Salvatore Sorrentino, who established the Matteo's group of family-style Italian restaurants, died Tuesday of lung cancer. He was 86 years old.
"Charismatic, hardworking, a loving father," said his son Matthew Sorrentino. He described his father's interest in restaurants as "a lifelong passion." Sorrentino died at the family home in Howard Beach, Queens.
Sorrentino, who started the first Matteo's in Hewlett in 1990, retired in 2009 and sold the Matteo's restaurants.
At its peak, the Matteo's group included nine restaurants on Long Island, in Queens, and in Florida. They were known for high-quality, Italian-American specialties and moderate prices. His son said Sorrentino would oversee the restaurants, but never cooked in their kitchens.
Sorrentino was a resident of Boca Raton, Florida, for 12 years. Before moving to Florida, he had been a longtime resident of Howard Beach and, before that, Ozone Park. Sorrentino was born in Naples, Italy, and came to the United States when he was 21 years old.
Before opening the Matteo's restaurants, Sorrentino worked in the garment industry. He owned a clothing factory in East New York, Brooklyn.
Sorrentino's wife, Angelina, and another son, Andrew, are deceased. He is survived by eight grandchildren.
Visitation will be at the Charles J. O'Shea Funeral Home, 603 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh, on Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Friday, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Mass will be offered at St. Frances de Chantal Roman Catholic Church, 1309 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh, at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. Burial will be in St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.