Italy’s President Honors Café Milano’s Franco Nuschese

Franco Nuschese with Arianna Huffington at her Washington, DC book party October 2010
Franco Nuschese with Arianna Huffington at her Washington, DC book party October 2010

The owner of Café Milano and president of Georgetown Entertainment Group has a new award to add to a long list he’s received, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Franco Nuschese was born in Minori, Italy on the Amalfi Coast and has spent more than 20 years building a successful business and working to improve the lives of people across the globe. Now, Nuschese can be called “Commendatore dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana,” the third of six ranks in the organization which is comparable to Britain’s Order of the British Empire.

Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic” is a prestigious honor conferred by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano for promoting a positive image of Italians around the world. Past honorees include designer Giorgio Armani, race car legend Mario Andretti, tennis star Francesca Schiavone, and astronaut Dr. Umberto Guidoni. Nuschese was presented with his new title December 13th at a dinner hosted by the Italian Ambassador to the United States, Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, at Villa Firenze, the Italian residence in Washington, D.C.

Guests included Nuschese’s son Gianfranco, a Georgetown University student; Supreme Court Justice and Mrs. Antonin Scalia; General and Mrs. Jim Jones; Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; UAE Ambassador and Mrs. Yousef Al Otaiba; BET co-founder Bob Johnson; and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“I am grateful and humbled by this honor,” said Nushcese. “I will accept it as a tribute to my father, Giuseppe, who several weeks ago died in Italy after a long and wonderful life.”

When Nuschese opened Café Milano in 1992, it quickly became the place to spot politicos and celebrities alike. In 2008, Nuschese was so moved by being chosen to host a luncheon for the pope during his visit to Washington, D.C., he wrote about it for The Washington Post. The event for His Holiness Benedetto XVI happened to coincide on the pope’s 81st birthday and Nuschese left no detail unattended. President Bill Clinton was such a favorite regular at Café Milano, that Nuschese and legendary producer Quincy Jones were chosen to speak when Clinton was honored in May with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service at the Sons of Italy Foundation’s 2010 NELA Gala.

Much like the former president, Nuschese has devoted himself to public service. He is the director of international relations for the Robert C. Gallo Foundation for AIDS and Virus Research, and is a member of the boards of the University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology, the Afghanistan World Foundation, the foundation for Georgetown University Hospital, the Washington National Opera, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Congratulazioni, Commendatore Nuschese!