BROOKLYN — A co-owner of famed pizzeria L&B Spumoni Gardens was gunned down carrying $10,000 outside his Dyker Heights home Thursday night, but the gunman didn't steal it, sources said.
Louis Barbati, 61, was standing outside around the side of his house at 7601 12th Ave. at roughly 7 p.m. when an a man in his 30s walked up to him and fired several shots, hitting him twice in the torso, sources said.
Barbati's wife and two sons were home at the time, sources said.
Investigators believe the gunman was waiting for the restaurant owner to emerge from him home, but fled when the robbery went wrong, police said.
Barbati still had the cash and all his jewelry on when police arrived at the scene, sources said.
Barbati didn't usually carry that kind of loot around on him, sources said.
Police are still trying to find video evidence that might shed more light on the circumstances of the shooting, sources said.
L&B Spumoni Gardens, in Gravesend, is one of Brooklyn's most famous pizzerias, known for its Sicilian slices called "squares." They are unusual in that the pizza sauce is put on top of the cheese.
The sauce almost ignited a mafia gang war between the Colombo and Bonanno crime families over a dispute as to whether another pizzeria had stolen the recipe, according to the Daily News.
The pizzeria's history dates back to 1917 when Ludovico Barbati immigrated to Brooklyn and later sold pizza from a horse-drawn cart in Gravesend and Bensonhurst, according to Spumoni Gardens' website.
The pizzeria has been run by the Barbatis for four generations and the co-owner had worked there since he was a young boy, according to friends and the site.
Pizzeria regulars were distraught over Barbati's murder, but fondly remembered the gregarious businessman.
"He was funny, helpful, nice. He always went out of his way to help people. He was the best, the best, the best. He was always smiling. He's going to be well missed," said Celeste Pantano, 61.
"It's hard. I'm shaken. It's never going to be the same," added Pantano, who went to high school with Barbati in the 1970s.
Others remembered him as the face of the Brooklyn institution, ever present on the floor, helping out.
"He wasn't in the back, he was in the front and was always busy running around. He was incredibly hard working. You'd see him carry stuff around all the time. He wasn't a backroom boss," said David Ball, 53.
Brooklyn's borough president also noted that Barbati's murder came on the final night of gun violence awareness month, which was established in 2013 to try to curb gun-related deaths and injuries.