Ocean Front Walk poster reading “Leave the Vax, take the Cannoli” removed

By Sam Catanzaro

An anti-vaccination poster on Venice Beach has been painted over. 

“Leave the Vax, take the Cannoli,” read the provocative anti-vaccine mural that was painted on the side of a Venice Beach building last week. Tony Roman, the owner of Basilico’s Pasta e Vino in Huntington Beach, was the person responsible for this anti-vax message on the side of the Potter Building (1305 Ocean Front Walk). The mural referenced a scene from Francis Ford Coppola’s classic film, “The Godfather”, in which a mafia capo, Peter Clemenza, tells the button man, Rocco, to “Leave the gun, take the Cannoli”, after Rocco carried out the hit on the betrayer Paulie Gatto. 

The poster was met with disapproval from many residents of the building who found the message divisive. 

“For them to bring something divisive like that to our community, it was offensive to me. There is a lot of visceral response in the building,” Sherri Elidressi, a resident of the building, told the media.  

The poster seen November 22.

On Tuesday, November 23, the poster was gone, with black paint covering the space it had occupied. 

Following the removal, Roman took to social media condemning the building’s owner along with Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin, who represents Venice. 

“The cancel culture mob, and Los Angeles officials have pressured the building owner to cave. He has ordered the billboard company to remove the mural, claiming it’s offensive.   anti-American LA Councilman Mike Bonin led the charge. Time to remind him that he still lives in the United States of America,” Roman wrote on Instagram

Neither Bonin nor the owner of the building immediately responded to a request for comment. 

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, L.A. officials told the paper prior to the removal that they were reviewing whether the painting would be allowed to remain, “given that the property owner did not obtain a permit required to make alterations to a historic structure.” In 2018, City Council approved historic-cultural monument status for the 109-year-old building. 

“The city Planning Department’s office of historic resources must issue permits for murals on designated historic monuments. Because it did not in this instance, the restaurateur’s paint job will be referred to the Department of Building and Safety,” the Times reported. 

In the article, a spokesman for Bonin’s office said the Department of Building and Safety “will initiate an enforcement process.” 

This was the second time that Roman, who also refused to allow anyone in his restaurant to wear masks when the face-covering mandate was enacted, paid for a similar political message to be put up in a city outside of Huntington Beach. Roman paid for a billboard on La Cienega, near the Beverly Center, in West Hollywood that said, “Leave the mask, Take the Cannoli” in September of 2020.