211 Bradford Street

To say simply that this was once Cesco’s Italian Restaurant, while true, misses the larger point that Cesco — the “Spaghetti King of Cape Cod” — was a phenomenon in his day; witness the fact that the intersecting road is called Cesco Lane.

You’ll see the name spelled Chesco, too, as it would be pronounced in Italian. Mary Heaton Vorse’s brother, Fred H. Marvin, a student of Charles W. Hawthorne, met Francesco “Cesco” Ronga in Naples around 1910 and took him on as a kind of ward, cook, man Friday and companion. Ronga was said to have “the gay, volatile and changeable temperament of a true Neapolitan.” It was at Cesco’s in 1916 that the Beachcombers was founded. The artist Harvey J. Dodd lived here in the mid-1960s, and the sculptor Richard Pepitone ran an art school here in the 1970s.

3 thoughts on “211 Bradford Street

  1. “Ward, cook, man Friday, and companion.” Isn’t the phrase you’re circumlocuting here “life-partner” or even “husband,” though they couldn’t have been legally married? Apparently, they were together for 50 years. “Ward” sounds rather like Batman and Robin [smile].

  2. Yes, indeed, they appear to have been devoted to one another for more than 40 years until Fred’s death in 1942 at the age of 77. Cesco died in 1947 at the age of 69.

    He had arrived in the United States from Paris in 1903 as Fred’s “valet.” The couple spent considerable time abroad over the course of their lives.

    The gathering at Cesco’s in July 1916 that formed the Beachcombers Club included such luminaries as Charles Hawthorne, William Bicknell, Ambrose Webster and George Senseney. Senseney became the club’s first Skipper. Fred Marvin, an artist and intellectual who was described as a pure spirit, was elected Purser but abruptly resigned before the end of the evening! He was replaced by Harry Campbell, Hawthorne’s brother-in-law and director of Hawthorne’s Cape Cod School of Art.

    As for Cesco, he was known for his unique personality, robust singing, green thumb and his homemade red wine with which, it was said, the new Beachcombers Club was christened. The restaurant became a popular rendezvous for artists and bon-vivants.

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