The patriarch of one of the Dayton-area’s most beloved restaurants died at Kettering Medical Center on Wednesday, Feb. 12, his namesake confirmed.
Mamma DiSalvo's Italian Ristorante founder Rinaldo DiSalvo Sr. leaves behind a legacy of love, his son, Rinaldo DiSalvo Jr., the owner of DiSalvo's Deli & Italian Stores, said this morning.
“He was a great father, a great cook,” Rinaldo Jr. said. “He provided for us, made sure we had a roof over our heads, clothing, food and love.”
Rinaldo DiSalvo Sr., a Kettering resident, was 84.
>> Mamma DiSalvo’s to close as family mourns founder’s death, celebrates his life
The restaurant located at 1375 E. Stroop Road in Kettering is a Dayton-area mainstay.
Rinaldo and Elena DiSalvo opened it in July 1979, with the help of their sons Nicola "Nick," Rinaldo Jr. and Roberto "Bobby."
The deli is operated by Rinaldo DiSalvo Jr. and is located next door to the restaurant.
Bobby DiSalvo said his father had a tough childhood, losing his father when he was 3 years old. He came to America on his own in hopes of making a better life.
Married more than 60 years, Rinaldo and Elena were both immigrants from Casali, Italy.
>> Reasons to love Mamma DiSalvo’s restaurant
Rinaldo DiSalvo and his future wife were next-door neighbors in Italy, but did not start their relationship until arriving separately in Dayton in the 1950s.
“They got together through cousins,” he said. “One thing led to another.”
The DiSalvos raised their sons near Patterson Road in Dayton before moving to Kettering.
Rinaldo DiSalvo Jr. fondly remembers his father being involved in the Duronia Social Club, which eventually merged with the Order Sons of Italy.
“As as kid, I remember we would go to Deweese Park and Triangle Park,” Rinaldo Jr. said.
Rinaldo Sr. worked 25 years as a butcher at NCR before being laid off and deciding to open the family restaurant.
“He had passion for Italian food and bringing the culture to Dayton. (He had ) great family values and a passion to show the love to people,” Rinaldo Jr. said. “We cook with love.”
Bobby said his father, an avid gardener who supplied tomatoes, basil, peppers and other vegetables to Mamma DiSalvo’s, was heavily involved in the restaurant before becoming ill about eight years ago.
Rinaldo Sr.'s only sibling, sister Ergisa Ricciuto, died at Hospice of Dayton in 2010 at age 82.
Family was critically important to Rinaldo Sr., Bobby said.
“My dad was a great man. He was quiet, but he showed a lot of affection especially with his grandkids,” Bobby said, noting that his grandchildren — Rinaldo III, Gina, Andrew, Adam, Abigail and Vinny DiSalvo where his pride and joy. “He loved when family was all over at the house. That made him smile.”
Mamma DiSalvo’s will likely be closed Sunday through Wednesday, Bobby said.
Rinaldo Sr.’s funeral will likely take place Tuesday at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, 4500 Ackerman Blvd. in Kettering. Arrangements are still being finalized.
Rinaldo DiSalvo is survived by his wife, Elena, by his sons and daughters-in-law, Rinaldo and Mindy, Bobby and Sherry and Debbie (Nick) DiSalvo.
He was preceded in death by his son Nick DiSalvo, who died July 11, 2019, at age 61. Nick owned and operated Mamma DiSalvo’s with his brother Bobby.
>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE (July 2019): Funeral services set for Nick DiSalvo, co-owner of Mamma DiSalvo’s Italian Ristorante
Bobby DiSalvo first announced his father’s passing in a post to Mamma DiSalvo’s Facebook page this morning:
To my Facebook family, friends today with heavy heart I lost my father yesterday (Wednesday, Feb. 12) evening at 4:44 p.m.
My father took his last breath on this Beautiful world that God has created for us. My father was blessed with his lovely wife Elena my mom his three sons Nick who we lost 7 months ago, Ron, Bob his six beautiful grandchildren Andrew, Rinaldo Jr., Adam, Vincenzo, Abigail and Gina. My Dad was a great man who didn't say much but showed with love to his family and whenever his grandkids would come over they would light up his life and his grew big. Today my Father Rinaldo DiSalvo has joined his son Nick and all those that have left us and is with our Creater Our God Jesus Christ.
So I say to all who have parents still with them call them, hug them and most important tell them that you love them because our lives are so precious that we never know when it's time for our calling to enter into the kingdom of heaven and meet our Lord Jesus Christ. I want to thank my wife Shari who has been my back bone and support, a shoulder to cry and lean thank you and two my children Vinny and Abby thank you pat my cousin and my best friend Eric and all my family and friends for your support that means a lot. God Speed PAPA.
Love your son Bobby