Italian-American restaurant in O.C. takes anti-mask stance with billboard near Beverly Center

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In an apparent nod to a famous line from “The Godfather,” an Orange County restaurant has taken an anti-mask stance with a billboard near the Beverly Center.

“Leave The Mask Take The Cannoli,” reads the large sign from Basilico’s Pasta e Vino, atop a flower shop just blocks from the popular mall on Monday.

Basilico’s Pasta e Vino''s sign in Beverly Grove is seen on Sept. 28, 2020. (KTLA)
Basilico’s Pasta e Vino”s sign in Beverly Grove is seen on Sept. 28, 2020. (KTLA)

The phrase, derived from the quote “Leave the gun, take the cannoli,” also mirrors the typeface from the classic Francis Ford Coppola film series.

The Huntington Beach eatery has made headlines before, when it hung a Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” flag next to an American flag outside its dining area in June.

The restaurant has also taken to its Facebook page to proclaim its disdain for the statewide mask mandate amid the coronavirus pandemic, using hashtags like #nomasksallowed, #defendliberty and #securitymaters.

The posts garnered attention on both sides of the issue, with patrons and residents also leaving comments on the restaurant’s Yelp page.

Since then, the restaurant has taken a clear political stance against covering up, posting photos of a red mask with a Soviet Union hammer-and-sickle logo on it, as well as a cartoon of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci crossed out in red.

And in August, the restaurant began selling a T-shirt version of the “Leave The Mask Take The Cannoli” billboard.

Orange County has seen its fair share of controversy over mask-wearing and reopening, as people took to the streets earlier in the pandemic demanding a return to normalcy while COVID-19 cases continued to surge.

The restaurant sign was erected while officials in Orange County are pushing for speedier reopenings, even as the region’s improving coronavirus figures allowed it to achieve a status that’s less restrictive compared to that of most of Southern California.

Since moving into the red tier, or substantial risk, the county has resumed in-person learning. Movie theaters, dine-in restaurants and places of worship have already reopened in the region with modifications in place.

Soon, the county could move into the even less restrictive orange tier, or moderate risk. Meanwhile, Los Angeles County remains in the most restrictive purple tier, or widespread risk.

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