.

In addition to her son, Scott, and her daughter, Lisa, two grandchildren, Nico Giunta, 6, and Sofia Giunta, 3, survive. A sister, Barbara Gatto, and a brother, Bill Keefe, both of New Jersey, also survive. Greenwich Village Funeral Home, 199 Bleecker St., was in charge of arrangements.

A funeral Mass was celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Tues., Sept. 25, at St. Anthony of Padua Church and burial was in Trinity Cemetery on 155th St. in Manhattan.

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