The founder of the beloved Café Diplomatico, or “the Dip” as it’s known by locals, Rocco Mastrangelo Sr., has passed away at the age of 88. He leaves behind his wife of 62 years, three children and six grandchildren.
The Mastrangelo family posted a statement on the café’s Instagram page, noting he was a passionate advocate for Italian culture, and that Café Diplomatico was one of his proudest life accomplishments.
Along with his father and younger brother Paul, Mastrangelo founded the restaurant at Bathurst and College in 1968 with a vision of creating a classic Italian bar serving biscotti, gelato and coffee. He spent most of his life working alongside his family at the café, passing his strong work ethic and eye for quality along to his family and the restaurant’s staff.
The family’s statement also notes Mastrangelo favoured table #19 at the café, where he would often sit for lunch to ensure everything was running smoothly. As a landmark destination in the Little Italy neighbourhood for decades, Café Diplomatico and the Mastrangelo family helped to usher in the booming restaurant scene the area is known for today.
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“In 1968 alongside his father and brothers, he worked hard to introduce the café culture that we have all come to know and love on College St. today,” the statement reads.
When the café first opened in 1968, restaurant patios were a rarity in the city. Café Diplomatico helped to set the standard for outdoor dining in Toronto and over time the trend caught on, leading to more restaurants in the area opening patios during the warmer months.
Under the direction of Rocco Mastrangelo Jr. and his wife Connie, the café continues to provide the community with daily breakfast specials, lunch, dinner, catering and delivery. The café will be temporarily closed for takeout and delivery until Friday at 3 p.m.
The visitation and service will take place privately due to COVID restrictions, but the funeral mass and cemetery committal service will be livestreamed Friday, April 30, 2021 at 10:30 a.m.