The co-owner of a famed Brooklyn pizzeria found slain outside his home was carrying more than $10,000 in cash — and is likely the victim of a botched robbery, police said Friday.


Investigators believe Louis Barbati, 61, co-owner of L&B Spumoni Gardens Pizzeria, was targeted by a robber who knew he was carrying all that cash — even though the gunman ran off empty handed, officials said.


Barbati was shot dead in the backyard of his Dyker Heights home just after 7 p.m. Thursday, police said.


He had left work at the pizzeria about half an hour before and drove home in a white Mercedes SUV, sources said.

Co-owner of NYC pizzeria that nearly stirred mob war shot dead


He parked on 76th St., just around the corner from his home on 12th Ave., got out carrying a loaf of bread for dinner and walked up a set of stairs to his backyard, where he was confronted by the gunman.


The hooded shooter, described by police as white, in his 30s and dressed in a black hoodie and gray pants, pumped at least five bullets into Barbati, including two in his back and also hitting him in the arm and leg, a police source said.


As the gunman fled, leaving behind Barbati’s massive wad of cash, Barbati managed to scream to his wife, who was inside cooking, before collapsing and dying, sources said.


His wife had heard the gunshots but thought they were fireworks, sources said. His two sons and another woman were also in the home at the time of the shooting, sources said.


The wife ran outside when she heard the screaming and called 911. Barbati’s body was found slumped near the door of the house, police said.


It was unusual for Barbati to bring home that much cash — something he did only about six times a year, sources said.


“We believe there was a person there waiting for him,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. “Someone knew he had that money on him. Nothing else comes up in terms of motive.”


At Barbati’s home Friday, several people were scrubbing the blood-stained back patio with soap and brooms.


“The family needs some time to console themselves and is requesting their privacy be respected,” said lawyer Sal Strazzullo, who is acting as a spokesman for the victim’s family.


At L&B Spumoni Gardens Pizzeria, which opened on time at 11 a.m. Friday, loyal patrons were in shock.


Helen Matthews, 70, of Brighton Beach, described Barbati as “very friendly, outgoing, vivacious, busy, very hardworking.”


"I know that he was a family man and a hard working business man, took care of his employees,” said Michael DeRosa, 48, a former regular visiting from Philadelphia.


“By all indications, everyone who has ever come through here has always had nothing but good things to say about him.”


Celeste Pantano, 61, said she went to Lafayette High School in Brooklyn with Barbati.


"The whole family is great — he's going to be well missed,” she said. "(He was) wonderful, friendly, giving, always went out of his way to say hello when I used to come inside."


“L&B is Brooklyn,” she added.


Known for its Sicilian pizza and Italian ices, L&B was founded by Barbati's grandfather in 1939. Ludovico Barbati started off selling pizza products from a horse and wagon on the streets of Brooklyn.


He built the current restaurant on 86th St. in Gravesend in the 1950s.


A mob war like a "Sopranos" script nearly erupted over the "gravy" recipe at the pizzeria several years ago, according to testimony in a 2012 extortion case.


Frank Guerra, a reputed Columbo crime family associate whose ex-wife was a part owner of the pizzeria, was acquitted of a double murder of former underboss Joseph Scopo and Staten Island club owner Michael Devine, as well as extortion of a former Spumoni employee — who he accused of lifting L&B's secret sauce recipe.


Guerra is currently serving time for dealing Oxycontin.


Boyce said Barbati’s murder did not appear to be tied to organized crime.


“We found him always to be, always to have been a regular citizen, no issues,” Boyce said. “He's never been arrested … There was some recipe things going on a few years ago. We don’t believe that has anything to do with the case.” 

With Keldy Ortiz

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