Dino M. Prestigiacomo, the owner of two Ronkonkoma Italian eateries, who was known for dishing out pizza and serving up hearty conversations with his customers, died last Tuesday of a heart attack at the age of 45, his family said.
Prestigiacomo, of Ronkonkoma, owned Mama Mia's Pizzeria on Johnson Avenue and Mama Mia's Ristorante on Veterans Memorial Highway, running the two locales alongside his wife Anna Marie Prestigiacomo.
"He had a passion to cook, and a passion for food, and a passion for the community," said his wife of 16 years. "When customers would come in, he was always very interactive with them."
The father of three donated to several youth sporting league teams, helped coach the local St. Joseph's Angels youth baseball team, and recently sponsored a kindergarten field trip where he taught a class of youngsters how to make pizza, his wife said.
"He gave back to the community constantly," Anna Marie Prestigiacomo said. "He grew up in this community, he stayed in this community, he was a gentle giant, loved by many."
He was born in Mount Vernon, the only child of Anthony and Marian Prestigiacomo, his wife said The family moved to Suffolk when Dino was a toddler. He attended Connetquot High School, where he was a linebacker and a fullback on the football team.
With the help of his father, Prestigiacomo opened his first restaurant, Dino's Pizzeria, in Brentwood shortly after graduating from high school, which he ran until 1998.
After his May 1998 wedding, Prestigiacomo closed down his first pizza shop to focus on forming a family, his wife said. Along with his wife, he is survived by his three sons, Antonio, 15, Salvatore, 12, and Angelo, 7.
Two years later, after a storefront became available at 892 Johnson Ave., a short distance from the couple's home, Prestigiacomo jumped at the opportunity to open a pizzeria, naming it "Mama Mia's" in tribute to his mother who had died.
In 2009, the couple opened a full-fledged restaurant at 3505 Veterans Memorial Hwy., hoping their sons would one day take over the family business, Anna Marie said.
"He wanted to give them something to fall back on," she said.
After a funeral Mass at his home parish of St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church on Saturday, Prestigiacomo was buried in St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.